The Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer’s $184 million contract expires at the end of the 2018 season. The Twins need to re-sign him.
In my opinion, Mauer is a potential Hall of Famer. I’d rate his chances at least 50-50 at this point. He’s also an all time great Twin, in a class with Killebrew, Oliva, Puckett, Carew.
When concussion symptoms were little or no factor in 2017, Mauer rebounded to .305/.384/.417, .801, showing that he still has a lot left.
Mauer takes great at bats just about each and every time, rarely chasing, potentially influencing younger teammates, thus building a stronger team. When there is a dispute on a ball/strike call, I almost always perceive that it’s Joe that is correct and the umpire, maybe slightly missed the call.
Mauer also offers elevated performance with runners in scoring position. Check out his statistics with runners in scoring position for the last two years. They are certainly somewhat eye-popping!
2018: AB-68 R-40 H-28 RBI-36 AVG-.412 OBP-.500 SLG-.603 OPS-1.103
2017: AB-123 R-57 H-41 RBI-62 AVG-.333 OBP-.465 SLG .472 OPS-.937
Last two years: AB-191 R-97 H-69 AVG-.361
Mauer is an ideal leadoff hitter with his generally high OBP. He’s exceeded an OBP of .400 for a season 6 times, and has a career OBP of .389! His .384 OBP in 2017, when concussion symptoms were no factor or a very minimal factor, was very close to his career .389.
Although Mauer didn’t win the gold glove in 2017, many observers who watched a lot of games, like myself, felt he deserved the gold glove and in fact had a defensively dominant season. I would argue that his defensive dominance was 2nd only to Buxton on the 2017 Twins.
Mauer has averaged 135 hits per year in the last 5 years, a disproportionate amount of that time spent dealing with pretty serious concussion related symptoms. Using that conservative estimate on a 3-year contract would garner Mauer 405 hits in 2019-2021, when he would be 37 at the start of the season. He will turn 38 on April 19 in the 3rd year of my proposed contract and perhaps still have 2 or 3 years left in the tank.
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Add in an estimated 20 additional hits for the last 17 games of 2018, plus his current 2,096 career hits and that would give Mauer 2,521 hits by the end of 2021 at age 38. Coupled with the fact that he won 3 batting titles as a catcher, when no other catcher in American league history had won even 1 batting title, I think that puts Mauer in a pretty strong position for the Hall of Fame. He could possibly make it a lock by playing at age 39 and/or 40 in 2022 and/or 2023.
Unfortunately in 2018, concussion factors, with missed time for them, have played a role and his average is down somewhat (.278) as is his OBP (.350). However, mitigating those lowered numbers somewhat is the fact that the American League batting average for 2018 is .250 and the league OBP is .318 as of this writing on September 2 per ESPN.
Certainly the sophisticated shifts being employed are a factor in this downturn. Even with a return of concussion related symptoms in 2018, Mauer is 31 points above league average in OBP. His .278 batting average in 2018 is 28 points above league average.
This may be purely sentimental but I would love to see Joe Mauer play his entire career with the Twins. I’m still stinging from the Twins trading Rod Carew to the Angels due to the penurious ways of Calvin Griffith. Harmon Killebrew also did not finish his career with the Twins but with the Kansas City Royals.
If Mauer leaves, Twins fans could regret that for the rest of their time as Twins fans – a tough pill to swallow, especially if he is elected to the Hall of Fame and finishes with his loyalties elsewhere.