As the Minnesota Twins learned of Joe Mauer’s decision to retire a generation of Twins fans are left feeling like they have lost their identity.
The Minnesota Twins finally learned the official decision of Joe Mauer on Friday as he announced his retirement from baseball. It looks like Mauer still has some baseball left in him, but any thought of him returning to man first base for the Twins in 2019 seemed to be wiped away during the final game of 2018.
Mauer accomplished a lot during his career and while significant postseason success alluded him and the Twins during his career he has chosen his family and his health over another run with the Twins. While Mauer collected plenty of accolades over his career including 6 All-Star appearances, 5 Silver Slugger awards, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Batting Titles and the 2009 MVP, the most defining one is that he will forever define a generation of Twins fans.
Since 2004, Twins fans have enjoyed 15 seasons of Mauer being pencilled into the everyday lineup. The start of his career came just after the Twins had returned to relevance following a decade of losing baseball following the 1991 World Series championship. Maybe more importantly for this post and this fan, Mauer defines the era of Twins baseball that gave birth to my joy of watching baseball.
Now Mauer is not alone in what made so many of those teams enjoyable to watch. Guys like Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Johan Santana, and even Nick Punto among others made up that special run of division championship after division championship. Everyone from the pirhanas to the M&M boys. Still, at the center of that was Mauer adding arguably the best positional value of any player for many years as he put on his catchers gear.
Of course, now that Mauer has officially retired the first question many have is if Mauer is worthy of a Hall of Fame nod. In our current era of evaluating baseball not only through stats but sabermetrics Mauer’s case is a close call for some and a hard sell for others. This tweet by Brian Kenny did bring some incredible perspective to Mauer’s career.
Mauer may not have quite the longevity that many are searching for, but he does have 10 seasons as one of the best catchers in the history baseball and another five as he remade himself into a first baseman. He also has the second best season by a catcher ever in 2009 when looking at stats like WAR and wRC+ as he slots in just behind Mike Piazza.
Mauer will never claim a title for the beloved fans of his hometown team. Not bringing a championship to Minnesota may go on to be one of his biggest regrets from his playing days. What Mauer has accomplished on the field is still very impressive and there is a whole generation of Twins fans that will have some of their most memorable years of baseball fandom covered with memories of number 7. Not just memories, but the identity of the team they cheered for his wrapped around the man who made sideburns cool.
Joe, we have likely never appreciated you enough. As you go to spend some well-earned time with your growing family, Thank-you. It has been a great ride!