Minnesota Twins: Five things that defined Joe Mauer’s career

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: Joe Mauer
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 03: Joe Mauer /
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Minnesota Twins
DETROIT – SEPTEMBER 30: Catcher Joe Mauer /

Mauer’s elite defense behind the plate

It’s one thing for a catcher to put up gaudy numbers at the plate, but it’s another to back it up with Gold Glove defense behind it. Mauer was a defensive wizard at catcher despite having a 6’5″, 225-pound frame that many have turned into an outfielder in today’s game.

With the Twins giving Mauer the opportunity to stay behind the plate, he was able to use his rocket arm that was once coveted by Bobby Bowden at Florida State to make opposing baserunners to think twice before swiping a bag. Mauer led the American League twice in caught stealing percentage and even logged a 53% rate back in 2007.

Besides his arm, Mauer displayed athleticism that is rarely seen at the catcher position. This display was seen in one of Mauer’s greatest plays against the New York Yankees in 2009. With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Cervelli hit a nubber off of Jose Mijares‘ glove. Mauer ran out to get the ball, but Brett Gardner sped around third base and looked to score the game-winning run.

With the game on the line, Mauer sprinted from halfway between first base and home plate and used a full-extension dive to tag out Gardner and keep the game alive.

In other moments, Mauer was simply as cool as they come. During a 2010 game against the Kansas City Royals, Mauer went back to field a pop up in the bottom of the ninth. In a situation that would have been a foul ball at the Metrodome, Mauer calmly went to the edge of the home plate netting, reached around and made the catch for the out.

Plays like these are why Mauer was a six-time Gold Glove winner at catcher and even found himself in the conversation for a seventh after converting to first base later in his career.