Joe Mauer will be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in August
Joe Mauer has been elected to the Twins Hall of Fame, the team announced Friday. The Twins hope this is just the first Hall of Famer Mauer has entered.
From the time he retired in 2018, the former Twins great, three-time batting champion and 2009 American League Most Valuable Player was expected to one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame. of the team. Mauer, whose number 7 was retired by the club in 2019, will become the twins’ 38th inductee into the Hall of Fame at a ceremony at Target Field on Aug. 5.
But what isn’t considered a shoo-in, at least by a club fanbase voice part, is whether or not Mauer will ever get a plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The question arose again earlier this week following the release of the 2023 HOF election results, which unofficially puts Mauer on the back burner as he will be added to the HOF ballot in December.
Ironically, while some Twins fans don’t believe Mauer will ever be enshrined in Cooperstown, many outsiders see the local legend as having a strong case for the induction.
“That’s a stellar resume,” said Hall of Fame voter Jay Jaffe, who created the JAWS system to assess a player’s candidacy in 2004. “It’s short as a catcher. … People tend to look at Yadier Molina or Pudge Rodriguez or before him Carlton Fisk and see guys who are past their 40th birthday and think anything short of that is a shortcoming. $2 steak to do that.
“I see a guy who ticks so many boxes.”
When he batted .347 in 2006, Mauer became the first catcher in AL history to win a batting title and only the third individual catcher to accomplish the feat. Before Mauer, who repeated the feat in 2008 and 2009, no other catcher had won a batting title since Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi hit .330 in 1942.
Among catchers, only Buster Posey has since won a batting title when he hit .336 to clinch a National League crown in 2012. While Lombardi has won two batting titles in his career, no other catcher has accomplished the feat three times as Mauer. Mauer has batted .306/.388/.439 for his career and has consistently been one of the toughest takedowns in the game.
Already a special hitter, Mauer took his game to new heights in 2009 when he hit .365/.444/.587 with 28 homers and 96 RBI en route to being named AL MVP. The season was the career high point for the St. Paul native, who had been drafted by the Twins with the No. 1 pick in the 2001 Entry Draft.
While announcing the honor on Friday, Twins president Dave St. Peter hinted that this was just the first Hall of Famer he expects Mauer to join.
“(He’s) a very deserving person,” St. Peter said. “In my mind, it’s just a Hall of Fame induction for Joe on his way to Cooperstown.”
🔓 Digital safe: unlocked. 🔓
When @Twins legend Joe Mauer donned the catcher’s gear one last time at Target Field. pic.twitter.com/LrgPX3BV41
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) April 19, 2020
But after winning the MVP title, Mauer only had four more seasons behind the plate.
On August 19, 2013, the catcher suffered a career-changing concussion when a foul ball hit his catcher’s helmet and sidelined him for the rest of the season. Aside from a ceremonial throw, he caught in the last game of his career, Mauer never crouched behind home plate again. He also suffered lingering effects from the concussion, including vision problems, over the next few seasons, and missed time with another concussion in the 2018 campaign.
The injury prompted a move to first base and caused Mauer’s offensive production to drop sharply. In his final five seasons, Mauer batted .278/.359/.388 while averaging eight home runs and 58 RBIs per season, an average production for a first baseman.
Critics of Mauer often cite declining production, the perception that he failed to fulfill the biggest contract in Twins history and that he was ‘mild’ for not playing despite injuries as reasons for which he will not travel to Cooperstown.
But in those years he was a catcher, argues Jaffe, Mauer, who amassed 2,123 career hits and produced 54.1 WAR, did enough to earn that honor. A Hall of Fame voter since 2021, Jaffe developed the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score system) as a means of determining a player’s HOF value by comparing that player to others in the position that has already been enshrined.
One of the keys to the system is to measure his career WAR and peak seven-year WAR against those already there. When it comes to receivers, Mauer ranks higher than many of his peers who already have a plate.
“Yeah, he only caught under 1,000 games,” Jaffe said. “But he’s seventh in JAWS among receivers, measuring his career and peak, and those seven years are his years as a receiver, which is damn remarkable. … He is way above the top.
Even so, Mauer, who is expected to be joined in the 2024 ballot by debutants Adrian Beltre and Chase Utley, is not guaranteed to enter his freshman year. Rodriguez only became the second receiver to win the Hall of Fame in the first round in 2017. Mauer also faces a close ballot as survivors Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield and Carlos Beltrán each received at least 46.5% of the votes. in 2023.
Although it may take time, Jaffe expects Mauer to be elected one day.
“For me, he’s an easy choice for my ballot,” Jaffe said. “I imagine there are a lot of people who feel that way, but not everyone and because it’s a crowded poll we’ll see where it lands.”
(Photo: David Berding/USA Today)