Mauer Still Tops Among MLB Catchers

Without looking at the leader boards: who’s the best catcher in baseball? Criteria will vary from person to person, but generally it will involve a heavy weight on recent performance with some level of emphasis on long-term production. At this point, I’m willing to bet that the most common answer is Brian McCann. He stands far ahead of the pack this season with 19.1 wRAA, which bests No. 2 ranked Alex Avila by 7.3 runs. Still, there has to be some weight give to performances in the recent past. If we expand this leader board to include the past two calendar years, McCann does not stand atop. That honor belongs to another household name, Joe Mauer.

In all of the weighted categories, Mauer is McCann’s better. It starts with wRAA, where Mauer is 11.4 runs better, despite coming to the plate 105 fewer times. The gap only narrows by 0.7 runs when we factor for park. Even after we account for base running and fielding, both of which favor McCann, and then add in positional and replacement values (again pointing to McCann) Mauer comes out ahead, 10.0 WAR to 9.4. If we stick to just offense — preferable for catchers, due to the difficulty of quantifying all of their defensive responsibilities — only Victor Martinez comes with in 10 park-adjusted runs of Mauer. He truly has been the elite catcher in the past 730 days.

This is in some ways unsurprising. Mauer did win the MVP award in 2009, a season in which he not only topped all catchers in wRAA, but topped all other American League hitters. In this two-year sample, only the final two months of Mauer’s MVP run are included, though it was quite the exemplary sample. In those two months he came to the plate 265 times and produced 26.3 wRAA. McCann, while certainly excellent by any measure, hasn’t produced 26.3 wRAA in any one-year stretch from 2009 through 2011. This year, in 373 PA, McCann has produced 19.1 wRAA, and in the last calendar year he has produced 14 wRAA. Only in 2008 and 2006 did he top those two months from Mauer, but of course those are stats for the full season. It puts into perspective Mauer’s dominance in 2009.

What’s more impressive is that this sample also includes Mauer’s 2011 performance, which amounts to -0.2 wRAA. That’s not terrible for a catcher, but it certainly falls below expectations for Mauer. In other words, in about two-thirds the plate appearances of his final two months in 2009, he has gone from amazing production to average. From here we can turn to 2010, which was anecdotally a disappointing year for Mauer. Of course, that’s only because of the standard to which we held him after 2009. He still led all MLB catchers in wRAA by 4.4 runs, and led McCann by 6.1 runs.

The one manner in which McCann comes out ahead is if we weigh the performances over time. That is, if we put a greater emphasis on 2011 performance and incrementally diminish the weight as we get back to 2009, McCann probably comes out on top. His 19.1 wRAA tops all catchers by 7.3 runs, and he’s one of two full-time catchers, along with Alex Avila, to produce more than 10 wRAA. In the past calendar year he’s also topped the charts with 22.3 wRAA, which leads the next full-time catcher by 7.4 runs (both Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli are within three runs of him). It is possible, perhaps even probable, that at this time next year McCann comes out ahead of Mauer by nearly every measure.

After a 2009 season in which he dismantled the competition, and after which he signed a long-term contract, he’s been seen as something of a disappointment. His 2010 fell short of expectations based on 2009, but lost in that perception is the reality: he was the best catcher in baseball last year. His injury riddled and otherwise mediocre performance in 2009 puts a further damper on the perception of his value. But in the last 24 months, he’s been the best catcher in baseball. McCann may soon supplant him, and depending on how you weigh recent performance he very well might do so soon. But the recent performance also makes it easy to forget that this will be only the second year that McCann ever tops Mauer in wRAA. In my book, at least for the time being, that still leaves Mauer on top.




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Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.

68 Responses to “Mauer Still Tops Among MLB Catchers”

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  1. benjipants says:

    Mauer isn’t a catcher anymore. I’d be willing to bet no more than 1/3 of his starts in the future come at catcher. The comparison now is to 1Bs, which is going to be pretty brutal.

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    • Bill says:

      You are getting way ahead of yourself saying mauer isn’t a catcher anymore. Yeah he did have some starts at first base, but its definitely in the twins plans for him to remain a catcher unless he can’t.

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      • benjipants says:

        That’s the point—he probably can’t. His body probably can’t take it.

        I’m not down on Mauer, I’m down on the Twins for the albatross contract they gave him, which certainly isn’t his fault.

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      • Bill says:

        I don’t see it that way. He’s playing catcher regularly right now. After he goes into this offseason completely healthly, and gets a normal offseason workout in he will be back to normal.

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      • Telo says:

        Agree with Bill. Benjipants seems to take the most pessimistic view possible.

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      • Nick44 says:

        Did you look at all the views possible for Mauer and assign benjipants view to the 0.1 percentile?

        If you are going to try and criticize posts for lack of rigor you need to bring it in your comments Telo.

        ;)

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    • Omman says:

      Most of his starts have still been coming at C this year and I see no reason to think it will be otherwise after this year.

      BUT, even if you’re right and he ends up at first I think you are overstating it when you say the comparison is “brutal”. If you compare his RAR over the last 6 seasons to first basemen he comes out in third place behind only Pujols and Cabrera.

      Even as a 1B, he seems to be, when healthy, an elite offensive player.

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  2. FJR says:

    Sort of depends on how you define “among catchers” since a pretty sizable chunk of Mauer’s value comes in games he DH’s. “Who is the most valuable player among those who primarily catch?” and “who is the most valuable catcher?” are different questions.

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  3. Joe Mauer’s only taken about 0.8% of his career at bats as a first baseman, and 12.7 as a DH. I think it’s safe to still call him a “catcher” for a while.

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    • Mike says:

      you can safely call him a former fulltime catcher. From this point out, he’s probably as much a catcher as Victor Martinez.

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      • Brady says:

        No. He’s a catcher like a catcher is a catcher. He’s playing 1B right now out of need. Morneau’s out. Span was out. Kubel was out. If Cuddyer is starting at 1B, that means you had an outfield consisting of Delmon Young, Ben Revere, and Jason Repko/Trevor Plouffe.

        Mauer at 1B means you get Cuddyer in the lineup. From now on, the plan is supposed to be play Mauer at 1B when Pavano is pitchging since he prefers throwing to Butera, and especially when there is a right handed pitcher, so Thome can get in the lineup.

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      • Mario Mendoza says:

        Wait, Mauer’s supposed to be great behind the plate. Pavano PREFERS throwing to Butera??

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      • Don’t try to make sense of it. It’s not worth your time.

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    • Bronnt says:

      That’s certainly valid, even for this year, but it’s worth noting that he’s down to about 70% of his plate appearances coming as a catcher. Going forward, unless Mauer is able to recreate his fantastic 2009 season, McCann should have an advantage in overall value, since he’ll get the full catcher adjustment.

      It’s a shame McCann got hurt when he did. He was having possibly his best season yet.

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      • Omman says:

        If Mauer is able to recreate is 2009 season then McCann won’t even be in the discussion as he has never come particularly close to doing anything like that.

        No, what Mauer would need to do is put up more “disappointing” seasons like 2010 and he will remain the superior player.

        McCann is less than a year younger than Mauer, the idea that he is on the upswing while Mauer is old and fading seems dubious to me. Yes, he’s been injured this year (and in the past) but even with that taken into consideration he has always outperformed the competition. I’m not saying he will remain the best catcher forever but I don’t think McCann will be the guy to unseat him in a couple years as they are roughly the same age.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Whoa there big fellow. Don’t get too crazy, now. You’re right that McCann has never done anything like Mauer’s 2009 season…but then, Mauer’s never come close to it in any other year, either. A wRC+ of 170 is just insane, especially from a catcher.

        I brought up Mauer’s 2009 season because if he’s at that level of production, he’s one of the best players in the game, period. But beyond that season…his wRC+ numbers look like this:

        2005: 111
        2006: 142
        2007: 116
        2008: 132
        2010: 134
        2011: 96

        And here’s McCann

        2006: 142
        2007: 94
        2008: 136
        2009: 120
        2010: 124
        2011: 143

        Those are really, really similar. If McCann remains a catcher full time, while Mauer plays 1B/DH 30% of the time going forward, McCann would be the more valuable player if both guys continued to put up numbers like those. Of course, it’s possible Mauer reclaims his 2009 form, in which case it’s no contest. Discounting that, McCann would seem to have the edge based on positional adjustments.

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      • Brady says:

        Yeah. Pavano prefers Butera. He says he likes the lower target Butera provides.

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      • Omman says:

        I think that’s pretty much the point I was making Bronnt. Your original point seemed to me to be something like “Mauer is only perceived to be better because of 2009.” Rereading it now I see that your point was more about positional value, so I apologize for the misunderstanding.

        I think your comparison illustrates nicely though, that if you take away Mauer’s best season (but for some reason still give McCann credit for his 2006 which is also an outlier in many ways) Mauer still has a slight edge. Maybe that edge will be worn away over the next couple years, maybe not, but I still think it’s still there today.

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  4. Ty says:

    I would define the criterion for “best ______ in baseball” as the player who is most likely to perform at a high level going forward. There have been serious talks of moving Mauer off of the catcher position in the future, so you have to dock him there, and given how much of a fluky outlier 2009 was relative to the rest of his career before and after, you have to discount that as well. I will take McCann hands down for the catcher I think will produce the most WAR moving forward.

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    • Bill says:

      How can you call 2009 fluky? Here are Mauers war numbers.

      2006- 6.4
      2007- 3.1
      2008- 6.2
      2009- 7.9
      2010- 5.6

      I don’t see that as a fluke. Just his best year. He’s performed near that almost every year (expect this one). Mauer is young enough where I think we can still expect some of these good years going forward, and I think he will still catch for another 4 years.

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      • bill says:

        The fluky part was his power that year.

        2006 – ISO – .159
        2007 – ISO – .133
        2008 – ISO – .123
        2009 – ISO – .222
        2010 – ISO – .141

        Looks like an outlier to me.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        How can you call 2009 fluky?

        Ooh, Ooh, Me Me *Raises hand* Aah, Aah, I know …

        Seriously, it’s a VERY easy question to answer.

        [1] Career high BABIP (.373, car-avr = .344)
        [2] career high ISO (.222, car-avr .149)
        [3] Career High HR/FB% (20.4%, car-avr = 10.3)
        [4] career high Walk %
        [5] Career low K %

        So, basically, the combination of career bests in the aspects he has influence over combined with being extremelly fortunate on aspects he doesn’t = a “perfect storm” or what we might term a “flukey season”.

        2009, in 138 games, Mauer put up 1.8 WAR more than he has in any season.

        In order to do it again, he’ll need to set career best in lots of things, as well as, get lucky at a high rate on BABIP and HR/FB again. Flukey.

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      • Omman says:

        It’s worth pointing out here that Circle Change typed in the words:
        “[4] career high Walk %
        [5] Career low K %”

        they aren’t in any way true. 2009 was his 3rd highest walk rate and same for K%.

        Obviously, 2009 was an outlier for his power, he got lucky and had a few balls go out that normally don’t for him. Take the season away and he still has 3 more seasons according to WAR that are better than McCann’s best.

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      • Eminor3rd says:

        Regardless, the biggest stat there, in my opinion, is the 20% HR/FB rate. Mauer is always going to be a high OBP/AVG guy, but those 28 homers are never going to happen again, especially now that Target is open. His power was a total fluke, the rest of his performance wasn’t.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Yeah, my bad on that.

        BB% — [1] 13.3 (2008), 13.0 (2006), [3] 12.5 (2009)
        K% — He had 2 years where his K% was 8 and 9.

        Not career bests/lows, but close to it.

        Those are the aspects he can control/influence and can likely repeat.

        The overall point remains … he has to do everything he can do at a high level PLUS experience tremendous louck on the aspects he cannot. The odds of that happening again are very large … hence, it being called a flukey season.

        In terms of the “career bests” comments being wrong in regards to BB% and K%, we should all be aware that we’re talking a small difference here. The difference between his career best season (BB%) and 2009 is 0.8% and for K% it’s 2.5%

        Doubling his career HR/FB rate is something he likely cannot repeat. That’s the main point. Not sure how I screwed up the BB% and K%, unless my eyes went crossed scanning the spreadsheet or something.

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    • DownwiththeDH says:

      Why leave Posey and Santana out of the discussion? They all have similar stories. It’s all about who will recovery from their injury better.

      My money would be on Posey, with not only the pedigree, but superhuman motivation.

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  5. Scott says:

    It’s a more than fair argument that Much of Mauer’s value comes from not catching, in 2010 he got 97 PA as a DH sporting a slash of .289/.371/.361 not world beating, he was better at catcher, but there’s still value added in that, in 2009 he had 128 PA of .330/.406/.482. This year he’s at 54 PA, no slash combined on that, but at 1B so far he’s at .516/.531/.516

    I know using slash lines is so 2000s but B-ref is the only place I could find those splits.

    Also 2 calender years is a long way to go back. Mauer is awesome, if he’s able to stay healthy and play catcher he’s likely better than McCann, but McCann is awesome as well, but doesn’t have the luxury of 480 PA as a DH to help keep him a little fresher.

    Honestly I don’t get people so gung-ho to compare them to disparage one or the other. It’s like arguing who’s better out of Manning or Brady, both are amazing, both make every team but the teams they’re on for sure better. Both if they can play to their mid 30s are likely going to hall of fame.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Honestly I don’t get people so gung-ho to compare them to disparage one or the other.

      I don’t get it either.

      Is Mauer needing protection from some attacks that I am not seeing?

      Technically ARod is still as much of a shortstop (8 full seasons) as he is a 3rd baseman (8 full seasons).

      Mauer is the most valuable catcher, when he catches.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      A catcher who can DH in his off games is worth more than one who cannot.

      It’s not like McCann is playing more games behind the plate, he just signed with the wrong team to maximize his output (not that I blame him).

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      • cthabeerman says:

        Yes, Brian McCann does play more innings at catcher. Though a full year behind Mauer in total service time, he has more than 200 extra innings at C.

        There’s a couple years where they’re close, but McCann’s only down 40-60 innings in those years. In the years that McCann catches more, it’s +350, +130, +150, and a lot this year because of the Mauer injury. To put it another way, I’m going to award Mauer with three years of 1,000+ innings (one year was 999.2, I’ll count it). To contrast, McCann’s only season without 1,000 innings is his rookie year.

        -C

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      • philosofool says:

        You didn’t actually look up the play time stats before you wrote this, did you Barkey. I don’t really care who is bettere, but please don’t make up facts that are contradicted on the stats pages.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        I wasn’t precise, setting aside time on the DL, Mauer still plays 5 of 6 games behind the plate when on the roster. McCann does play 140 G/year. The statistic I want is fraction of non DL time spent behind the plate, I don’t know how to look that up or I would.

        But the point is being a DH is an easy add on for Mauer while McCann can’t do it (mostly though no fault of his own).

        But you are right that McCann has had fewer injuries in his career, so he has more overall play time. He gets to use that for his WAR and he is still behind though (30 for Mauer post 2005 and 24.5 for McCann post 2005).

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  6. Ah, but you’re only considering the past 24 months? That’s pretty arbitrary. I think we should look at the past 2400 months. In that time period, we’re talking Mike Piazza for wRAA, or Johnny Bench for WAR. I think we can exclude King Kelly in the wRAA discussion since he only played catcher about 1/3 of the time.

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    • Jason B says:

      Agreed – I kind of thought the article had that “move the goalposts to get the answer we wanted all along” sort of feel. As fragile as Mauer is seeming to be of late, I (like others before me) would value the consistency and known production that McCann provides (at catcher).

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  7. cthabeerman says:

    It’s also important to note that Mac wasn’t entirely healthy during the 2009-10 campaigns. He had severe issues with his eyesight during those years, and it’s not hard to believe that would probably hinder him a little at the plate.

    -C

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  8. Luke M says:

    Not sure who is the best … but I know which one is more valuable, and that’s one who isn’t going to be a $25 million a year version of Mark Grace soon.

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  9. DownwiththeDH says:

    If McCann had his eye issues figured out earlier in his career this wouldn’t even be a question. His eye issues weren’t a function skill or injury. They were an issue of surgical specificity.

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    • Omman says:

      That doesn’t seem to hold water to me. He got his eye issues figured out, best I can tell, at the beginning of the 2009 season? He has put up 4.0 and 4.8 WAR in the two full years since, Mauer was better both years.

      McCann’s best year, according to WAR, was 2008 when he, presumably, had yet to figure out his eye issues.

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      • DownwiththeDH says:

        Yes, if we are projecting the future based on the past and Mauer’s injury is one we judge to hamper his future, while we judge McCann’s surgery as an improvement moving forward from a given point it is important to establish a baseline for both players performance.

        I’ve always had McCann in keeper leagues so I’ve followed his eye issues almost day to day. It’s been an issue more than once, the original operation at the end of the 2007 season had to be corrected for in October of 2009. I’d argue he didn’t fully recover until mid-season last year and that between those surgeries he was a shadow of what he could have been had it been done right the first time. So in 2008, with relatively poor vision he posted a .387 wOBA. This only add legitimacy to his 2006 season in my mind, a .402 wOBA.

        The real Brian McCann, the one you’re most likely to get moving forward, is a .380 to .400 wOBA guy. Despite the SSS, I’ll also give a shout out to his .391 wOBA in the postseasons of 2005 and ’10.

        For the sake of accuracy, let’s throw out fielding as a value. They probably will post similar UZR anyway. Let’s do the same for base running and just look at Mauer’s hitting.

        While I feel it’s appropriate to give McCann a practical chance to repeat his best season, it seems rather unlikely Mauer will ever show as he did in 2009. That also seems to be the consensus around here. So what are you left with, a .360 to .380 wOBA guy? I don’t have the day to day familiarity with Mauer, but I haven’t seen much info or opining which supports Mauer being more than that.

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      • aRC says:

        Not true. He figured out his eye issues some time last season. Funny thing is, if i remember correctly, it was as simple as not drinking the ridiculous amount of coffee he had been drinking (in addition to the numerous lasik surgeries and glasses experiment). Seriously.

        I doubt any Gm would nitpick over which player theyd rather have. However, I think the key difference is that Mauer profiles more as a 1-2-3 hole bat, where as McCann profiles more as a 3-4-5 bat.

        Their LD%s are relatively equal; Mauer 23% career, McCann 20%, but Mauer will hit far more balls on ground (50% gb rate, where as McCann has never hit more than 40% outside of his rookie year). Conversely, McCanns career flyball rate sits at 45%, where as Mauer never hit above 30% outside of his rookie season. Which favors Mauer in terms of batting avg (i know archaic), but favors McCann in terms of ISO. Not to mention walk rates separated by only 2.5%, with McCanns 14% k rate (somewhat attributable to his move to cleanup/eye issue in 2009) being his only real con in this argument.

        Theyre the two best catchers in the game, since 2006, with two completely different skill sets. Mauer to this point has just been better at maximizing his abilites and has already put up his “historically” elite season. However, if McCann starts producing consecutive 30-35+ home run seasons (which it looked like he was on pace for before the injury), this debate looks alot different in the near future.

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      • DownwiththeDH says:

        I said ” I’d argue he didn’t fully recover until mid-season last year and that between those surgeries he was a shadow of what he could have been had it been done right the first time” so I’m not sure where you’re going with, “Not true. He figured out his eye issues some time last season.”

        Whether it’s surgery or coffee, the eye easy was easily correctable and is sustainable moving forward.

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      • aRC says:

        I was replying Omman. I actually agree with you and believe McCann is back on the upswing.

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      • DownwiththeDH says:

        My mistake.

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      • Omman says:

        That’s fine and these are projections you are making which are based purely on speculation about each of their respective injuries.

        My point is that today, based on what each of them have actually done on the field, based on the numbers they have put up, Mauer is clearly the better player, offensively and defensively, he has four seasons better than the best of McCann including one just last year. 2010 is considered a down year for Mauer but it would have been the best year, based on WAR, for McCann. Maybe McCann would have got there this year (maybe he still will) but doesn’t he have to put up a season that can compare with Mauer’s best before we anoint him?

        If we’re just talking about who’s the better bargain right now, based on their contracts, then clearly it’s McCann but there are a lot of good young catchers out there these days with even cheaper contracts so if we’re looking for the C who represents the most value I’m sure it would be someone other than either of these two.

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      • DownwiththeDH says:

        No doubt what Mauer did 2006-2010 added up to much more WAR and a significantly higher wOBA, that’s a fact, it happened, but as we are all intelligent enough to see it’s not likely that will happen over the next five years. Mauer had a classifiable fluke season in this time, McCann was inhibited by factors which don’t relate to skill or injury. Mauer has a potentially chronic condition, McCann strained his oblique. One can say with almost absolute certainty that Mauer will not replicate his best season, that he’s already had it, and that McCann is continuing to push the envelope for his best season.

        At best Mauer edges McCann out over the next five years. At worst McCann flips the tables and out WARs Mauer by 8.5.

        Wouldn’t you agree that McCann’s skill set ages better than Mauer’s, especially at catcher?

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      • Omman says:

        I think it’s likely that McCann will have fewer injuries for the remainder of his career if that’s what you mean.

        My feeling, and I think it’s the same point made in the article, is that McCann hasn’t proven he’s the best catcher in the game as much as Mauer has had a down year. In order for me to consider McCann “the best” he either has to up his game a little more or Mauer has to continue to struggle.

        I think I just have a different interpretation of what it means to be “the best”. I am not talking about who I think will be better next year or five years from now, to me it would be determined by a combination of recent performance, career performance and current performance. I just don’t think, by those standards, McCann has reached quite high enough or Mauer has sunk quite low enough to adjust my understanding which, in my opinion, is supported by nearly all of the available statistics.

        Will McCann be the better player three years from now? I would say probably he will be. Will he be the best catcher in baseball at that time? I don’t think that’s nearly as clear, if we are judging this solely on potential then we need to throw several more catchers into the mix.

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      • DownwiththeDH says:

        I think it’s important to differentiate who has been better in the past. who is the best currently, over the next 1-3 year and through their careers. We are on a cusp of catcher supremacy as McCann is the best choice for current best catcher as he’s proven with his numbers and for the next 1-3 years as Posey and Santana, like Mauer, will have to prove in significant PAs that they are indeed at the level. Montero has been less than impressive this season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Arencibia, is he really worthy? Did I miss anyone?

        I don’t think Mauer has an issue (see below) so extreme it’ll his hitting with fall far off his career averages, but it may keep him from playing catcher or 3B and force him to 1B/DH. That or the Twins keep him at catcher and he is hurt more. Either way I agree with pointing this out in Mauer’s case because we are talking about the best catcher, not overall player:

        Sitting Curveball says:
        “Mauer’s contact skills do not stand the test of time. As he ages, his primary skill (fast hands) will have slowed. In the last 80 years, only Elston Howard has put up a 4 WAR or more season with fewer than 15 home runs after the age of 31. Mauer has 5 seasons at more than $20 million after the age of 31.”

        =============================================

        Bilateral weakness in the leg muscles can be as mild as a generalized feeling of fatigue in your legs or as extreme as complete paralysis. Bilateral weakness indicates a problem in your central nervous system — in your brain, spinal cord or nerves. Many disease processes or trauma can cause bilateral weakness in your legs.

        Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/352012-bilateral-weakness-in-the-leg-muscles/#ixzz1TvQ7zuzn

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      • Brandon says:

        He had another procedure after the ’09 one because it didn’t fix his sight issues..

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  10. Hurtlocker says:

    Mauer is a great player, but I wouldn’t trade Buster Posey for him straight across. Posey is injured of course, but he has the tools to be a superior player.

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  11. philosofool says:

    This article feels like it’s cherry picking stats just a little.

    If you asked 28 GM’s in baseball to replace their current catcher with either McCann or Mauer and stipulated that they weren’t allowed to let their new catcher play more than 25% of his games at another position, I’m betting about 3/4 of them take McCann at this point. Mauer’s health issues are worrisome and they point directly to stresses from catching.

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    • philosofool says:

      (I meant this little thought experiment to assume the same hypothetical contracr, not their actual contracts. No one take Mauer at his current contract.)

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  12. phoenix2042 says:

    can you fix that last paragraph? i thought you were talking about mauer at first until you said: “His injury riddled and otherwise mediocre performance in 2009 puts a further damper on the perception of his value.” so obviously this was not mauer because, you know, his 2009 was amazing. but then you say: “McCann may soon supplant him…” so that means that the he is mauer. i am all kinds of confused about who had the mediocre 2009, who was the best catcher over the last 24 months, and whether or not they are the same person, according to that paragraph. and yes i know the answers to those question (mauer, mauer and more mauer), but i basically had to skip that paragraph as it was unreadable with pronouns without antecedents and inaccurate information…

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  13. Allen says:

    Am I the only one who thinks it absurd that McCann comes out ahead in baserunning? Is that correct? And yes, I’m too lazy to look it up.

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    • philosofool says:

      You can join me as someone who thinks that base running stats have yet to be shown to be predictive, and which are mostly influenced by batted ball in ways that we’re not able to quantify yet.

      For what it’s worth, McCann actually seems like a decent base runner for a catcher. He’s not fast, but he’s heads-up.

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      • Allen says:

        Oh I agree that McCann isn’t a dumb baserunner by any stretch of the imagination. But I don’t think Mauer is either, and I don’t think there’s anyone out there who would tell us that McCann could beat anybody but maybe Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez in a footrace.

        So I guess my point is that given that Mauer is pretty fast (for a catcher), this should add up to more times he could successfully go 1st to 3rd or 2nd to home than McCann does, and that should translate into more baserunning value? Or am I thinking about this incorrectly?

        This all being said, McCann is the man.

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  14. Deadpool says:

    What I don’t get is why this argument needs to be made. Saying McCann is something smokies right now. Thus season Mac’s the best. I’ve never heard anyone say he’s been the best for years.

    Also, I don’t understand the treatment if McCann by analysts ever. It took Martin and Soto cratering for McCann to even be acknowledged as the best of the NL, which he was. He’s having a great, valuable year and nobody else is at Catcher. Why make it more than that just to pick an argument?

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    • philosofool says:

      I have no idea what you just said.

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      • Deadpool says:

        Random rant and I wasn’t paying attention. My point is that this wasn’t an argument anybody was having. If you asked who was better over the last several years the answer would be Mauer every time. The whole point of the article here is to muddy the waters just to spur a debate that nobody was having.

        I’ve never written a single comment about a writer here, but I just didn’t see the point here except to pick a fight with broadcasters who call NcCann the best catcher in the game (usually followed by the word today or right now).

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      • Deadpool says:

        The other half was that McCann was overlooked when he was young, overshadowed for the last three years, and now I don’t get why when he’s having the best season of any MLB catcher anyone needs to say, “yeah he’s good but he wasn’t the best last year.”

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  15. adohaj says:

    so small sample size and unfair comparison aside

    Mauer Through June
    81PA
    .526 OPS

    Mauer in July
    119
    .850 OPS

    .850 OPS is bad for Mauer

    McCann has posted and OPS over .850 three times

    Gosh I’m a Homer

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    • philosofool says:

      OPS is not the best available stat…

      Let’s use wRC+, which is based on wOBA and corrected for park.
      Career:
      McCann, 123
      Mauer, 133

      2011/2010/2009
      McCann 143/124/120
      Mauer 97/134/170

      5/4/3 weighted average of wRC+
      McCann 130
      Mauer 127

      The picture is pretty equivocal. No one should pretend to know who will be better going forward.

      The picture here strikes me as pretty equivocal.

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      • Dr.Rockzo says:

        I’ve never understood this debate. Hasn’t Mauer obviously been the superior offensive catcher through 2010?

        Mauer has not been as good in 2011 and this is mostly due to injury. The question shouldn’t be “Is McCann now better than Mauer?” We don’t know and can’t know until one of two things are determined: Is he fully recovered (or will he) from the stange injury that plague his early season, and will it guarantee a move from catcher?

        To assume immediately he will have to move is the absolute most pessimistic view point. While possible, the extent and potential for chronic recurrence of his injury is the most important factor into his value but is not guaranteed. Until he is officially moved or begins playing significantly more of his time at other positions, Mauer has to remain the best catcher in baseball. Arguing contract is something else entirely.

        Pujols has had a “bad” year but almost assuredly most of the readers of this site would have him as a probably top three hitter next year and almost expect him or Bautista to be the best.

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      • philosofool says:

        I think a lot of people feel like (1) Mauer’s 2009 isn’t reflective of what he’s going to do ever again and (2) other than 2009, Mauer has never been far ahead of McCann. When you couple that with a down 2011 and an injury that has no real diagnosis (“bilateral leg weakness”), a lot of people are going to think his real diagnosis is “non-specific catching related maladies”.

        I’m not defending this position—like I said, no one really knows who’s going to be better going forward. But I think something like that is the argument.

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  16. Jo says:

    “Without looking at the leaderboards who is the best catcher in baseball?”

    Well based on the fact that you said “without looking at the leaderboards” I would assume that you mean this season in which the answer would be Brian McCann regardless of history or potential.

    If you are talking about over the past few years then the answer is Joe Mauer and to say that most people would say Brian McCann is ridiculous becuase B-Mac is always considered second to Mauer by analyst commentators and baseball fans alike at least from my experience.

    BTW I am a Braves fan and a huge B-Mac fan and what I said above matches my sentiment.

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