The Value of Joe Mauer

No catcher has quite been like Joe Mauer.

Since his first full season in the big leagues, he has easily been the best catcher in baseball. Between 2005 and 2010, he compiled a 32.7 WAR — Victor Martinez finished a distant second with 22.2 WAR. He was a solid defender;  he routinely contended (and won) batting titles; he got on base at ridiculously high rates; and he even contributed stolen bases. Needless to say, he obliterated his catching competition. Mauer’s performances were truly unique.

And now that time might have come to a premature end.

With Mauer getting his first start at first base Thursday, it’s clear that the Minnesota Twins are willing to move the 28-year-old around the diamond to keep him healthy. But this creates an interesting conundrum since Mauer stands to lose a ton of value.

The Twins might have already tried out Mauer at first base, but many have speculated that a move to third — or one of the corner outfield spots — could also be legitimate possibilities for Mauer. To determine how Mauer would perform, we can look at the average performances of all players at those positions from this season and compare them to Mauer’s stats since 2005.

There’s one thing that immediately stands out when looking at the data — and it shouldn’t be surprising: Mauer is a phenomenal hitter. Despite the fact that he’s not perceived as a strong power hitter — his 2009 season excepted — Mauer is far better than his competition in slugging percentage and in OPS. Since Mauer’s average and on-base percentage would work at any position, it figures the Twins wouldn’t lose that much by moving him off catcher. Right?

That’s where things get a little tricky. Since offense has been down in past seasons, the baselines for offensive performance at each of the listed positions is lower than they have been in recent years — making Mauer’s stats looks stronger than usual. On top of that, these numbers assume that Mauer will  return to form following his injuries. That could be a dangerous proposition.

As of now, we have no indication whether the old Mauer is coming back or Old Man Mauer is here to stay. If Mauer can’t return to form, and his offensive performance takes a dive, the Twins are going to have a much harder time extracting value by playing him at other positions.

If that’s the case, the Twins will be left to determine the most effective way to employ Mauer. While he would provide maximum value as a catcher, it looks more likely that he won’t hold up under a catcher’s workload. The Twins would then need to decide whether 100 games of Mauer at catcher is more valuable than 140 games of Mauer at another position.

And that’s just half of the equation. Defense certainly would play a role in the position switch. Jeff Zimmerman covered this issue in September. According to his research, catchers generally turned out to be pretty decent fielders — though they were slightly more valuable when converted to the outfield because of their strong throwing arms. Mauer is probably one of the more athletic catchers we’ve ever seen, so it’s plausible to think he’d have the range to effectively play third base or right field.

Unfortunately for the Twins, much of Mauer’s value is dependent on whether he can produce at his pre-injury level. There are reasons for optimism: Mauer still is young and his injuries haven’t been career-threatening. There’s no reason to expect a total offensive collapse. Moving Mauer around the field definitely takes away some of his value, but his bat is special enough to play anywhere.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


82 Responses to “The Value of Joe Mauer”

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  1. harpago17 says:

    I’ve got Brian McCann on line 2, and he sounds peeved. Something about an “obliterated the competition” comment?

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      You tell Mr. McCann that Joe Mauer appreciates the effort, but 21.4 WAR over that period doesn’t touch Mr. Mauer’s 32.7.

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      • harpago17 says:

        He’s saying something about Mauer having an extra year of playing time….you know anything about this?

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        So McCann would have made up the 11 WAR in that period?

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      • Kyle says:

        Well, you can tell Mr. Mauer that McCann doesn’t just lead the Braves in batting average most years since Chipper had that absurd year that he got injured, but he also usually leads them in homeruns, RBI, and is far better at handling a pitching staff and calling a game.

        Obviously Mauer has been a hitting machine, but aside from his MVP season where he hit 28 homeruns, his career high is 13. And now that he’s a 1st baseman won’t it be cute seeing him have seasons of 5 to 9 homeruns and driving in 80 runs. I bet Minnesota fans are psyched to see him making 23 million a year until 2018.

        And so far in the postseason, McCann has played like a guy being paid like Pujols, Gonzalez, Cabrera, Votto, Fielder, Texeira, Konerko(underpaid) and he’s a year younger and still playing catcher. McCann has hit .300 with 3 homeruns and 8 RBI in 30 at-bats. While Mauer and his 32.7 WAR doesn’t mean a whole lot when in 35 at-bats he only has one extra base hit(not a homerun)and one RBI. This season Mauer hasn’t hit one homerun in 100 at-bats and shown signs of decline with only 4 doubles. He’s getting paid 6 million per extra base hit right now… AWESOME INVESTMENT.

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      • Jon says:

        Someone needs to explain to Kyle about small sample sizes. Ah, but who would ever bring up something like that on a site like this?

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      • Kyle says:

        Kyle understands that it’s been a small sample size, but I’m guessing you haven’t seen Mauer in any of his at-bats this season. He doesn’t even look like the same guy. First base is a position that most teams have a guy who hits for power. Average, well, they like that too… but Mauer has not been the same guy. He still hasn’t hit a homerun, and is still having trouble driving the ball.

        He was overpaid, and with a few injuries and the possible added pressure he’s putting on himself to earn that contract… it’s not looking good. While Jason Kendall was never as good as Mauer, he was once a career .318 hitter and perennial all-star. And after the age of 30 he became a .259 hitter with even less power. You should never sign a catcher who for that much when your a team who can’t afford to pay 2 or 3 guys 70 percent of their payroll.

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      Ah, that’s interesting. If Mr. McCann magically becomes an 11 win player in that extra season, that’s when Mr. Mauer will start to worry.

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      • harpago17 says:

        In all seriousness, I’m not trying to imply that McCann has been better….Mauer obviously has been the better player over that period. But to say he “obliterated” the competition is putting it a bit strong when the difference in the year’s they’ve both played full time is much smaller, and when Mauer’s insane 2009 is removed from the equation the difference is roughly 1 win a year…significant, but not “obliterating”.

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      • AdamM says:

        Mauer has four seasons better than McCann’s finest. In a seven-season stretch, that is very significant. He has 50% more WAR, that’s obliteration. Just look at the graph!

        http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs/4810_1857___sgraph_%20_7_8_2011.png

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        “when Mauer’s insane 2009 is removed” It’s part of being a great player, you have to have some insane years. This is what separates the Mauers from the McCanns, obliterating them.

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    • Chris Cwik says:

      I know. I was enjoying our back and forth though.

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      • harpago17 says:

        Another question: Is there a way to separate WAR earned as a catcher from WAR earned as a DH? I noticed that Mauer played 89 games as a DH over that period, during which time I’m sure he accumulated a significant portion of his value. I can’t find a way on Fangraphs to separate out WAR as catcher vs. WAR as DH though.

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      • Louis says:

        Maybe it’s just that having a hobbit-like body holds up better at the position than Mauer’s athletic build.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        So let’s look at the period of time since McCann’s first full season:

        2006-2011: Mauer has 29.0 WAR, McCann 24.0 WAR… Obliterated.

        This comes despite Mauer’s sucky 2011.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        harpago17:

        I don’t think there’s a way to do that via fangraphs. But you can look at their batting splits via b-r. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=mauerjo01&year=Career&t=b

        If you wanted to take the time, you could convert his batting line as a catcher into wOBA, convert that to runs-above-average, add in the replacement level and positional adjustments, and come up with WAR. This wouldn’t include fielding (where its a wash with McCann) or baserunning (where Mauer dominates), though.

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      • baty says:

        Mauer is clearly the strongest talent, but when you’ve only had 1 year of starting 2/3 of the season’s games behind the plate, that’s hardly obliterating the competition. McCann’s on pace for his 6th straight, and if you’re the Twins, you’re talking about having to use your 2nd/3rd on the depth chart more than 140 times during that stretch while McCann is on the field.

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    • Nik says:

      I guess McCann would have posted the best catcher season of all-time that year right?

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  2. Ben says:

    His bat will play anywhere, but that contract won’t. If memory serves, the biggest critique of the Mauer signing was how expensive it would look if/when he moved off of catcher.

    It’s great that the Twins signed the local hero and he is a star, but this contract will really limit their flexibility moving forward, hopefully not to the point of not being able to contend, but it will be interesting to watch this play out.

    The Mauer contract might end up being a great example of why long term deals are a bad idea for teams like the Twins.

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    • Ryan says:

      If he can put up offensive numbers similar to his 2009 numbers at another position for the initial years of his contract of his contract will be a success for the organization. Likewise, if he stays at catcher and puts up 2010 numbers, he will also earn his contract. If far from a forgone conclusion that he can’t keep his value and do one or the other. You’re right to say it’s too early to claim “the sky is falling” for that organization. In two years, we can really start to gauge whether this contact is an albatross.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        “If he can put up offensive numbers similar to his 2009 numbers”

        There’s no reason to think he can put up offensive numbers similar to 2009. He never approached it before, and he hasn’t flashed that ability since. His wOBA was .438 that year. It’s been below .400 every other season.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      “The Mauer contract might end up being a great example of why long term deals are a bad idea for teams like the Twins.” nope, that would be the Joe Nathan and Justin Morenau contracts.

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    • Jason B says:

      “His bat will play anywhere, but that contract won’t. If memory serves, the biggest critique of the Mauer signing was how expensive it would look if/when he moved off of catcher. ”

      DING DING DING!! No, that wasn’t the ice cream truck, that was the sound of Ben #winning.

      Something like .320/12/90/90 (particularly with 400 OBP, 470 SLG) plays wonderfully at catcher and would command quite a premium. However that stat line looks almost pedestrian at a corner infield or outfield spot – certainly would be worth playing and playing every day, but wouldn’t fetch anywhere *near* that contract.

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      • Remus says:

        As a 3rd baseman? I’d take it.

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      • Nik says:

        Citing runs and rbi in your argument just takes everything you said and puts it in the toilet.

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      • Jason B says:

        As a 3B you would take it for $23M per year? You can have it.

        Obviously real value isn’t derived in context-dependent stats like runs and ribbies (and wins, and saves, and…). But a lot of owners will make judgments and evaluations based on them (at least in part) when contract talks arise.

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  3. Chuck says:

    The true question of value and Mauer’s position has little to do with Mauer’s value, but with the value the guy playing the other position brings. Only looking at 1B here (you can substitute 3B or LF/RF as well). The value is absurdly greater wtih Mauer at C:

    (Career OPS)
    C: Mauer, 1B: Morneau
    0.879, 0.855

    C: Butera, 1B: Mauer
    0.507!, 0.879

    If the Twins plan to play Mauer anywhere other than C for more than 40 games a year, they’ll need an upgrade at C. A Victor Martinez type who can catch and also play other positions and DH would be ideal. With Thome and Kubel likely out the door, they will have the DH and a bench spot open for 2012.

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    • Steve says:

      C: Wilson Ramos
      .739

      Hey, at least they got that reliever last year!

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      • NEPP says:

        Worst…Trade…Ever!

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      • hank says:

        What’s kind of funny is that it seemed like a REALLY bad trade at the time, and somehow it’s only gotten worse.

        The only thing that would make this more of a disaster is if the compensation systems still exists for next year, and the Twins actually offer Capps arbitration…. and he accepts it.

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      • chuckb says:

        On the other hand, they may be able to spin Capps to the Cardinals this year for too much also.

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  4. JM says:

    I didn’t realize how similar the Catcher and 3rd Baseman positions have been in terms of average production until I looked at that chart.

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    • skyjo says:

      Ditto. I’m quite surprised that catchers actually have a higher OPS than do 3B.

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      • Jon says:

        I think you guys are discovering why third basemen are overvalued by both bWAR and fWAR.

        Now someone just needs to figure out why teams don’t play better hitters at third. Is the position really that difficult? You mostly need players with good reaction times, which shouldn’t be too hard to find among major-league caliber hitters, and a strong arm.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Is the position really that difficult?

        Yes.

        You mostly need players with good reaction times, which shouldn’t be too hard to find among major-league caliber hitters, and a strong arm.

        Have you ever played 3B?

        [1] You play closer to home than any other infielder
        [2] You have to be able to field 1-hop rockets and Derek Jeters little topped grounders.
        [3] It’s a long throw across the diamond
        [4] There’s little margin for error

        So, you need …

        [1] The best infield reflexes/reactions
        [2] the strongest arm
        [3] A very accurate arm
        [4] great hands and quick feet

        oh yeah …

        [5] Be a really good hitter.

        You’re really asking why there aren’t more great hitters at 3rd? Probably because there are very few elite well-rounded players. It’s tough to be very good in all areas.

        There’s a reason why the list of all-time great 3B’s is so short. Given the requirements and lack of supply, I think you could call it just as important of a defensive position as shortstops … since there are more good defense, no bat, agile guys out there with good range, than there are great hitters with elite reactions and strong, accurate throwing arms.

        Catchers like Mauer, might be the prototype for such a switch to 3B, everything that makes Mauer a good catcher, would fit the bill at 3B.

        I just don;t know why the teams don’t sign/draft more Joe Mauers. Kind of a silly question/statement, isn’t it?

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      It’s just this year. There’s significant year-to-year variation in positional splits. Catchers are having a very good year, while 3Bmen are having a very bad year (blame Alex Avila and Chone Figgins).

      I don’t know why the author looked only at 1 year of data on the positional splits. It’s not a representative sample, especially if you’re comparing it to Mauer’s 2005-2011. Here’s the 7-year positional splits:

      avg / obp / slg / ops
      Mauer : .325 / .405 / .471 / .877
      1B : .274 / .355 / .468 / .824
      RF : .273 / .345 / .450 / .795
      LF : .272 / .342 / .443 / .785
      3B : .267 / .335 / .431 / .766
      C : .255 / .321 / .393 / .714

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  5. Barkey Walker says:

    I thought I would see something like this after his first 1B start.

    Mauer did not play 1B because he is injured but because Thome is a great player to have in the lineup and there is some Morenau guy who is a regular at 1B for the Twins who is on the DL. Traditionally, Butera catches Pavano and Mauer DHs.

    It adds up to a credible story, so there is no reason to suspect this is a long run move.

    Mauer is like Apple in the naughts, everybody thought they would sputter out at any moment, but it just kept going.

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    • Steve says:

      well, except for that pesky fact that Mauer IS actually sputtering out this year…

      now, is 2011 merely Joe Mauer’s “Newton” tablet and he’ll be back with the iphone in 2012? probably.

      but it’s not like it’s been business as usual this year…

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        He had an injury, that’s not sputtering, that’s getting injured.

        If you are concerned about his stats so far, it’s called small samples. How small? Mauer’s BA went up 0.20 yesterday when he went 3 for 5.

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      • Trotter76 says:

        @Barkey: It wasn’t just an injury, like a sprained ankle or torn hammy. It was “bilateral leg weakness”. First, no one’s ever heard of that diagnosis, and second, any time a medical diagnosis of a professional athlete includes the word “weakness” and has no timetable for return, the red flags are pretty big and bright.

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      • Hans says:

        I’m not sure the strange injury makes it more concerning. Mauer’s had a strange injury before which took him out all of April in 2009 (http://espn.go.com/sports/fantasy/blog/_/name/bell_stephania/id/6360719/joe-mauer-newest-injury-very-unusual). And that season didn’t turn out too bad.

        There’s still concern about any catcher’s durability and especially one of his size, but I don’t know why the injuries strangeness makes it worse. I’d much rather hear “bilateral leg weakness” than, say, microfracture surgery. It’s certainly unsettling to not know for sure, but I’m not sure that makes the injury worse one. Most bad injuries have a clear diagnosis.

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      • Bryz says:

        Mauer himself says he doesn’t understand where “bilateral leg weakness” came from. One of the Minnesota sportswriters mentioned that if the Twins had simply called it “complications from offseason knee surgery” (which is basically what it was), this whole confusion over his injury would have been no more.

        As for the lack of a timetable for return, that’s just how the Twins’ medical staff rolls. Albert Pujols was predicted to be out 4-6 weeks, and he came back in 2. As for a Twins player, it feels like the exact opposite happens, because the staff can’t accurately predict a timetable for return.

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  6. Matty Brown says:

    crazy that C and 3B are producing identically as far as OPS is concerned.

    I hope Mauer can transition to the Hot Corner, wouldn’t feel like much of a drop off with the current collection of 3B in the league floundering.

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  7. mike wants wins says:

    I love Mauer as a player (not so much at this price, though).

    1. He’s worthless if he’s hurt and not playing. Worse than worthless, because he takes up 20% of their salary.
    2. He’s not worth much if he’s so worn out (as he has said in the past) that he can’t be Mauer at the end of the year.
    3. It’s only going to get worse as he ages.
    4. Therefore, imo, he should not be catching 120 games a year.
    5. I’d like to see 100 games catching, 20 at 1B and 40 at DH going forward (assuming they don’t have some awesome DH on the roster). That could be flipped if Morneau needs more time at DH and less at 1B, or if Morneau is hurt.
    6. Mauer’s bat can play at 3B. He’s Wade Boggs, only better, right? That’s the position I’d be testing him out at, but I don’t see it happening.

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    • Nik says:

      You must be talking about a different Wade Boggs, Mauer isn’t at that level.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Wade Boggs had an iso of 0.002. Mauer has a lot more power. in 2009 he added the needed 20 feet to clear the fences at the metro dome, then they moved them back 20 feet with the move to target field. He still hits lots of doubles (off the wall) but they need to move those fences in some if they want another MVP for Mauer.

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  8. AdamM says:

    I like the comparison to Boggs, but he’s not better than Boggs. Great at hitting the other way, and at 28 they both had 3 batting titles. I wouldn’t say Mauer’s better though, I’d just say that Mauer is Boggs at catcher.

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  9. Scott G says:

    I read a lot of the articles on here (and elsewhere), and based on the level of writing, I feel that asking this question might get me an answer. I’m always confused when writers or commentators will say things like “he’s one of the MORE athletic catcher’s we’ve ever seen.” I don’t think you’re trying to point out he’s merely an above average catcher in terms of athleticism (“more” in this case seems to be putting him in the upper 50%). I believe you’re trying to say he’s probably one of the MOST athletic we’ve seen (well above average to elite). That would be the only reason to even broach the topic. Is this just a rhetorical device that comes out naturally, or is there a reason for it?

    This question is genuine, and I’m not attempting to be a jerk about it.

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    • Jon says:

      It sounds like you’re asking more about word choice than about baseball analysis. If that’s the case, then I’d say that using “more” rather than “most” is a way of admitting that it is a subjective assessment without formal analysis, and is also therefore less subject to being refuted. If you say Mauer is one of the MOST athletic catchers ever, then if someone could name five or six who were more athletic, they could say you had overstated your claim. But saying he’s one of the MORE athletic catchers is more of a percentile claim – even if there are dozens of even more athletic catchers across history, Mauer might still be in the top 3%.

      I would say that was one of the more tangential issues raised in these comments.

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      • Scott G says:

        Clearly tangential. So if there are 10,000 catchers in history, and he’s the 4,999th most athletic, is it worth mentioning his athleticism? I don’t think it is. I would say that the majority of current athletes in all sports are the most athletic that they’ve ever been. Mauer is a very good catcher, clearly one of the most athletic in the league (and by association in history). I don’t think anyone could provide enough examples to refute his being a top 10% “athletic” catcher of all time. He’s probably pretty close to the most athletic ever.

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  10. 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.

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    • Yirmiyahu says:

      Well, that’s just not true. Using your criteria…. Luke Appling did it 8 times. Ozzie Smith did it 6 times. Pete Rose did it 6 times. Pee Wee Reese did it 5 times. Boggs did it 4 times. Willie Randolph did it 4 times. Kenny Lofton did it 3 times. Rod Carew did it 3 times. Derek Jeter did it in 2006… I could find many more, but I’m lazy.

      Check out the leaderboard for guys who posted 6+ WAR seasons with under 15 homeruns. Mauer’s done it twice. He’s already an incredibly unusual player.

      You’re right that a lot of the examples of non-power hitters putting up crazy WAR numbers are guys in their early 20’s, but those same players didn’t flame out when they aged. They either continued to succeed (those guys cited above), or they developed other skills. The fact is that power and discipline grow as players age. I think this is at least as true as your contention that speed and contact skills do not age well. Examples off the top of my head: Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan, Roberto Clemente, Carl Yastrzemski, Johnny Damon.

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      • david says:

        elston howard was the only catcher though. that fact becomes moot when considering the topic of the article was mauer changing positions.

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  11. halfchest says:

    There’s some argument that Mauer brings in some intangible revenue to the team. What do I mean by this? The Twins could have brought in another player on a similar contract such as Santana, Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford etc. Players that bring great value on the field and are getting paid that money. However because Mauer is a unique entity in that he is the hometown star and he basically has been the face of the franchise for close to a decade now his value is higher to the Twins than any of those aforementioned players.

    The argument is that Mauer automatically brings in more revenue that offsets his contract where as the Twins spending 23 million on another player or even split up amongst players wouldn’t bring in the same revenue for the team. I think an argument could be made that Mauer’s contract is more like a 15-18 million per year deal because of that extra value he brings to the Twins he might not bring to other teams. The same argument could be made for a player like Jeter or maybe Pujols. I can’t back this up because really it’s not quantifiable but it does make sense on some levels.

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    • walkoffblast says:

      But where does this extra money come from? I am not sure how a player being there a long time actually increases income for a team. To me it is likely the opposite because you end up paying extra for the “face of the franchise” moniker, which isn’t worth much of anything when it comes to actually playing the games. I could maybe be persuaded that when such a player leaves it could potentially decrease income though.

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      • adjacent says:

        It does sell a lot of #7 shirts and uniforms, coffee mugs, etc., etc., And a lot of tickets at Target Field. In that sense, even if Mauer is playing other position, if he is playing well, he is very valuable. I am not a FO expert to say is worth 23 mil/yr, but could be close.

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      • PhillyFan says:

        To visualize where the extra money potentially comes from it is neccessary to distinguish between win based and non-win based revenue (e.g.: revenue generated from apparel and other licensed merchandise sales resulting consumers’ decisions to purchase baseball tickets and/or licensed baseball merchandise that are influenced by factors other than winning, like a player’s popularity, public persona, etc).

        Consider for example Mauer and a theoretical player who happens to put up the same statistical performance at the same position in a given year (but is less popular). They would generate the same amount of win-based value and therefore win-based revenue. However, to the extent that Mauer is more popular with fans (at least partially because he is a hometown player) and fans’ purchase decisions are influenced by these sort of things, it becomes more likely that fans purchase additional Mauer merchandise rather than a aformentioned theoretical journeyman player’s merchandise.

        Therefore, in this situation a player like Mauer could conceivably generate more revenue than an otherwise statisticall equal ball player. In this case, a team would be willing to pay Mauer more than the other theoretical alternative player up to the amount of additional revenue he generates.

        It is also important to keep in mind that baseball teams are also ultimately focused on revenues (even the Yankees typically fail to spend 100% of their revenues on their entire organizational costs). Thus, if a player’s total revenue generation (including the revenue they generate from their performance leading to wins and their non-win based revenue) exceeds another player, a team is more likely to view that player as preferable. Thus, it may even be optimal for a team to sign a player who will generate a worse statistical performance (and therefore win-based revenue) if that player will generate more than enough off-field revenue to off-set the loss of win-based revenue generated by not signing a player with less marketability but superior on field skills.

        To this end, it could be argued that Mauer’s being from Minnesota and history of past success is likely enough for him to generate significantly greater non-win based revenues in the Minnesota market when compared to a similar player. That is to say, even if the Twins could have spent Mauer’s money on a different player this offseason (like Cliff Lee), the financial return to their investment on this other player may be projected to be less than the return to paying Mauer and having him put up a lesser statistical performance.

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      • cuck says:

        Remember especially that Mauer and Jeter were the two most sold jerseys in 2010. Teams get revenue from tha too. That is something to be said about keeping popular players who man a lot to the team. This is not to say that his contract is justified at how high it is,but just some realistic perspective.

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      • walkoffblast says:

        I believe there is a tendency to vastly exaggerate the amount of “extra” money teams get from having a strong merchandise seller for their fanbase. I have never quite figured it all out but most merchandise is MLB official and this is something that is divided evenly among all teams.

        As far as I remember people have had significant trouble trying to show an ace pitcher actually attracts additional people to the ballpark. If they cannot do that then I have trouble believing that there is a huge benefit in ticket saless for a positional player over another of comparable talents.

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    • mike wants wins says:

      Then they should have had more money to sign JJ Hardy, and not salary dump him. If that is true, then their payroll should be higher. I’ve heard the argument before, but their spending levels don’t bear it out.

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      • halfchest says:

        That doesn’t necessarily make sense. The Twins have increased their spending incredibly this past year or two. It was mostly because of the new stadium last year but they went up another 16 million this year.

        You could argue that without Mauer the Twins would have a payroll 5 million less than what they do. Sure they salary dumped Hardy but this is a tough year for the Twins payroll. They obviously had the 10 million dollar increase to Joe Mauer but they also had raises in the 2-3 million dollar range given to Delmon, Liriano, Slowey, Baker, Blackburn, and Cuddyer.

        The Twins had to make choices and Hardy was one of the casualties. They still increased payroll so you can’t say their spending levels don’t bear it out.

        When it comes down to it, it’s basically impossible to prove that Mauer brings in more revenue than a similar player would that who isn’t a hometown hero. I believe it’s at least plausible though.

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  12. buddy says:

    Why are you comparing MLB’s one year with Mauer’s 5 years? That makes no sense.

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  13. MikeS says:

    In all fairness to the LF comparison group, Juan Pierre is really pulling down their SLG.

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  14. Phantom Stranger says:

    They need to move him to third base, not first base. You can live with his contract if he continues to produce his typical numbers at third much more than first. He appears to be a very good athlete with a good enough arm at third, so I have no idea why they want to move him where they already have Morneau.

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    • knucka11 says:

      But with Cuddyer, Kubel, and Thome all free agents after the year, you can DH Morneau when Mauer plays first and then play first when Mauer catches.

      If you assume they keep Delmon, retain either Kubel or Cuddyer and sign a catcher who can at the very worst hit their weight to backup Mauer, you’re looking at 4.5 players (Young, Kubel/Cuddyer, Morneau, Mauer, backup catcher who only plays part time when Mauer plays 1B/DH) for 4 positions (RF, DH, 1B, C). Thus the move to first base (at least part time through 2013 when Morneau’s contract expires).

      Personally I don’t know if Mauer would be good enough defensively at third, he has the arm strength but I’m not quite sold on his mobility being good enough for the position. Also I want to see Valencia given more time to stick. As much batted ball luck as he had last year he’s been just as unlucky this year while hitting line drives at basically the same rate. I’ve watch most Twins games this year and he hits at least one absolute rocket right at somebody every game. I don’t think he’ll hit .311 every year like last year and I don’t think he’ll hit about 20 bombs every year like he’s on pace to do this year, either. I think he’ll settle in about .280 with 13-15 home runs, which would be perfectly adequate if he keeps playing dang good defense.

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  15. CircleChange11 says:

    Look at the body types of the best/longevity catchers, Berra, Fisk, IRod, Bench.

    I suppose one could even throw Yadi in there.

    Mauer will never have a nickname like Pudge.

    Of couse there are slighter built guys like Pena and Santiago, but the realm of the 6’5 catcher for life is uncharted. There have been others like Murphy, etc that were moved off the position.

    If you’re going to last as a catcher you better have a high tolerance for squatting. Tall guys generally don’t for leverage based reasons.

    To me, this was something that needed to be highly considered in the contract, perhaps even including a clause/scale based on position played.

    As someone else pointed out, Mauer at catcher allows the team to play a good hitter at another position. Mauer elsewhere causes MIN to play a far lesser hitter at catcher. Overall, it hurts the team.

    Of course with Mauer at catcher there’s also the risk of injury via collision.

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    • cuck says:

      Mauer’s value comes from that too. If it were a tie game, bottom of the ninth, one out, and game seven of the world series, and you were on third; on a shallow sac fly, who would you rather be charging: Joe Mauer or Drew Butera?

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    • chuckb says:

      How does Yadi fit in with the others in terms of longevity?

      I think there are genuine concerns about how Yadi’s going to age considering his body type, not to mention the way Bengie aged. He’s a very good catcher but he doesn’t belong anywhere near that other group in terms of production or longevity, at least not yet.

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  16. baty says:

    Mauer’s value seems misleading because I want to believe he’s a legitimate full time catcher, but in reality he’s been less than that and makes up for lost time by accumulating numbers that most full time catchers can’t touch. It’s easy to get caught up in his desirable rate of production at the position, but you can argue that he’s only had the chance to put in 2 seasons of full time work behind the plate out of 7.5 years.

    Mauer is kind of mythical. That “mythical value” may have cost the Twins a 3+ WAR player for each of the next 5 years at that position. His ability as a ball player is certainly tremendous, but too often his conversations are preceded by “what ifs” and conjecture because his career is so undefined. He should have been transitioned away from the catching position after that amazing 2009 season.

    2011 “non-Mauer catchers” = -0.5 WAR (with 60 games started @ catcher)
    2011 Wilson Ramos = 1.8 WAR (with 57 games started @ catcher)

    ouch

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  17. jason ellingson says:

    How come it hasn’t been mentioned that if Mauer moves to first base we should expect him to hit better then if he was catching. Not having that workload behind the plate he will be fresher for hitting. I still think mauer just needs to get healthy, and he definitely can still have some good years in front of him behind the plate.

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    • Jon says:

      This may be true, but I’ve been disappointed in comparable situations for older players. Mike Piazza and Jorge Posada are good examples of players expected to have rebounding offensive numbers since they weren’t straining their bodies by catching anymore, and neither one was more productive. I’m not sure whether anyone’s looked at a real data set for this issue. It might be difficult to assess, as most of these switches are prompted by injury, age, or diminished performance in the first place.

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  18. cuck says:

    The Twins did draft Pudge’s kid…

    Though in all seriousness movng Mauer to third would be smart. He typically maxes out at around 135 games in a season, if he would move to third he could probably make 140 consistently as a minimum. If he could make 150 it would boost his counting stats and maybe make up for a bit of the lost production. He has the arm for it and moving Valencia to a middle infield spot would fix one of those holes. Valencia could also move to a corner outfield spot (hopefully) vacated by Young, or Cudddyer. A Valencia/Span/Revere outfield would not be too bad. Valencia has the third base arm, no reason that couldn’t translate to left.

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  19. hunter says:

    It amazes me how some people still argue about jersey sales when claiming how much a player is worth. Go read up on mlb policy on the subject.

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