Mauer’s is a great story in many ways, and it’s nice to write about something positive.
The 6’5″ Mauer was arguably the best high school multi-sport athlete in history. In 2000, he was USA Today’s high school player of the year – in football. He repeated as the player of the year in 2001 – but this time for baseball. Oh, yeah, and he was also all-state in basketball.
He was the MLB #1 draft pick overall. That’s not surprising, given that he batted above .600 in his senior year of high school, which was completely expected because he had never dipped below .542 in any previous season. Hell, he had batted over .500 with no strike-outs as a freshman, while playing against the big kids. In his four years of high-school baseball, he struck out only once!
He spent his entire major league career with the same team. As ESPN notes: “He is one of 22 former MVPs to play his entire 15-plus-year career with one franchise. Each of the previous 21 is in the Hall of Fame.”
But it was not just any team that he dedicated his entire career to. What makes the story really great is that it was his home-town team. The only city where he ever played major league baseball was the very same one where he was a high school phenom. In fact, he was born in the twin cities and never left home.
A quick summary of his achievements in pro baseball:
He is one of the best offensive catchers in baseball history, and won three gold gloves on defense as well.
He won three batting championships en route to a .306 lifetime average, but as high as that is, it is deceptively low. According to baseball-reference.com, he batted .328 lifetime in games he played as a catcher. (He stopped playing that dangerous and demanding position after a serious injury.) Among all catchers with 3000 or more at bats, that is the highest lifetime batting average in baseball history.
The top five:
Joe Mauer .328
Mickey Cochrane .320
Mike Piazza .313
Bill Dickey .313
Ernie Lombardi .308
In his MVP year, 2009, Mauer may have had the best offensive year any catcher ever had. He led the American League in both on-base percentage and slugging average, and got 27 of the 28 votes in the MVP balloting. To put that in perspective: Mike Piazza, who is generally considered the best offensive catcher in MLB history, never led his league in either OBP or SLG, but Mauer led in both in the same year, and also led in OBP in another year,