Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Joe Mauer and the Hall of Fame

Tuesday was a slow day, even with the general managers meetings going on, so I'll drag out something I've been hanging onto for a few days.

Jay Jaffe, who writes for Sports Illustrated, devised a system for measuring "Hall of Fame worthiness" that he dubbed JAWS. Baseball Reference has pick it up and given it a spot on its invaluable website.

By JAWS, for example, Tony Oliva (finalist for the Veterans Committee vote next month) ranks 32nd among right fielders. There are 24 Hall of Famers on the right field list; 19 of them rank ahead of Tony-O.

Anyway, I was poking around in BR's JAWS section last week, and discovered this: By JAWS, the ninth greatest catcher in major league history is Joe Mauer.

I've been saying for years that Mauer has done the heavy lifting for the Hall: three batting titles, an MVP award, a handful of Gold Gloves. This system essentially agrees.

Of the eight catchers listed ahead of Mauer, six are in the Hall. Pudge Rodriguez isn't yet eligible, and Mike Piazza is one of the many Selig-era players the BBWAA has basically decided to ignore. Behind Mauer are such legends as Roy Campanella and Gabby Hartnett (and a few mistakes, such as Rick Ferrell and Ray Schalk).

Now, you don't have to regard JAWS as the last word in such things. JAWS sees Gary Carter as better than Yogi Berra, and I'm not buying that one either. 

The point is, Mauer was been a historically good catcher. It's easy to lose track of that reality amid all the disdain aimed his way by lazy talk-radio hosts and metro columnists. 

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