Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Mauer and a Gold Glove

For some reason the subject of Joe Mauer and a possible Gold Glove award for him at first base kept popping up on my Twitter timeline Monday.

One ignornamus insisted that Craig Biggio won one of the big ugly trophies during his catching days and might have won one in the outfield. Not true. All four of Biggio's came at second base.

Reality: Only two players have won Gold Gloves at two different positions. Darrin Erstad at first base and outfield (for most of the award's history, the voters made no differentation between left, right and center. This is no longer the case.) and Placido Polanco, who won twice at second base with Detroit and once at third for the Phillies.

Biggio did begin his career as a catcher. He was the Astros regular behind the plate for three seasons and made an All-Star team. Then he shifted to second -- precisely BECAUSE he wasn't a Gold Glove-caliber catcher, and he was an All-Star caliber hitter.

The Astros wanted to keep his bat in the lineup and figured they could improve on Biggio's defense behind the dish. Had he been a high-quality defensive catcher, he probably would have remained a catcher.

Mauer was a legitmate Gold Glove catcher, and those types seldom change positions. Mauer moved because more is known about concussions than in decades past. Move his career forward a decade, and he probably doesn't move to first base -- and he might well have had more brain damage and had his career curtailed, as was the case with Mickey Cochrane, Mauer's closest historical comp.

Should Mauer win the Gold Glove? That is the conventional wisdom in Twins Territory, in large part because Dick Bremer and Co. started beating that drum by midseason. For what it's worth, John Dewan of Baseball Info Systems says Mitch Moreland of the Boston Red Sox had the most runs saved among American League first basemen.

I'd like to see Mauer win it, not because the award changes anything about him but because it would be a little bit more on his side when his Hall of Fame credentials are up for debate. I've said this before, repeatedly: He's done the heavy lifting for Cooperstown.

1 comment:

  1. For a long time now, I have believed the HOF voters (both the writers and the Veteran's committee) have found flimsy reasons to keep the best of their generation out of the Hall.

    A medical reason, ending the brightest years of a Star, so the continued longevity is not as glamorous should not be a deterrent.

    Mauer has already proved his HOF credentials, so has Oliva and Kaat.

    And, those are just Twins who should be there.