Saturday, August 25, 2018

Mauer's milestone

Joe Mauer passed Rod Carew on the Twins' career hit list Friday. That's hardly an insignificant accomplishment, but it's also not something likely to make it onto a Cooperstown plaque.

Still, Mauer is surrounded on that list by Hall of Famers: Kirby Puckett above him, Carew below. (Mauer does have more than 500 more at-bats as a Twin than Carew.)

If we take the longer view and add in the Washington years of the franchise, No 1. becomes Sam Rice, a Hall of Fame outfielder who spent almost all of his 20-year career with the Senators, 1915-1934. Rice, who hit .322 for his career in the highest era for batting average, had 2,889 hits for Washington; he is, I believe, the player who came closest to the 3,000 hit club without reaching that round number.

Rice, Puckett, and then two other old-time Senators, Joe Judge and Clyde Milan, neither of whom is in Cooperstown. Mauer is likely to catch Milan this year. Judge, he's going to need a couple more seasons -- and the same for Puckett, who is ahead of Judge by just 13 hits.

Nobody other than Mauer, and maybe not even him, knows if Mauer's going to try to play next year. No matter how one slices and dices his stats, 2018 is shaping up as the worst of his distinguished career. He's 35 now, he has another child on the way, he missed about a month with concussion symptoms earlier in the season -- he has reason to hang 'em up if he so chooses.

And he has reason to want to keep going. Even in his worst season, Mauer still has the team's highest on-base percentage (unless you count the likes of trade acquistions Logan Forsythe and Tyler Austin).

I'll accept either decision.

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