Go Twins!

Who’s your favorite Minnesota Twins player? When my grandson Ryan was
three (he’s now six) was asked by me who is favorite Twins player was,
he would respond quickly, “Joe Ma-wa.” Of course, he meant Joe Mauer,
#7.


by Howard Lestrud
ECM Online Managing Editor

Who’s your favorite Minnesota Twins player? When my grandson Ryan was three (he’s now six) was asked by me who is favorite Twins player was, he would respond quickly, “Joe Ma-wa.” Of course, he meant Joe Mauer, #7.

Now, Joe Mauer, the American League’s Most Valuable Player of 2009, is also my favorite Twins player. One of my other favorites, Carlos (Go-Go) Gomez is hanging out in Milwaukee with the Brewers. I’ve always liked Mauer and like him even more now after his banner 2009 season.

I was fortunate a few years ago to have shook the hand of the 2009 MVP. Then, he had just received his Silver Bat for winning his first batting title. That was in 2006. Now, Mauer has won three American League batting titles and just last week brought home the most coveted honor, the MVP trophy.

The Twins will really have something going for them next April when they open the 2010 season in the new Target Field complex with two Most Valuable Players in the lineup, Joe Mauer catching and Justin Morheau (2006) playing first base. On top of that, these two guys are best of friends. {instory snippet}

It is hoped that Mauer will be a Minnesota Twin for a long time. His current contract runs out at the end of the 2010 season. I predict that Mauer will be signed go a long-term contract, maybe six years at a paltry sum of $20 million a year. It is likely that the New York Yankees would up the ante substantially but it is also likely that Mauer would prefer to stay close to his native St. Paul.

Really, what is the difference between $20 million and $30 million anyway?

Joe Mauer is only 26 but in his short career he has become one of the best players in all of baseball. He undoubtedly is the best catcher in the Major Leagues, based on his offensive and defensive skills. This past year, Mauer led the American League in batting (.365) , on base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587).

Already, Mauer is being mentioned as one of the all-time best catchers and that puts him in the category with Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza and Carlton Fisk.

If you’re looking for some game video of the new American League MVP and some complete statistics, go to the Minnesota Twins Web site at http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=min

Want to find a biography on young Mauer, go to Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Mauer

Let’s read some of the Wikipedia biography material on Joseph Patrick Mauer:

Mauer is considered by many to be the best catcher in baseball and has been said by some, including Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., to have the best swing in baseball.

In his breakout 2006 season, Mauer became the first catcher in major league history to lead both leagues in batting average and the first American League catcher to win the batting title, finishing with an average of .347.

In 2008, he became the first American League catcher to win the batting title twice when he led the AL with an average of .328; Mauer also won his first Gold Glove Award.

In 2009, he became the first catcher to lead in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage in a single year. Mauer’s .365 average, which is the all-time highest mark among catchers in MLB history, led Major League Baseball. In capturing the MVP award, Mauer claimed 27 of 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers of America.

Mauer played football, basketball, and baseball for Saint Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders. In his senior year he became the only athlete ever to be selected as the USA Today High School Player of the Year in two sports (football in 2000 as a quarterback and baseball in 2001 as a catcher and pitcher).

Mauer attended the same high school as Baseball Hall of Famer and former Milwaukee Brewer/Minnesota Twin/Toronto Blue Jay Paul Molitor. Molitor has said that Mauer “has the best swing he had ever seen”.

Jim O’Neill, Mauer’s baseball coach at Cretin-Derham Hall, says that “It’s real difficult to tell whether Joe had a great night or a bad night by the way he acts. He’s pretty consistent in his behavior, and that’s a good thing for a baseball player.”

O’Neill said his former student has been groomed for this job since he was a little boy. That’s when Mauer’s Dad, Jake, created a contraption he later named the “Quickswing.” The device dropped balls down a tube from eye level and released them at waist level. It helped Mauer develop his swing, said O’Neill.

“Another guy that came from Cretin-Derham Hall, Paul Molitor, was very similar, had a good short swing,” O’Neil says. “And they’re both able to wait on the ball so long because they don’t have the big swing. Like anything, you keep simple and keep it small or short, there’s not a lot of holes in it and not a lot of room for errors.”

Mauer averaged more than 20 points a game as a point guard for Cretin-Derham Hall. He was also named to the All-State team during his final two years on Cretin-Derham’s basketball team.

Mauer also had an extremely accomplished high school football career. During his senior season as the Raiders’ quarterback, Mauer completed 178 of 288 passes (62% completion percentage), for 3,022 yards, 41 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He finished his two year career as a starter with 5,528 yards and 73 touchdowns, leading the Raiders to two consecutive Class 5A State Championship Game appearances and winning the title in 1999. Mauer ultimately turned down a football scholarship from Florida State University to enter the Major League Baseball Draft. Mauer was selected by the Twins as the first overall pick of the 2001 draft, ahead of prospect Mark Prior, who was taken second overall by the Chicago Cubs.

Looking for a pile of statistics on Joe Mauer, go to Baseball-Reference.com at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mauerjo01.shtml

There’s even a site put up by the Joe Mauer Fan Club. Be sure and visit this site filled with Mauer statistics, photos and video. One really neat offering on this Web site is a video of a photo shoot at Target Field for MplsStPaul Magazine. Go to http://www.joemauerfanclub.com/About_Us.php

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