Joe Mauer Goes Behind The Plate For The First Time Since 2013 In What Could Be His Final Major League Game
Yesterday was the final *full* day of the 2018 MLB regular season (as two game 163s took place today). Fans got to say to goodbye to team legends. Guys like Adam Jones and Hunter Pence both played in what will likely be their final games for their respective teams. While both of those guys were synonymous with their clubs; they didn't spend their entire career there. Pence played in Philly and Houston while Adam Jones had a cup of coffee in Seattle before getting traded to the Orioles.
Every one of Joe Mauer's 1858 major league games took place as a Minnesota Twin.
Joe Mauer has been with his hometown Minnesota Twins since the 2004 season. He was drafted first overall in 2001 and has been with the organization ever since. A Minnesota high school legend, Mauer was All-American as both a QB in football and C in baseball. The only man ever to be the USA Today High School player of the year in two sports. He was even offered a full-ride to be the starting quarterback for FSU. His senior year he threw for 41 TD and only 5 INT. Oh and in basketball he averaged 20 points a game too. However the most ridiculous Joe Mauer high school stat is that he only struck out once in 4 years. Imagine being that one guy that K'd Joe Mauer in high school? What a story to have in your back pocket. I feel like you could use that to get a bullshit scholarship to a small school at the very least off of potential alone. "But Skip, I struck-out Joe Mauer!"
While he hasn't been the same Joe Mauer of his career pre-2012 he's been able to stick around as a first basemen and extend his career. Before yesterday 2013 was the last time Joe Mauer caught in the big leagues. In what should be his final game as a member of the Minnesota Twins (as his contract expires this offseason) and possibly of his entire Major League career, Joe Mauer went behind the plate one final time.
If that doesn't give you chills you haven't watched baseball the last 15 years.
In a move that Twins Manager Paul Molitor already spoke with White Sox manager Rick Renteria before the game about doing all of Target Field went nuts to see their native son back behind home plate where he won 3 batting titles in a 4 year span one final time. Molly asked if the lead off batter would take the first pitch of his at bat (which he promised would be a ball) so Mauer could catch one last time before exiting the game.
Renteria could've been an ass hole and said no, but in a game that was essentially meaningless for both clubs he did the right thing and let (IMO) the future Hall of Famer get the ovation he rightly deserves.
Whether or not Mauer plays again remains to be seen. He still hasn't officially announced his retirement. While he is 35, he did hit .282 this season with an OBP of .351. As just a first basemen/DH at this point in his career I don't know if teams will be signing up for a guy that all with almost no power (although he did hit his first career walk off HR against the Red Sox last year)
At this point in his career he isn't going to be winning batting titles, and he's never been a real power threat, but Mauer for sure could help a contender off the bench. A young up and coming contender could use his leadership and bat off the bench. For some reason the Braves come to mind.
If I was him I'd want to win a World Series, but it's hard to top what he got to experience last night for a send off. It's almost hard to believe but Joe Mauer made the playoffs 4 times in his career and his teams were 0-10 in those games. I'd understand if he wanted to experience at the very least a postseason win before calling it a career.
In today's game it's extremely rare to see a guy play his entire career in one uniform. That means a lot to guys, there's wikipedia articles about the very subject. I'm sure the fact that he got to do so for his hometown club makes it extra special, so I wouldn't be surprised if this was the last we saw Joe Mauer as a major league baseball player.
I'm just a big Joe Mauer fan and want to give him the respect he deserves. He played the game the right way, stayed loyal to his home, and put up some fucking numbers in the process. From 2005-2010 (you could make the argument until 2012) Mauer was the best catcher in baseball. Playing physically demanding position known much more for defense, Mauer did something no American League catcher ever did; win a batting title. Something Mauer did 3 times in his career (2006, 2008, 2009). A career highlighted by an MVP award in 2009. The one year of Mauer's career where the power numbers showed. 28 homers. In his age 26 season Mauer appeared in 138 games with a gawdy .365/.444/.587 slash line.
As someone who's baseball fandom was at its peak in the mid 2000's there was no better catcher in the majors than Joe Mauer. injuries hurt him in the 2nd half of his career but in my eyes he's a hall of famer. It bums me out the Twins weren't more competitive in 2018. I thought they would be, but at least they won in (likely) Mauer's final game as a Twin. Hell of a run for #7. I'm sure no Twin will ever wear that number again. He finishes his Twins career as a .306 hitter.
P.S. what a sweet moment between Joe and his daughters pre-game. I'm really happy an all-around well liked and respected guy like Joe Mauer got the send off he deserves.
If you want to read a way better, real journo article on Mauer's final game this is fantastic.