"If I were to base everything on his career behind the plate solely, he would be a no doubt Hall of Famer in my mind, because of his batting titles and MVP. He managed to do something what a lot of catchers throughout history couldn't manage."
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We release three Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs a week: on Tuesday (Minnesota Vikings related), Wednesday (Minnesota Wild related), and Thursday (Minnesota Timberwolves related).
For this special edition, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland asks our Wild and Twins analyst Peter Ripka what he thinks of the many angles of Joe Mauer's legacy.
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Joe Mauer announced his retirement yesterday. It seems like people are in two camps: gushing about him and complaining about his contract and his injuries. Where do you stand and why?
I've been vocal in the past about how he was overpaid towards the end of his career for an offensively under-performing first baseman. However, he was still decent at first, especially after he adjusted to playing there. He was an outstanding catcher the entire part of his career that he spent behind the plate. Additionally, he was probably one of the best hitters in a league when hitting with two strikes, especially considering that putting the ball in play is a dying art.
His approach at the plate frustrated me like it did others at times. For example, he wasn't all that clutch in big moments. With all of that said, a 15-year career isn't something that can be scoffed at. He had one hell of career aside from the injuries, some questionable at best.
Do you think Mauer is HoF material? Why or why not?
If I were to base everything on his career behind the plate solely, he would be a no doubter in my mind, because of his batting titles and MVP. He managed to do something what a lot of catchers throughout history couldn't manage.
If I look at his career as a whole he is a bit more of a fringe candidate, as his offensive production diminished over his last few years. However, I would still put him in because of his career hit numbers and batting average.
Will Mauer’s postseason play have a negative impact on his legacy?
Fans will always hold it against him. But, to bring in a comparison from another sport: is Dan Marino not considered one of the best all time? He never won a Super Bowl and wasn't spectacular in the playoffs. The stock of the teams' success in the playoffs shouldn't reflect a single players legacy.
And to add to that, the ball down the line in 2009 was fair and his story may have been different if that was called correctly.
When all is said and done, what will Mauer’s legacy be?
Mauer's legacy will be as one of the all-time best Twins players. I'd put him with the likes of Harmon, Tony O., Hrbek, and the rest. I don't think I would be alone in saying that no other player should wear the #7 for the Twins.
Unfortunately, he will also be remembered as the quiet kid in the club house who kept everything level and never showed any fire. As well as, of course, the bilateral leg weakness.
Any other thoughts on Baby Jesus?
He never lived up to that nickname. He was supposed to be out savior but, because of the management of this franchise among other things, he ended up being a hindrance more that a savior because of their unwillingness to pay over a certain amount. When Joe signed the contract he was worth it. Unfortunately that wasn't true towards the end of his career. He had one helluva a career and was always very professional. He was one of the few professional athletes that was a good role model to kids across Twins territory. He should go down as one of the best catchers to play the game.
Peter Ripka is the original Rambling On podcast co-host and has been a contributor since its inception. He’s currently the Wild analyst, a position he’s held for several years. A Wild and Twins season ticket holder, his writing combines the passion of a fan and the insight of a beat writer.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. Founder of Rambling On, he has written hundreds of articles and hosted almost a hundred podcasts. He also directs all of the content on Rambling On, created and maintains the website, and is social media content director. Previously, he was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music by visiting his music page or buying his music on BandCamp, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.