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Mauer’s Historical Run in Jeopardy

Posted by Raphy on September 30, 2009

With his 1-4 tonight, Joe Mauer's batting average dropped to .366, an excellent average, but no longer the all-time best for a catcher (who qualified for the batting title).  With 4 games left to the season, Mauer has fallen behind Babe Phelps, who hit .367 for the Dodgers in 1936. Of course, the batting title qualifications were different then and Phelps only had 349 PA in his signature season. If we raise the bar a bit, Mauer only needs to stay above the .362 that was recorded by Bill Dickey in 1936 and matched by Mike Piazza in 1997. Here are the all time BA leaders among players who qualified for the batting title and played at least 50% of their games at catcher (does not include tonight's game, but I'm leaving Mauer 2009 in for comparative purposes):

  Cnt Player              **BA**  Year Age Tm  Lg  G   PA  AB  R   H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS  OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions
+----+-----------------+---------+----+---+---+--+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+-----+-----+-----+---------+
    1 Joe Mauer            .367   2009  26 MIN AL 132 576 501  88 184 29  1 28  93  68  12  60   2   0   5  13   4  1  .441  .597 1.038 *2D       
    2 Babe Phelps          .367   1936  28 BRO NL 115 349 319  36 117 23  2  5  57  27   0  18   3   0   0   6   1  0  .421  .498  .919 *2/9      
    3 Mike Piazza          .362   1997  28 LAD NL 152 633 556 104 201 32  1 40 124  69  11  77   3   0   5  19   5  1  .431  .638 1.069 *2/D      
    4 Bill Dickey          .362   1936  29 NYY AL 112 472 423  99 153 26  8 22 107  46   0  16   3   0   0   0   0  2  .428  .617 1.045 *2        
    5 Chief Meyers         .358   1912  31 NYG NL 126 435 371  60 133 16  5  6  54  47   0  20   8   9   0   0   8  0  .441  .477  .918 *2        
    6 Mickey Cochrane      .357   1930  27 PHA AL 130 561 487 110 174 42  5 10  85  55   0  18   1  18   0   0   5  0  .424  .526  .950 *2        
    7 Gabby Hartnett       .354   1937  36 CHC NL 110 405 356  47 126 21  6 12  82  43   0  19   0   6   0   8   0  0  .424  .548  .972 *2        
    8 Bubbles Hargrave     .353   1926  33 CIN NL 105 365 326  42 115 22  8  6  62  25   0  17   4  10   0   0   2  0  .406  .525  .931 *2        
    9 Spud Davis           .349   1933  28 PHI NL 141 540 495  51 173 28  3  9  65  32   0  24   5   8   0  21   2  0  .395  .473  .868 *2        
   10 Mickey Cochrane      .349   1931  28 PHA AL 122 521 459  87 160 31  6 17  89  56   0  21   3   3   0   0   2  3  .423  .553  .976 *2        
   11 Joe Mauer            .347   2006  23 MIN AL 140 608 521  86 181 36  4 13  84  79  21  54   1   0   7  24   8  3  .429  .507  .936 *2D       

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 at 9:56 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Mauer’s Historical Run in Jeopardy”

  1. there has been a lot of chatter on the airwaves lately that mauer's '09 effort is the best ever for any catcher. i think piazza in '97 ranks as one of the best, bench in '70 (and a great defensive season as well), Pudge in '99, Javy Lopez in '03, dickey in '36 and '37, Roy Campanella in '53, Gabby Hartnett in '30. is mauer's season much better than any of those?

  2. TheGoofyOne Says:

    Three more greatest of the greatest: Berra 1950 (or pretty much any year), Torre 1966, Bench 1972.

  3. TheGoofyOne Says:

    While I'm at it, what those three have in common is that they all moved to other positions and didn't give up on their hitting. Neither did B.J. Surhoff, Jason Kendall or Craig Biggio. But several guys really became stars after leaving the catcher's role: Carlos Delgado, Dale Murphy and Brian Downing, to name three, and the first two almost entirely forgotten as having played that position. I know a few other guys did it in the 1800s, and first decade of the 1900s, when positions were a little more fluid, but is there anyone notable who did that between 1920 and 1970? And has anyone ever been notable for starting to hit AFTER becoming a catcher? The closest I can think of is Jorge Posada, who played as a second baseman his first year in the minors, and that doesn't really count.

    Oh, and one more former catcher who became a pretty darned good hitter: Babe Ruth was a catcher when he first started playing ball.

  4. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Jack Clements batted .394 in 1895. Only 355 PA, but apparently it qualified for the batting title, according to B-R.

    There are some other high average seasons for catchers in the 1870s, but I usually search since 1893.

  5. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    It should be noted Mauer has only caught 105 games this season. I'm not looking up all thee other seasons listed in the comments but I assume most of them were 130-140 games.

  6. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Ruth was a lefthanded catcher?

    Todd Zeile was another guy who came up as a catcher.

    Bob Boone started out in the minors as a third baseman and was moved to catcher.

  7. TheGoofyOne Says:

    Ruth wasn't a catcher for long, obviously. Just at his school, until he started making fun of the pitcher, saying he could do a better job.

  8. Piazza in 1997 had a much better year than Mauer. He should have won the MVP award.