June 5, 2014

Joe Mauer vs. Kirby Puckett


Presented without comment: Joe Mauer is 31 years old. Here are his career numbers with four months left in his age-31 season compared to Kirby Puckett's career numbers through age 31:

THROUGH AGE 31           KIRBY     MAUER
Batting Average          .320      .321
On-Base Percentage       .357      .403
Slugging Percentage      .466      .463
OPS                      .823      .866
Wins Above Replacement   35.8      44.7

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  1. Keep preaching Gleeman. I believe it, but there are so many who don’t. I just don’t understand all the vitriol that is spewed at Mauer. It’s just ridiculous.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — June 5, 2014 @ 8:30 am

  2. I think what surprises me the most about this post is how similar Jeter and Kirby are through age 31.

    Comment by Kavan — June 5, 2014 @ 9:06 am

  3. But Aaron, don’t let those silly statistics (that define who a player is) guide this argument, let your gut tell you what to think. Does Joe play with grit? Does he get his uniform dirty? How many seeds can he fit into his mouth at once? Does he slide headfirst? How good are his teammates? Answer those questions, and you’ll find the better player.

    Comment by Justin — June 5, 2014 @ 9:11 am

  4. Can you update with numbers for BA with RISP?

    Comment by Diddy — June 5, 2014 @ 9:33 am

  5. Mauer with RISP: .327 AVG, .450 OBP, .474 SLG, .924 OPS
    Kirby with RISP: .322 AVG, .383 OBP, .496 SLG, .879 OPS

    Comment by Aaron Gleeman — June 5, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  6. Ohhhhh snap!

    Comment by Nathan — June 5, 2014 @ 11:29 am

  7. I’d love to see comparisons to Rod Carew, Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn next…

    Comment by McGivey87 — June 5, 2014 @ 9:39 am

  8. But wasn’t Puckett playing in a lower-offense universe at the time?

    Looking at WAR (which adjusts for such things), it is indeed surprising how similar these players are.

    Comment by Rob McMillin — June 5, 2014 @ 10:07 am

  9. If Mauer had Puckets build people would be viewing him more positively. You just don’t expect a guy that big to be hitting flairs all the time and he gets crapped on for it. Although, of late he’s been struggling but that has to come with age. He’s better than a .270 hitter though. He’ll heat up eventually. It just wont be a 10-15 homer month that people want.

    Comment by Ty M — June 5, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  10. This is fantastic.

    Comment by neil — June 5, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  11. Derek Jeter at 31- .309/.389/.450
    Kirby Puckett at 31 – .319/.352/.460
    Joe Mauer at 31- 6/4/3

    Comment by Without Comment — June 5, 2014 @ 2:47 pm

  12. Wow. I consider myself a pretty statistically literate guy and a Mauer “apologist”, but I had never taken the time to compare Mauer to Puckett. I would guessed that Puckett had a higher SLG, OPS, and War, but I would have been wrong!

    Comment by Dave — June 5, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

  13. Playoff & World Series:
    Mauer Puckett Jeter
    BA .286 .309 .307
    OBP .359 .361 .375
    SLG .314 .536 .463
    OPS .673 .897 ,838

    Comment by kblack1011 — June 5, 2014 @ 3:45 pm

  14. You forgot some relevant info:
    Mauer Puckett Jeter
    Games 9 24 158
    PA 39 109 300
    Sample size to say the least. If you want to judge Mauer based on 9 games and 24 plate appearances, then I think you’re really looking to pick nits.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — June 5, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  15. Sorry, Jeter should be 115 games, not 158. We’re only going through age 31. Also, Jeter’s playoff numbers are actually worse than his career averages. I guess that means he isn’t as good once the playoffs start…

    Comment by D-Luxxx — June 5, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

  16. 0-9 will limit your playoff AB’s. Puckett and Jeter are who they are because of what they did in the playoffs and World Series. If you ignore what they are know for, these are really good comparison.

    Comment by kblack1011 — June 5, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  17. Ah yes, because Puckett and Jeter single-handedly won all those series, right? You’re kidding yourself if you think that. The 91 & 87 Twins were very good teams, and we obviously know what the Yankees were throughout Jeter’s career.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — June 5, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

  18. As for the Twins, well, they were the best in the Central Division, which wasn’t saying very much at the time.

    Comment by D-Luxxx — June 5, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

  19. The 2006 Twins and the MVP, the best pitcher in baseball and Mauer. So that couldn’t been a team expected to win a playoff game. If Mauer has met your expectation since signing his contract, then I think that great for you. I just think these comparison are silly. If he shows the championship leadership, I’ll listen to the Puckett/Jeter comparison. If Mauer wins another couple of battling titles and battles the .400 mark after 30, then I’ll listen to the Carew/Gwynn comparison. I hope you are right, but I just don’t see it. Mauer was a great player, it just doesn’t make him a great player today,

    Comment by kblack1011 — June 5, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  20. Your post is full of silly shit while comparing elite hitters at defensive premium positions is actually a really great idea. The Puckett/Mauer comparison is especially hilarious because Mauer is constantly dinged for his lack of power… but he actually out-slugged Puckett.

    Championship leadership, random benchmarks like batting .400, these are actually the silly things to be thinking about. They ignore context. As for the playoffs, it’s small sample size. History is littered with great teams that didn’t win and bad teams that did. Mauer hit a double in that series against the Yankees that he will never get credit for, that changed things massively but would be totally forgettable in a regular season game.

    Here is Mauer’s playoff line with that double that somehow wasn’t a double: .306/.375/.333. A massive jump simply by adding a single outcome back in. Small sample size exposed.

    Comment by RandyMosssss — June 5, 2014 @ 5:56 pm

  21. My mistake: Mauer didn’t ‘out slug’ Puckett but basically has hit in line with him in terms of power while being an OBP machine as well. Doesn’t invalidate the rest of my points.

    Comment by BradyMoss — June 5, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

  22. Did you really just give Mauer that double in NY?? hahaha…wow

    Comment by Andy Stocker — July 3, 2014 @ 12:15 pm

  23. I can’t wait for the comparisons to Will Clark and Larry Walker who have similar WAR. Or is that going to mess up the comparison to Hall of Fame players only?

    Comment by kblack1011 — June 5, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

  24. Also keep in mind:
    Kirby for all the highlight reels of him jumping over the bagged ‘fence’ in the Metrodome was a not a good defensive CF. He simply had a terrible lack of range.
    Mauer was a decent defensive Catcher.

    Comment by Steve Johnson — June 5, 2014 @ 9:09 pm

  25. I’m really can’t see myself buying jewelry any time soon #blooddiamond

    Comment by Randy Crouton — June 6, 2014 @ 12:08 am

  26. Can we compare what both players did from age 28 to age 35 when the times comes? That should make for an interesting discussion. Show some guts and post the comparison when we get there,

    Comment by ewen21 — June 6, 2014 @ 5:45 am

  27. These two “presented without comment” posts are the epitome of mailing it in.

    Comment by YoYo — June 6, 2014 @ 7:13 am

  28. Joe Mauer deserves every bit of vitriol directed at him. As a first baseman and having easily the worst year of his career through 53 games, Mauer’s WAR and overall value are taking a nose dive. Kirby had consistent production throughout his career and averaged nearly 60 more hits per year than Joe. 60! And I know Kirby had a big contract for his time, but Joe’s is in an entirely different stratosphere. At this point in his career Joe looks to be on a downward trajectory, while Jeter and Kirby had lots of good production left in the tank after age 31. In 2014 Mauer is middle of the pack defensively among 1B (-0.4 UZR) and 19th in WAR (0.3). For someone making $23M/year, that’s entirely unacceptable, regardless of what he’s done up to this point. Yes, he’s had an impressive careeer, but it was impressive for a catcher and skewed dramatically by his 2009 numbers.

    Comment by John G. — June 6, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

  29. This is exactly my sentiment. Mauer has had a terrific career and he remains one of my favorite players. However, he appears to be past his prime and not producing enough offense, especially for a 1B. Sure, it could be a bad year and I’m not writing him off for his career, but I want to see more production.

    Comment by The Toaster — June 6, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  30. 2 “bad” months makes a 31 year old past his prime now? Interesting.

    Comment by Guest — June 9, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  31. Joe Mauer aka “Noe Pauer” is looking washed up at 31. Get this, Aaron Hicks can pass Mauer in OBP after today’s game. Mauer .347, Hicks .344. What’s that Gleeman? I remember tweeted Mauer and his .377 OBP earlier this year “was pretty good for a bum”. Yes, you`’re right he’s a bum indeed.

    Comment by mdStP — June 7, 2014 @ 10:37 am

  32. Did I miss World Series victories in this comparison? Of course, you would also need to note that making the playoffs in Puck’s day was twice (more than) as hard as it is today.
    Yes, of course, they are just one player on a whole team. Of course, in Mauer’s day, at one time they arguably had the best player in all of MLB at certain positions during his tenure (Santana and/or Liriano, SP–Nathan, Closer–Morneau, 1B–Hunter, CF), plus several other complementary players. The Twins had several great players during Puck’s days, but the best in all of MLB? Don’t know if you can actually say that. Viola won a Cy, but Puck’s teams won with and without him. Of course, numbers against non-comparable players tell you everything. As long as you leave out that most important category of championships.

    Comment by Mike — June 8, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

  33. Aaron Hicks, (yes Aaron Hicks), who not too long ago was in the discussion for one of the worst hitters in MLB over the last year, now LEADS Joe Mauer in OBP for the season. Hicks 0.338 vs. Mauer 0.336. Now that’s “nuf said”.

    Comment by alpha — June 10, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

  34. Through age 31
    wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus): Mauer 132 – Puckett 120

    Comment by Anthony — June 13, 2014 @ 9:04 pm

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