Mauer elected to Twins Hall of Fame

January 27th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- will become the 38th member of the Twins Hall of Fame in August -- and considering his number has already been retired by the organization, this honor was inevitable, arguably from the moment the greatest catcher in club history announced his retirement following the 2018 season.

Now, as the Twins prepare to celebrate Mauer’s accomplishments once again, they’re hopeful that this distinction will be the harbinger of a grander celebration on the national stage; Mauer is also slated to debut on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame next winter.

“I think Joe Mauer is a Hall of Famer,” Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter said. “I think most of the experts believe that he is a Hall of Famer. I think the question is, 'Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer?'

“So him being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame creates a platform. We'll see. I'm hopeful it will maybe carry some momentum into the Baseball Writers’ [election] nationally in December and January as they cast their votes.”

As is tradition, Mauer was informed of his election to the Twins Hall of Fame in a phone call from chairman Rod Carew following the vote from a 70-person committee, made up of other Twins Hall of Famers, media members, team historians and members of the front office. He’s the second catcher selected for the honor, joining Earl Battey, who was elected in the Class of 2004.

Locally, Mauer’s selection was a no-brainer. The first overall pick in the 2001 MLB Draft, the St. Paul native was in the big leagues by Opening Day ‘04, when he began a 15-year career with his hometown team that placed him first in club history in doubles (428); second in games played (1,858) and hits (2,123); and third in total bases (3,040).

Mauer and his wife, Maddie, have also been active in the Twin Cities area through their work with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and the Twins Community Fund.

“I just think knowing the whole human being and what he represents, and how he represents this region -- I hope this is an honor that kind of reflects all of that,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said.

The accolades marking Mauer’s playing career have been well combed-over at this point: He won the American League Most Valuable Player in 2009, when he won his third batting title, the most by a catcher. He’s a six-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner.

Soon enough, the question will turn to whether -- and when -- that could also lead to Mauer's enshrinement in Cooperstown.

Mauer will debut next season on a ballot that figures to be crowded at the top, and his Hall of Fame candidacy has been a point of debate since he retired. At his peak, he was undoubtedly one of the all-time greats at the catching position when he was entrenched there from 2004-13.

During those 10 seasons when Mauer was primarily a catcher, he slashed a combined .323/.405/.469 with 105 homers, 282 doubles and more walks (616) than strikeouts (564). According to Baseball-Reference, he was worth 44.6 WAR in that span, making up a significant chunk of his career 55.2 WAR.

That latter total ranks Mauer 10th in AL/NL history among players with at least 40% of their career games at catcher. All nine players ahead of him on that list are in the Hall of Fame (though Joe Torre was enshrined as a manager) -- as are the three players directly behind him.

The point of debate, then, centers around whether Mauer’s career numbers should be viewed in a different lens because he made a combined 913 appearances at first base and designated hitter -- mostly in the final five seasons of his career, when he moved off catcher due to concussions.

It will also be tough for him to debut next season, when Adrian Beltre -- who appears likely to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer -- will also appear for the first time, with Todd Helton and Billy Wagner also serving as holdovers who finished on the cusp of selection in the Class of 2022.

That debate will ignite anew in the year to come. But in Twins Territory, there’s no debate as to Mauer's status as one of the greatest to play for Minnesota. That legacy will be secured again in August.