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RandBall: Five things about Mauer moving to first base

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • November 11, 2013 - 11:44 AM

The Twins nipped months of offseason speculation in the bud on Monday, announcing Joe Mauer is moving from catcher to first base. As noted by the team in a release: After consultation with doctors from Mayo Clinic and team doctors, and given the inherent risks of future injury at the catcher position, the organization and Joe determined that it would be in the best interest of both him and the Twins for a position change.

Here is our 2 cents -- or five thoughts, as it were -- about the move:

1) This won't be as big of a transition as we might think. Mauer has started 192 games at catcher over the past three seasons (64 per year). He has started 140 games at all other spots (DH, 1B and even a game in right field). So he's going from being a part-time catcher to a no-time (or emergency) catcher.

2) If you are worried about Mauer earning his $23 million per season at first base, that's valid. Then again, here are the seven first basemen who made more than $15 million in 2013: Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Justin Morneau and Joey Votto. Mauer's name does not look out of place on that list.

3) The average OPS for an MLB first baseman last year was .772. Mauer's career OPS, primarily at catcher, is .873.

4) This was a move for Mauer's health, no doubt, but it probably also helps that Josmil Pinto had a strong September and looks capable of transitioning into more steady work.

5) That said, this move will make it harder for Mauer to win awards (other than batting titles) going forward. And it won't help his Hall of Fame candidacy eventually, either.

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