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Is Joe Mauer the 40th best baseball player of the decade?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • December 17, 2009 - 2:31 PM

Let's start at the top by saying any "top # of x in x amount of time" lists are going to be subjective and likely to start debates. That's just the nature of these things. And that's why they are published -- people love to read them, hash them out, agree, disagree, call into question the sanity of the publisher, etc.

That said, we were first alerted to ESPN.com's Rob Neyer's list of the top 100 MLB players of the decade by Sassbottom, who went on a non-stop rant about the list. Sassbottom is prone to ranting, so we kind of put it on the backburner. Then we started combing through the list. 1) Pujols. 2) A-Rod. 3) Bonds. 4) Jeter. 5) Ichiro. Not much to see there. Very defensible.

It was the placement of Twins players, though, that really set Sassbottom's blood boiling. And it is there that, well, he probably has a point.

Problem No. 1: Joe Mauer checks in at No. 40. (Pictured getting a hug from his mom, Theresa, after winning AL MVP this year ... or perhaps getting a foreshadowed condolence hug for his spot on this list?) While it's true that Joe has only been a regular for about half the decade, he does have three AL batting titles, an MVP award and two consecutive Gold Gloves while playing arguably baseball's most demanding position. While he might not be in the class, decade-wise, of the top 5, top 10 or even the top 15, we find it hard to believe he doesn't leapfrog the likes of J.D. Drew (No. 22, really) and others. Mauer (recently announced as the cover athlete for MLB 10 The Show, which obviously doesn't affect this list but is still interesting) is at the very least a top 30 player for the decade. We'd probably put him at around No. 20-25.

Problem No. 2: Mike Cameron is No. 36 on the list, while Torii Hunter -- whom we've always considered a better version of Mike Cameron -- is No. 70.

Problem No. 3: And this is the one that's really mind-blowing. While we loved the Corey Koskie era as much as the next guy, is there any conceivable reason why he checks in at No. 92 while former AL MVP award winner Justin Morneau does not even crack the top 100? Koskie hasn't played since 2006 and hasn't had a full season since 2004. Morneau's first full year was 2005, and he has four consecutive 100 RBI seasons from 2006-present. He had 51 more HRs this decade. It's just ... not even close, is it? And that's with no disrespect to Koskie.

Problem No. 4 (non-Twins division): Ryan Howard is nowhere on the list. Yes, a man with 198 HR and 572 RBI in the past four years, as well as a .962 OPS this decade is not even as good as No. 80, the great Randy Winn?

Other Twins connections on the list: Johan Santana (No. 10), David Ortiz (53), Brad Radke (93), Kenny Rogers (99). Again, to reiterate, we know these types of lists are subjective. We know Neyer is using different criteria than we would. We also know recent history (the past 5 years) has a tendency to overshadow things that happened longer ago (the 5 before that). Still, we are taking the bait and disagreeing. Your thoughts in the comments, please.

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