Colleague Patrick Reusse had a couple of eye-opening tweets yesterday comparing Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett at equal stages of their career.
Mauer turned 29 this season and is, of course, still that age now.
Puckett turned 29 in 1989 and was that age at seaon's end.
They have similar birthdays -- Puckett in March, Mauer in April -- and that's not where the similarities end.
Mauer's career numbers: 3,858 at-bats, .322 average, 244 doubles, 93 homers, 575 RBI, .467 slugging, .872 OPS, three batting titles, one MVP award.
Puckett's career numbers through 1989, when he was the same age as Mauer is now: 3,844 at-bats, .323 average, 197 doubles, 96 homers, 505 RBI, .469 slugging, .826 OPs, one batting title, no MVP awards. (Note: the original math tweeted out had Puck with 86 homers, but the total is 96).
Of note, of course: Puckett accumulated those stats in six quite full seasons, while Mauer has needed nine. That, however, means plenty of Mauer's at-bats came when he was years younger than Puck.
Also notable: Puckett averaged 18 homers and 97 RBI over the next six years -- which turned out to be the final six years of his career. It's not CRAZY to think Mauer will approach those numbers, but it seems more likely go guess Mauer (if healthy) will average more like 10-14 homers and 80-85 RBI the next six years -- not ridiculously far off, but still with less power.
Additionally: The first six years for Puck include his first two, when he hit just four homers combined. Then again, he only hit 9 in 1989, when he won the batting title.
One more thing: It should be noted Mauer has played the vast majority of his career games at catcher, a much more physically demanding position than outfield.
All that said, it is interesting to see those numbers and note how similar the players have been to this stage of their careers. We tend to remember Puck as a blend of average and power, while we berate Mauer for only hitting for average. Yet the home run totals are nearly identical, as are the slugging percentage totals.