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Joe Mauer in elite company among catchers

Jun 8, 2009, 3:07 PM EDT

Joe Mauer’s uncharacteristic power display after spending all of April
on the disabled list with a back injury has caused a lot of people to
take notice and finally start talking about him as one of the elite
players in baseball, but lost in his ridiculous .410/.497/.795 hitting
line is that he was a pretty decent player even before this season.

OPS+ measures
a hitter’s all-around offensive performance within the context of
ballpark, league, and era, accounting for the fact that hitting at
Dodger Stadium in 1968 is much different than hitting at Coors Field in
2008. Here are the career OPS+ leaders among catchers with at least 2,500 plate appearances:

Mike Piazza         142
Joe Mauer 135
Mickey Cochrane 128
Bill Dickey 127
Johnny Bench 126
Gabby Hartnett 126
Roger Bresnahan 126
Yogi Berra 125
Ernie Lombardi 125
Roy Campanella 124

Mauer had a 128 OPS+ coming into this season, so he was already on
track to be one of the greatest-hitting catchers of all time. With this
year’s draft on tap for tomorrow night, it’s interesting to note that
eight years ago the Twins passed on Mark Prior–who was basically
Stephen Strasburg before there was a Stephen Strasburg–to select Mauer
with the No. 1 overall pick.

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