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Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer is the Greatest Power-Hitting Catcher in Team History

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COMMENTARY | A common complaint about the Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer is that he doesn't hit for enough power. However, Mauer is already the Twins' all-time leader in home runs as a catcher.

Mauer has won three batting titles and a Most Valuable Player award, as well as being named to five All-Star games before the age of 30. This hasn't kept some detractors from complaining about a lack of power.

However, Mauer's critics don't take into account the position he plays. No player has ever hit 400 home runs as a catcher. Mike Piazza is the all-time leader for catchers with 396.

Mauer has hit 102 home runs in his career, 88 of them as a catcher. Earl Battey had 75 home runs as a catcher for the Twins and Tim Laudner had 74. No other player had more than 50 home runs as a catcher for the Twins.

In fact, only 13 players have hit more home runs as a Twin than Mauer, no matter what their position.

Mauer needs just three more home runs as a catcher to surpass Earl Battey as the all-time franchise leader in home runs as a catcher. This would include all the years the franchise was in Washington as the Senators, starting in 1901. Battey had 15 home runs in 1960, the year before the team moved to Minnesota.

Mauer also is the all-time leader in doubles and RBIs as a catcher, as well as plate appearances. This shows how durable he has been. Meanwhile, he still is the Twins' all-time leader in career slugging percentage for catchers at .480.

Power is still the weakest part of Mauer's game, considering he is the active career leader in batting average at .324, and he is the franchise's all-time leader in on-base percentage (.406). His "weakness" is still very good.

Joe Mauer's Accomplishments Include Rare Batting Feat

In 2009, Mauer accomplished a rare feat when he won a batting title while slugging at least .500 for the second time in his career. Through games of Wednesday, June 26, Mauer is again slugging over .500 and is second in the American League in batting.

If he were able to pull this feat off for the third time in his career, he would accomplish something only 10 other players in the history of the game have done. The 10 players that have won at least three batting titles while slugging .500 or better include Ted Williams, Harry Heilmann, Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie, Stan Musial, Paul Waner, Rogers Hornsby, Honus Wagner, Tony Gwynn, and Larry Walker.

All of these players are in the Hall of Fame except Walker, who has a good case to be in the Hall of Fame and was helped greatly by playing those seasons for the Colorado Rockies and playing his home games at Coors Field.

In the American League, the only other players to do this twice are Joe Dimaggio, Jimmie Fox, Miguel Cabrera, Nomar Garciaparra, and Tony Oliva. Of course, Joe Mauer is the only catcher to ever be able to do this in either league.

To do this shows a rare combination of great hitting ability and power. Mauer may not hit a ton of home runs, but he still hits plenty of doubles. In fact, he is currently on pace to break the Twins' single-season record of 47 doubles by Justin Morneau in 2008.

Mauer's critics also complain that he doesn't drive in enough runs, but that has more to do with those that bat in front of him than the timeliness of his hits. For his career, Mauer has batted .339 with runners in scoring position and slugged .490. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Mauer has batted .347 and slugged .508 for his career.

To get this kind of production from any player is great. For the Twins to get this production from a three-time Gold Glove winning catcher is a huge advantage.

Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.

Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.

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