Blog Entry

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

Posted on: May 28, 2011 1:07 pm

By Matt Snyder

As Joe Mauer continued to try and work himself back into game shape this past week, Buster Posey went down with a likely season-ending injury. Not far away are discussions of when and where each should be moved on the diamond to limit the injury risk in future years. The narrative is that they're more important offensively than defensively to their respective ballclubs, so it would behoove both the player and the team to make a change.

But here's why it doesn't: The offense provided by Mauer and Posey isn't near as valuable at a different position. They are elite sluggers when their peers are the other catchers in baseball. But what if Posey was a first baseman and Mauer was moved to the outfield (since Justin Morneau is entrenched at first)?

Here are the arguably five best hitting catchers in baseball: Mauer, Posey, Carlos Santana, Victor Martinez (even though he mostly DH's) and Brian McCann. That's in no particular order, but it's apparent that Mauer and Posey blend in nicely, if not fill the top two spots.

Here are arguably the 10 best hitting first basemen: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Paul Konerko, Gaby Sanchez and Justin Morneau (if he ever gets things figured out). Where would Posey fit here? Maybe ninth or 10th, at best? Not even in the same ballpark as the top five and overall pretty run-of-the-mill at this position. That much is certain.

Here are 15 of the top hitting corner outfielders: Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Lance Berkman, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Holliday, Matt Joyce, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Mike Stanton, Carlos Quentin, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton and Shin-Soo Choo. Where would Mauer fit there? Obviously if Mauer could hit every season like he did in 2009, he'd be fine -- though still behind the likes of Bautista and Braun. Otherwise, the lack of power leaves him a bit behind the pack. Probably behind everyone listed here. If nothing else, he's extraordinarily overpaid. You don't give a 10-home run right fielder $184 million.

Speaking of money, what about Posey's first free agent paycheck? That's one reason it would be good to try and stay behind the plate, assuming he comes back fully healthy and proves it for at least a full season. When it comes time to extend Posey long-term, the Giants will certainly be much more willing to cough up big-time money for Posey's offense if it fits behind the plate. If he's playing first base, his 25 or so home runs don't look nearly as appetizing when you see what guys like Votto, Fielder, Teixeira and Cabrera are capable of doing. There's a reason Posey's agent has been all over the league to better protect catchers instead of telling the Giants to move his client out of harm's way.

Obviously the long-term health of two talented ballplayers -- and incredibly likable guys, too, I must point out -- is much more important than how their offensive numbers fit from the humanitarian perspective. But Major League Baseball teams are a business. Presumably, they're in the business of winning. It's pretty clear the offensive numbers Mauer and Posey produce are worlds more valuable at the catcher position than at first base or in the outfield. This is why the moves haven't been made yet and why everything will be done to prevent the move going forward.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 10, 2011 6:46 am

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

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Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: June 2, 2011 9:01 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

If these guys were not catching they would most likely hit for better power and average. Crouching behind the plate, while handling a pitcher is draining mentally and physically. If Joey Votto was catching he would not post the same numbers as he does standing at first base.

Since: Jan 14, 2009
Posted on: May 29, 2011 1:35 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

Matt, your overall point is obviously correct that Mauer and Posey are worth far more as cactchers and you prove it well by making the first baseman comparison, but you lose it when you go to corner outfielders. Joe Mauer has a career OPS 100 points higher than Carl Crawford, who just signed for $142 million. Mauer has a career OPS 84 points higher than Ichiro, who makes $18 million a year and is nine years older than Mauer. No, Mauer doesn't run like Ichiro or Crawford or would play as good of outfield defense, but his bat would make up for that, especially if escaping the wear and tear of catching helped him hit even better. Joe Mauer is a better hitter (OPS 40 points higher) than first-ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. He could easily be worth $15 to $20 million as a left fielder; .326 career hitters with .406 on-base percentages are hard to find anywhere. But as a catcher, he could be the best of all time. That's why, as you point out, the Twins want to leave him there if at all possible.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: May 29, 2011 1:51 am

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

what the writer is saying clearly is that the posey and mauer are more valueable at catcher and that they should not  be moved. say for the sake of argument that they slotted catcher at the  8 spot and the first basemen at the  clean up  4 spot.  with mauer and posey my 8 spot is so much better than you who do not have a similar good hitting catcher. if you man up at each position  i have a  tremendous advanatage. if they moved to first base and hit in the 4 spot  they would be  average hitters for the position and not the big advantage  they would be at catcher.

this is kind of whappened when the  shortstop position changed from a all defensive position to the  Trammell Yount Ripken hitters some years ago. these guys hit so much better than the other guys playing the position that it was a tremendous advanatge. 

now in the case of san fransico, however,  some of that advantage is  completely lost because the rest of the line up is so pitiful offensively. having him any where in that lineup is important because overall  they just do not hit well.   in their case having him play no matter where, is better than not  having him play at all, keeping him healthy and playing is more important than where he plays

Since: Nov 1, 2009
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:41 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

Let me get this right. Your saying, move Mauer/Posey to a position on their respective teams, where the team is weak in offense. Basicaly regardless of position and in hopes that the team can find someone else to provide some semblance of offense from the catcher position. Is that close?

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 10:14 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

I completely agree with you Matt. What would be good for the Giants to keep Buster Posey behind the plate for at least a few more years. Compared to other power hitting first basemen, he would rank pretty low. Plus the Giants have Brandon Belt as the first baseman of the future. What a lot of people are forgetting to talk about is that he calls a great game. The Giants pitchers are better with him behind the plate. The Giants may be able to move him in a few years when one of their catchers in the minors is ready to be called up. Then the Giants can save his legs and move him to second or shortstop. Didn't Posey play shortstop in college? His power from those positions will be an advantage there. While I don't know the Minnesota franchise too well, he doesn't have the power of a corner outfielder. Maybe move him to second or third to keep his legs fresh if it fits the team in the future. They are both young enough to overcome their injuries and return to catching for a while at least.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: May 28, 2011 4:36 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

Just because you disagree with me doesn't mean I missed the point. I thought it was pretty obvious the reason for discussion of a position change was to avoid injury -- only it hasn't happened and there are no plans for it to happen in either case. And I just told you why.

- Matt

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: May 28, 2011 4:19 pm

Reason Mauer, Posey still catch: Offensive value

Snyder misses the point entirely. Posey and Mauer won't be providing great value at catcher if they are on the DL and not playing. While your point about keeping Posey and Mauer at catcher is logical it fails to address how teams will ensure that their star catchers will not get hurt by a stupid play. Yes, you can outlaw running on the base paths and enforce a strict "quick walking pace" but that would raise objections from baseball purists who still think that intentional beanings are a part of the game. Moving Posey and Mauer to second base would be wise because most second base man have very poor offensive numbers. As second basemen Posey and Mauer would still provide great value at their new positions. Ask the Astros. Craig Biggio did well playing second and the outfield and his career was extended by quite a number of years.  

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