Joe Mauer Now Projected as 1st Ballot Hall of Fame Lock

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

When Hall of Fame ballots were first sent out to voters months ago, there wasn’t a lot of optimism surrounding Joe Mauer’s chances of getting in on his first try. For some, the bigger question surrounded whether he’d get in at all.

Of course, those assumptions were nonsensical. For those of us who have actually dug into the subject, it has always been more about ‘when’ we would eventually hear Mauer’s HOF speech, not ‘if’.

Joe Mauer projected as 1st Ballot HOF Lock

Anybody who even skims over Mauer’s Hall of Fame resume vs other catchers already enshrined in Cooperstown (keep reading), will quickly realize how much of an absolute lock the St. Paul native really is to grab the 75% HOF votes needed to be enshrined.

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And as soon as 2024 votes started coming, it quickly became clear Joe Mauer had a chance to get in on his first try. Weeks later, nearly 1/3 of the expected 384 Major League Baseball 2024 Hall of Fame ballots have been unofficially counted, and now his immediate induction is looking like a lock.

According to Ryan Thibodaux’s (@NotMrTibbs on X) online tracker — which all media outlets are using to count votes prior to the official inductees being announced on January 23 — Mauer has collected 101 of 116 possible votes (82.1%). Based on recent history and voting tendencies, that gives Joe Mauer a 96% chance of eventually gaining the 288 total votes needed to get in.

How is Mauer such a lock, while guys like Todd Helton — who has collected the same number of votes (101) as Mauer thus far — has just a 35% chance of being inducted? This is where their projection and analytical models come into play, which are based on voter tendencies and how late votes have come in historically.

For Mauer, specifically, it’s because he is doing well with “small hall” voters, or voters who appreciated old school baseball numbers and metrics (BA, RBI, etc) and put less emphasis on some of the newer statistical categories like OPS+, Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Probability (WPA).

Joe Mauer is one of the best catchers in MLB history, no matter how you measure.

Mauer played parts of 10 seasons in Minnesota as a catcher, which is relatively good longevity for the position. He caught 923 games and racked up 3943 plate appearances while behind the dish, defensively. He played just 5 seasons as a primary 1st baseman, a position he also excelled at defensively.

During his decade catching (2004-2013) Mauer won MLB MVP in 2009, something done by a catcher just 18 times in baseball history — which goes back to 1871, in case you weren’t aware — and only twice since the turn of the millenium (Buster Posey – 2012).

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As a catcher, Joe won 3 Gold Gloves, 5 Silver Sluggers and 3 AL batting titles. Mauer’s .323 batting average while playing catcher is the best in MLB history (over 3,000 PA) and he’s the only American League catcher EVER to win a batting title, which he did three times between 2006 and 2009.

Just three National League catchers have done it but Buster Posey (2012 – NL) is the only other batting champion in the last 81 years (since Ernie Lombardi in 1942) who had to strap up his catcher’s gear every half inning before taking the field on defense.

Is it time for Minnesota Twins fans to rethink their views on Mauer?

Those who didn’t believe that Joe Mauer would even make the Hall of Fame, let alone be a 1st ballot inductee, were focused way too much on negative bias created toward the end of his career and in the time he spent injured.

Hall of Fame voters don’t really care about that, nor do they even remember his injuries prior to concussions forcing him out from behind the plate in 2014. They care about overall numbers and longevity, along with how your prime years compare with the best at your position. These national media members can’t rely on their own personal memories of player they probably never covered.

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Yes, there are a handful or two (maybe even three) of MLB Hall of Fame voters whose ballots should probably never be counted. They don’t care about the process or the importance of their vote and send in ballots based on favoritism and nothing else.

But for the most part, the 384 MLB HOF voters take their responsibility seriously, spending requisite amounts of time doing research and putting thought into their ballots. And that’s why Joe Mauer has always been an eventual Cooperstown lock.

joe mauer hall of fame mlb hof minnesota twins
Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In Major League Baseball, a league where 162 games are played by each team every season, it’s the overall statistics and individual accolades that set the best of the best apart from everyone else. And few catchers in MLB history have the numbers on their Baseball-Reference page or the awards in their trophy cases that Joe Mauer has.

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