Joe Mauer Lists the Best Pitchers, Young Catchers in Baseball
Joe Mauer is a three-time batting champion and Gold Glove-winning catcher. So he knows a thing or two about pitching and receiving.
The 2009 American League Most Valuable Player was in New York City recently promoting the upcoming release of MLB 11 The Show, and he took some time to discuss who he thinks are the best young catchers and who are the toughest pitchers to hit.
Buster Posey, C, Giants
Posey had quite a remarkable first full season in the big leagues in 2010, capturing National League Rookie of the Year honors while helping lead the Giants to their first World Series title in San Francisco.
"He did a great job last year," Mauer said. "I think he's going to be fun to watch."
Posey, 23, hit .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBI. If he can improve his walk rate, he should have no problem avoiding a sophomore slump.
Matt Wieters, C, Orioles
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Wieters took a step backwards during his second season in Baltimore, but Mauer still considers the 24-year-old to be among the best young catchers in the game.
The O's backstop hit just .249 in 2010 after batting at a .288 clip the year before. His power suffered as well, as he slugged just .377 with 11 homers and 55 RBI.
Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
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"Felix Hernandez," Mauer said, "was the best that I seen last year."
Seattle's King won just 13 games thanks to the Mariners' historically anemic offense, but he posted a Major League-best 2.27 ERA and struck out 232 batters over a league-leading 249 2/3 innings en route to capturing his first Cy Young after finishing runner-up in 2009.
But Mauer doesn't seem to have any problem facing Hernandez. Of all the pitchers he's had, more than 20 at-bats against in his career, the Twins' catcher has the highest batting average versus the right-hander (13-for-26, 1.451 OPS). Mauer was even 3-for-7 (.429) with a double last year.
Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers
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"I think the writers got it right the last two years with the Cy Young," Mauer said.
In 2009, Greinke took home the award when he went 16-8 with a MLB-best 2.16 ERA, but he struggled to back up that performance, posting a losing 10-14 mark with a pedestrian 4.17 ERA in '10.
Nevertheless, Mauer was probably happy to see the right-hander traded from the Royals to the Brewers this winter because he has just a .316 slugging percentage against him in 38 at-bats.
Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
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"I'm glad Roy Halladay moved to the National League," Mauer said. "That was a good thing."
That move came prior to the 2010 season and Doc proved to be an even better pitcher in the NL than he was when he was dominating Mauer and other American League hitters for the Blue Jays.
Halladay went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and 219 strikeouts over a major league-best 250-and-two-thirds innings for the Phillies last year, on his way to taking home his second Cy Young.
Mauer is a measly 3-for-18 (.167) off him.