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Thursday, March 11, 2004

Joe Mauer, Joe Mauer, Let Mathis Come Over

Joe Mauer has had writers drooling over him for some time now. Baseball America ranked him the top prospect in baseball this year, and while Minnesota fans must be kicking themselves for missing out on drafting Mark Prior (by one pick), that's not a bad consolation prize. Still, it comes as something of a shock to read Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus take a contrarian view because of Joe Mauer's height (subscription required). Sheehan compares him against other 6'4" catchers, and concludes that Mauer's bat -- and the wear and tear of moving a large body combined with dish duties -- will ultimately eject him out of the catcher position, moving him to 1B. But, as Sheehan notes, "a .300/.370/.490 hitter has a much different value as a first baseman than as a catcher." Fair enough -- so you're talking about a plus version of Scott Spiezio: not much pop but good average.

Assume, then, that Mauer isn't the best catching prospect in the minors now. That means Jeff Mathis is, which, as an Angels fan, has got to make you feel pretty good.

In Mauer's defense, Aaron Gleeman deconstructs Sheehan's argument by looking at others of similar height, just one inch shorter. The bottom line is that anybody 6'4" in baseball is substantially far to the right on the bell curve, and you'd be lucky to find a decent number of comparables, period.


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