Why Joe Mauer won’t retire

Among my sadder boyhood baseball memories is seeing Harmon Killebrew in a Kansas City Royals uniform.

It never should have happened. He’d earned the right to go out with the Twins on his terms, but those were dark days for common sense in the Minnesota Twins front office.

Joe Mauer isn’t going to make that mistake and anyone who’s paid any attention to Mauer over the years knows it. So the news today that Mauer will consider retiring at the end of the year makes sense, even though I don’t think he will because the Minnesota Twins are too smart to let him.

Mauer is a St. Paul kid who never disgraced his hometown nor the team he played for. He has two young twin daughters and another child on the way, he’s got all the money he needs, and he’s still a (slightly) better than average player at his position.

I’m betting he signs a contract that won’t embarrass him, which will still free up a ton of money for the Twins to invest in improving a bad ball club, allow him to be home with his family for at least half the season, and still give him the chance to play a game he seems to love in a city that loves him right back. Good deal for everyone.

Here’s my take, which aired on All Things Considered this afternoon.

Here’s an interesting side note. Over the years, I’ve used Bill James’ old Brock2 formula spreadsheet (which I built using his formula), which for awhile was a pretty good way to predict the future.

When I wrote this article in 2013 — “If he doesn’t hit for more power, Mauer will be an average first baseman” — it included a prediction for each of his projected following years.

How did this five-year-old prediction for this season work out? It predicted he’d hit .284. He’s hit .274 with a few weeks to go in the season. It said he’d hit 6 home runs. He’s hit 6 home runs. It said he’d hit one triple. He’s hit one triple. It said he’d score 51 runs. He’s scored 47 so far. It said he’d have 52 runs batted in. He’s got 43.

RBI, by the way, is more reflective of the people batting in front of a player than it is the hitter. So, that’s at least a push.

It also predicted he’d be a very good player, until at least 2021. And there doesn’t look to be anybody coming up through the system at the moment who’s better than he is.

It’s worth keeping him around.