Joe Mauer, the first batter Michael Kopech ever faced and one of the greatest Minnesota Twins ever, has retired.
I’m sure I speak for White Sox fans everywhere when I say (with nothing but respect) … GOOD! YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS YEARS AGO!
With that out of my system, here’s a look at Mauer … @soxnerd style!
*WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Mauer was born early (April 19) in the White Sox “Winning Ugly” campaign of 1983. … On that day, Greg Luzinski hit two homers and drove in five the Sox 13-5 win over the Yankees at Comiskey Park.
*HE’S NO. 1: The Twins made Mauer the top overall pick of the 2001 draft. … The Sox first round pick that year was high school pitcher Kris Honel, who never played in the bigs. The only Sox draftees that year who played for the team were Chris Stewart, Charlie Haeger and Andy Gonzalez
*CAREER VS. SOX: Mauer hit .298 with a .384 on-base percentage and a .438 slugging percentage in 212 games vs. the White Sox. … His top home run victims were the Sox and Tigers (18).
*DEBUT VS. SOX: Mauer singled off Mark Buehrle in his first at bat against the Sox in a 6-2 Sox win at the Metrodome on June 29, 2004. … Mauer batted eighth and also doubled off Shingo Takatsu in the 2 hour and 4 minute affair (this corrects a tweet I sent earlier)
*GOIN’ DEEP: The next day, Mauer connected for his first homer vs. the Sox (a solo shot off Freddy Garcia in the third inning) in the Sox 9-6 win at the Metrodome. … Mauer added a homer off Shingo in the ninth for the first of his four multi-homer games
*SHINGO WAS HIS FAVORITE-O: Mauer probably mourned the day the Sox dumped Shingo. … In three at bats against the Frisbee thrower, Mauer homered twice and doubled.
*VISITOR: Mauer hit .297 with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 101 games at U.S. Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field.
*TWO CAREERS: Mauer was a force at USCF/GRF from 2005 to 2013 before finishing with a fizzle on the Southside. … In his first nine years there, Mauer hit at least .278 in each season while compiling a maddening .351 average in that span. He closed out his career by batting just .195 from 2014 to 2018.
*IN CHI-TOWN: Mauer’s best season at was 2010 when he hit an eye-popping .531 in nine games in 2010. … Mauer’s worst season at USCF/GRF was in 2016 when he was hitless in 16 at bats in five games.
*CHICAGO DEBUT: Mauer drew a first-inning walk off Jose Contreras in his debut in Chicago in the Sox 5-4 win on April 18, 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field. … Mauer collected his first Chicago hit (a bunt single in third off Contreras) and his first Chicago homer (a solo shot in the ninth off Shingo) later in the game
*MORE CHICAGO: Mauer hit .458 (11-for-24) with two homers and 12 RBI in six games (five starts) at Wrigley Field.
*CHICAGO FINALE: There was a huge buzz around Mauer’s final game in Chicago only it wasn’t sparked by Mauer.
On Aug. 22, 2018, the same day as Kopech, the Sox top pitching prospect, made his big league debut, Mauer made the last of his 101 appearances at U.S. Cellular Field/Guaranteed Rate Field.
Mauer was the first batter Kopech ever faced and he singled. Kopech got his revenge in the next inning when he fanned Mauer to end the frame with runners on first and second.
Mauer finished the game 2-for-4 with a run, a walk (intentional) and a strikeout in the Twins 5-2 win before 23,133 on a rainy night on the Southside.
*FIRST AT FIRST: Conceding to concussions from many years at catcher, Mauer made his big league debut at first base in his 864th big league game in the Twins 6-2 win over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
It didn’t take long for Mauer to get into the action at first base.
On his second play, Mauer speared an Omar Vizquel liner and doubled off Juan Pierre for an unassisted double play.
*LAST AT CATCHER: Aside from his final game, the last time Mauer played catcher against the White Sox was on Aug. 16, 2013.
Before 28,834 at Target Field, Mauer was 3-for-4 with a first inning homer off Jose Quintana in the White Sox 5-2 victory.
The last Sox runner to steal a base on Mauer was Jordan Danks on Aug. 15, 2013 at Target Field. The last Sox runner to get caught stealing by Mauer was Tyler Flowers on April 20, 2013 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
*BLACK OUT: Mauer was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the White Sox 1-0 win in the American League Central Division tiebreaker (aka “The Blackout”) game on Sept. 30, 2008 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Batting third, Mauer struck out twice and bunted into an out against John Danks.
There is no way anyone could see Mauer flopping in that performance.
After all, Mauer was 7-for-10 with an RBI and two walks vs. Danks in their four previous meetings. In addition, Mauer was hitting .370 at U.S. Cellular Field heading into the game.
*LOVED TO FACE: Some pitchers with Sox ties that Mauer loved to face were Danks (.381 in 63 at bats), Gavin Floyd (.396, 3 HR in 48 ABs), Jose Quintana (.340, 2 HR in 47 ABs), Jake Peavy (.314 in 35 ABs), Garcia (.441, 2 HR in 34 ABs), Matt Thornton (.303 in 33 ABs), Hector Santiago (.333 in 21 ABs), Contreras (333 in 21 ABs), Dylan Axelrod (.556, HR in 9 ABs), Joakim Soria (.500 in 18 ABs), Philip Humber (.500 in 8 ABs), El Duque (.429 in 7 ABs), Carlos Rodon (.400 in 10 ABs), Bartolo Colon (.333 in 9 ABs).
*THE END: Mauer played what turned out to be the final game of his career on Sept. 30 vs. the White Sox at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Mauer started the game at first base and then moved behind the plate for the ninth before being removed for an emotional sendoff.
You wonder if Mauer had second thoughts about retiring.
He closed his career with a nine-game hitting streak, including five multi-hit contests. In his final five games against the White Sox, Mauer hit safely in all of them while compiling a .409 average.