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Updated: August 21st, 2013 10:21am
Mackey: Concussion provides another reason to appreciate Joe Mauer

Mackey: Concussion provides another reason to appreciate Joe Mauer

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by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com

With Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer landing on the 7-day concussion disabled list after feeling dizziness on Tuesday due to taking excessive amounts of foul tips, conversations this week will likely center around how long he should remain behind the plate.

At age 30, Mauer is no longer an every-day, 120-games-per-year catcher, but he is (or, was) on pace to catch around 100 games this season, which would be his most since 2010. And after throwing out a career-low 14% of base stealers last season (with help from slow pitchers), Mauer has thrown out 43% this season, which is tied for the second best defensive season of his career.

More than anything, however, Mauer's concussion this week is just another illustration of how hard catching is compared to the other positions on the field.

Getting smoked by foul tips, squatting for nine innings, jumping up out of a crouch dozens of times throughout a game, donning hot equipment during the summer months...

In fact, Mauer is at least the eighth catcher to land on MLB's concussion list this season. How many left fielders land on the concussion DL? How many first basemen? 

There's a reason why only 13 catchers since 1920 have a career batting average over .300. And of the 136 players who have hit 300+ career home runs in Major League Baseball history, there's a reason why only seven of them are qualified catchers.

If Miguel Cabrera were a catcher, he wouldn't be competing for the Triple Crown every year. 

Catching is really, really hard. And catchers take a beating, especially as the games and seasons add up.

Mauer is one of only four catchers in history with a career on-base percentage of .400 or better. And no catcher in history has a higher career batting average than Mauer's .323 mark.

For anyone who thinks he isn't worth $23 million, remember the Twins' team payroll will sit at $57 million once Justin Morneau comes off the books, so Mauer's contract clearly is no hindrance to the front office's ability to sign other players.

Also take note of the concept of "position scarcity." There's a reason why surgeons make more money than nurses, and why executive chefs make more money than servers. Those jobs are much more difficult, and fewer people are qualified to do them.

The same concept applies to catchers and shortstops in baseball.

No, Mauer doesn't hit a lot of home runs. But he is an elite batting average and on-base percentage hitter who plays -- at least, for 100 games or so -- the hardest position on the diamond.

And in a roundabout way, Mauer's concussion this week is just another reason to appreciate him. 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau
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