Friday, April 8, 2011
Elite position players determine whether your baseball team is a playoff contender. It is as that simple. Don’t believe me? Consider the following.
The Kansas City Royals made the playoffs 7 times during George Brett’s playing career. The Royals never made the playoffs before or after the time Brett played for them.
Since 1890 the Philadelphia Phillies have been to the playoffs 13 times with 10 of those times featuring teams lead by Mike Schmidt (6 times) or Ryan Howard (4 times).
Reggie Jackson lead the Oakland A’s to 5 straight playoff berths (1971-1975). When he left after the 1975 season the A’s did not make the playoff, but Jackson’s new team the New York Yankees did. By the way the Yankees went to the playoffs 4 of his 5 years Reggie Jackson played for them.
Joe Morgan arrived in Cincinnati in 1972 and the Reds went to playoffs 5 times in 8 years including winning their first World Series in 35 years. When Morgan left for Houston in 1980, Houston made the playoffs and Cincinnati did not.
Barry Bonds lead Pittsburgh to the playoffs three straight years (90-92). Bonds left Pittsburgh in 1992 and Pittsburgh has not made the playoffs since.
When Derek Jeter arrived, the Yankees returned to greatness. Players have come and gone in New York, but Derek Jeter has remained and the Yankees keep going to the playoffs.
I could go on, but you get the point. Not every championship team has an elite position player on it, but most do. If your team has a legitimate elite player on it then you have a good chance of making the playoffs.
That is why the Minnesota Twins have a good chance of making the playoffs again in 2011 as they have an elite position player in Joe Mauer.
Yes, the Twins’ bullpen has been rebuilt, the starting rotation may lack a true ace, Justin Morneau is coming off a major injury, the middle infield could have problems, some players are aging, but Joe Mauer remains.
Since Mauer has started playing full-time in 2005 the Twins have made the playoffs 3 times and lost a chance at a fourth berth by losing a 1 game playoff to determine the division championship. When they did not make the playoffs in 2007, Mauer missed 52 games due to various injuries while in 2005 (the other year they did not make it) he was coming back from a major knee injury.
Mauer is only 28, so the Twins still have a good 4 to 5 years left at the top unless Mauer is injured. So health to you Joe Mauer, we need you most in order to make another run at the playoffs.
(The above picture is Joe Mauer's 2006 Allen & Ginter Baseball Card. I think it is one of the best looking Joe Mauer baseball cards of all-time.)