GUEST Writer: Jamie Elizabeth Kieltyka
If there was ever a question of who is the most mentally prepared player on the baseball field, the answer would be obvious: the catcher.
That said, the best catcher in baseball right now is Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, as evidenced by his superior performance. As the catcher, Mauer needs to know the game better than anyone else on the field, which he certainly does; he was MVP in 2009, and won three consecutive Golden Glove awards starting in 2008 and four Silver Sluggers in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
With a career batting average of .327, Mauer was ranked first in the American League for batting average in 2006, 2008 and 2009, proving he is not only the most mentally prepared player on the field, but he is also more ready than the other catchers, who typically average below .300.
Mauer prepares for the game as both a catcher and a hitter. “[Being a professional catcher] is tough physically but also mentally,” Mauer said in a 2007 interview with Men’s Fitness Magazine. “Say you play in the outfield: You know there are things you need to do on defense. But you’re not in on every pitch. You can relax a little. With catching, the play is always on you.”
This sense of awareness makes all the difference in Mauer’s state of mind. “The catcher must establish a working relationship with the pitchers that forms trust between the two parties,” said a Bleacher Report Senior Analyst in a 2009 article titled “Clash of the Titans”.”Trust by the pitcher that their battery-mate is making the correct calls, and trust by the catcher that his pitcher can execute the calls. Mauer has achieved this relationship with his patchwork staff, and his ability to compile a scouting report on the opposition and call a game that will tailor the game to the pitcher’s advantage is a unique skill that he possesses.”
Mauer clearly demonstrates his psychological preparedness through the trust he has built with his team and the work he puts into knowing the opposing team thoroughly, as well as his performance on the field.
If you think there is another position or player that deserves credit as the most mentally prepared, submit your comments below.