It's not easy to win a batting title when you're a catcher. It's possible, though, if you have a swing as sweet as the one fans see every time Joe Mauer comes to bat.
Maybe everyone should have seen it coming as soon as Mauer made it to the big leagues in April of 2004. At the tender age of 21, he went two-for-three in his very first MLB game. Unfortunately for the Minnesota Twins, they wouldn't get to see him in the lineup too often the rest of the year, as knee injuries caused him to miss big chunks of the season.
Mauer was healthier in 2005, and he turned in a nice season at the plate batting .294 with 55 RBI. It was obvious the youngster knew how to hit, but he took his craft to an even higher level in 2006.
When the weather got hot, so did Mauer's bat. He hit .452 in the month of June, earning a trip to the All-Star Game and starting whispers about a .400 average. Though he never seriously threatened that hallowed mark, his .347 average was good enough to make him the first American League catcher ever to lead the league in batting and the youngest player to win the title since Alex Rodriguez in 1996.
Though he's not a big power hitter, collectors appreciate his rare talent with the stick. Topps and Bowman brands combined to produce an even dozen rookie cards for Mauer during 2002, including autographs on his Bowman Chrome # 391 and Bowman's Best # 110. His card values rose on the strength of his 2006 feats but still have plenty of room to climb as he keeps cranking out the hits.
Joe Mauer 2002 Rookie Cards
- Bowman # 379
- Bowman Chrome # 391 - autographed
- Bowman's Best # 110 - autographed
- Bowman Heritage # 138
- Topps # 622
- Topps 206 # 271
- Topps Chrome # 622
- Topps Gallery # 186
- Topps Gold Label # 164
- Topps Pristine # 151
- Topps Reserve # 150 - #'d to 999
- Topps Total # 1