Sweet-swinging Mauer could join the elite

Joe Mauer has a chance to join Johnny Bench and Ted Simmons and be among the top-hitting young catchers since the 19th century.

Originally Published: July 24, 2006
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
With Joe Mauer seriously threatening to become the first American League catcher to win a batting title -- and at the tender age of 23 -- I'd like to ask you to guess the identity of the best-hitting young catcher in major league history. But the universe is expanding, the sun is eventually going to explode and I just don't have enough time. I could give you 100 guesses and you wouldn't come up with the name that's bouncing around in my brain case right now. So, I'll just give it to you because (again, yes) the sun really is going to explode (actually, the sun is going to evolve into a red dwarf, then a white dwarf, but really, who's counting) ...

Fred Carroll.

That's right, friends: the best-hitting young catcher in major league history is somebody you've probably never heard of. If you believe the record books, Frederick Herbert Carroll was born in 1864 and was 19 when he debuted with the American Association's Columbus franchise in 1884. In 69 games, Carroll batted .278/.326/.440, which probably doesn't seem all that impressive until you see that the league batted .236/.273/.321. Carroll wasn't always this good, but in 1889 -- when still only 24 -- he was the best hitter in the National League.


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