It was announced today that Minnesota TwinsJoe Mauer won his third straight Rawlings Gold Glove Award.

His numbers are impressive. In 112 games he caught 951.6 innings and committed only three errors.

His 0.996 fielding percentage was tied for tops in the Major Leagues.

So what does this mean? 

For the Minnesota Twins, since Mauer became the regular catcher in 2005, it has meant an extra 5.7 wins per season. For the AL Central Division Champion over the past 10 seasons, only three times was the final margin greater than six games.

Many people would agree that Mauer is the most valuable player for the Minnesota Twins, and as Mauer goes, so go the Twins.

You don’t have to look any further than the 2010 season.

As the Twins approached the All-Star Break, Mauer was hitting just below .300 and the Twins found themselves in third place in the AL Central, with a 46-42 record.

Mauer found his stroke and finished with a .327 batting average, and the Twins had the best record in the second half of the season going 48-26 and winning the division by six games.

For Mauer, his .327 batting average equals that for his seven-year career.

His strength may also be a weakness.

Catching in the major leagues is the most grinding and debilitating position in baseball. Because of that, the number of games a catcher plays will be limited.

Twins’  manager, Ron Gardenhire typically will not play Mauer at catcher on day games following a night game. On some occasions he will insert Mauer in the lineup as the designated hitter, and in 2010 that would mean sitting the Twins best power hitter, Jim Thome.

The wear and tear on Mauer this past season kept him out of the Twins’ lineup 25 percent of the time—that adds up to 45 games, almost six weeks worth of the season without your best hitter.

There have been suggestions that perhaps it would be better to move Mauer to another, less physically demanding position, in order to allow him to play in more games, and possibly extend his career.

There are two problems with that.

One, where would he play?

If you move him to the outfield, it would have to be a corner outfield position and the Twins appear to be set with Delmon Young in left and Michael Cuddyer in right.

If he was to move to the infield again, the best fit would be on one of the corners where the Twins hope to have Justin Morneau back at first, and Danny Valencia has established himself as the long term solution at third.

Secondly, how do you move a three-time Gold Glover winner to another position?

Mauer has said he has no desire to move to another position and the Twins have stated he is their catcher.

So as Mauer looks to match the 10 consecutive Gold Gloves that Ivan Rodriguez won from 1992 to 2001 with the Texas Rangers, don’t look for him to be playing anywhere else on the diamond.

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