Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 02 October 2018

Baseball quite literally is not making ballplayers like Joe Mauer anymore. In fact, he’s potentially the last of a bygone era, during which striking out was still frowned upon by coaches and downright despised by some players.

Joe Mauer hates striking out — so much so he struck out just once in high school. Even as Major League Baseball evolved into a game with more pitchers throwing harder and nastier pitches than ever before, Mauer refused to change his approach and was good enough to not only get away with it, but force defenses to adjust to him just as Barry Bonds before him. Mauer received one of the most extreme defensive outfield shifts in baseball, and he got his hits despite it.

Of the top 21 seasons in overall strikeouts in MLB history, Mauer played in 15. He struck out more than 100 times just once, and his OPS+ was under 100 in just two seasons of his career. But some still think Mauer was overpaid given the expectancy for him to catch full-time.

Addressing Mauer’s Haters

Mauer, a soft-spoken, Minnesota-nice guy, has his share of haters who think he should have cowboyed up and got behind the plate to earn his $23 million every year despite a concussion issue that not only threatened his career but his life off the field. An issue that reappeared this season upon a dive for a ball at first base and might be responsible for Mauer’s indecision regarding his playing future.

Mauer’s haters should know over the course of his career, the Twins paid Joe just $374,856.42 more per win above a replacement player than the Marlins and Tigers paid Cabrera, and the Tigers still owe him at least $154 million. The Twins paid just $728,825.30 more per win above a replacement player than the Cardinals and Angels have paid Pujols, who’s still owed $87 million. If you average the WAR of both Cabrera and Pujols over their last seven years across the remaining years of their contracts, their cost per win above a replacement player balloons to $381,619.65 and $80,136.39 more per WAR than Joe, respectively.

Not being overpaid relative to his fellow first basemen won’t make Mauer a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Pujols and Cabrera, but it doesn’t hurt.

The Hall of Fame Question

Most will say Mauer’s six All-Star appearances and 2,123 hits aren’t enough. Most will say he never won a playoff series. Most will say his 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) isn’t even as good as another former Twin (David Ortiz, 55.3) despite it being top-100 all time amongst Hall of Fame position players and 151st all time in MLB history, according to Baseball Reference.

Mauer’s integrity and humility are Hall-of-Fame caliber, however. Unlike Ortiz, who failed a 2003 performance-enhancing drug test, Mauer’s legacy is unquestioned and untarnished. Although Mauer only played in the post-steroid era of Major League Baseball (the drug policy as we know it was first implemented and enforced in 2004), he’s someone who might have benefited from steroids and had an “opportunity” to use them after sustaining a knee injury in his rookie season. At 21, Joe knew better, and at 28, when his body struggled recovering from surgery and then fell ill with pneumonia, Mauer probably never even considered using steroids.

Mauer came back in 2012 to lead the league in on-base percentage (OBP), beating his 2011 OBP by 56 points (.420). His .351 OBP in 2018 is the worst of his career and was still the 50th-best in baseball and 10 percent better than the MLB average (.318). He was top-10 in league OBP and batting average seven times and top-10 in Adjusted OPS+ six times in his career.

Mauer’s .3063 career batting average is, ironically, identical to his Hall of Fame manager’s, good for 138th-best all time. But Paul Molitor has 1,196 more hits than Joe. Regardless, Mauer’s career batting average is sandwiched between Hall of Famers Ernie Lombardi and George Kell, and is better than that of the next-best hitting catcher of his era, Buster Posey (.306). Mauer’s the only catcher ever to win three batting titles, too.

But what makes Hall of Famers is their relative dominance of their respective eras. Barry Bonds didn’t have to beat Babe Ruth in career home runs; he just needed to dominate his era like Ruth his. Mauer is a Hall of Famer given his place amongst his peers.

When compared to his peers, from 2004 to 2018, Mauer’s batting average ranks ninth, between Mike Trout and Buster Posey. His OBP is twelfth, between Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and Bryce Harper. His Weighted Runs Created (WRC) is tenth, whereas Posey ranks 94th. On an All-MLB 2004–18 Team, Mauer would clearly be the catcher, and he’s probably the fourth-best first baseman of his generation, behind Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto — all first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Mauer’s numbers aren’t first-ballot-Hall-of-Fame worthy, but the way he represented the game of baseball and himself on and off the field is worthy of first-ballot consideration, which he’ll receive. Joe might even be a victim of the Hall of Fame shrinking the length of time players stay on the ballot from 15 years to 10. Mauer won’t be eligible for induction until 2023 at the earliest, but judging from the lack of retirees expected this season, he could benefit from a lack of competition. We don’t know if this is Adrian Beltre’s final season, and if it isn’t, Mauer could be sharing the ballot with holdovers from previous years, not including Bonds or Roger Clemens, who will fall off the ballot in three years.

Even if Joe isn’t voted into the MLB Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, he will most certainly get support from the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee. One way or another, Joe Mauer is a Hall of Fame player. Personally, I’d like to see if he’s a Hall of Fame manager.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 02 October 2018 17:26

How college students can cut their debt

Student debt has been rising and the average undergraduate doesn’t feel confident they will pay off their loans before middle age.

Lots of factors contribute to the increased debt a student faces. Some of these include:

  • Higher tuition costs

  • Increased time requirements to obtain a degree (5 year program vs 4 year)

  • Fewer students work while taking classes

  • More competition after graduation

  • Higher cost of living precludes early repayment of loans

And it is projected to rise.  The Congressional Budget Office each year projects the total amount of new federal student loans the office believes they will issue with this year projected to be nearly $1.5 trillion.

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Andrew Coates, candidate for University Regent in Southern Nevada, states, “One way that colleges can help students keep their debt under control is by locking-in tuition rates.  This means that tuition will not be increased while a student pursues their degree.  By locking-in tuition, students will know exactly how much they will pay each year in college, which will help them budget accordingly.”

 

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ANDREW COATES, CANDIDATE FOR UNIVERSITY REGENT, SOUTHERN NEVADA

 

So how can students curb their debt?

Choose an affordable college

 

According to US News data, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2018–2019 school year was $35,676 at private colleges, $9,716 for state residents at public colleges and $21,629 for out-of-state students at state school, with many universities easily exceeding these numbers.  So students may want to consider getting early credits completed at community colleges and then finishing their degree at a university.  Additionally, many will need to decide if its worth picking an out-of-state college for a degree that provides the same job market edge as an in-state school.

 

Research available loans, grants and scholarships

 

Many students don’t apply for grants, loans and scholarships because of time constraints, misconceptions such as they don’t fit a demographic, or  “will be credit history required?”, and lack of optimism that they will even qualify.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of saveforcollege.com states, “More than 2 million students did not get a Federal Pell Grant even though they were eligible because they did not file the FAFSA.”  FAFSA (link attached) is a free application for federal student aid assisting students who want to apply for a loan, grant or work study.

Scholarships are ideal in that they do not need to be paid back. Many can be found at scholarships.com.

Learn to budget

 

Many students get a culture shock living on their own when they spend as if Mom or Dad is still footing the bill.  If eating out nightly, shopping online, or using excess data does not fit into the amount your trying to live on each month, budget expenses early on and stick to it.

Avoid the credit card trap

 

When we try to build our credit as a young adult, we may apply for a credit card that advertises to college students with no monthly fee and “rewards.” However, the interest rates can be up to 25%.  If you do use the credit card don’t borrow more than you can pay  off each month, always shooting for a zero balance.

 

Keep your living costs down

 

Rent, transportation, utilities, meals, entertainment, internet and phone service, add up and can be more costly than tuition.  Share expenses with roommates or family members to lessen your loan debt.

Cook and prepare meals for the coming days, use school Wi-Fi, carpool to class, purchase less beer, and use the university gym to save money.

But most importantly, don’t stress about the debt.  Your efforts should be concentrated on your schooling and getting a degree is one of the best ways to combat your debt later in life.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Money