There will be a time, and Joe Mauer doesn't exactly know the date, when the Twins' top player will have to move out from behind the plate to another position.
At this point, though, with the 2011 season on the horizon, Minnesota's backstop not only stands as the best hitter at his position but quite possibly the best hitter in all of baseball entering his eighth big league campaign.
In the interim, Mauer has to settle for the title of top hitting catcher in the American League. Mauer once again was recognized as a Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger winner, announced Thursday night.
Mauer has now been honored with three straight Silver Sluggers, to go with three straight Rawlings Gold Gloves, and has won four of the past five for his top-notch hitting. He was the only Twins player represented in this group known for its elite offense.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (1B), New York's Robinson Cano (2B), Chicago's Alexei Ramirez (SS), Boston's Adrian Beltre (3B), Toronto's Jose Bautista, Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford and Texas' Josh Hamilton (OF) and Vladimir Guerrero (DH) join Mauer on the full list of AL Silver Sluggers. Not surprisingly, Mauer's individual statistics stood out above other AL catchers.
With a .327 batting average, a .402 on-base percentage, 43 doubles, 167 hits and 88 runs scored, Mauer was tops among his peers in five categories. He finished second in RBIs at 75, behind Victor Martinez's 79, and third with a .469 slugging percentage.
AL SILVER SLUGGER WINNERS
The American League winners of the Silver Slugger Awards, with the number each has won in his career.
Joe Mauer, Twins
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Robinson Cano, Yankees
Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Carl Crawford, Rays
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers
It's hard to imagine the Twins without Mauer as the catching staple, especially in the midst of his eight-year, $184 million extension. And, actually, they don't really have to think about the 27-year-old making any sort of change at this point.
"There will be a point where I'm not going to be able to play there anymore," said Mauer of his catching responsibilities, during a conference call to talk about his Gold Glove award. "But I hope I don't have to worry about this for a long time."
Being both the short-term and future face of the franchise, Mauer was asked if he had been in touch with the Twins' higher-ups to pick his brain on potential moves.
"I've been in contact with them," Mauer said. "But as far as making decisions, I'm a catcher, I'm a baseball player. That's all I'm preparing for. I'm not one to say we need this guy or that guy. My job is to catch and hit."
Judging by these November honors, Mauer did very well in both categories during 2010.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.