Joe Mauer and David Wright had eerily similar careers.
Both made their major league debuts as a 21-year-old in 2004. Both players retired in 2018, the latter part of their careers ruined by injuries. Mauer and Wright both played positions that are underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. And both made their first appearance on the ballot this year.
Some of the similarities end there. Mauer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, receiving 76.1% of the votes. Wright, meanwhile, barely survived for another year, receiving 6.1%.
It is difficult to see why there would be such a discrepancy in their results statistically. Mauer produced a .306/.388/.439 batting line for a 124 OPS+, while hitting 143 homers and 428 doubles and driving in 923 runs. He was worth 55.2 bWAR over his time in the majors.
Mauer was the 2009 AL MVP with three other top-10 finishes, a six-time All-Star and won three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers. He was one of the best catchers in the game before concussions ruined his career.
The same could be said of Wright and his back issues. Wright put together a .296/.376/.491 batting line for a 134 OPS+, hitting 242 homers and 390 doubles while driving in 970 runs.
A seven-time All-Star, Wright finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting four times, won two Gold Glove awards and was a two-time Silver Slugger. His career was worth 49.2 bWAR, just a shade below Mauer.
One can see why Mauer received more support on the surface. He brought home a lot more hardware and took home that MVP award. Winning a batting title as a catcher is hard enough — he did so three times.
Wright was regarded as one of the better third basemen of his time but did not have those accolades. However, a deeper look shows that the two were not that different in terms of the raw numbers.
Wright still has nine more years on the ballot. His candidacy may be viewed more favorably in the future, allowing him to get closer to enshrinement. Until then, the similarities between Joe Mauer and David Wright will end at the doors of the Hall of Fame.