The case for Mauer
He is 24 years old, and is a lifetime .313 hitter. He also has more walks (208) than strikeouts (183) in his career, which is sensational for a player his age. In 2006, he became the second catcher ever to lead his league in hitting (.347), and the first catcher ever to lead the major leagues in hitting.
"His swing is perfect," one scout said. "He'll be a great hitter for years to come."
Mauer is an above-average receiver who has thrown out 44.7 percent (a fabulous percentage) of potential base stealers over the last two years. And, he is a tremendous athlete, which allows him to make adjustments, and makes him a good runner for a catcher -- he has 29 steals in 34 tries in his career. The only downside is that he hasn't been as durable as a catcher needs to be. He got hurt his rookie year in 2004, and last season he was limited to 109 games.
The case for Martin
Over the last two years, he has been out-hit by Mauer, .324-.288, but Martin has more home runs (29-20), more RBIs (152-144) and more steals (31-15). Plus, Martin has been amazingly durable, playing 262 games to Mauer's 211. Several years ago, soon after Martin was moved from third base to catcher, one instructor in the Dodger minor league system suggested in an organizational meeting that Martin was the best player in the Dodgers' system. The remark was greeted with great surprise. "You watch," the instructor said.
Martin can hit, and his defense is equally good. "He catches and throws as well as anyone in the game," said former Dodgers third base coach Rich Donnelly. Plus, he runs a game very well, and is very vocal with pitchers, which is what leaders do.
Martin plays with a fire that few players have these days. "If he was a boxer, the guy in the other corner would look across at him and say, 'Oh, no, not him,'" Donnelly said. "Before every game, in his catching gear, he runs the length of the dugout. He is so ready. I've never seen him have an off-day. He might go 0-for-4, but mentally, he never has an off night."