Archive for the ‘Joe Mauer’ Category

Twins' Mauer reacts to striking out against the  Blue Jays during their MLB baseball game in Toronto

Joe Mauer is one of the best players in Minnesota Twins’ history. By Wins Above Replacement, he is either in the top six now or will be by the end of an average Joe Mauer season.

He won the American League MVP in 2009, claimed the AL batting crown three times, and led the Twins to the playoffs in three of his 11 big league seasons.

And Twins fans seem to hate him. Maybe not hate, but they expect more of Mauer. They constantly express disappointment in Mauer. Blame his contract or his move to first base or the sudden downturn in Twinkie fortunes but there is a growing tide of resentment against Joe Mauer in the Twin Cities. Blame the local media or blame Mauer’s particular shortcomings as a player but, right now, it is getting tense for Mauer in Minnesota.

This isn’t fair, not to the rebuilding Twins or the face of their franchise. With the Twins window for contention not likely to crack within the next two years (at which point Mauer will be 33), the time is now to deal. Get his huge contract off the books and the weight of the world off his shoulders. It’s win/win.

But where will Joe Mauer land? Here are seven suitable landing spots for the former catcher and former MVP and future franchise cornerstone.

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Minnesota Twins catcher Joe  Mauer takes fielding practice at first base before Dodgers game in Minneapolis

Catching is a tough gig. The abuse heaped upon your body – just about every part of your body – is difficult to fathom. Knees and legs tire from the innumerable squats performed each game. The weakening of the catching hand after repeated exposure to fastball after fastball. To say nothing of the foul tips bombarding the body at a moment’s notice, deflecting off the face mask or otherwise unprotected joints and digits.

It’s a grind and it is not for the faint of heart. On top of the physical difficulty of the job, it is an increasingly demanding defensive role as the ability to frame pitches, call games, and eliminate running threats on the bases are prized by keen baseball decision makers.

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joe mauer finish high

Is Joe Mauer underrated? Or is he actually overrated? It depends on your perspective. Some Twins fans will never be happy with Mauer’s production because no baseball player will ever produce like the idea of Joe Mauer was supposed to produce.

Instead of being the second coming of Johnny Bench, Joe Mauer is simply the first coming of Joe Mauer. He is one of the top three hitting catchers of the live ball era, posting a career weighted runs created plus of 134, trailing just Mike Piazza and Gene Tenace among receivers with 2000 plate appearances. Since he entered the league in 2004, only Miguel Cabrera has a higher batting average. Only six players have been worth more Wins Above Replacement since Mauer’s first full season in 2005.

Joe Mauer is among the game’s elite players – one of the finest hitters in the history of his position and a player who stands to be a member of one team for his entire career. He’s a Twin through and through – Joe and his wife just welcomed twin girls to the world this month. And yet is not enough for some myopic fans. Fans who wish Mauer hit for more power or didn’t take any days off or delivered more “when it mattered.”

Perhaps Joe Mauer could hit for more power (his .145 isolated power is identical to A.J. Pierzynski and Gregg Zaun over the same time period, not exactly the generational talents of the Twins 6’5 catcher) but Joe Mauer focuses, instead, on not making outs. He focuses on piling up the hits and doubles and putting the ball in play at an uncommon rate. Getting Blanked spoke with Joe Mauer about just how he goes about the business of not making outs in the latest edition of My Approach.

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Like last month’s rankings, this month’s updates of my crude catcher defense rankings once again are reassuring that these ratings are measuring something real, even if that is somewhat boring. But if we look more closely at the components, some interesting contrasts stand out. We will troll around the middle a bit, too, to see what interesting stuff might come up. Read on, catcher defense fans.

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Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins

Sometimes you end up in an entirely different place than you started.

To wit. I was reading about the strike zone, and how it’s shifted for lefty hitters. Jon Roegele over at Beyond the Boxscore did some heavy thinking about how the lefty strike zone works when it comes to balls and strikes, and it’s worth a read.

But the decision to swing or not was not what got me thinking. Instead, I was thinking how unfair it is. How unfair it is that a left-handed hitter is asked to go cover further out past the outside edge of the plate than his right-handed coworkers. They should form a union and complain! Equal zones for equal people. Down with the right-handed-normative machine! These posters practically write themselves.

In any case, this is the zone the players have now, and this is the zone they battle with day to day. And so, it occurred to me, it’s more important for a left-hander to be able to cover the outside part of the plate than a right-hander! They are asked to do more out there. It’s a natural addendum to the problem.

Answering this question took me to the very edge of my ability to query databases and manipulate numbers. That’s sort of sad, considering the question is fairly easy perhaps, but it is what it is. After culling the list of all players with less than 60 balls to the outfield (that got rid of all pitchers), reducing their pull and push numbers to percentages, sorting, averaging and presto: RESULTS!

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So, yeah, Joe “Hometown Discount” Mauer did not get claimed off of the waiver wire. Shocker. Mauer is having a nice season after a miserable 2011. A .312/.405/.431 (134 wRC+) line is excellent for a catcher. It is very good for a player at any position. Unfortunately, Mauer is only about a half-time catcher these days, splitting time at first base and designated hitter. Combined with the money left on his contract (after this season, $138 million through 2018), he simply does not offer attractive value.

The Twins are awful this year, and as they rebuild, one of the many obstacles they face is the Mauer contract. It is a problem, but is in insurmountable? Not necessarily. The path of Todd Helton and the Colorado Rockies offers a (somewhat) reassuring reminder that these things can be worked around.

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The Minnesota Twins have unsurprisingly placed catcher and hair product pusher Joe Mauer on trade waivers to see if some team, any team, perhaps one on the West Coast that’s recently amassed an assortment of unwanted contracts or one on the East Coast that’s recently rid itself of said unwanted contracts, might make a claim for him. Unfortunately for the Twins, such a scenario playing out seems unlikely.

That’s because almost two years into an eight year contract, Mr. Mauer has provided approximately half of the value for which he’s been paid, and as a player who’s not only about to turn 30-years-old, but has also seen his talent diminished to a degree by injuries, that’s a cause for concern.

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