Joe Mauer in a Slump?

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Joe Mauer

Can’t believe what you’re reading?  Well your eyes are not deceiving you, the words Mauer and slump might be together in a sentence for the first time in Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer’s 27 years on this planet.

Since starting the year on his usual torrid batting pace, hitting .345 the first month of the season and then peaking at .364 May 14th, Mauer’s average has taken a severe turn for the worse, dropping 54 points to where it currently sits at .312.

Miraculously, Mauer’s slump has not cost the Twins offensive output, as they still rank in the top ten in the majors in batting average, 12th in runs and fourth in on base percentage.

This is fortuitous for the Twins, who remain ten games above .500 and 3.5 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers, who are their only threat in the AL Central.

Although they continue to play well, it’s hard to imagine the Twins keeping this pace up with their $184 million dollar man struggling as mightily as he is.

Before the slump drops him below the feared .300 line, a number 99% of major leaguers would be happy to hit by the way, the Twins need to find the cause of one of the biggest slumps of Mauer’s career.

The easy thing would be to point to the heel injury that sidelined him seven games in early May, but the easy answer isn’t always the right one.  Mauer had two three hit games in his first five after returning from his week-long absence, dispelling the thoughts that he may be rusty.

Looking closer at his stats, you don’t see anything ridiculously glaring to point to a slump.  His power is obviously down, as he is only hitting one home run for every 93 at bats, down from one per 18.7 last year.  But aside from the power decline from last year, which some would even say was an aberration considering his 74 home runs in nearly 2,800 career at bats, nothing points to this three week drop in average becoming a major problem.

Joe Mauer

Mauer is still drawing more walks than he is striking out, ranking high in pitches seen per plate appearance, and the difference between his batting average and OPS is at 516 points, only 45 points below his career average.  All this would suggest that he has remained disciplined at the plate and is still getting on base despite the average dip. Aside from the home runs, considering his OPS, he is still getting the extra base hits he always has as well.

For you sabermetricians, the one stat that does stand out is his secondary average, which is the ratio of other ways of getting bases besides singles (walks, stolen bases, extra base hits), to ones at bats.  His SecA, as it is notated, is at .253, 53 points lower than his career number.  Considering his lack of stolen bases and home runs, however, this is not surprising.

Let’s not be unfair and pretend Mauer is the only one struggling for the Twins, because he isn’t.

Denard Span and Jason Kubel, who both hit in the .300s last year, are hitting .267 and .231 respectively.  Those numbers are especially discouraging considering the tremendous upside both have showed over the last two years.

Still, does this and should this worry the Minnesota Twins and their fans?

On the contrary, it should do the exact opposite.

The Twins are underachieving on the offensive side of the baseball outside of Justin Morneau, who is making major league pitchers look like beer league slow pitch participants at the moment.  Nothing indicates Joe Mauer’s slide will continue and Denard Span is mucb better than a .260 hitter.  For Jason Kubel, he is still hitting for power and the rest will come around.  Last year was no joke, it was five years in the making for the highly touted Kubel and he should return to his form of being one of the most underrated hitters in the AL.

Minnesota worry?  If anything, the offensive production is encouraging considering the struggles of three of the Twins better hitters.

Twins fans should leave the worrying to the rest of the AL, who will be put on notice when the Twins start hitting on all cylinders.

-Mike Gallagher

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Comments

  1. jmccormick says

    I don’t really see Mauer’s “slump” as anything to worry about. He’s a proven commodity and will likely end up hitting .330 or so for the season. It is a nice feeling knowing you can worry about someone hitting only .310 though.

  2. paulmbanks says

    agreed when a slump brings you down to .310 you have things pretty good.
    “well played Mauer” as the over-played commercial says.

  3. paulmbanks says

    This is getting some love on Fox Sports right now. again why we need to take our twins content to the next level this summer. that, and the 3 other TSB teams in the MLB are all getting donkey-raped these days

  4. I think the changes in hitting are in part due to the move the Twins made from an indoor/enclosed stadium to one outdoors. The swirling winds which was once not a factor now is. Perhaps this is why the power numbers are down. Players will have to make adjustments to their hitting.

  5. joe mauer is still amazing! nommatter what the critics say!

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