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Six Twins Featured on MLBTR's Top 75 Trade Candidates

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:49 AM
MLB Trade Rumors released its list of the Top 75 MLB Trade Candidates At The All-Star Break, and quite a few Twins were listed. Here...
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Twins, OAK a good match? Gibson & Odorizzi available

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:53 AM
Some interesting trade news floating around this morning.   -Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle seems to be connecting the...
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Article: 2018 Minnesota Twins Midseason Top Prospect List...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:53 AM
The true tragedy of the 2018 season?How it's tarnishing the hopes of so many Minnesota Twins fans who've earnestly bought into the vision...
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Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:14 PM
Harper is on pace for 1 bWAR this year. (WAR doesn't like his defense). Going into the season, he and Machado were going to be the darlin...
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Article: Twins Minor League Report (7/17): Barnes and Kir...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:40 PM
With only three Minnesota Twins minor league affiliates in action on Tuesday, this is going to be a relatively quiet report. There’s good...
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Out Of Focus

Using a round bat to hit a round ball is one of the hardest skills to master in professional sports. It takes the right combination of hand-eye coordination to be considered one of the best hitters in the game. Joe Mauer had been one of those hitters.
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USAToday
Mauer's on-field performance has been on the decline since a concussion in 2013 and the resulting symptoms related to that brain injury. There may finally be some clarity to the situation as Mauer admitted to the Pioneer Press that symptoms from 2013 continued to plague him even last season.

In the story, Mauer describes that he suffered from blurred vision that was triggered by bright light. Mauer said the vision issues only happened occasionally and later in the article he implies that he didn't let the coaches or front office know about his vision concerns.

Mauer feels like he is starting to get a handle on things as he has been symptom-free for three months. He is still going to try and play with sunglasses during spring training to see if he can do a better job at picking up the ball and solve some of his vision issues.

Last season in day games, he hit .248/.316/.354 with 44 strikeouts in 226 plate appearances. His numbers in night games were better even if they weren't at the level of a pre-concussion Mauer. Over 366 night time at-bats, he hit .276/.352/.396 with 68 strikeouts. This meant he was striking out in 19.5% of his day game at-bats and 18.6% of his night game at-bats.

During the 2013 campaign (the season of his concussion), Mauer had a higher OBP and SLG during day games. Over 173 at-bats that season, he hit .318/.411/.480 with 40 strikeouts. At night his batting average was nine points higher but his OPS was 18 points lower. His concussion would cause him to miss the season's last six weeks but he was still awarded the Silver Slugger as the best hitting catcher in the American League.

There are plenty of fans who have been tough on Mauer as he transitioned to first base and tried to overcome his concussion issues. That same group would probably wonder why Mauer didn't let the coaches or front office know about his symptoms. However, he likely wasn't hurting the team by playing. He had the second highest OBP on the team behind Miguel Sano who only played in half the team's games.

So what's next?

Mauer is entering his age-33 season and most players see some decline as they start to creep further into their 30s. Mauer did set career highs in games played (158) and at-bats (666) so he was playing through the symptoms even though his performance was suffering.

The sunglasses might be at least a partial solution to help with pitch tracking. It's also easy to envision a scenario where Mauer will feel like they are messing with his routine at the plate. In the article, he even refers to his batting box routine as "weird."

It doesn't seem like a batting champion version of Mauer will rise from the ashes this season but with some new exercises and a pair of sunglasses, there's hope for Mauer to cut back on strikeouts and hit closer to his career average of .313.

Spring training is all about hope and there seems to be more hope now that Mauer will be more successful at using the round bat to hit the round ball.

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9 Comments

I hope this works out for him.  I think the defensive shifts have really hurt Mauer.  His batting average with running in scoring position was really good last year.  I think that is in part because it take the infield shift away.  I think a true leadoff hitter would really help Mauer.  Buxton's development will be key.  I like Dozier down in the lineup.

    • Dan Engebretson and gagu like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 14 2016 12:54 PM
Let's hope Mauer has a bounce back season and can help propel the Twins to the playoffs. I do have to wonder how much of this is spin doctoring, though?

AKTwins:  I agree.  Having Buxton at the top and Dozier in the 6-hole would make for a better overall lineup.  This is a very interesting year for Mauer.  He could continue to decline (you can tell the concussion symptoms have affected him, he swings and misses A LOT more than he ever used to) or he could bounce back.  If he can hit close to .300 and maintain a good OBP that should be encouraging to the Twins and all his fans.

I hope it works well for him, but why did he feel the need to wait TWO FULL seasons before he said this was an issue.  If this is the reason for the drop off in numbers, or at least a major part of it hopefully he bounces back.  However, I believe if you are the highest paid player for your team and you are doing so poorly you need to figure it out well before two full seasons pass by.

 

I hope it works well for him, but why did he feel the need to wait TWO FULL seasons before he said this was an issue. 

 

I suspect that this is not the first time that Twins' people heard about this issue...This is the first time that came out in the public. Vision issues is such a common concussion result, that makes them almost expected, so the surprise should have been if they were not there...

 

I just don't understand all the big deal that is happening around this.(Slow off-season does not help, I guess...)

    • gagu likes this

The issue is why someone who makes the salary he makes, a guaranteed salary could not be forthright before this.  Being honest might have led to a solution.

 

Agree with Thrylos. This was likely not news to the Twins. Also, the Twins have no incentive to tell their opponents things like he has trouble picking up the pitch in the sun.

I would just say, Joe doesn't strike me as the type of guy that would exaggerate this to explain his numbers or struggles. I completely believe him and just have to say it has to be very frustrating.

He was a top five or ten trajectory catcher of all time. Gets a big deal and gets a concussion and people rip on him because he makes too much and isn't performing.
    • gagu likes this

 

I suspect that this is not the first time that Twins' people heard about this issue...  

The article did imply Joe did not disclose the vision concern to the Twins.  Vision problems may be a common issue with concussions, but do they last two full years?  I would imagine if the Twins knew about the issue they would have tried anything to fix the issue.  I bet since he would say the issues would come and go Joe did not tell the Twins, figuring they may take him out of the lineup and he felt he helped more with bad vision, some of the time, then someone else with good vision, all of the time.

 

The issue is why someone who makes the salary he makes, a guaranteed salary could not be forthright before this.  Being honest might have led to a solution.

 

Even world-class athletes can think like Scarlett O'Hara: "Tomorrow's another day!"


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