Trust The Process And The Stats
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins DailyAt the end of April, Joe Mauer was hitting a career-low .225/.271/.275 with just four extra base hits. Fans panicked again. Everyone whined and complained about the $23 million man. But Mauer, true to who he is, took it in stride. With his performance so far in May, it’s easy to understand why.
On May 1, Pioneer Press scribe Mike Berardino wrote an article titled “Joe Mauer shrugs off worst April in his Minnesota Twins career.”
Mauer was quoted as saying, “I’ve been feeling pretty good. I just really haven’t had a whole lot of results here early. I think it’s just been frustrating because I’ve been making some good contact and just not having any results from it. That’s baseball. Hopefully that shifts soon.”
That was true. As Berardino pointed out, there were several indicators that Mauer’s process was solid. For instance, he was putting the ball in play, a lot. He wasn’t striking out much at all. When he did make contact, he was hitting a very high percentage of line drives. His exit velocity was second on the team behind only Miguel Sano’s league-leading numbers.
Mauer’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was just .243, almost 100 points below his career average, and about 60 points lower than his career low.
In other words, his process at the plate was fine. His numbers were just hurt by the effects of small sample size, defensive shifts and some bad luck.
However, Mauer trusted the process. He likely made a few adjustments. For instance, his walk rate has returned to where it has been in his career. He’s seeing more pitches again, which has always been a good thing for him.
He has continued to hit a lot of line drives. He continues to have an average exit velocity over 90 mph. And the results have shown that things would even out a little bit over time.
In 16 games so far in May, Mauer is hitting .345/.446/.527 (.973) with four doubles and two home runs, including his first career walk off homer.
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Mauer also said at the end of a frustrating April, “I feel like I’m striking the ball pretty well. You’ve got to try to stick with the process, and hopefully those results change.”
Trust the process.
Listen, at 34 years old, Joe Mauer isn’t suddenly going to be putting up numbers like he did when he was 26 years old, back when those numbers he put up in May were pretty close to the numbers he put up for a season. Back when he became the first American League catcher ever to win not one, but three, batting titles. To expect him to still be that player would be unfair. And that’s true even if he hadn’t suffered the concussions he has. And it would be true if he was still catching.
But it’s time for Twins fans to start realizing what we have seen in Joe Mauer since his debut as a 20-year-old back in 2004. He’s one of the top five hitters in Minnesota Twins’ history, a history that is approaching 60 seasons. We almost forget the Gold Gloves he won behind the plate, or how good he has become at first base now.
In the Bible (Luke 4:24), it says, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe Minnesotans would appreciate Joe Mauer more if he did play somewhere else. But he’s chosen to stay in Minnesota through the good and the bad in his career. Twins fans loved him until the injuries, and when the injuries (knee surgeries and concussions) started affecting his numbers, many Twins fans turned on him. And it’s too bad.
My hope is that when Mauer’s playing career is done, that he is treated with as much admiration and respect as the other greats in Minnesota Twins history are. I hope that he’s treated as well as Tony Oliva, Rod Carew and Kent Hrbek are. When you consider all he’s done on the field and in the community, Joe Mauer deserves that.
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