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Article: MIN 15, DET 8: Five Hits for Forsythe in Busy Ni...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:32 PM
A conga line broke out on the basepaths at Target Field last night. The Twins’ pitching staff gave up eight run on 10 hits and six walks,...
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Article: What To Do With Logan Forsythe?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:08 PM
On July 31, the Twins traded popular second baseman Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that had been in the works for roug...
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Article: MIN 5, DET 4: Take a Bow, Joe

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:24 AM
If there’s one good reason to keep tuning into the Twins the rest of this season, it’s because we could very will be watching the end of...
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If I May

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:15 AM
It was hard not to feel sympathy for Trevor May in the 5th inning Thursday night. Coming in with no outs and the bases loaded was, as Dic...
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Joe Mauer finishes shy of batting title quest

Attached Image: Mauer2.jpg Joe Mauer’s noble effort to obtain his fourth batting title was thwarted when those cyborgs known as Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout were unrelenting at the season's end.

That notwithstanding, this has been an outstanding rebound season for the Twins catcher.
[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Considering the slow start by his standards, his .320 average heading into the last day of the season is impressive nonetheless. At the beginning of May, his average was down to .270 before he checked into the Rip City Motel and hit .336 over his last 115 games.

A closer inspection of his numbers reveals something very interesting that you might want to sit down for.

For the first time in his major league career Joe Mauer pulled the ball more often than he went the other away with the pitch.

I’ll let you digest that for a moment because it seems so improbable compared to what we have become accustom to.

Between 2004 and 2011, Mauer accumulated 447 hits going to left field. That was the fifth highest total in that time behind preeminent going-the-other-way hitters in Ichiro, Derek Jeter, Michael Young and Juan Pierre. Still, no one had a higher average when going oppo than Mauer’s .436.

His ability to inside-out a pitch or drive a fastball on the outer half the other way has had its rewards for the Twins catcher. It was that methodology that helped him obtain three batting titles while having five seasons with an average over .300.

Although he still went to left field with a high percentage of his balls in play and had plenty of success on them (a .432 average when going oppo in 2012), it was his improvement when pulling the ball that helped him raise his average from the career-low .287 average he possessed in 2011.

Starting in late 2010, according to Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra, Mauer’s knee ailments were keeping him from “getting off his backside” on his swing. This led to him being “unable to turn on the ball.”

With his health returning, Mauer seemed much better at turning on pitches. At BaseballProspectus.com, this Pitch F/X chart shows just how much better he was when swinging at pitches down-and-in and middle-down:

Attached Image: Mauer.jpg
A year ago, he was 6-for-21 (.286) on pitches in the down-and-in quadrant. This year he has been 21-for-43 (.488).

In 2011, Mauer pulled the ball 25.3% of the time – down from his career average closer to 30% - and he hit just .242 when going to the right side of the field. This year, he turned on the ball 32% of the time and posted a .310 average. Now, he still beat the ball into the ground over 80% of the time in both season but this year, he was having a higher success rate of sneaking those through the infield – likely a direct result of better struck balls because of a strong base.


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