Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Article: 4 Stories To Watch At The Winter Meetings

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:52 PM
With Christmas only two weeks away, the Hot Stove has yet to heat up for Major League Baseball. But that's about to change.Two situations...
Full topic ›

I hate the Yankees...

Other Baseball Today, 05:43 PM
that's all I wanted to say.I consider it good for baseball if they don't win the World Series next year.   Feel free to vent below....
Full topic ›

Non-Twins Offseason Rumors

Other Baseball Today, 05:41 PM
Mostly from Heyman's twitter.   Profar for Harvey swap being discussed Yankees trying to trade for Gerritt Cole but Pirates say they...
Full topic ›

Article: Winter Meetings - Search For A Starter

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:35 PM
The Winter Meetings are an interesting event, particularly for fans. There are a multitude of rumors, and we need to sift through them to...
Full topic ›

Jack Morris Elected to Hall of Fame

Other Baseball Today, 04:52 PM
Along with Alan Trammel.Congrats to them both.
Full topic ›

Mauer's Renaissance Season

Flashback
During the 2013 season, Joe Mauer was in the middle of his sixth All-Star season. He was hitting .324/.404/.476 with 46 extra-base hits. The Twins had signed him to an eight-year, $184 million deal following his 2009 MVP and it was looking like he was going to be worth every penny.

Things took an unfortunate turn in August as he absorbed at least two significant blows from foul-tips. He was diagnosed with a concussion and his days as a catcher had come to an end.

Things would get darker from there but Mauer's career seems have found a renaissance in his age-34 season.
Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The Dark Ages
Mauer moved to first base but his offense didn't follow him to his new position. His poor play corresponded with some of the worst seasons in Twins history. This made him an easy target for fans looking for someone to blame for the team's poor results on the field. While many would consider this unfair, he was considered the face of the franchise and the hometown star. His large contract also made it hard to ignore his performance.

First baseman has typically been a position for power hitting batters and Mauer didn't fit this mold. From 2014-2016, he hit .267/.353/.380 while averaging eight home runs and 28 doubles. This was a far cry from his .323/.405/.468 line from his first 10 seasons. Mauer just wasn't the same Mauer and there might have been more than concussions to blame.

As the 2016 season approached, Mauer told the Pioneer Press "bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision" that he linked to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013. Picking up the spin of pitches is one of the toughest things for a hitter. Blurred vision might have been one of the reasons Mauer has averaged 100 strikeouts over the last three seasons.

The Renaissance
Mauer didn't exactly light the world on fire to start the 2017 campaign. He had a .546 OPS in April while only managing a .225 batting average. All four of his extra-base hits were doubles and he had more strikeouts (six) than walks (five). The Twins were only one game over .500 but something would soon click for both Mauer and the Twins.

Since the calendar turned to May, Mauer morphed back into the Mauer of old. Since May, he has hit .319/.405/.447 with 34 extra-base hits and a 61/50 strikeout to walk ratio. Those numbers are nearly identical to his totals from his first ten seasons in the league. Minnesota has also found a way to continue to win games as the club finds itself in the middle of the hunt for the final wild card spot.

Along with Mauer's offensive turnaround, he has also developed into one of the best defensive first basement in the American League. Mauer is one of a group of Twins players who could be in line for a Gold Glove. In SABR's most recent SDI rankings, Mauer has fallen further back in the rankings but Twins fans know how valuable his glove has been this season especially with a young left side of the infield.

Mauer is signed through the 2018 season and he has been one of the best players in team history. His renaissance this season has been something to appreciate. His days as the punching bag of fans' jokes might be over and one can only hope that a return to the Dark Ages isn't in store for the Twins franchise.

  • Blake, James, Mike Frasier Law and 6 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

67 Comments

Joe Mauer is on the short list of most-polarizing athletes to ever hit the Twin Cities' sports scene. His 2009 MVP season is probably the only season he hasn't been subject to one level of criticism or another. To wit:

"Singles are great & all, but why can't / doesn't Joe drive the ball more?"

"Why doesn't he pull the ball more?"

"Pitchers know by now they just tube the first pitch and start his ABs 0-1. Why doesn't Joe jump on that first tasty-looking pitch? We all know it's coming!"

"A six-foot seven-inch singles hitter? Really?"

Even in his best seasons- 2009 aside- Joe has always heard these criticisms. As he winds down a pretty GD good / great career, I doubt those impressions are gonna change in the twilight of his career, even if they rightly should.

Don't believe that? Keep your ears to the ground the next time Joe has a big AB with a runner on first & rolls over a grounder up the middle. You'll hear more frustration vented than for almost any possible outcome for any play in a Twins game. Guaranteed.

Joe is always gonna be a lightning rod here in the Twin Ciites. He's been here too long for fans in general to change their opinion of him. Generally speaking, whatever most fans impressions of Mauer is at this point, is what it will be whenever his career ends.
    • Mike Frasier Law, gagu and ToddlerHarmon like this

Not much is more infuriating to me than when we don't appreciate greatness when it's happening. Too many didn't appreciate Mauer when he was one of the top 3-5 players in all of baseball, and too many were quick to turn the moment he had the concussion and his career numbers plummeted. It's too bad. Top 5 player in team history. And what he's doing this year is fantastic... You just never know with concussions how long, or even if, they will recover completely.

    • Blake, Cris E, pbrezeasap and 22 others like this
It's amazing the heat Mauer took, even as he was well on his way to a career that could have ended with him as one of, if not THE best-hitting catcher of ALL TIME, and surely enshrined in Cooperstown.

Between the big contract and then the injury / conky issues, Joe had little, if any chance, to escape considerable criticism.

I kinda feel like if management would have batted him in the leadoff spot, or at #2, all those *why doesn't he hit for power* questions would have been far less....Traditional "fans" always expect a big bopper at the 3 spot in the order, big HR's and big RBI totals.  If Joe had the exact same career he has had, but started in 8 to 10 years later, he would have been appreciated much more.

 

Or, maybe not.  Maybe he always would have been given crap.

    • twinsnorth49 likes this

Heres a discussion I had with friends and family: Mauer is a no-doubt Twins HoFer, but does #7 get retired? The only number that is retired that isnt in the national HoF (29,3, 34, 28) or won World Series (14, 10) is Oliva #6. 

Personally, I think 7 should be retired, like said above, a lot of people didnt appreciate what was happening for many years.

 

    • DJSim22, James, messed up and 1 other like this
Photo
theBOMisthebomb
Sep 06 2017 06:44 AM
This isn't a new story when it comes to concussions. It seems to take guys 3-4 years to recover, get healthy, and be productive again.
    • Cris E likes this

I think it is great that Mauer is having a really good resurgence.  He has really helped this year and he has had some great years, as well as years where he deserved some of the criticism he got.  But that is all in the past.  His HOF credentials?  Unless he continues this production and builds some numbers he is on the outside.  Writers have left out some really good catchers and he would have made it in if the concussion had not changes his path.

But the real puzzler for me is this - if he continues this trend and has a similar year next year he will become a free agent.  The maximum cut allowed in  baseball is 20% and it is hardly ever used - this would still be an $18,400,000 salary.   

 

So how would this FO value Mauer in 2019?  Would there be another contract?  Would they dare offer the minimum contract possible under the labor agreement?  Would they let him go FA and offer to sign him for whatever he is offered by others?  What would the market for him be?  How many teams would want him as their 1B?

 

Go Joe - your career has taken quite a path.

Joe Mauer will make the Hall of Fame. He's going to take a decade but I think his career is going to look very different down the road. Teams aren't going to keep the Posadas at catcher because they're going to value catcher defense. Joe's decade of dominance defensively and offensively is going to look that much better in an era with lighter hitting catchers. I also think he'll be looked at favorably in a sabremetrics era that values OBP more than SLG. And if he can win a Gold Glove this year, GG at two positions is another feather in his cap. This year already gives a counterargument to "he fell off a cliff when he stopped catching".

 

He used to be on a first ballot trajectory and that likely isn't coming back. But he's still going to make it in on the back side.

    • DJSim22, James, messed up and 5 others like this

 

Heres a discussion I had with friends and family: Mauer is a no-doubt Twins HoFer, but does #7 get retired? The only number that is retired that isnt in the national HoF (29,3, 34, 28) or won World Series (14, 10) is Oliva #6. 

Personally, I think 7 should be retired, like said above, a lot of people didnt appreciate what was happening for many years.

 

It absolutely should be (and most certainly will be). 

    • DJSim22, James, Tom Froemming and 1 other like this

 

Top 5 player in team history.

 

The only player you can conclusively say is better than Joe in Twins history is Killebrew. 21 seasons, 559 HR, 143 OPS+, six top-5 MVP finishes.

 

After that, your contenders are Carew, Oliva, Puckett and Paul Sorrento.

 

Carew = 12 seasons, 137 OPS+, six batting titles

Oliva = 15 seasons, 131 OPS+

Puckett = 12 season, 124 OPS+, 6 GG, postseason magic

Mauer = 14 seasons, 126 OPS+, MVP, 3 GG, 3 batting titles

 

Those are all pretty close, especially when you take position into account. Puckett was a CF and thus more valuable than Oliva in RF and Carew at 2B/1B but much less valuable than Mauer at C.

 

I personally go Killebrew, Carew, Mauer, Puckett, Oliva but can see almost any order of the last four. And I think Mauer can catch Carew on my list with a few more good years at the tail end of his career. (And I love Carew: my favorite is that he stole home seven times in 1969. I get teams didn't scout or have video back then but seven times???)

    • Mike Frasier Law, 70charger, WLFINN and 5 others like this

 

Heres a discussion I had with friends and family: Mauer is a no-doubt Twins HoFer, but does #7 get retired? The only number that is retired that isnt in the national HoF (29,3, 34, 28) or won World Series (14, 10) is Oliva #6. 

Personally, I think 7 should be retired, like said above, a lot of people didnt appreciate what was happening for many years.

 

His number will absolutely be retired in the first season after he calls it quits. It's an automatic. He's in the upper echelons of Twindom.

    • DJSim22, James and Lefty74 like this

"The Twins had signed him to an eight-year, $184 million deal following his 2009 MVP

and it was looking like he was going to be worth every penny."

 

20 WAR and counting since that extension. At $7.5M per WAR that's $150M of value. Joe produces 4 WAR between now and the end of the next season and the Twins break even on that investment.

    • Cris E, James, Mike Frasier Law and 7 others like this

 

 

But the real puzzler for me is this - if he continues this trend and has a similar year next year he will become a free agent.  The maximum cut allowed in  baseball is 20% and it is hardly ever used - this would still be an $18,400,000 salary.   

 

 

 

The Salary thing is easy: You don't "re-sign" him. I'm certain that rule only applies to contracts replacing a currently valid one, i.e.: an extension (if that is even is a rule? I don't see that anywhere).

 

If he goes to FA his minimum salary is not going to be $18.4MIL that a team could offer him - the market dictates everything there.

    • Cris E, ThejacKmp, 70charger and 2 others like this

 

The Salary thing is easy: You don't "re-sign" him. I'm certain that rule only applies to contracts replacing a currently valid one, i.e.: an extension (if that is even is a rule? I don't see that anywhere).

 

If he goes to FA his minimum salary is not going to be $18.4MIL that a team could offer him - the market dictates everything there.

 

Yeah, I have to believe that rule is not for actual free agent deals (spycake? Help us out?)

 

If he hits the "free market," which shouldn't actually be too free because the Twins would have the most interest in signing him and presumably he'd be most interested in staying with the Twins, he can sign for whatever amount he wants. 

 

Though if this renaissance continues, I doubt it'll be the few million that some here have suggested. But that's probably a story for another day...

    • Steve Lein, gagu and Original Whizzinator like this

The Salary thing is easy: You don't "re-sign" him. I'm certain that rule only applies to contracts replacing a currently valid one, i.e.: an extension (if that is even is a rule? I don't see that anywhere).

If he goes to FA his minimum salary is not going to be $18.4MIL that a team could offer him - the market dictates everything there.

I believe the 20% max cut he is referring to applies to arbitration only. Joe can sign any free agent contract he likes.
    • Steve Lein, ThejacKmp, spycake and 1 other like this

Joe Mauer, Top 15 1st Baseman. Get some!

 

Really, I'm glad that he's apparently seeing the ball better. 2 WAR at 1B isn't a star player, but it's solid value. Whether there will be a great FA market for a John Olerud type at age 36... eh, I guess it all depends on whether he's better than 115 wRC+, 2 WAR next year.

    • h2oface likes this
I don't like retiring numbers. A team hall of fame is sufficient. Especially the single digit numbers!
    • frightwig likes this

His 2009 season was not only the best in the AL that year, it's probably one of the ten most valuable seasons in the history of baseball.

His 2009 season was not only the best in the AL that year, it's probably one of the ten most valuable seasons in the history of baseball.


No, not even close.
He had 7.9 bWAR that year, which is a great year, but, just for perspective, Barry Bonds alone had 11 seasons with more BWAR than that.
I'd doubt it would even come close to top 100.
    • USAFChief and ThejacKmp like this

 

No, not even close.
He had 7.9 bWAR that year, which is a great year, but, just for perspective, Barry Bonds alone had 11 seasons with more BWAR than that.
I'd doubt it would even come close to top 100.

I don't think WAR is adequate in assessing the impact of a catcher's contributions to his team's success. There are so many little things that catchers do that don't show up in the formula. Good catchers can reduce the number of stolen base attempts. Good catchers call the right pitch in key situations. Good catchers point out flaws in a pitcher's delivery or approach to a batter. Good catchers prevent wild pitches. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • ThejacKmp, Tibs, dbminn and 3 others like this
Photo
ChiTownTwinsFan
Sep 06 2017 07:43 PM

Joe Mauer is on the short list of most-polarizing athletes to ever hit the Twin Cities' sports scene. His 2009 MVP season is probably the only season he hasn't been subject to one level of criticism or another. To wit:
"Singles are great & all, but why can't / doesn't Joe drive the ball more?"
"Why doesn't he pull the ball more?"
"Pitchers know by now they just tube the first pitch and start his ABs 0-1. Why doesn't Joe jump on that first tasty-looking pitch? We all know it's coming!"
"A six-foot seven-inch singles hitter? Really?"
Even in his best seasons- 2009 aside- Joe has always heard these criticisms. As he winds down a pretty GD good / great career, I doubt those impressions are gonna change in the twilight of his career, even if they rightly should.
Don't believe that? Keep your ears to the ground the next time Joe has a big AB with a runner on first & rolls over a grounder up the middle. You'll hear more frustration vented than for almost any possible outcome for any play in a Twins game. Guaranteed.
Joe is always gonna be a lightning rod here in the Twin Ciites. He's been here too long for fans in general to change their opinion of him. Generally speaking, whatever most fans impressions of Mauer is at this point, is what it will be whenever his career ends.


Polarizing is a very apt description for Mauer.
Photo
AlwaysinModeration
Sep 06 2017 09:22 PM

Polarizing is a very apt description for Mauer.


He's Gibsonian!
    • ThejacKmp likes this

 

If he hits the "free market," which shouldn't actually be too free because the Twins would have the most interest in signing him and presumably he'd be most interested in staying with the Twins

 

Yeah, the only other place I could see him playing would be in Tampa since it's a few hours from his place in FL. But assuming the Twins want him (and it seems likely they will since the cupboard is bare for 1B/DH types), I'd imagine the interest is mutual. Two years $16 million?

    • 70charger and spanman2 like this

 

Yeah, the only other place I could see him playing would be in Tampa since it's a few hours from his place in FL. But assuming the Twins want him (and it seems likely they will since the cupboard is bare for 1B/DH types), I'd imagine the interest is mutual. Two years $16 million?

 

It's possible that Former Indians Executive Derek Falvey would like to sign Carlos Santana this winter; or, maybe the brain trust is already thinking about moving Sano to 1B in a couple years.

 

His 2009 season was not only the best in the AL that year, it's probably one of the ten most valuable seasons in the history of baseball.


By Fangraphs WAR, it is actually 8th all time just among catchers:

http://www.fangraphs...ers=0&sort=22,d

Within a half win of #4, though.
#2 among catchers in wRC+ (offense only), but remember, Mauer only caught 109 games that year.

Obviously a great season, but you'd have a very hard time to justify it as top 10 overall among all players, unless you want 3-4 catcher seasons among your top 10. (Especially difficult if you include pitchers too.)
    • ken likes this

Similar Articles


by Cody Christie , 06 Dec 2017
Photo


by Cody Christie , 27 Nov 2017
Photo


by Cody Christie , 22 Nov 2017
Photo


by Seth Stohs , 07 Nov 2017
Photo


by Seth Stohs , 02 Nov 2017
Photo