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How Many 2017 Twins Can You Name? (out of 52)

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Trust The Process And The Stats

Trust the process.

When ballplayers get off to slow starts, that can become a cliche, a catchphrase to talk themselves down a little bit from their early struggles.

Joe Mauer's stats at the end of the season's first month were not good, but a deeper dive showed that things were likely to get better.

They have.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily
At 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.

Want more? Check out this tweet:



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.


Posted Image

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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76 Comments

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LA VIkes Fan
May 23 2017 11:36 AM

Well said. I wonder if a lot of the angst about Mauer arises from his $23 million annual salary, perhaps augmented by the perception that ownership  isn't willing to spend enough money to feel the truly competitive team and Mauer's taking up too much of the available salary. I think we just all need to get over ourselves.. Mauer was worth that kind of money at the time he signed his contract. multiyear contracts in Baseball all work pretty much same; you agree up  front to high salaries for a number of years  hoping that you will get that kind of value in half to two thirds of those years, and knowing that you will be overpaying towards the end of the contract as the player ages.  That's basically the deal. Every team would love not to have to have contracts longer than two or three years but then you can't get the best players because they demand and receive longer term contracts. If we want to be in the big leagues, we have to play the big league financial game and this is part of that game. As far as ownership being too cheapand potentially using Mauer's salary as a reason to not spend big money on anyone else, that's on ownership not on Mauer.

 

I say that once a contract is signed we should all just forget about how much anyone is being paid and judge them on their performance. Mauer is playing well enough to start and play at least 75 to 80% of the Twins games. Is he playing at a $23 million a year level? Not even close, but who cares? Let's just enjoy the guy for who he is, one of the best players to ever don a Twins uniform and probably the best local player in Twins history (although I'm sure someone will correct me on that last point).

 

The only thing I wish is that the business I'm in paid the way ballplayers get paid. Oh well, they do something none of us can do.. Actually, I live in LA and I wish I got paid the way movie stars get paid.

    • Seth Stohs, glunn, messed up and 13 others like this
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MauerPower7
May 23 2017 11:59 AM

I live in LA too!  Go West Coast Twins Fans!  I'm hoping to see them in SF in June.

 

I think Mauer provides value, but not $23 million's worth.  But, that's just where he is in his career, the tail end.  Let's try to not focus on his albatross of a salary but instead on what he does provide.  He, like Grossman, takes quality at-bats, rarely strikes out, sees lots of pitches, and provides good situational hitting like he did yesterday when his Mauer Special, the rollover to the right side, actually scores a run.  

 

He has also provided sterling defense at first.  Where would our D be without a good gloveman at first?  I think Mauer is respected in the clubhouse and is a leader.  He is more beneficial to the team than not, but it's just he's getting paid way more than what he does bring.

 

I, too, hope he's remembered fondly and not despised for his contract.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, glunn, messed up and 5 others like this
Second that LA. Also as with most, if not all, large contracts actually pay for past performance more than future performance. That's just the way things even out, at least from the players side. Unfortunately teams signing onto those contracts are the ones that pay the piper and I suspect they understand there is a good risk for a performance decline. While that may seem lacking business sense then how does one justify the large bonuses for prospects who haven't even started pro ball. Whether I like this or not, sports are paid as entertainers.

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Mauer and his contributions to this franchise.  And I'm definitely rooting for him going forward.

 

But he had a great month in April 2016, and again in August 2016.  And both times, I think we got treated to articles similar to this one.  (Although the addition of Statcast data is nice this time around!)

 

I think both sides of the issue can get a little tiring.  (Admittedly, I tend to avoid mainstream media where I imagine the bulk of the anti-Mauer sentiment appears, so sometimes the Twins Daily rebuttal can seem like an over-correction.)

    • Mike Sixel, Dantes929, KGB and 4 others like this
Fantastic write up!

The contract is what it is and has never bothered me. Nor has Mauer himself, always been a fan. I think the issue has just been disappoinment in his decline. Exoected due to age and injury and the such, but still disappointing.

I don't think anyone expects him to hit for the remainder if the season the way he has in May. But with his defense, solid IN, some doubles power and a solid BA, he's still a very useful player. Just one who shouldn't probably play every day any longer, and I think everyone agrees with this.

He has been an all time great Twin, and she should be remembered that way, absolutely!
    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger, HitInAPinch and 1 other like this
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mickeymental
May 23 2017 12:13 PM

i used to decry the ridiculous salaries for sports stars. then, many years ago, a friend changed my perspective. "the money is there," he said. "the alternative is ownership getting it all."

    • Seth Stohs, Riverbrian, Dantes929 and 6 others like this

I like the low K rate -- 10.7% so far in 2017, which would be his lowest since 2010.  Down from 16-18% over the past 4 seasons.

 

Although he did tease us with 8.5% last April, and 10.5% last July.  If it sticks this time, and that exit velocity stuff holds, he could approach that 120 wRC+ mark that has long been predicted (hoped?) for him in his later career.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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yarnivek1972
May 23 2017 01:06 PM
All that tends to prove is that as age has caught up with him, he is unable to maintain his edge like he could even 5 years ago. He can still be productive in short bursts when he gets adequate rest. But he simply is incapable of maintaining production consistent with his lineup spot if he plays too much. IMO all the rain outs have kept him fresh.

I would suggest it's not just Twins fans who turned against Mauer.  When his numbers started going down, we heard an awful lot of whispers from the clubhouse and "unnamed Twins sources" suggesting Mauer wasn't working hard enough, that his injuries were phony, that he was lazy, etc., etc.  I would suggest that when the numbers went down, much of the Twins organization, from the front office to the manager to the broadcasters to some of the players, turned against Mauer.

I think the same people who are angered by Mauer's $23 million salary are the same people who are hate ticket prices at Target Field and claim "I built Target Field with MY TAX DOLLARS". As if somehow they were personally hoodwinked in these matters, and now they are worse off because of it. Always struck me as a weird thing to be angry about.

 

Mauer's salary hasn't ever bothered me - poor play bothers me.He's been better this month and I'm happy about it.He's always been reliable in his career when healthy, and I think batting him between 2-5 in the lineup makes sense at this time.He's certainly going to go down in history as one of the Twins' all time greats, no argument.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

I think that Brunansky as a hitting coached messed up Mauer.Check his BB:K ratio pre Brunansky and post (14:16 this season.)  A full month ago, looking at the numbers, I predicted that it looks that Mauer might have a breakthrough season in 2017 with an .850 OPS +.Still stand by this prediction...

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

I think the same people who are angered by Mauer's $23 million salary are the same people who are hate ticket prices at Target Field and claim "I built Target Field with MY TAX DOLLARS". As if somehow they were personally hoodwinked in these matters, and now they are worse off because of it.

 

Nope. And the loan payback is ahead of schedule.

 

http://www.startribu...arly/185120531/

 

This has nothing to do with Mauer and a lot to do with eliminating the blight known as the Metrodome. Unfortunately, there is a new blight called US Bank Stadium there to take its place.

    • 70charger likes this
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yarnivek1972
May 23 2017 02:12 PM

 

 


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.

 

I don't agree with that.  Sure, in terms of WAR he is.  But WAR inflates his value because he was a catcher, but that isn't what the statement is saying.  The statement is he is one of the five best hitters, to me that means independent of position.  Killebrew, Carew and Puckett were clearly superior.  I would make the case for Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva.  Hrbek had the plate discipline of Mauer, but power that Mauer only showed for one season in his career.  Oliva had the elite level batting average and at times also showed upper echelon power.  Both Hrbek and Oliva also were better run producers.  At the end of the day the goal of the offense is to score runs.  When people talk about all time great Twins hitters one name that often gets ignored is Bob Allison.  His career OPS+ is 127, exactly the same as Joe Mauer's.  One could also make a case, again POSITION INDEPENDENT, that Justin Morneau was a better hitter.  Certainly more productive.  Mauer has played 3 more seasons than Morneau did with the Twins but Morneau still has more RBI.

 

So, in short, I would peg Mauer as the 7th best hitter for the Twins all time.

    • USAFChief and Taildragger8791 like this
I will never understand the people who do all they can to pile on Mauer.

He's likely one of the best 5 catchers in the history of the game, and definitely one of the best 5 hitters in Twins history.

I LOVE that the numbers are coming back for Mauer, not only bc it makes the 2017 that much better with Mauer Raking, but another good season or two prob puts him in the hall of fame no doubt. (He should be in regardless, but voters can be.....dumb at times)

Love seeing Mauer doing well, hope he keeps it up. I also think he is a big reason why Sano is taking much more patient at bats. I have been told from folks around the game that even though Mauer is a "quiet guy, no a rah rah type" he is a very good leader and one of the most respected players in baseball: teammates, opponents, coaches, scouts, umpires, FO etc
    • LA VIkes Fan, HitInAPinch and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
P.S. excellent article Seth
    • Seth Stohs, glunn, Oldgoat_MN and 1 other like this

Moderator note -- some people are trolling in this thread. I have deleted their posts and we will start issuing infraction points if this continues.

Who cares. Stats, success, failure.  Mauer no longer is evaluated he is only paid.

 

 He has one more year on his deal and as long as he is healthy the Twins will trot him out on the field.  Then the Twins will move on.  I hope Mauer retires after 2018 rather than continuing on in diminished form.

Who cares. Stats, success, failure. Mauer no longer is evaluated he is only paid.

He has one more year on his deal and as long as he is healthy the Twins will trot him out on the field. Then the Twins will move on. I hope Mauer retires after 2018 rather than continuing on in diminished form.

Serious question: Did you read the article at all?

Pretty sure it laid out how Mauer isn't as diminished as some hope he is...
    • HitInAPinch likes this

I mean, all in all, Mauer could have struggled as opposing pitchers put most of the focus on him and now that the Twins lineup is overall doing better with guys like Sano, Kepler, Polanco, etc....  not necessarily in that order maybe Joe is again a benefactor of being in a good lineup.  I predict that if those guys continue to hit around Joe, that Joe will have a much better year than in the last 3 or so years.  Think back to when Joe was a monster, he had the likes again not necessarily in this order, but Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Torii Hunter, etc.....  When those guys and many more were hitting around Joe, obviously he couldn't be the total focus of a pitching staff.  Maybe it is just getting back to that once again??  

The point of this article isn't to say that he's turned some corner... It really was mainly to illustrate that despite the bad numbers in April, a deeper dive shows that there was reason for optimism, reason to believe that he could take off again.

 

I have no idea what he'll do the rest of the year. We'll see. I agree with above that noted that he has probably been helped by the rain outs. I do think it's going to be important to give him days off. While I think he's a better player now than Vargas, and I think Mauer would be fine against most lefties, but to keep his legs strong, they have to give him the time off.

    • Deduno Abides likes this

 

I don't agree with that.  Sure, in terms of WAR he is.  But WAR inflates his value because he was a catcher, but that isn't what the statement is saying.  The statement is he is one of the five best hitters, to me that means independent of position.  Killebrew, Carew and Puckett were clearly superior.  I would make the case for Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva.  Hrbek had the plate discipline of Mauer, but power that Mauer only showed for one season in his career.  Oliva had the elite level batting average and at times also showed upper echelon power.  Both Hrbek and Oliva also were better run producers.  At the end of the day the goal of the offense is to score runs.  When people talk about all time great Twins hitters one name that often gets ignored is Bob Allison.  His career OPS+ is 127, exactly the same as Joe Mauer's.  One could also make a case, again POSITION INDEPENDENT, that Justin Morneau was a better hitter.  Certainly more productive.  Mauer has played 3 more seasons than Morneau did with the Twins but Morneau still has more RBI.

 

So, in short, I would peg Mauer as the 7th best hitter for the Twins all time.

Like Oliva I tend to weigh more on how he did when healthy which was a .320 average and upper .800s OPS. Three batting titles puts him up there.  I certainly disagree that Puckett or Carew were clearly superior. If you go by OPS plus then Killebrew is better but its a little apples to oranges.  Its all a little more subjective than it should be.  I mean is it average, at their best, overall, power, longevity, OPS, OPS+?  Shane Mack had 5 better seasons statistically than Puckett's average but he wasn't even ranked in the top 25 Twins.  How do you judge it? Personally I would go with Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Mauer, Puckett in no particular order but probably pretty  close to that order.  Morneau, Hrbek, Mack, Hunter, Knoblach after that in no particular order but probably pretty close to that order.

    • BigSkyTwinsFan, 70charger and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

 

Love seeing Mauer doing well, hope he keeps it up. I also think he is a big reason why Sano is taking much more patient at bats. I have been told from folks around the game that even though Mauer is a "quiet guy, no a rah rah type" he is a very good leader and one of the most respected players in baseball: teammates, opponents, coaches, scouts, umpires, FO etc

 

No question about this... It isn't as evident now as it was when he was leading and working more with pitching staffs.

    • DaveW and HitInAPinch like this

Imagine a local baseball player that is great, right out of high school, gets drafted by the home team, plays his whole career in his home state, wins batting titles, gold gloves, and plays clutch baseball nearly every game. 

 

That's why I'm still mad that the Padres got Dave Winfield, dang it! Draft Hunter Greene! Revenga!

 

Oh, and Mauer is great, too. ;-)

    • Seth Stohs likes this
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Deduno Abides
May 23 2017 03:51 PM
1. Per Fangraphs, Mauer right now is #1 for all first basemen in defensive runs saved. 2. Well stated, Seth.
    • Hosken Bombo Disco, HitInAPinch and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
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Rhino and Compass
May 23 2017 03:51 PM

One thing I think is lost in all the criticism of Mauer... what would the Twins have done with that extra money? How many fans would have left if they hadn't re-signed him in his prime? 23 million dollars would have been good enough for what, 2 Ricky Nolascos? The contract had to be signed, both for baseball and PR purposes, and hasn't really negatively impacted the Twins' payroll as much as some people allege. 

I'm glad he isn't too old to bring on a good season now, to boot, mostly because that means I might still have a little bit of gas in the tank too. 

 

    • Seth Stohs, ThejacKmp, 70charger and 1 other like this

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