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Interesting article about Buxton

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What Needs To Happen For Joe Mauer To Be A Twin In 2019?

There is no question that Joe Mauer is one of the greatest Minnesota Twins to ever put on the uniform, and that he will one day see his number retired along with former Twins greats like Kirby Puckett and Rod Carew. Despite this, Mauer’s future as a player with the Twins after 2018 seems to be in question.
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Entering 2019, Mauer will be going into his age 36 season with what will at best be a slightly above average bat and good defense. The problem is he is limited to playing first base, and there are plenty of quality bats at first to go around. Additionally, first base is a position that is very limited in the upside a quality defensive player can bring. This will make it very easy for "Falvine" to replace Mauer with a quality player after his contract expires.

I am sure most Twins fans, myself included, would like to see Joe Mauer play out the rest of his career in a Twins uniform. So, the question is, what will it take for that to happen?

Joe Mauer Repeats His 2017 Season

Mauer’s turnaround last season was a big part of the Twins improved level of play. A big reason for his success was his strikeout rate falling to 13.9%, the lowest it has been since 2012. Mauer also had by far his best defensive season since moving to first base. This resulted in a 2.3 fWAR season from the one-time MVP, twice as much as he put up in 2015 and 2016 combined.

If Mauer can repeat his success again in 2018, he will still be a viable MLB option a first going into 2019. However, if he shows some regression, and returns to his previous form, it would be tough for Joe to even get an MLB contract next winter.

Logan Morrison’s Option Doesn’t Get Picked Up

Perhaps the surprise of the Twins offseason was inking Logan Morrison to a one year and $6.5 million contract, with a vesting option for a second year if he reaches 500 plate appearances this season. If this option gets picked up, it will take up one of the two potential spots that Joe Mauer could fill as a member of the 2019 Minnesota Twins.

Additionally, bringing back Mauer to team up with Morrison as the first base/DH duo would still leave the Twins with the double lefty problem that currently exists. The front office was willing to make this work given the fact that Morrison is otherwise a steal at $6.5 million. Going into next offseason, there might be a few right-handed hitting options at first that might be more appealing to the Twins.

Brent Rooker Isn’t MLB Ready for The Start of 2019

Even though Brent Rooker was drafted as an outfielder and did see roughly 75% of his playing time last season in left, many believe that he will eventually break through with the Twins as either a first baseman or a designated hitter. The biggest reasons for this are his large 6’3” frame profiling better at first along with the crowded young outfield that the Twins already possess.

If Rooker continues to tear up minor league pitching, the 23-year-old will fly up through the Twins system and could even push for a spot in 2018. Rooker also brings the element of a right-handed power bat that the Twins will need in 2019, especially if they lose Brian Dozier to free agency.

Miguel Sano Can Stay at Third Base

One of the biggest question marks that the Twins need to answer this season is the long-term ability for Miguel Sano to stay at third base. If Sano can somehow play an adequate third base (given both the titanium rod in his leg and the lack of ability he has shown in the past) it would be a near miracle.

If Sano shows that he will be unable to stick at third, the most logical move would be to either first base or DH. This would create an even bigger logjam for Mauer to remain with the team given that Sano is under team control through at least the 2021 season.

Joe Mauer Takes a Hometown Discount

There is no question that the St. Paul native, who has known only one city for his growing up years and entire major league life, would love to finish out his career in Minnesota. In fact, it is hard to think of many players in the history of major league baseball who had more of a reason to take a hometown discount than Joe Mauer.

That being said, I am not Joe Mauer, so therefore I can not definitively say whether or not he will be willing to take a hometown discount, and if so how much of one. That will be something that Joe will need to consider before he decides on his future next winter.

As great as it would be for Joe Mauer to play out his career in Minnesota, it is hard to see that happening without at least three or four of these things happening. Given that the Twins would love to see Morrison play well enough to earn his option for 2019, and for Rooker to force their hand as soon as possible, it will be a catch-22 for Twins fans who wish for Mauer to stay. Hopefully, if 2018 is Joe’s last with the Twins, it will be because of how Morrison and Rooker play this season, and not because of how he plays.

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71 Comments

 

It’s pretty rare but not unheard of. Paul Molitor had the best four year stretch of his career from age 34 to 37.

In addition Joe's bad years were following a significant injury. It appears that his condition is improving while his aging counteracts that. I am not expecting last season again but he could be a high OBP 8 HR guy for a couple more years.

    • jimmer and gagu like this

 

It’s pretty rare but not unheard of. Paul Molitor had the best four year stretch of his career from age 34 to 37.

If you remember a guy named Tom Paciorek, he had some excellent years as a DH in Chicago during his 34, 35, and 36 year old seasons.Best seasons of his career by far.

 

 

 

I believe he's finally better...

 

He said he felt "great" in 2014 and 2015 spring trainings, then in Feb '16 he suddenly stated (to the media - not the team) that he had been experiencing "blurred vision" for approximately 2.5 years, despite being fully-cleared by doctors, post-concussion. It was a complete shock to the organization. Joe's own comments on his health are not even consistent. Oh but you are able to conclude that he is better. You must be quite talented!

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Brock Beauchamp
Mar 13 2018 11:33 PM

 

He said he felt "great" in 2014 and 2015 spring trainings, then in Feb '16 he suddenly stated (to the media - not the team) that he had been experiencing "blurred vision" for approximately 2.5 years, despite being fully-cleared by doctors, post-concussion. It was a complete shock to the organization. Joe's own comments on his health are not even consistent. Oh but you are able to conclude that he is better. You must be quite talented!

Jimmer didn't conclude anything. He began the sentence with "I believe", which is generally a statement of opinion.

    • Carole Keller, glunn, Twins33 and 3 others like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Mar 13 2018 11:56 PM
Well first off Joe has to remain productive. It would also help not only for his OBP to remain high, but to bat over .300 and not show signs of decline. Also he’s going to have to accept a 3 yr or so deal worth about $10 million per season. Joe is not worth anything over that. If he accepts those terms then I’m sure he will retire a Twin.

 

Oh, and Fangraphs doesn't determine what a player is worth.It determines a player's WAR and the market determines what 1 WAR is worth based on contracts given.

Matt Kemp says hello. If WAR is based on contracts given there is a huge fault with the over 200 million that players got paid for little of nothing in 2017.

"...Entering 2019, Mauer will be going into his age 36 season with what will at best be a slightly above average bat and good defense. The problem is he is limited to playing first base, and there are plenty of quality bats at first to go around. Additionally, first base is a position that is very limited in the upside a quality defensive player can bring..."
"...Mauer’s turnaround last season was a big part of the Twins improved level of play. A big reason for his success was his strikeout rate falling to 13.9%, the lowest it has been since 2012. Mauer also had by far his best defensive season since moving to first base. This resulted in a 2.3 fWAR season from the one-time MVP, twice as much as he put up in 2015 and 2016 combined..."
I'm confused, those seem to rather contradicting statement. Was his hitting and defense barely above league avg or were they solid enough to have a huge effect on the teams success? I think anything you got out of Palonco defensively was attributed directly to great (gold glove quality) defense at first which you then pointed out in numbers. He was way more then league avg hitter with his avg and obp. If h has another year like last year he will get 2 years for $2 million. And three to four years of that production he is in HOF. Three batting titles as a catcher is unheard of. Other then those points it was well written.
    • gagu likes this
Two years to $20 million...
Sorry bout typos guys. In a hospital bed with IVs and hook ups everywhere. Makes I hard to type. Doesn't matter, gotta get me some Twins Daily every day!!!
    • Carole Keller, ashburyjohn, snepp and 1 other like this
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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 15 2018 03:29 PM

I believe Mauer will be about as good in 2018 as in 2017. I think the concussion factors – perhaps not always measurable by medical experts - can linger for years. Joe clearly proved he can still be an effective hitter – and an excellent 1B. 

 

Don't discount the latter: Mauer is an excellent 1B - he scoops up a lot of hurried throws from the other infielders, 

 

The defensive factor at 1B cannot be ignored. It is a more challenging position to play WELL than some other positions. As a 1B, you touch the ball, usually, more often than any other fielder except the pitcher and catcher.

 

Kennys Vargas has hit well this spring, but I really hope he gets traded – he's just not a very good FIELDING 1B. And PLEASE, please, please do not put Miguel Sano at 1B. If he cannot handle 3B, he should be a DH. He is not a very good defensive 1B, in my opinion.

 

That leaves Mauer and Morrison at the top of the 1B heap. They will be good defensively, and, I believe, offensively.

 

When the Twins consider whether or not to bring Mauer back in 2019, I hope they consider his stellar defense in addition to his bat.

It's almost like defensive stats aren't out there to look at.... He's very good, but the delta on runs saved for first basemen is tiny compared to other positions. Tiny.
    • Andrew Thares likes this
His defense at first base has become excellent. If there's enough run production in the lineup, it would be tough to pull the plug on that. Especially if he hits similar to last year.
    • Twins33 and gagu like this

I don't see his 2019 value being an issue if he stays in the same form as last season. He will then project as a clear asset to the team. While that remains to be seen, he is doing fine in ST, .304 average, with only 2 K's in 23 at bats. If things go well, the question for me would be what he would ask for and what role he would play. Just speculation on my part here, I can see him enjoying another season of competing and not being too proud to take an $8 million contract with no guarantee of playing time. IMO, if he is in true form, playing time wouldn't be an issue as long as the team is in contention. I believe him when he says that he isn't going to leave in free agency and I'm not particularly worried about his past injuries. Point is, if he still has it, does he still have the motivation. If he does, he'll play for affordable pay. 

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Brock Beauchamp
Mar 15 2018 09:32 PM

I honestly think Mauer would play for the Twins if they gave him $2m. But, given that he has some pride and a respectable agent, he'll probably demand something in the $8-10m range.

 

And if he's performing, I'm totally okay with that. Some things are more important than money and seeing Joe help take another Twins team to the postseason is something I badly want to see happen.

    • Carole Keller, glunn, Twins33 and 4 others like this

 

It's almost like defensive stats aren't out there to look at.... He's very good, but the delta on runs saved for first basemen is tiny compared to other positions. Tiny.

I am not a stat expert, and would like to know more.

 

Is there some stat for runs saved? If so, does it take into account how well a first baseman can stretch and catch bad throws? For example, when Mauer snags a horrible throw out of the dirt, is that included in some stat? And if an infielder has confidence in Mauer, will the infielder experience less stress and make better throws? Do the stats measure this in some manner?

 

I believe that stats are relevant, but wonder if they tell the whole story. I would invite the stat experts to opine, preferably in as simple terms as possible.

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KirbyDome89
Mar 15 2018 11:05 PM

 

Same reason that MN reporters don't ask him tough questions in relation to production. They only ask, "How are you feeling, Joe?" 

 

When it applies to Joe Mauer, there is another variable that everyone must consider... his FEELINGS. 

Totally...

 

Apart from local media calling him "the softest of stars," for failing to recover from off season knee surgery in what they considered a reasonable time frame, or "brittle," for moving to 1B after multiple concussions affected his vision, or having his commitment to the team, his work ethic, and his presence in the clubhouse questioned by extension, yeah, I'd say he's had a really easy go of things....

    • jimmer likes this
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KirbyDome89
Mar 15 2018 11:43 PM

1. Agreed, Mauer has to continue to play well.

 

2. Maybe I'm not as high on Morrison as others, but if we're placing bets on whether he's closer to 17' or the guy from 12'-16' I would lean towards the latter. 

 

3. If Rooker's bat is forcing him onto the roster why can't he be the platoon RH OFer the team needs? If 1B is his eventual destination that's fine, but if he's currently capable of playing a corner OF spot at even a tolerable level that would be huge coup. 

 

4. IMO Sano isn't a big factor in the Mauer decision. If he shows he's incapable of picking up a ball at 3B I don't particularly want to seem him roaming around at 1B either; slot him into the DH spot and let him spell Mauer in the field. Yes, the demands of 1B aren't as great, but I'll pass on moving on from a gold glove defender with a solid bat just to keep a guy whose ceiling is adequate defensive play onto the field.

 

5. Yes, he took a discount to stay in MN. He was an MVP, and an offensive monster at the catcher position. The idea that he couldn't have gone to larger markets and made more $$ isn't based in reality. If the Twins are willing to give him honest answers about his role and what direction they see the team moving in the next few years, and Mauer is content with those answers, then I think he certainly would be willing to do another hometown deal. 

    • jimmer likes this
Lets not forget this "magical turnaround" was partly due to sitting vs tougher lefties for once. I just feel like with how good/young the everyday lineup is 1B is a spot the Twins can improve upon. If he has a good 2018 and you can get him dirt cheap that is fine, but 2 years 20 mil for an average aging 1b...no thanks. Hopefully Morrison smashes 38 bombs and it makes it easier.

 

Lets not forget this "magical turnaround" was partly due to sitting vs tougher lefties for once. I just feel like with how good/young the everyday lineup is 1B is a spot the Twins can improve upon. If he has a good 2018 and you can get him dirt cheap that is fine, but 2 years 20 mil for an average aging 1b...no thanks. Hopefully Morrison smashes 38 bombs and it makes it easier.

Maybe a little but his numbers against RHP have been improving each season and were the highest last season (out of the last 4 years).

I am not a stat expert, and would like to know more.
 
Is there some stat for runs saved? If so, does it take into account how well a first baseman can stretch and catch bad throws? For example, when Mauer snags a horrible throw out of the dirt, is that included in some stat? And if an infielder has confidence in Mauer, will the infielder experience less stress and make better throws? Do the stats measure this in some manner?
 
I believe that stats are relevant, but wonder if they tell the whole story. I would invite the stat experts to opine, preferably in as simple terms as possible.


Yes to all of that. Well, except reading the minds of other players. But yes, scoops and stretches are in there. If we all watched every game, we'd see how infrequently stretches happen, and how most first basemen make the plays most every time. At least that's what I've read on line, I've certainly not watched every game.

This is not to disparage Mauer, he is definitely very good on defense. It's just that the gap is much smaller than we think between good and bad defense at first.

Mauer is a good player, the question is how long that will last, and what it costs to pay him, and have a roster spot, compared to other options.
    • glunn and Andrew Thares like this
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Andrew Thares
Mar 16 2018 03:24 PM

 

I am not a stat expert, and would like to know more.

 

Is there some stat for runs saved? If so, does it take into account how well a first baseman can stretch and catch bad throws? For example, when Mauer snags a horrible throw out of the dirt, is that included in some stat? And if an infielder has confidence in Mauer, will the infielder experience less stress and make better throws? Do the stats measure this in some manner?

 

I believe that stats are relevant, but wonder if they tell the whole story. I would invite the stat experts to opine, preferably in as simple terms as possible.

A few stats I would recommend looking into are Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) on Fangraphs and dWAR on Baseball Reference. DRS is a stat that takes everything a player does defensively into account and then judges them against every other player at that position. The stat uses 0 runs saved as a baseline for an average defender at that position. So for example Joe Mauer had a DRS of 7 in 2017, which means he was worth 7 more runs defensively than the average first baseman last season. 

 

Additionally, dWAR is a good stat that you can look into. This stat is built on the same premise as DRS where it takes everything a player does defensively into account and gives it a value. However, dWAR is built on a wins model instead of a runs model. This is pretty easy to convert, as 1 win, is roughly equivalent to 10 runs. Another difference between the two is dWAR is positionally adjusted, which means there is a penalty for playing easy positions like first, while a bonus for playing tough positions like short.

 

Usually if I am comparing two players that play the same position I will use DRS, but if I am looking at two players who play different positions, or guys that play multiple positions I prefer dWAR. 

    • glunn likes this

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