Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Joe Mauer finishes shy of batting title quest

    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.

    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:


    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.
    This article was originally published in blog: Joe Mauer finishes shy of batting title quest started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Looks like pitching Mauer away, more specifically in the Morneau flailing zone, is the way to go. Kind of ironic for a hitter who doesn't pull the ball often.
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      well, he won the batting title for highest average by a mere human this year. Nothing wrong with that
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Trout is an android and Cabrera is a cyborg.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      With all the complaints about the groundouts to second, I wasn't too surprised to hear that he was pulling the ball more.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      i know that joe does incredibly well hitting with two strikes on him........ but watching all the meatballs down the middle that he takes is painful. since he is soooo good at hitting with two strikes....... it is past time for him to swing for the fence on that first pitch. i still contend that 2009 is not an anomaly, and that should be indicative of what he can do year in and year out.......... no reason that a guy that big with the "perfect swing" can't tweak it and have cabrera and trout numbers. his dad said many times that he would be the next to hit .400........ and he is in his prime. may as well evolve and mature and be better.
    1. jm3319's Avatar
      jm3319 -
      The terms "perfect Swing" and "evolve and become better" don't exactly work with each other. Face it, Mauer is good for 10-13 homers a year. If you expect more, you're only fooling and disappointing yourself.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      i know that joe does incredibly well hitting with two strikes on him........ but watching all the meatballs down the middle that he takes is painful. since he is soooo good at hitting with two strikes....... it is past time for him to swing for the fence on that first pitch. i still contend that 2009 is not an anomaly, and that should be indicative of what he can do year in and year out.......... no reason that a guy that big with the "perfect swing" can't tweak it and have cabrera and trout numbers. his dad said many times that he would be the next to hit .400........ and he is in his prime. may as well evolve and mature and be better.
      I would love to see him take a big uppercut swing on strike one more (think Thome), but I don't know if it would screw up his mechanics.
    1. SeanS7921's Avatar
      SeanS7921 -
      I guess some users can stop advising Trevor Plouffe was having a better season. Just a 4.9 Offensive WAR +400 OBP and a 319 AVE. Nah, he doesn't hit enough Home Runs and takes too many walks. Tough love man.
    1. fslbaseball's Avatar
      fslbaseball -
      His average is high, his on base percentage is high but he is essentially a singles hitter in a big guy's body. The home runs don't bother me but the doubles do. I would still like to see him higher in the lineup
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Before this season started, Andrew (Twins Fan From Afar) posed the question on his blog about Joe Mauer: "What's a Good Outcome From a Fan's Standpoint"? How he could "earn" his salary while recognizing that a repeat of his 2009 season was highly unlikely.

      Andrew posited that a good outcome would be playing in 140 games with 115 at catcher, 35% of base-stealers thrown out; .335 B.A. w/ 50 doubles, 10 or more Home Runs and an OBP of .400.

      I basically characterized this as a little better than 2010 (and I do recall a lot of grumbling from some fans during his 2010 season) or as Andrew called it 2010 plus. Of course there were posters for whom those numbers would not be enough (and several posters who wanted to see him catch at least 125 or more), And others like Thrylos said .850 to .900 OPS with a "bunch of doubles" and 140 games.

      So it is interesting to compare what happened to what we hoped for. He played in more than 140 games so overall he was healthy but only caught in 76 of them. He may have wanted to catch more and having Doumit helped alleviate the need for him to catch all the time but still, 76 isn't even 1/2 the games. And, when he did catch, he didn't approach throwing out 35% of runners (some portion of that is undoubtedly due to the pitchers but its pretty clear that he still isn't performing particularly well when he is catching.)

      He finished above the target on .OBP but below on average but I'd say he met those targets.

      And he did hit 10 HR and had 4 triples and 31 doubles. So a total of 45 extra-base hits. In 2010 he had 9 HR, 1 triple and 43 doubles for a total of 53 extra base hits so he is still down on his power numbers from 2010.

      And he finished with an .OPS of .861 in 2012 as compared to .871 in 2010. So he did reach the OPS that Thrylos wanted to see although he didn't approach the number of doubles Thrylos probably hoped for.

      I wanted to post this somewhere because I find it interesting to keep things in an historical perspective.

      Basically it looks to me like Mauer continues to exercise an incredible discipline at the plate but that his overall value has declined because of the fewer games caught. In addition, his power numbers continue to decline. And I'm still not sure what to make of the pretty significant increase in both walks and strikeouts from 2010 to 2012.
    1. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
      Twins Fan From Afar -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Before this season started, Andrew (Twins Fan From Afar) posed the question on his blog about Joe Mauer: "What's a Good Outcome From a Fan's Standpoint"? How he could "earn" his salary while recognizing that a repeat of his 2009 season was highly unlikely.

      Andrew posited that a good outcome would be playing in 140 games with 115 at catcher, 35% of base-stealers thrown out; .335 B.A. w/ 50 doubles, 10 or more Home Runs and an OBP of .400.

      I basically characterized this as a little better than 2010 (and I do recall a lot of grumbling from some fans during his 2010 season) or as Andrew called it 2010 plus. Of course there were posters for whom those numbers would not be enough (and several posters who wanted to see him catch at least 125 or more), And others like Thrylos said .850 to .900 OPS with a "bunch of doubles" and 140 games.

      So it is interesting to compare what happened to what we hoped for. He played in more than 140 games so overall he was healthy but only caught in 76 of them. He may have wanted to catch more and having Doumit helped alleviate the need for him to catch all the time but still, 76 isn't even 1/2 the games. And, when he did catch, he didn't approach throwing out 35% of runners (some portion of that is undoubtedly due to the pitchers but its pretty clear that he still isn't performing particularly well when he is catching.)

      He finished above the target on .OBP but below on average but I'd say he met those targets.

      And he did hit 10 HR and had 4 triples and 31 doubles. So a total of 45 extra-base hits. In 2010 he had 9 HR, 1 triple and 43 doubles for a total of 53 extra base hits so he is still down on his power numbers from 2010.

      And he finished with an .OPS of .861 in 2012 as compared to .871 in 2010. So he did reach the OPS that Thrylos wanted to see although he didn't approach the number of doubles Thrylos hoped for.

      I wanted to post this somewhere because I find it interesting to keep things in an historical perspective.

      Basically it looks to me like Mauer continues to exercise an incredible discipline at the plate but that his overall value has declined because of the fewer games caught. In addition, his power numbers continue to decline. And I'm still not sure what to make of the pretty significant increase in both walks and strikeouts from 2010 to 2012.
      Great stuff, JB! I had forgotten writing that post and the good discussion that ensued.
    1. Pius Jefferson's Avatar
      Pius Jefferson -
      Let's see if anything changes with Brunasky likely becoming the new pitching coach.

      I'm curious since Posey won the NL batting title does it lessen what Mauer did? He did it three times, but just general accomplishment of something that hadn't been done in over 60 years is duplicated by another player 2 years later.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      mauer's percentage of catching runners stealing has really plummeted this year. because of his lack of enough games played at catcher - if you go to the stats from the mlb homepage and isolate catchers, you won't find him included, as he doesn't qualify............. i found it on his individual stats ...... he is only 9-65 this year .............. 13.8%. not very scary anymore to runners. they are really taking advantage, too. they did the damage this year in only 76 games! (2007 24-45 53.3%, 2008 29-80 36.3%, 2009 19-73 26%, 2010 19-72 26.4%, 2011 (with the mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness) 12-40 30%, 2012 (healthy?) 9-65 13.8%).
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Pius Jefferson View Post
      Let's see if anything changes with Brunasky likely becoming the new pitching coach.

      I'm curious since Posey won the NL batting title does it lessen what Mauer did? He did it three times, but just general accomplishment of something that hadn't been done in over 60 years is duplicated by another player 2 years later.
      i don't think it lessons what joe did at all - it just adds posey to the club. now lets see if posey does it year in and year out at this level. i like posey a lot. he hits for power too, and this coming off a nasty surgery. pretty fine!
    1. BringBackAJ's Avatar
      BringBackAJ -
      JB and Twins Fan From A Far - great job. I could not agree with you more. Basically Mauer's value from his contract was based on him catching a majority of games. Mauer continues to decline in the number of games he is catching. In reality, Mauer is playing more games at other positions than catching. I guess, based on the "experts", that makes him very durable. I don't understand that logic, but others do. In addition, Mauer's power is never going to reach the one year wonder, won't even come close. Mauer is nothing more than a slap hitting singles hitter who does a great job of getting on base. I don't understand how you can keep comparing Mauer to other catchers when in reality he catches less than half the games. If you start comparing Mauer to other 1B and DH players, looks fairly average to me. Just my opinion.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      i know that joe does incredibly well hitting with two strikes on him........ but watching all the meatballs down the middle that he takes is painful. since he is soooo good at hitting with two strikes....... it is past time for him to swing for the fence on that first pitch. i still contend that 2009 is not an anomaly, and that should be indicative of what he can do year in and year out.......... no reason that a guy that big with the "perfect swing" can't tweak it and have cabrera and trout numbers. his dad said many times that he would be the next to hit .400........ and he is in his prime. may as well evolve and mature and be better.
      I beg to differ. FanGraphs researched his HRs for 2009/2010. He had an almost comically large amount of HRs that barely cleared the fence to LF. For some reason his doubles power that year carried a little bit longer. In this case, Mauer doesn't ryhme with power.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/community/i...-mauers-power/
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      mauer's percentage of catching runners stealing has really plummeted this year. because of his lack of enough games played at catcher - if you go to the stats from the mlb homepage and isolate catchers, you won't find him included, as he doesn't qualify............. i found it on his individual stats ...... he is only 9-65 this year .............. 13.8%. not very scary anymore to runners. they are really taking advantage, too. they did the damage this year in only 76 games! (2007 24-45 53.3%, 2008 29-80 36.3%, 2009 19-73 26%, 2010 19-72 26.4%, 2011 (with the mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness) 12-40 30%, 2012 (healthy?) 9-65 13.8%).
      How does this translate to the pitcher's he caught. I think you have to factor in how the pitcher's hold runners to get a truer picture his CS % (and all catchers for that matter). For instance, catching for Mark Buerhle every fifth day would could make a poor catcher look capable.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fire Dan Gladden View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      i know that joe does incredibly well hitting with two strikes on him........ but watching all the meatballs down the middle that he takes is painful. since he is soooo good at hitting with two strikes....... it is past time for him to swing for the fence on that first pitch. i still contend that 2009 is not an anomaly, and that should be indicative of what he can do year in and year out.......... no reason that a guy that big with the "perfect swing" can't tweak it and have cabrera and trout numbers. his dad said many times that he would be the next to hit .400........ and he is in his prime. may as well evolve and mature and be better.
      I beg to differ. FanGraphs researched his HRs for 2009/2010. He had an almost comically large amount of HRs that barely cleared the fence to LF. For some reason his doubles power that year carried a little bit longer. In this case, Mauer doesn't ryhme with power.

      http://www.fangraphs.com/community/i...-mauers-power/
      which could also mean......... he was at the age he is getting stronger, and that was a trend that was starting... to hit the ball a little further each year. i guess i just believe he is one of the rare players, that with a very slight bit of tweaking, could be the best hitter in the game. i see you don't. i still think he can. but home run production is a part of that. the future will tell the story.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      It was before my time, but did Twins fans in the 70's whine about Rod Carew because he didn't hit for power?
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fire Dan Gladden View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by h2oface View Post
      mauer's percentage of catching runners stealing has really plummeted this year. because of his lack of enough games played at catcher - if you go to the stats from the mlb homepage and isolate catchers, you won't find him included, as he doesn't qualify............. i found it on his individual stats ...... he is only 9-65 this year .............. 13.8%. not very scary anymore to runners. they are really taking advantage, too. they did the damage this year in only 76 games! (2007 24-45 53.3%, 2008 29-80 36.3%, 2009 19-73 26%, 2010 19-72 26.4%, 2011 (with the mysterious bi-lateral leg weakness) 12-40 30%, 2012 (healthy?) 9-65 13.8%).
      How does this translate to the pitcher's he caught. I think you have to factor in how the pitcher's hold runners to get a truer picture his CS % (and all catchers for that matter). For instance, catching for Mark Buerhle every fifth day would could make a poor catcher look capable.
      certainly a pitcher with a bad move can be a part of this. i just presented the stat. it is what it is. "lies, damn lies, and statistics". you can truly spin stats however you like. maybe it is nothing to note at all.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.