Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Anatomy Of A Mauer Boo

    I’m not particularly fond of how Minnesota treats its sports stars. The Puckett-like love affair is rare. More often, we pick nits. Kevin Garnett doesn’t score enough, or isn’t clutch enough. Joe Mauer doesn’t hit for enough power or doesn’t show enough leadership. Fran Tarkenton can’t win the big one, Harmon Killebrew is too quiet, Rod Carew is self-absorbed … the list goes on and on.


    (There are forces at work here that are slicker and far more powerful than subjective analysis. It feels like it has to do with the human need for entertainment, or drama, or our self-identity forcing us from one side to the other to find our niche. I have to believe some bright person has studied this – the ebbs and flows of fame in a celebrity culture. If anyone knows of any books on this, I’d love to hear about them.)

    I’ve defended Mauer consistently throughout his career. Most recently, it was an ongoing topic on the Gleeman and the Geek podcast for most of this offseason. The last time I wrote extensively about fan reaction to Mauer was just before his breakout 2009 season, in a story titled “I Was Promised Superstar.” If you have a minute, I think it’s worth the click. It recaptures the Mauer debate four years ago, and it’s funny how it has changed and how it hasn’t.

    What hasn’t changed is the “health” debate. That was a concern eight years ago, and it’s a concern now, though the early returns this year appear positive. Whatever preparation or medical treatments Mauer has undergone are paying off, but I wonder if the important change wasn’t one of philosophy. Prior to this year, there was a “Iron Horse” stubbornness about how often Mauer should play catcher, certainly fromh Mauer and possibly with the organization. Catching wears down a player. (In fact, we studied how that hurt Mauer’s performance a couple of years ago.) This year, he’s playing every day, but “resting” at first base and designated hitter. And the overall results have been good.

    The other debate that might benefit from a change in philosophy is the “power” debate. It seemingly went away in 2009 when Mauer hit 28 home runs on his way to the AL MVP award. It came back in 2010 when the Twins moved to Target Field and opposite field home runs became the stuff of fairy tales. In 2009, most of Mauer’s power was opposite field home runs. He’s hit just 14 home runs since the move to Target Field, and only two within its confines. To change that trend would require pulling the ball, a change that the uber-patient Mauer seems reluctant to even attempt.

    It’s also worth noting that while it’s fun to cite “Games Played” statistics and what he’s batting with runners in scoring position, the overall impact numbers like WPA show that the fans know better than stats. Mauer hasn’t had a particularly positive impact on games this year. Friday night’s game (in which he demonstrated some power with a double and triple) was what finally lifted him to an impact above “historically mediocre.”

    If you’re wondering why fans have booed Mauer, that might be explanation enough. He generated enormous expectations, cashed in on those enormous expectations, and in what should be his prime years he isn’t living up to them. Add to that a reluctance to change his philosophy, whether it be pulling the ball or swinging at a first strike. Finally, he’s also the face of a franchise – another role which he signed up for and for which he is richly compensated – which appears to be exiting its golden era.

    Add that up, and you get frustration, and frustration, not ignorance, is why fans boo.
    This article was originally published in blog: Anatomy Of A Mauer Boo started by John Bonnes
    Comments 49 Comments
    1. wblmayo24's Avatar
      wblmayo24 -
      Quote Originally Posted by BD57 View Post
      @ Jim H ...

      Amen to all that.

      Mauer is a catcher and one of the best hitters in baseball - a rare combination.

      As far as "contribution in 2012" ....

      Joe's been in the lineup, he's hitting .325, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in slugging, 2nd in OPS, 2nd in RBI .... the only thing he's not doing with the bat is hitting HR's. And we've just finished the first (short) month of the season.

      Is Mauer any good at all? Let's see - - - there's a HOF guy who hit .338 (Mauer's only batting .324 for his career) who hit less than 7 HR a season (Mauer's averaging 10 or so), OBP .388 (Mauer, .404), SLG .459 (Mauer .470), OPS .847 (Mauer .874), OPS+ 132 (Mauer 134) ... WAR 68.4 over 20 (Mauer 40.3 over 7) ...

      And Mauer's a catcher ... the HOFer wasn't.

      At some point, folks need to understand that Mauer is DAMN good ... and players who are DAMN good get paid.
      I love you. First ballot HOFer and all the skeptics will turn on the induction ceremony and say how fortunate they were to witness one of the best players to play the game. "folks need to understand that Mauer is DAMN good ... and players who are DAMN good get paid."
    1. jeffk's Avatar
      jeffk -
      4. Mauer's WAR in 2012 is 0.6 (interesting that this number is lower, though healthy)
      Yeah... that's not how WAR works. Anyways, if he plays 140 games his WAR at this pace will be (140/22)*.6 = 3.8.
    1. TwinVike61's Avatar
      TwinVike61 -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      I have no idea what the point of the rest of your post was,
      Wow, CDog, I thought you were more intelligent than that (and way more than most of us, IYO). It's obvious he doesn't think Mauer's earning his paycheck.
    1. dwintheiser's Avatar
      dwintheiser -
      Mauer may well be a wonderful player, and he might even get into the Hall of Fame some day, but I'd be shocked if the Twins ever won a World Series with Mauer in their uniform. Here's why I think that:

      - Back when the Twins let Torii Hunter leave as a free agent, I made something like the following comment (on the old Twins Territory blog, if I remember right): "The Twins would eventually have to go from being Torii Hunter's team to being Joe Mauer's team, and if this is what it takes for that to happen, I'm OK with it." Except the Twins didn't become Joe Mauer's team, they became Johan Santana's team.

      Well, that's OK, you might say. Santana was a legitimate superstar and was certainly capable of being team leader. Not a huge issue, right?

      - The Twins then traded Santana so that they wouldn't lose him as a free agent. At that point, you'd expect the team to become Joe Mauer's team. Except the Twins didn't become Joe Mauer's team, they became Michael Cuddyer's team.

      Well...that's still OK, you might say. After all, Cuddyer was the longest-tenured Twin, and Gardy does love his veterans. Cuddy was certainly respected in the clubhouse. Not a big deal, you might think.

      - Now Cuddyer is gone and...

      ...is this Joe Mauer's team? Maybe Mauer wants to be the quiet clubhouse leader a la Amos Otis on the early '80s Royals teams or Bernie Williams on the late 90s Yankees teams. But teams also need visible leaders, and those leaders are generally the team's best players: George Brett on the Royals and Derek Jeter on the Yankees respectively, if we're continuing that analogy. The only thing I'm certain of is that Mauer doesn't want to be that kind of leader, because if he did, he's had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate it.

      And no matter how good Mauer is as a player, if he's not going to be a leader, I don't see the Twins getting the best performance out of their ballclub. Simple as that.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      1. Mauer's WAR in 2009 was 7.9
      2. This 2009 production was valued at 23million/year
      3. Mauer's WAR in 2011 was 1.6
      4. Mauer's WAR in 2012 is 0.6 (interesting that this number is lower, though healthy)
      5. Mauer's production in 2011 and 2012 was much lower than in 2009
      -----------
      6. Therefore, Mauer's value in 2011 and 2012 is and has been much less than the 23 million/year he made in 2011 and 2012
      .
      WAR is cumulative. The more someone plays the higher it is. It is good for overall career value discussions (like HOF, draft retrospects etc) but not for immediate value... I think something like WAR/100 (PAs) is much better indicator of value at a particular moment/season.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinVike61 View Post
      Wow, CDog, I thought you intelligent .
      Thank you so much.

      I now return you to your regularly scheduled episode of Taken Out of Context.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio View Post
      1. Mauer's WAR in 2009 was 7.9
      2. This 2009 production was valued at 23million/year
      3. Mauer's WAR in 2011 was 1.6
      4. Mauer's WAR in 2012 is 0.6 (interesting that this number is lower, though healthy)
      5. Mauer's production in 2011 and 2012 was much lower than in 2009
      -----------
      6. Therefore, Mauer's value in 2011 and 2012 is and has been much less than the 23 million/year he made in 2011 and 2012

      I've put the argument in standard form so it's super easy to follow. Now, this is a deductive argument, so you have to show that one of the premises is false in order to show that the conclusion is false.

      Now the inductive argument: I think the booing/frustration/criticism of Mauer is undeniably linked to the argument above as well as the team's performance. I also think this criticism is understandable and warranted. This goes for any player that is underperforming and not an myopic attack on Mauer.

      On an ancillary note: I don't care for narcissists or sycophants. Beat it geek.
      Oh...and just to be a good sport and to play along, #2 is not only not obviously true, but I would contend that it's obviously false.
    1. one_eyed_jack's Avatar
      one_eyed_jack -
      "I’m not particularly fond of how Minnesota treats its sports stars. The Puckett-like love affair is rare. More often, we pick nits. Kevin Garnett doesn’t score enough, or isn’t clutch enough. Joe Mauer doesn’t hit for enough power or doesn’t show enough leadership. Fran Tarkenton can’t win the big one, Harmon Killebrew is too quiet, Rod Carew is self-absorbed … the list goes on and on."

      I think that first paragraph pretty much sums it up. I've lived in a number of pro sports markets. I've never seen a fan base as whiny and fixated on the negative as this one.

      Not once did I ever hear a Cubs fans throw a tantrum over the fact that Ryne Sandberg was never able to deliver a championship. Bruins fans not only loved Ray Bourque but fully understood and appreciated how great he was, even though he had to go elsewhere to hoist the cup. Had either of those guys played here, all we would have heard about them is how they were overpaid and never won anything.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      And no matter how good Mauer is as a player, if he's not going to be a leader, I don't see the Twins getting the best performance out of their ballclub. Simple as that.

      Dwintheiser, how do you know that Mauer is not a leader? This is a serious question. It maybe that he is not, but he may very well be a rather quiet but important presence in the clubhouse who only speaks up when it is necessary.

      My point would be, we don't know. We probably will never know, but I certainly wouldn't take the word of media members, especially those who are seldom in the clubhouse.

      I don't really think the Twins were ever Hunter's team. I don't know, of course, and he was a spokesman of sorts. But, I don't think leaders who throw teammates under the bus, are generally considered leaders by those teammates.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Quote Originally Posted by jeffk View Post
      Yeah... that's not how WAR works. Anyways, if he plays 140 games his WAR at this pace will be (140/22)*.6 = 3.8.
      Thrylos said "WAR is cumulative. The more someone plays the higher it is. It is good for overall career value discussions (like HOF, draft retrospects etc) but not for immediate value... I think something like WAR/100 (PAs) is much better indicator of value at a particular moment/season."

      Yeah thanks guys, I concede that using WAR was not the best stat, though as you both show, we can get a season's approximation from it with some calculations, though this depends on games played and at bats... unknown variables. The reason why I used WAR to begin with was because it includes defense and base running -- to head off the objection that I'm not taking into account and appreciating the full value of Mauer's performance (besides just hitting by using wOBA or another stat like OPS).

      Let's just say this, in almost every statistic (I can't find one), Mauer is not performing like he did in 2009. It was his performance in 2009 that lead to his current contract. Therefore, I again conclude, in agreement with the author of this thread, that the anatomy of the boo/criticism of Mauer is not that he's playing poorly, but that he's not playing at the level he is being paid to perform at.
    1. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
      Ultima Ratio -
      Well, it's not going to let me post a screen capture.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      "Mauer may well be a wonderful player, and he might even get into the Hall of Fame some day, but I'd be shocked if the Twins ever won a World Series with Mauer in their uniform"

      dwintheiser, My guess is that whether the Twins win a World Series with Mauer in the linup, will hinge more on the Twins finding or developing decent starting pitching than Mauer's leadership.

      Puckett was universally lauded for his leadership but he "led" the Twins to far more losing seasons than winning ones. The winning seasons of 87, 88, 91, and 92 were all hallmarked by at least decent starting pitching. Interestingly enough, the Twins actually had a better record in 88 than 87, also a better record in 92 than 91, they just didn't win the divisons those years. I don't know if Puckett's leadership was better in those winning years than the losing ones or not.

      I don't want to be a total smart ass here, but I don't think Mauer's leadership has much to do with the losing last year or this year. If the starting pitching somehow gets straightened away this year, we could very well see the Twins make a run back toward contention. We also we likely get to read how Mauer and Morneau helped "hold the team together thru all the early losing". That will be especially true if both start hitting good.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by dwintheiser View Post
      ...And no matter how good Mauer is as a player, if he's not going to be a leader, I don't see the Twins getting the best performance out of their ballclub. Simple as that.
      "And no matter how good Mauer is as a player" there will be no end to the blame we will heap on him.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by dwintheiser View Post
      Mauer may well be a wonderful player, and he might even get into the Hall of Fame some day, but I'd be shocked if the Twins ever won a World Series with Mauer in their uniform. Here's why I think that:

      - Back when the Twins let Torii Hunter leave as a free agent, I made something like the following comment (on the old Twins Territory blog, if I remember right): "The Twins would eventually have to go from being Torii Hunter's team to being Joe Mauer's team, and if this is what it takes for that to happen, I'm OK with it." Except the Twins didn't become Joe Mauer's team, they became Johan Santana's team.

      Well, that's OK, you might say. Santana was a legitimate superstar and was certainly capable of being team leader. Not a huge issue, right?

      - The Twins then traded Santana so that they wouldn't lose him as a free agent. At that point, you'd expect the team to become Joe Mauer's team. Except the Twins didn't become Joe Mauer's team, they became Michael Cuddyer's team.

      Well...that's still OK, you might say. After all, Cuddyer was the longest-tenured Twin, and Gardy does love his veterans. Cuddy was certainly respected in the clubhouse. Not a big deal, you might think.

      - Now Cuddyer is gone and...

      ...is this Joe Mauer's team? Maybe Mauer wants to be the quiet clubhouse leader a la Amos Otis on the early '80s Royals teams or Bernie Williams on the late 90s Yankees teams. But teams also need visible leaders, and those leaders are generally the team's best players: George Brett on the Royals and Derek Jeter on the Yankees respectively, if we're continuing that analogy. The only thing I'm certain of is that Mauer doesn't want to be that kind of leader, because if he did, he's had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate it.

      And no matter how good Mauer is as a player, if he's not going to be a leader, I don't see the Twins getting the best performance out of their ballclub. Simple as that.
      This is kind of a new take on a well-beaten topic, and I like it. You can beat down his argument and say things like "he's just one guy" or that the charges about his "leadership ability" are either unfair or irrelevant. But I think this point exactly captures why people are so frustrated with this guy. It's not the single-digit home runs or the defensive approach at the plate. The injury issues are a part of it, but even the most ardent Mauer hater probably believes that Mauer wants to be in the lineup and helping his team whenever he can.

      No, the problem with Mauer is that he doesn't WANT this to be his team. And like it or not, we paid him to make it his team. Everything from the St. Paul pedigree to Kemp's commercials with his mom, we looked at the numbers and the uneven track record and everyone KNEW we were overpaying him. And everyone, including me, came to the conclusion that "you gotta do it anyway".

      Mauer can't get develop mystery illnesses and disappear from the media for two months, like he did in 2011. If he had a stronger presence in the media and in the community, and took ownership of this team, good and bad, we wouldn't be having these discussions. There are problems with Mauer that you can't measure with sabermetrics.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      "And no matter how good Mauer is as a player" there will be no end to the blame we will heap on him.
      But if he would only give back some money...we could ease up.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      WAR is cumulative. The more someone plays the higher it is. It is good for overall career value discussions (like HOF, draft retrospects etc) but not for immediate value... I think something like WAR/100 (PAs) is much better indicator of value at a particular moment/season.
      And I see your point about WAR, and raise you with the argument that "WAR is complete and utter garbage". The whole point of the Mauer defenders on this thread is that "Mauer is a very good player, but he's just 1/9 of a lineup". Then they throw out a WAR number which is synthetic number translating individual contributions into a team accomplishment: WINS.

      I'm a fan of statistic that take good outcomes of things hitters are supposed to do and measure them. "Hits" does that. So do home runs, or batting average. I'm also a fan of statistics that take desirable outcomes of hitters and try to weight them for how desirable they are. Slugging percentage and OPS would be examples of that.

      Where I struggle is when you show me two numbers like 2.2 vs. 1.7 and tell me that Player A has the higher "WAR" and is therefore the better player. Really? We know how many wins the Twins have. So why do I care about a number that tells me how many more wins the Twins should have playing Mauer as opposed to "replacement player X", when you didn't even use WINS to calculate the stat in any way? Sorry for the rant, but WAR has become like the "currency" on Twins Daily, and it needs to stop. At least the quoted poster acknowledges that it's worthless for determining "immediate value".

      WAR....*huh!*....what is it good for? Absolutely nothing...
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Leadership is something that is very difficult to judge from the outside but the defining moment for me in Joe Mauer's leadership (or lack thereof) was when he rehabbed in Florida last year.

      Gardenhire wanted him to get some rehab days in Rochester. And, to me, it would have been a nice way for Joe Mauer to acknowledge the importance of Rochester to the organization and to reward Rochester's fans for putting up with the misery of last season.

      But Mauer seemingly wouldn't do that. We'll never know, I guess, about the exact discussions between Bill Smith and Joe Mauer about a rehab stint in Rochester. On the other hand, does anyone think that if Ron Gardenhire and Joe Mauer both thought Mauer should spend a few days in Rochester, Smith would have prevented it?

      Of course not. It is just proof to me that Mauer doesn't understand his leadership role within this organization. They aren't paying him just for his production on the field.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      It's not the defensive approach at the plate. The injury issues are a part of it, but even the most ardent Mauer hater probably believes that Mauer wants to be in the lineup and helping his team whenever he can.

      No, the problem with Mauer is that he doesn't WANT this to be his team.

      Mauer can't get develop mystery illnesses and disappear from the media for two months, like he did in 2011.
      The "defensive approach" that yields ridiculously offensive output? As for the second part quoted in the first paragraph above, you haven't read or listened to a lot of morons that I have. Many, many people believe exactly that (or at least pretend to, in my opinion, for the sake of their own ego).

      How do you know what Mauer wants?

      I never felt any sense of mystery over why Mauer was out in 2011. If you could read and not get caught up in mob mentality, it wasn't that hard. His legs didn't recover strength after knee surgery. The end.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by StormJH1 View Post
      And I see your point about WAR, and raise you with the argument that "WAR is complete and utter garbage". The whole point of the Mauer defenders on this thread is that "Mauer is a very good player, but he's just 1/9 of a lineup". Then they throw out a WAR number which is synthetic number translating individual contributions into a team accomplishment: WINS.

      I'm a fan of statistic that take good outcomes of things hitters are supposed to do and measure them. "Hits" does that. So do home runs, or batting average. I'm also a fan of statistics that take desirable outcomes of hitters and try to weight them for how desirable they are. Slugging percentage and OPS would be examples of that.

      Where I struggle is when you show me two numbers like 2.2 vs. 1.7 and tell me that Player A has the higher "WAR" and is therefore the better player. Really? We know how many wins the Twins have. So why do I care about a number that tells me how many more wins the Twins should have playing Mauer as opposed to "replacement player X", when you didn't even use WINS to calculate the stat in any way? Sorry for the rant, but WAR has become like the "currency" on Twins Daily, and it needs to stop. At least the quoted poster acknowledges that it's worthless for determining "immediate value".

      WAR....*huh!*....what is it good for? Absolutely nothing...
      This seems to be an indication that you don't understand how WAR is calculated or what it's measuring. It measures exactly what your second paragraph says you want it to.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Paul View Post
      "And no matter how good Mauer is as a player" there will be no end to the blame we will heap on him.
      If you want to be the face of the franchise, you have to take the good with the bad. QBs get booed for the whole team's effort, not just their's, for example. If you want the big bucks, if you want the entire marketing campaing to built around you, if you want to be the face of the team, you need to realize you are going to take the brunt of the boos and badness, along with the goodness. If he didn't want that, he shouldn't have embraced it.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.