• 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. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      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.
      Talk about irony.

      Can you offer a single shred of hard evidence WAR does what you say it does?

      I thought not.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      USA, that's what it tries to do, no one can prove a positive....but that second paragraph is exactly what WAR is trying to do. And, it is based on hits, and slg and everything else you expect it to be based on.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      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.
      If only you were there negotiating for the Twins, Mike. Kidding aside, what makes you think the Twins didn't know exactly what they were purchasing with their 183 million?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      USA, that's what it tries to do, no one can prove a positive....but that second paragraph is exactly what WAR is trying to do. And, it is based on hits, and slg and everything else you expect it to be based on.
      I know exactly what WAR claims to measure. I'd venture I know more about WAR than most everyone here who tosses it about in an attempt to sound sophisticated. And of course people are free to do that.

      But I get irritated when people claim WAR has been proven to measure anything. It hasn't.

      I also disagree that no one can prove a positive. I think you have that backwards.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      you can only prove something cannot happen, not that it can happen...

      No one that is a true WAR believer would claim that it has been proven to do anything, not on the Fangraphs site.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Talk about irony.

      Can you offer a single shred of hard evidence WAR does what you say it does?

      I thought not.
      Excellent argument. You've pulled off the written equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and running around the room shouting, "Lalalalalala I can't hear you!"

      WAR is a mathematical combination of measurement made from recorded observations. That's what I "say it does." The documentation is available for anyone who wants it. You claim to have read it. You have exhibited that you do not understand what you have read. In another thread you made claims that imply either a) you think temperature, pressure, and time are measured on the same scale in the same units or b) that you don't get the idea of adding. In that same thread, you claimed that arithmetic is not objective. At least this time you didn't make any claims quite that embarrassing, you only acted childish and ignorant.

      We get that you don't understand the statistic. It almost seems "personal," though. Did WAR do something to you? It's just math, dude. It's not the enemy.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
      Excellent argument. You've pulled off the written equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and running around the room shouting, "Lalalalalala I can't hear you!"

      WAR is a mathematical combination of measurement made from recorded observations. That's what I "say it does." The documentation is available for anyone who wants it. You claim to have read it. You have exhibited that you do not understand what you have read. In another thread you made claims that imply either a) you think temperature, pressure, and time are measured on the same scale in the same units or b) that you don't get the idea of adding. In that same thread, you claimed that arithmetic is not objective. At least this time you didn't make any claims quite that embarrassing, you only acted childish and ignorant.

      We get that you don't understand the statistic. It almost seems "personal," though. Did WAR do something to you? It's just math, dude. It's not the enemy.
      Previously you stated WAR "measures exactly" what another poster said he wanted measured.

      Now you're backing away from that statement.

      I'll accept that as a victory and humbly move on.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Previously you stated WAR "measures exactly" what another poster said he wanted measured.

      Now you're backing away from that statement.

      I'll accept that as a victory.
      So you tell a lie and count that as a victory? That's kinda sad.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Back to booing Mauer...those of you who have managed stock portfolios know that a stock can go down because investors don't know what to expect in the future. When uncertainty is prevalent, a vast majority of investors get real negative and very emotional. This is when the minority buys what the negative guys sell.

      Mauer's stock has fallen because we don't know what to expect from him yet. I think the boos are from negative, uncertain fans. This WAR stuff? Nah. These boos have nothing really to do with a deep analysis by the boo birds.

      Now, I've thought of booing General Soreness too. You know, I don't want him to change his swing to produce more power. But dammit, couldn't he occasionally adjust his swing in hitters counts and look to loft it out? Geez.
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