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Article: A Closer Look At Joe Mauer's Struggles

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#21 Seth Stohs

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:42 AM

The base on balls, eh... Hard to say. His ISO D is still decent but he hasn't been taking walks lately. A concern, a change in approach, or both? Hard to say.



That's the thing. That might be part of the adjustments he's working through. Maybe he is being a little more aggressive. I don't know. Didn't I read somewhere that he is swinging at like twice as many first pitches this year as he had previously (someone else can look that up)?

#22 Boom Boom

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:53 AM

Bremer saying that Joe's been "victimized" by shifts and Gardenhire saying that Joe would hit .400 in Boston miss the point.

Defensive shifts aren't cheating, and Joe's not playing in Boston. He's not a victim of circumstance. If the defense and the ballpark are depressing Joe's offensive numbers then he's got to make the adjustment himself. So far he hasn't done that.

#23 Parker Hageman

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:54 AM

Didn't I read somewhere that he is swinging at like twice as many first pitches this year as he had previously (someone else can look that up)?


First-pitch swing rate:

2010 -- 9.4%
2011 -- 5.7%
2012 -- 7.8%
2013 -- 7.7%
2014 -- 12.9%

#24 twinsnorth49

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:57 AM

Except we left off the whole discussion of ISO, strikeouts, and walks, and only talked about shifts......I know not most will agree, but to me, this is just another example of the Twins and their accountability problems, it is always something oustide their control that causes bad things to happen.


I don't quite get where you're coming from Mike, what is it that you propose they do, publicly castigate Mauer in some way to make him accountable? Despite the huge body of work he's already provided that buys him some leeway in working this out?

I think they probably have discussed what Joe could try differently by discussing how the shifts have effected him, you could interpret it as an excuse or you can interpret it as a recognition that they might need to try something different in an attempt to keep teams honest.

I don't see it as an accountability issue, it's really just a rational response to something that is very out of the ordinary for a guy like Mauer.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 07:57 AM

First-pitch swing rate:

2010 -- 9.4%
2011 -- 5.7%
2012 -- 7.8%
2013 -- 7.7%
2014 -- 12.9%


So what you're telling me is that Joe needs to stop swinging at the first pitch. :D

#26 Mike Sixel

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:07 AM

I don't quite get where you're coming from Mike, what is it that you propose they do, publicly castigate Mauer in some way to make him accountable? Despite the huge body of work he's already provided that buys him some leeway in working this out?

I think they probably have discussed what Joe could try differently by discussing how the shifts have effected him, you could interpret it as an excuse or you can interpret it as a recognition that they might need to try something different in an attempt to keep teams honest.

I don't see it as an accountability issue, it's really just a rational response to something that is very out of the ordinary for a guy like Mauer.



read Boom Boom's post just above yours....that's my point. He doesn't play in Boston, he plays against shifts, he needs to find a way to produce. It isn't about everyone else, it is about him. he's the one at bat, that needs to hit to be worth his money. Him. The accountability for his success or failure is no him, not on playing in TF or against shifts.

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#27 Mike Sixel

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:09 AM

I'm not suggesting, btw, they call him out. I'm suggesting that publicly saying it isn't really his fault, that's excusing him from accountability. Like it isn't Gardy's fault that he doesn't play Pinto. It isn't Gardy's fault they lose more than the win. It isn't anyone's fault CF is messed up, NO ONE could have predicted their approach wouldn't work. It isn't the Twins fault they don't have enough good players, it is just too hard to succeed at drafting after pick 10 or so, and now it is not Mauer's fault he's not hitting well enough...........all things I've heard the Twins, media, and members of this forum say the last few years.

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#28 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:16 AM

I, too, was struck by the use of the word "victimized" -- I hope that this was just a Bremerism and not a word that is used generally by the Twins.

Mauer has to make adjustments. Mauer needs to take advantage of all available information and technology in deciding how to make those adjustments.

The Twins need to take advantage of information and technology to "victimize" the opposition's batters.

#29 Kirby_waved_at_me

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:31 AM

The most recent Twins game I was able to attend in person was against the Orioles, who were using really dramatic shifts on Mauer and Kubel. In that game, both guys had hits by basically taking what was given to them.
Kubel had a routine soft liner to a completely abandoned Third Base, and Mauer was able to line two singles through the ss-3b hole that was a bit bigger than standard (SS was shifted to play the middle). Mauer also homered in that game (to deep left) and hit another sharp line drive to left, but that one was into the teeth of a shifted outfield alignment. His back flared up the next day...
I think it's reasonable to be critical of Mauer's season to date - he's not expected to hit .275 and only have 9 xbh this far into the year. I assume that he and the Twins are aware of the fact that he's expected to have better results. If his LD% stays where it is, I am confident that the average and slugging will improve.

#30 longstrangetrip

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:45 AM

First-pitch swing rate:

2010 -- 9.4%
2011 -- 5.7%
2012 -- 7.8%
2013 -- 7.7%
2014 -- 12.9%


I have noticed that J(0 and 1) Mauer does seem to be swinging at more first pitches this year, but the fact remains that he doesn't swing at that first fat pitch often enough. The league average is 26% (down from 33% in 1988) so Joe swings at the first pitch less than half as often as the typical major league hitter. And pitchers know this, and are using it more frequently to put Joe in a hole...with the logical resulting drop in his performance.

Mauer might be the most skilled hitter that I have ever had the pleasure to watch. But I also think he is one of the dumbest, and most stubborn. Pitchers and defenses have changed their approach quite dramatically, and it is working well as evidenced by Joe's drastic dropoff in performance.

The cat and mouse game between the opposition and Joe highlights what I love most about baseball. Yes, it's a physical game, and Joe has a physical gift for hitting a baseball. But it's also the most cerebral game, and it is becoming increasingly cerebral with teams embracing advanced statistics...and I would argue that Joe is losing the cerebral game.

But Joe is such an elite hitter that I am optimistic about his ability to change and win this battle. We are already seeing it, in the increase (albeit insufficient) in his first swing % and also what appears to be an attempt to pull the ball more frequently. We saw it against Scott Baker, when he uncharacteristically jumped on a fat first-pitch fastball and jacked it into the RF corner. And I saw it live in San Diego, where they applied an absurd outfield shift, and Joe clearly tried to alter his approach to try to pull.

Joe is skilled enough to alter his approach and make opponents pay for what they are doing...serving up first pitch fastballs and employing a wildly unbalanced outfield alignment. But I frankly don't think he is smart enough to do it by himself...he has Ted Williams' physical skills without Williams' brain. And let's face it...Tom Brunansky was never a cerebral hitter. I would like to see Paul Molitor get involved more here. Molly knew how to win the head game with the pitcher, and I would love to see him work with Joe more. Sit down with him and show him video of all the first pitch fastballs he is letting go by, and ask him why he isn't attacking that pitch more frequently. If Molly can teach Joe to hit his pitch, rather than the pitcher's pitch like he currently is doing, I believe Joe can become an elite hitter again.

#31 twinsnorth49

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:49 AM

read Boom Boom's post just above yours....that's my point. He doesn't play in Boston, he plays against shifts, he needs to find a way to produce. It isn't about everyone else, it is about him. he's the one at bat, that needs to hit to be worth his money. Him. The accountability for his success or failure is no him, not on playing in TF or against shifts.



I think that's just making an observation, not excuse making. When things get frustrating there is something to be said for maintaining a positive outlook instead of exacerbating the problem. I'm sure Mauer us accountable to himself, he's been way too good for too long nit to be.

#32 twinsnorth49

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 08:51 AM

I, too, was struck by the use of the word "victimized" -- I hope that this was just a Bremerism and not a word that is used generally by the Twins.

Mauer has to make adjustments. Mauer needs to take advantage of all available information and technology in deciding how to make those adjustments.

The Twins need to take advantage of information and technology to "victimize" the opposition's batters.


And we just presume that isn't happening because they don't say so to the media?

#33 JB_Iowa

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:03 AM

And we just presume that isn't happening because they don't say so to the media?


I'm not assuming anything.

I dislike the use of the word "vicitimize". It implies that the opposition did something wrong instead of simply taking advantage of perfectly legitimate strategy.

Rather than whining about it (and I realize this was Bremer not an official Twins spokesman), the Twins need to do the same and take advantage of all legitimate strategies that are available to them.

#34 Boom Boom

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:15 AM

Saying that Mauer's got to do better doesn't have to be negative. I'd just like it if they wouldn't obfuscate the problem to the media.

"You know what, defenses are shifting on Joe, now he's got to shift on them. He's a hard worker and he's got a great track record, and we're confident he can do that."

#35 Beezer07

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:16 AM

Very good article, Parker. Definitely adds something meaningful to the "why Mauer is struggling" conversation.

#36 Steve Lein

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:28 AM

Mauer might be the most skilled hitter that I have ever had the pleasure to watch. But I also think he is one of the dumbest, and most stubborn.


I agree with you on 2 of 3 points, those being his skill level and stubborness. I think any "dumbness" is a result of that stubborness. He is not a dumb hitter, the approach has served him very well.

But yeah, I have an issue with the stubborness.

Why?

Because often times you are getting multiple at-bats against the starting pitcher in a game and Mauer brings the same exact approach to every at-bat.

You absolutely want to get a good look at the guys pitches in your first at-bat, and Joe is great at this. He'll often wait until he has 2 strikes and isn't afraid of this, allowing him to see a lot of pitches right away.

Now, in the next at-bat, Joe has potentially already seen 4+ pitches, and likely all of that pitchers arsenal at that point. And he still takes that grooved first pitch fastball 90% of the time because he uses the same approach in all his at-bats.

The problem with this is, that this pitch is almost universally going to be the best pitch to hit that Mauer see's in an at-bat, so he's shortchanging himself by doing this. What is he waiting for?

Now I'm not saying he needs to overhaul anything as this has still worked pretty well for him, but I think he could benefit even more by being a bit more aggressive (like league average aggressive on 1st pitches instead of significantly below) if he's seen a bunch of pitches in the game already.

It's nearly every game I watch where he takes one of these pitches and I cringe, because I know he'd crush it if he'd just swing the bat.
Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)

#37 Tibs

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:30 AM

My dad always told me to "Hit 'em where they ain't." Has anyone in the organization tried telling that to Joe Mauer? Maybe I'll try e-mailing someone.

I really hope he turns it around soon. Joe doesn't deserve the treatment he receives from too many Twins fans.
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#38 Beezer07

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:32 AM

I'm amused by the "Mauer won't swing at the first pitch complaints," because while I understand them w/r/t/ Mauer (sorta, but not really), I think my least favorite thing on the planet is seeing a guy swing at the first pitch and pop up or weakly ground out.

#39 longstrangetrip

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:42 AM

I'm amused by the "Mauer won't swing at the first pitch complaints," because while I understand them w/r/t/ Mauer (sorta, but not really), I think my least favorite thing on the planet is seeing a guy swing at the first pitch and pop up or weakly ground out.


Yeah, that bugs me too, beezer. But that usually happens when an overly-aggressive hitter hits the pitcher's pitch on the first pitch. Mauer is too good a hitter to do that. If the first pitch is a tough breaking ball or not right down the middle, I want Joe taking. But when he takes that first pitch fastball, the chances of his being forced to hit a tougher pitch later in the at bat increase...and too often the result is a 2-strike rollout to second.

Edited by longstrangetrip, 30 May 2014 - 09:53 AM.


#40 D. Hocking

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Posted 30 May 2014 - 09:46 AM

Saying that Mauer's got to do better doesn't have to be negative. I'd just like it if they wouldn't obfuscate the problem to the media.

"You know what, defenses are shifting on Joe, now he's got to shift on them. He's a hard worker and he's got a great track record, and we're confident he can do that."


Joe is obviously an adult and bears responsibility for how he deals with the media and how he is perceived, but the Twins PR department has not exactly helped him over the years. I think I read somewhere that he had never heard about bilateral leg weakness until he read the release. While he is never going to be an open book, I do think he learned some lessons from 2011 and is a little more forthcoming and at the very least does not hide from the media.

I do think he will work it out eventually (unless his reflexes etc. were permanently altered by a foul tip last August) but making changes against 95 mph pitches takes a number of at bats and might take longer than we would like.