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Mauer in the 3 spot

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#1 JB_Iowa

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:59 AM

I wish someone would explain Gardenhire's stubborness about keeping Mauer near the top of the line-up.

From earlier today (presumably the pregame presser):


  • LaVelle E. Neal III ‏@LaVelleNeal 46m
    Gardy doesn't seem interested in moving Mauer down in the lineup. Says Mauer has to get going in that spot


    Sometimes we all need a change of scenery. There are others on the team who are hitting well -- changing his spot in the line-up would just be a different kind of mental break for Mauer instead of giving him another day (or more) off.

    I just don't get this. I suppose Mauer could see it as an insult but frankly, given what has been happening, he should just enjoy the change of scenery.

#2 gunnarthor

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:14 AM

They gotta keep him there unless he's hurt. If he's hurt, put him on the DL. If he's not, then you have to think that he'll start hitting again. He's too good to put up these kind of numbers over a full season.

Personally, I think he's hurt - either the back or still dealing with concussion symptoms. But I'm just guessing.

#3 JB_Iowa

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:19 AM

WHY do they "gotta keep him there"?

That is what I want someone to explain. Is this some inviolable law of nature? Was this a condition of his contract?

I've gotta think that if Joe Mauer is a good a hitter as we all believe, he's a good enough hitter to be moved around in the line-up.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:34 AM

WHY do they "gotta keep him there"?

That is what I want someone to explain. Is this some inviolable law of nature? Was this a condition of his contract?

I've gotta think that if Joe Mauer is a good a hitter as we all believe, he's a good enough hitter to be moved around in the line-up.


Even though he's slumping, his OBP is still better than the guys you might want to put in there (Plouffe, Arcia). I suppose Suzuki could move up but I don't think that's a great idea. With Mauer's track record, unless he's hurt, you'd assume he'd starting hitting again. Willingham has good on base skills but Morales, Arcia and Plouffe are more power than on-base. Ideally if the Twins had 1-3 hitters getting on base a lot, those 4 guys should get a lot of RBIs.

And, while lineups really don't matter that much (fans waaaaaaay overrate them), ideally you want your best two hitters (Dozier and Willingham, I'd argue) hitting 2nd and 4th.

#5 Beezer07

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:39 AM

You leave Mauer in the 3 hole because he might start heating up today. You drop him to 7 or 8 for a week...what happens if THAT'S when he starts heating up and you've now wasted a week with him buried in the bottom of the lineup? Sure, some people buy into the "you have to EARN your spot in the lineup" stuff, but given Mauer's OBP track record, he's earned a couple months of struggles near the top.

And agree with gunn. You have to assume he'll start heating up. Trying to ride the hot hand in baseball is a fool's errand.

#6 LewFordLives

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 10:54 AM

One argument for moving him down: Even if he's slumping, he could provide some protection for some of the weaker hitters towards the bottom of the lineup. Mauer just being there could allow Escobar, Hicks, Suzuki...etc...to see better pitches. I don't think he provides the same protection, at the moment anyway, for Dozier and Hammer.

#7 spycake

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:13 AM

Even though he's slumping, his OBP is still better than the guys you might want to put in there (Plouffe, Arcia). I suppose Suzuki could move up but I don't think that's a great idea. With Mauer's track record, unless he's hurt, you'd assume he'd starting hitting again. Willingham has good on base skills but Morales, Arcia and Plouffe are more power than on-base. Ideally if the Twins had 1-3 hitters getting on base a lot, those 4 guys should get a lot of RBIs.


Is OBP the only criteria for #3 hitter, though?

And at that, Mauer's OBP this year is only marginally better than that of Plouffe and Arcia (and identical to Morales' career OBP). Meanwhile, his power is dramatically less than basically everyone else in our lineup -- like, similar to 2014 Hicks power (or lack thereof). In fact, by OBP and ISO, Mauer is basically an equivalent hitter to Hicks so far this year. (B-Ref's Rbat has them about equal too.)

And I think we are creeping beyond slump territory here -- we're 40% through the season, and he's shown no real signs of recovery. Even if it's not absolutely necessary yet, it would be nice to see early confirmation that we're not going to hang on with him too long at the #3 spot, and that we're not going to let him dictate where and how much he plays forever regardless of his current on-field abilities/performance.

#8 jorgenswest

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:18 AM

This may be his post concussion skill level at this point.

I would bat him 8th until he shows otherwise. I would also sit him against lefties with Morales at first and Pinto as DH.

#9 JB_Iowa

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:28 AM

I'm also of the opinion that it has something to do with his concussion.

The other thing it reminds me of is August 2009 when Gardenhire kept trotting Morneau out there even though something really appeared to be wrong (again not just a slump). Later they diagnosed the stress fracture in his back.

Mauer is making better contact than Morny did (who didn't make much contact at all as a I recall).

I just find it very painful to watch this go on day after day for this long although he had a nice hit an inning ago.

#10 StormJH1

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:37 AM

I don't buy the post-concussion thing as an explanation. I can't "prove" that it isn't a factor because we literally understand .01% of how the brain works and what head injuries do to our reflexes and timing. But there are more clearly observable things with him going on.

Mauer, even the 2006-10 version of Mauer, ALWAYS supplemented his average with groundball or low line drive hits. You could probably find hundreds of clips of 5-hopper singles skipping through the Metrodome infield up the middle. There was a thought for years that you couldn't shift Mauer because he was such a great opposite field hitter.

Turns out, you CAN shift Mauer, you just do it differently. Teams started putting infielders up the middle in his bilateral leg weakness year, and that was one of the explanations for his struggles in years past.

But while you can accidentally hit singles, you can't really "accidentally" hit a double. Teams are now shifting to take away the gaps in the outfield, and they can do this because Mauer cannot or will not pull a ball down the right field line.

This is what Mauer is. It's not like he's striking out at ungodly rates this year (Mauer's K's have been up even in good Mauer seasons like 2012 and 2013). When his BABIP is around .320 or lower, the average goes down. In all of his years where he was successful, his BABIP was around .350 (some years significantly higher). People attribute BABIP to luck, but it's also about defense and tendencies. It's like the line from Bull Durham about 20 extra base hits being the difference from getting a call-up.

My point about Mauer is and has always been that the perception of his "success" is too closely tied to variations in how often his groundballs and liners fall for hits. He forces himself into two strike counts because he prefers to be a defensive hitter. If Joe Mauer was batting .290 right now, yes it'd be better, but as a #2 or #3 hitter, you need extra base hits to consistently drive in runs. Mauer's emphasis is and has always been to avoid getting out. If he were in Melky Cabrera's spot in the Blue Jays lineup, or Matt Carpenter on STL, he'd score 100 runs or more every year doing that. On this team, with the mostly ordinary lineups behind him, he looks, well, ordinary.

#11 Guest_USAFChief_*

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 11:45 AM

Even though he's slumping, his OBP is still better than the guys you might want to put in there (Plouffe, Arcia).

His OPB for May was under .300. Same for June so far.

He's down in Hicks territory for the year.

We all expect (hope?) he'll recover, but there's precious little sign of it currently, and if he continues to put himself in 0-2 and 1-2 counts multiple times per game, it's hard to see it change.

#12 jorgenswest

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 12:38 PM

Nice game today though. Single, double, walk so far.

Nice to see a typical Mauer game. I hope he can string several together.

#13 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:13 PM

I would want my best hitter hitting 3rd. So far, that has not been Mauer. I'm sure you would agree that at some point Mauer could need to be moved from the 3 spot. How long should Gardy wait before moving Mauer, is the question?

#14 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:18 PM

You leave Mauer in the 3 hole because he might start heating up today. You drop him to 7 or 8 for a week...what happens if THAT'S when he starts heating up and you've now wasted a week with him buried in the bottom of the lineup? Sure, some people buy into the "you have to EARN your spot in the lineup" stuff, but given Mauer's OBP track record, he's earned a couple months of struggles near the top.

And agree with gunn. You have to assume he'll start heating up. Trying to ride the hot hand in baseball is a fool's errand.

Having a number 3 hitter with 3 home runs after 40% of the season seems like a bigger fool's errand to me.

Edited by tarheeltwinsfan, 11 June 2014 - 03:40 PM.


#15 stringer bell

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:34 PM

I'd probably switch Dozier and Mauer and then maybe switch Morales and Hammer. If Santana fades (c'mon he never hit .300 in the minors), I'd go Dozier, Mauer, Morales, Hammer. Maybe, just maybe, Mauer has "found it" after the three-hit game. Probably the most damning thing about Mauer is how seldom he has done what Morales did today--extend his strike zone a bit and smack a bases-clearing double.

#16 Sam Morley

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:59 PM

I think even when Mauer is on it he profiles better in the two spot.

#17 jokin

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 05:59 PM

You leave Mauer in the 3 hole because he might start heating up today. You drop him to 7 or 8 for a week...what happens if THAT'S when he starts heating up and you've now wasted a week with him buried in the bottom of the lineup? Sure, some people buy into the "you have to EARN your spot in the lineup" stuff, but given Mauer's OBP track record, he's earned a couple months of struggles near the top.

And agree with gunn. You have to assume he'll start heating up. Trying to ride the hot hand in baseball is a fool's errand.


Careful, that's Gardy's specialty.

#18 jokin

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 06:04 PM

Having a number 3 hitter with 3 home runs after 40% of the season seems like a bigger fool's errand to me.


I only wish our #3 hitter had 3 HR, he currently sits at 2.

#19 Thrylos

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 06:56 PM

Even though he's slumping, his OBP is still better than the guys you might want to put in there (Plouffe, Arcia).


OK. As of this morning:

Mauer: .333 OBP
Hicks: .338 OBP

According to your argument, Hicks should be batting third then, no?
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#20 gunnarthor

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:28 PM

OK. As of this morning:

Mauer: .333 OBP
Hicks: .338 OBP

According to your argument, Hicks should be batting third then, no?


It's amazing how good you are at taking things out of context. When Hicks has Mauer's track record of a .400 OBP we can talk.

#21 Pius Jefferson

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 08:25 PM

The way Mauer isn't driving the ball. I'm not sure how great an idea is for him to be in more rbi situations.

#22 Sconnie

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 08:33 PM

It's amazing how good you are at taking things out of context. When Hicks has Mauer's track record of a .400 OBP we can talk.

Career is fine when discussing Morales' potential, with no background and too small of sample size, Mauer's season is plenty large enough of a sample size to see the trend.

down

move him back in the order to 7 or so, there's no rule that you can't bump him back to 2 or 3 when he gets his ailment straight.