I'm neither a backer nor a basher of Joe Mauer. He has undoubtedly been the best player and face of the franchise since 2009. It is probably equally undeniable that Mauer's recovery time for injuries has always seemed to lag behind optimistic predictions for his recovery. This is complicated by his big contract and the position he played until this year. The front office and the field staff (and Mauer) wanted him in the lineup as often as possible. That meant DH time that most other catchers would never see.
Mauer, or his agent, have always made his health and future more important than whether he was in the lineup today or tomorrow. I guess that is what agents are for, especially when they represent a guy making $23M a year. The conflict is that Mauer isn't viewed as banging on the manager's door if he is the DH three straight days with Drew Butera as the alternate or if he's out of the lineup for a "nick" for three days. That passiveness carries over even to his batting style--he routinely takes at least one strike and routinely "lets the ball get deep" and slaps it to left field.
Finally, there is the attitude that what he does works and there is no need to change it. Adjustments to shifts and slumps have been slow in coming. Perhaps he is right to continue to do what he does, but there is a perception that he could be so much more--if he swung earlier in the count, if he tried to drive more balls to his pull field and if he demanded to play even if he wasn't 100%.
Analysis of Joe Mauer is complicated. Even if he is in decline phase, he has been a great hitter and might be a Hall of Famer. He has been the best catcher the Twins ever had, but the question remains that if he had gone about things differently, perhaps he could have been much better.
Meh. I believe it's more of Twins management over "Mauer and his agent." The majority of the time he has missed since 2011 has been late in the season when the Twins were far, far out of a playoff race and there was simply no need to rush him into the lineup. I truly believe if the Twins were in the thick of a playoff race down the stretch the past couple years we would have seen Mauer activated and back on the field a lot sooner than he had been.
People, especially on this board, love to criticize Mauer's approach at the plate. The approach that has him at a career split of: .320/.401/.461. An OPS+ of 133 and even this year, one of his worst statistically he sits at 101+, still above average.
His carer with RISP: .328/.451/.474 in 1497 PA. He has driven in 541 runs in those situations. His numbers are even better with RISP and 2 outs. Blame his lack of RBI on simply not getting the AB's with runners on.
Joe gets a lot of criticism for not swinging at the first pitch. Though for his career when he does swing at the 1st pitch he is hitting .434. That tells me his being very selective has paid off very well.
Yes, he is having a down year and only has half a season worth of AB right now. but give me the selective hitter that is going to get on base 42-45% of the time and is statistically better when runners are on base. 2009 and 2011 though very different, really put a hamper on Joe's career. He was simply too good in 2009, he was 26, probably the peak of his athletic ability and had a great year, but he set the bar too high for some people. With his injury riddled 2011 season to go along with his big contract just allowed people to doubt and criticize him.
2012 he led the league in OBP, played in 147 games and knocked in 85 runs, but you don't hear much about that season. Even last season, which was a lost one from the get go for the Twins, Joe quietly put .324/.404/.476. Over career averages across the board, but there was just more criticism because he was shut down and missed half of August and September of meaningless games where the Twins were so far out of 1st it wouldn't even matter.
It's obvious I'm a Mauer supporter. Yes, I do think it's a shame that injuries have cost him a lot of time, but I really think people overlook and take for granted the numbers he has put up while he has been in a Twins uniform.