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Article: Everyone's a Doctor: Joe Mauer, the Injury Bug and the Notion of Toughness

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#31 TheLeviathan

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 09:59 PM

1.) Bi-Lateral Leg Weakness - Mauer never called it that. Not sure who did. However, he had knee surgery, came back too quick, had a set back and it took longer. When asked, Mauer said it was the knee. People need to seriously get over that.

 

This doesn't exactly mesh with your version Seth.  This indicates he was telling his manager it wasn't his knee, but other parts of his lower body.  

 

I think something was definitely wrong, not that he was soft.  However, I also remember getting exasperated with all this vague, made-up sounding nonsense at the time.  It was the precursor to the "lower body injury" nonsense we see in the NHL and NFL now.


#32 troyhobbs

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 11:10 PM

Players of Mauer's caliber have to take the good with the bad, the scrutiny is there in every sport all the time. The worst thing is the twins paying him that kind of money to continually be on a 90+ losing team. Either surround him with talent or cut him loose. They might've already wasted his best years.

#33 Seth Stohs

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 11:11 PM

He was hurt... that's all we need to know. Whatever they choose to call it is what it is.


#34 kab21

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 11:42 PM

This doesn't exactly mesh with your version Seth.  This indicates he was telling his manager it wasn't his knee, but other parts of his lower body.  

 

I think something was definitely wrong, not that he was soft.  However, I also remember getting exasperated with all this vague, made-up sounding nonsense at the time.  It was the precursor to the "lower body injury" nonsense we see in the NHL and NFL now.

Let me play doctor for a little bit.  When you have an injury or are recovering from an injury it's pretty common to injure another area because you are overcompensating for that injury.  If he also got a nasty virus during that time it would affect how much rehab he could do further delaying his return. 

 

As a fan you hate uncertainty though.  You want to hear X injury (a normal injury) and he will return in Y weeks (typical recovery).  I do not like diagnosis that is nothing more than 'we don't know what's wrong or how long it will take' but stuff like that happens.  I didn't like bilateral leg weakness, Morneau's concussion, Meyer's shoulder issue last year, Rosario's issues this season or Buxton's recent injury.  At least with Sano we know what is wrong and when he will be back.  Unfortunately not every injury is as clearcut. 

Edited by kab21, 16 August 2014 - 11:46 PM.

I look forward to the day that a pitching prospect is truly blocked by good pitchers.


#35 TheLeviathan

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 05:24 AM

Unfortunately not every injury is as clearcut. 

 

I agree, but if you're trying to source the reason for people playing doctor - that uncertainty is precisely why.

 

When Adrian Peterson busted his knee, no one felt compelled to play doctor.  Why?  Because we knew what was wrong, there was no reason to.  Likewise with every other injury that is clearly labeled.

 

To the contrary, when someone has an "upper body injury" in the NHL that could be code for anything from a concussion to a shoulder.  But with the uncertainty you have people start to play doctor.  It's human nature to try and fill in the gaps of what you don't know when you have part of the puzzle.

 

So some of the push-back Mauer got on that injury was precisely for that reason.   I'm not speaking about this positively or negatively, just tracing the source of the issue.  

 

To Seth's dubious counterpoint - as fans we "need to know" absolutely nothing but teams are generally open about injuries precisely to avoid silly speculation.  You also invite speculation when you sound like you got your diagnosis from this guy:

 

161847-12776-dr-nick-riviera.png

Edited by TheLeviathan, 17 August 2014 - 05:27 AM.


#36 stringer bell

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 07:35 AM

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. 

Edited by stringer bell, 17 August 2014 - 07:37 AM.

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#37 SwainZag

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 11:24 AM

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.


#38 jokin

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:38 PM

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. 

 

Excellent analysis, and really, your last 3 paragraphs sums up perceptions of Mauer's career in a nutshell- the guy is really a human Rorschach test for how a baseball superstar is perceived by the broad public.   The way he effortlessly crushed the HR to RF in the KC series comes to mind, and leaves one wondering if he would be willing to adjust his approach more often.... he even acknowledged in the postgame that he made a simple adjustment to look to do just that. 

 

Analysis of Mauer within the context of "doing more" will no doubt occupy baseball statheads for years to come, but for now, have a look at 2 spraycharts of Mauer and another Twin during their very best 17-game stretch of that particular season:

 

4080452014061720140815AAAAAspray-chart.p

 

 

4657532013050820130528AAAAAspray-chart.p

 

Yes.  Mauer's is Image #1, and the 2 most-pulled hits on the chart came this week (hope for a change afoot?), but though it doesn't rsemble, pulled-ball-wise, Image #2, it bears much too close a resemblance, outfield-distance-wise, to the Twins' former #9-hole punch-and-Judy-on-his-very-best-day hitter, one Pedro Florimon, who as the chart illustrates, somehow managed to pull two homeruns in May, 2013, on the way to a 9 HR season.

 

Image #1 also clearly illustrates your point about the OF and IF shifts against Mauer, LFers have been hugging the line on him all season, with the CF shading heavily to left.  Even DicknBert have occasionally talked about the yawning gap between the CFer and RFer.  Meanwhile, one IF is almost always positioned to take away Joe's patented GB single back through the box.


#39 jharaldson

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:25 PM

In regards to the part of conversation about everyoe being a doctor on Joe Mauer, I think there is only one person to blame and that is Joe Mauer.  This thread is clearly divided on what was the cause of the bilateral leg weakness.  I have seen these reasons in this thread and others:

 

- It was a viral infection

- It was coming back too fast from knee surgery

- It was none of our business

- It was Lyme Disease (Dark Star)

- It was Joe being soft

- It was poor conditioning

- It was a lost season, no need to rush back

- And many more

 

All Joe had to do to clear this up was have a 15 minute conversation with a beat writer during the issue.  Don't let the Twins speak for him in their random press releases from their poor medical staff.  Have a one on one and tell from his perspective what is wrong.  Joe Mauer is an introvert.  Some of the public interaction doesn't come easy to him,  He isn't the loud guy in the locker room.  But as the highest paid player on the team with a nearly $200 million contract the fans of this team deserve to have accurate info as to why their star player missed half a season.


#40 KGB

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:05 PM

I think people's position about Mauer get locked in and they have a hard time looking at the player he is today.  He was a great player his first 5 years, with 3 battling titles and an MVP.  Expectation were set on those standards and he was rewarded with a $23 million per year contract.  But he has not been the same player he was prior to the contract.  He was a good player who was injury prone, but not a great player.  HIs lifetime average on RISP is ,320, but in 2011 he hit .239 and is hitting .230 this year.  You can look at him either by his career average or what you see today.

 

He appears like a player on the decline and we just need to accept realize that. 


#41 SwainZag

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:29 PM

I think people's position about Mauer get locked in and they have a hard time looking at the player he is today.  He was a great player his first 5 years, with 3 battling titles and an MVP.  Expectation were set on those standards and he was rewarded with a $23 million per year contract.  But he has not been the same player he was prior to the contract.  He was a good player who was injury prone, but not a great player.  HIs lifetime average on RISP is ,320, but in 2011 he hit .239 and is hitting .230 this year.  You can look at him either by his career average or what you see today.

 

He appears like a player on the decline and we just need to accept realize that. 

.328/.413/.451  9 HR, 85 RBI    

.324/.404/.476   11 HR, 47 RBI   

 

Examine the 2 lines.  Yes, the 2nd one had 160 less PA.  One of them is 2008 when he was a "great" player in his 1st 5 years and the 2nd is last year when he is in his "decline."  

 

I would rather think that Joe started this year in a slump, got hurt and is just now coming out of it than think the slow start is just simple decline.


#42 KGB

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 03:08 PM

Some people see the hitter with a .360 average with bases empty last year and some people see the .240 hitter with RISP with 2 times the strike out ratio.  The RISP and strike out ratio continue this year, so it hard to justify it as just a slump.  It's two sides of a coin, but you have look at both sides. And when you are the most important hitter in the lineup, people are going to hold you to a higher standard.


#43 kab21

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:15 AM

Some people see the hitter with a .360 average with bases empty last year and some people see the .240 hitter with RISP with 2 times the strike out ratio.  The RISP and strike out ratio continue this year, so it hard to justify it as just a slump.  It's two sides of a coin, but you have look at both sides. And when you are the most important hitter in the lineup, people are going to hold you to a higher standard.

 

BA with RISP from 200 odd PA's (2013-2014)?

 

This is a poor argument due to small sample size. 

I look forward to the day that a pitching prospect is truly blocked by good pitchers.


#44 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 09:20 AM

Some people see the hitter with a .360 average with bases empty last year and some people see the .240 hitter with RISP with 2 times the strike out ratio.  The RISP and strike out ratio continue this year, so it hard to justify it as just a slump.  It's two sides of a coin, but you have look at both sides. And when you are the most important hitter in the lineup, people are going to hold you to a higher standard.

 

Expect that they don't.

 

Joe Mauer 2014 bases empty: .697 OPS.

 

Joe Mauer 2014 RISP: .796 OPS.

 

Yes, a lot of that is OBP driven (his OBP is a whopping .400 with RISP) but his slugging is also marginally higher with RISP (.015).

 

What can we learn from this? That RISP is pretty much a useless statistic on which to base a player's worth, as it fluctuates wildly from season to season due to SSS.

 

Joe Mauer spent the bulk of his career hitting marginally better with RISP, just as most players do (because RISP appearances tend to come against worse pitchers who are hit more easily). He didn't suddenly "forget" how to hit with RISP after a decade in the league. It's a meaningless statistic. Joe Mauer has been a pretty bad hitter this season. That's his problem, not RISP.


#45 Steve Penz

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 11:00 AM

Jharaldson made a great point above about Joe managing the messaging surrounding any injuries.  This is a place where I feel the Twins and Joe's management team have failed him.  Mauer is not paid to be a speaker.  It might be nice if he had a little more flare but I will take boring with a career OBP of .400 any day.  The team and his representation should have better helped him speak to the press; this is part of their function.  Customer service 101: very clearly give your clients the message you want them to hear or they will make up their own version.  We see that happen here.    

 

Also, the local press and their bashing is especially sad because I feel they know better.  They are just doing it to be shocking to their audience and that sells commercials.  Phil Mackey seems to rise above this (Thank you!) and here is an awesome article he wrote a few years ago.  http://www.1500espn....ng_of_OBP092012  


#46 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 12:51 PM

I guess the issue I have with 'toughness' is that I really don't think we want that.  I'm no professional baseball player, but I do remain fairly active.  I play softball in the summer, soccer most of the year, and I'm training for my second marathon.  I've never had pnuemonia, but I have had bronchitis on several occasions.  It can take more than month (for me at least) to recover from that and even begin to do what I was doing prior to it.  I cannot imagine how much more is needed to play at a high level.  Sure, Mauer could show up in that scenario, but what would the end results be?  Do people really think he'd still be winning batting titles with bi-lateral leg weakness (or whatever it finally ended up being)?  Sure, he could occupy a spot, but with most of the ailments mentioned, he wouldn't be very effective at all.  I get that all athletes play through pain from time to time, but there's also a pretty stark line in the sand where their effectivness diminishes.  I don't think you want them up when that happens, otherwise you end up with what we dealt with Nolaso.

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#47 jokin

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 02:30 PM

I guess the issue I have with 'toughness' is that I really don't think we want that. ...

 

I get that all athletes play through pain from time to time, but there's also a pretty stark line in the sand where their effectivness diminishes.

 

You may not want that, but I think it's a bit presumptuous to assume the "we" part of your statement... and it comes down to your presumption of a "pretty stark line", it seems the facts argue against how "stark" that line in the sand actually is.  (just off the top of my head, Kirk Gibson HR in the '88 World Series, Michael Jordan's playoff flu game in '97... Brett Favre started 297 consecutive games, most of which he played with multiple injuries, and who can forget the beating he took against the, with-criminal-intent-to- harm, New Orleans Saints, in the NFC title game).  The fact is, some guys have much higher pain thresholds than others.  Re: Kurt Suzuki has continued to perform at a high level, despite taking a beating behind and at the plate this season, that other players are unable to tolerate, and thus, play with effectively.

Edited by jokin, 18 August 2014 - 02:33 PM.

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#48 DocBauer

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 07:15 PM

Not going to copy and paste everything Seth said since I think everyone has pretty much read it at least twice by now. And I agree with him whole-heartedly.

I think Joe's "reputation" with certain fans has little to do, overall, with his contract, which a different subject entirely, water under the bridge, and ultimately unimportant vs scoreboard. Any problem with perception of Mauer comes down to two things in my mind.

1) 2011. The Twins were supposed to be a top team and contender. The season became an absolute wreck. Missing one of your best, if not the best, and one of your top players while the disaster is taking place for mysterious reasons never explained or understood made fans very disappointed and frustrated. I still don't know who to blame on this one, but I'd say the Twins on this one.

2) Unreal expectations. Mauer has always had a mystique of the national athlete who could been a QB on a top, possibly national championship college football team, who was instead the top pick and top prospect of the local ML baseball team. And with all his talent, and big athletic frame, to some, no measure of defense, all star votes and batting titles will ever make up for not being Johnny Bench and Hank Aaron rolled in to one. Especially as the team has struggled the past couple of seasons.

BTW, Mauer's concussion was not his fault. And he WAS hitting like Mauer before his last injury, and has continued to hit like Mauer since his return.

"Nice catch Hayes...don't ever f*****g do it again."

 

--Lou Brown


#49 old nurse

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 09:47 AM

I think that Mauer has been unlucky with where foul tips have caught him.

I don't think you could ever call him the toughest player but he resisted moving out from catcher for awhile. It is not like he wanted to take an easier path to paycheck. If not for the concussions I think he would still want to be catching. I therefore do not think you could call him soft.

Perhaps using Kirk Gibson as a standard of toughness is appropriate. In Gibson's career he never played every game in a season.  3 times in 16 years he played more than 135.  8 times more than 100. For the one person who might not know, he  was an outfielder, not a catcher.

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#50 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 20 August 2014 - 06:44 AM

You may not want that, but I think it's a bit presumptuous to assume the "we" part of your statement... and it comes down to your presumption of a "pretty stark line", it seems the facts argue against how "stark" that line in the sand actually is.  (just off the top of my head, Kirk Gibson HR in the '88 World Series, Michael Jordan's playoff flu game in '97... Brett Favre started 297 consecutive games, most of which he played with multiple injuries, and who can forget the beating he took against the, with-criminal-intent-to- harm, New Orleans Saints, in the NFC title game).  The fact is, some guys have much higher pain thresholds than others.  Re: Kurt Suzuki has continued to perform at a high level, despite taking a beating behind and at the plate this season, that other players are unable to tolerate, and thus, play with effectively.

The main reason why I use the term "we" in most of my posts is that it's less confrontational as doesn't call anyone out.  If you notice, I do that in a lot of my posts and I apologize if that was misunderstood.  It's good practice, especially for those who constantly find themselves in confrontational situations.  There are some great books on that subject, which I highly recommend if anyone wants to PM me about it. 

 

That said,  I get the high threshold for pain.  Some players have it, though I'm not sure every one of your examples applies (such as Jordan), but it has it's limits.  For every Radke (torn labrum) or Favre (the ankle beating he took, though you need to take adrenaline into account in his situation), there are a hundred Nolascos who actually make the team worse toughing out injuries.  I have a hard time believing that Mauer isn't tough because he didn't play baseball while having pneumonia, a torn meniscus, or whatever health problem it was that was preventing him from doing basic things like squatting, and I'd say that about any player.  They are human beings, and while they are exceptional at being atheletes, they don't have superpowers.

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