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Christensen: Mauer Needs To Swing

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:39 AM

http://www.startribu.../166676076.html

Christensen looks at Mauer's 9th inning at-bat last night, the one in which he walked to load the bases, and wonders why he never got the bat off his shoulder in six pitches.

I gotta disagree with Joe on this one. I watched that at-bat and I was watching to see if Mauer had anything he could really hit. I concluded that he didn't have anything he could really work with, though one pitch wasn't terrible.

#2 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:45 AM

Wow, what a lazy and poor "article" by Joe C. Pretty disappointing as he is one of the actual few newspaper men left that usually puts out quality stuff.

Mauer had 1 pitch to hit that entire at bat, he was sitting on a fastball on the 3-1 count and he was thrown a breaking ball, as I mentioned in the game thread, nothing good can come off of that. "Going up hacking" late in a game is a foolish strategy that someone like Delmon Young or Gomez would employ, Mauer took what the pitcher gave him, got on base and extended the inning/game.

He also had Josh Willingham and his .950 OPS on deck with the bases loaded, give me that match-up any day of the week. People can say "oh, they only needed one run not a grand slam" but that is false as well. It wasn't a walk off situation, it was the top of the 9th, the Twins needed as many runs as they could get.

The sad thing is the rubes will eat this crap right up and we will start hearing boos again at Target Field since "Mauer doesn't care" or "Mauer isn't man enough to swing the bat" or "23 million derp derp derp".

Edited by SpiritofVodkaDave, 19 August 2012 - 08:47 AM.


#3 Aaron Gleeman

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:46 AM

He also got the basic math of the situation wrong. It's not a comparison between Mauer's batting average and Willingham's batting average, because by walking Mauer made it possible for Willingham to drive in a run with a hit OR a walk (or a passed ball, wild pitch, error, etc.). So it should be Mauer's AVG vs. Willingham's OBP, in which case Willingham's OBP (plus errors, WP, PB, etc.) is much, much higher anyway.

#4 gunnarthor

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:00 AM

Without reading the article or watching the game, I understand what Joe C is trying to get at - for 23m, you want a guy in the three hole who is looking to drive in runs when he has the opportunity, esp late in a game, instead of putting it on someone else. Joe's a great hitter but that'll always be the criticism of him. He's not perfect but he is what he is, at this point, and that's probably not going to change.

I'd also bet that Mauer was facing a lefty and Seattle brought in a tough righty to get Willingham, which changes the math a bit.

#5 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:05 AM

Without reading the article or watching the game, I understand what Joe C is trying to get at - for 23m, you want a guy in the three hole who is looking to drive in runs when he has the opportunity, esp late in a game, instead of putting it on someone else. Joe's a great hitter but that'll always be the criticism of him. He's not perfect but he is what he is, at this point, and that's probably not going to change.

I'd also bet that Mauer was facing a lefty and Seattle brought in a tough righty to get Willingham, which changes the math a bit.

I know that Mauer can hit LHP pretty well, but it should be noted that Luetge has a .169 average against when facing left handed batters.

#6 gunnarthor

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:17 AM

I know that Mauer can hit LHP pretty well, but it should be noted that Luetge has a .169 average against when facing left handed batters.


Well, I guess that's where this conversation is due to go - what is Mauer's line on 3-0 or 3-1 against lefty relievers with RISP vs. Willingham's numbers, etc. It could get sorta silly. I think Joe C and John both make good points (I just read the article) but I do think Joe should be looking to hit and his failure to do so leaves him open to legit criticism. I also think that Joe C's views are probably closer to Gardy's.

It might also be time for Gardy to move Joe up in the batting order to #2.

#7 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:34 AM

As I said on the game thread, I'm not enough of an expert to know whether Mauer handled the at-bat properly or not. I'm just responding as an average, uninformed fan, and to me it felt like "kissing your sister." I understand that Mauer needs to play the game in the way he does it best - which for him means talking walks when offered - and that he has to stick to what has made him as successful as he is. I understand that, over the long term, that will create more success for the team than trying to overhaul his approach on a situation-by-situation basis. I understand that Willingham has a decent OBP, even if he has been slumping lately. If Willingham comes through, the whole discussion is moot, but he didn't.

None of this changes the fact that my emotional reaction to the Mauer at-bat was indifferent. It felt like a tie to me, a bit of a letdown, whatever statistics you use, and left a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

#8 John Bonnes

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:34 AM

I can understand, in general, the criticism that Mauer is too patient. But I can't in that at-bat. There just wasn't much there. It was if they were pitching around him.

#9 twinsnorth49

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:45 AM

Unfair criticism to me, Mauer was up there looking to hit, not hack. He got a breaking ball on a fastball count and didn't swing, that was his big,let your team down, coward moment according to Joe. C? I agree with Dave, impulsive, lazy writing designed to elicit some kind of manufactured passion.

As Aaron pointed out, the scenarios by which a run could score when Willingham came up increased with Joe's walk.

#10 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 09:59 AM

If people wanted to criticize a Mauer at bat last night, they should have criticized the one where he weekly grounded out to 2nd with the bases loaded and 1 out, or any of the other 3 at bats where he didn't get on base.

#11 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 10:02 AM

If people wanted to criticize a Mauer at bat last night, they should have criticized the one where he weekly grounded out to 2nd with the bases loaded and 1 out, or any of the other 3 at bats where he didn't get on base.


I can second that - the only bright side of that play was at least he beat the relay to avoid the DP, so they got one. But that also felt like a lost opportunity.

#12 one_eyed_jack

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 10:21 AM

This seems like a really strange place for Joe C to step out of character and rip Mauer. Has he been listening to too much Barreiro lately?

Mauer was looking for a pitch to do something with. He didn't get one. So he took the next best thing, which was a walk to load the bases for Willingham. Not long ago in Fenway, he had a similar situation, took the same, patient approach, and got something to hit, and put it over the Green Monster.

Put it this way, suppose Mauer swings at one of those pitches and either misses or makes an out - I doubt Joe C would be defending his plate approach.

I could see it maybe if it were someone other than Willingham coming up. Yeah, then maybe you could say Mauer needed to deviate from his norm there.

And this whole "well, for $23 million, he needs to try and get a hit there" idea is rube silliness that should be beneath Joe C. What does that have to do with it? What's the salary cut-off for acceptability of what Mauer did there? Would it have been OK for Morneau take a walk there?

#13 twinsnorth49

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 11:00 AM

Would it have been OK for Morneau take a walk there?


Of course, he can 't hit LHP anyway, remember?

#14 kirbyelway

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 11:16 AM

Critical of a guys at bat with an OBP over .400 LOL!!!

#15 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 11:32 AM

That's an awful article. The Twins would have needed at least two runs and likely more after what Robertson did. Mauer loaded the bases and got two men in scoring position instead of one to increase those chances of getting two. He worked the count and didn't like anything. Joe C loses his credibility card.

#16 Riverbrian

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 11:35 AM

It was a Great professional At-Bat by Joe Mauer facing a guy who has been very tough on left handers and an ump that was consistently giving the outside corner against lefties to the pitcher throughout the game.

Criticizing a player (who did not make an out) in a key situation. Is an impossible situation for the player and completely unfair.

Joe C is running out of things to write about obviously.

#17 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 12:16 PM

You ask a guy to go to the plate and play his game, not the pitcher's game. If he's dealt a walk, you take the walk.

And then you shut up about it because the guy who just walked has the highest OBP in the league. That's who he is. I wish people would appreciate Joe Mauer for what he is instead of trying to make him into the type of streaky player who makes dumb mistakes and is frustrating to watch day in and day out.

#18 darin617

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 12:33 PM

Too bad he cannot just foul off pitches to get one he likes. Kind of like other great batting champs Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs used to do. Heck he could learn a little something from AJ about extending AB's and not being a coward and taking walk to put the pressure on Willingham and Morneau to drive in the runs.

In other words if you want to not swing the bat become the leadoff hitter or #2 hitter and leave the 3 hole to someone who wants to swing the bat.

#19 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 12:39 PM

Too bad he cannot just foul off pitches to get one he likes. Kind of like other great batting champs Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs used to do. Heck he could learn a little something from AJ about extending AB's and not being a coward and taking walk to put the pressure on Willingham and Morneau to drive in the runs.

In other words if you want to not swing the bat become the leadoff hitter or #2 hitter and leave the 3 hole to someone who wants to swing the bat.



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#20 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 01:00 PM

Heck he could learn a little something from AJ about extending AB's


Mauer takes 4.31 pitches per plate appearance, good for 3rd in the AL.

Pierzynski takes 3.48 pitches per plate apperance, good for 72nd in the AL.

But hey, we shouldn't allow facts to get in the way of a point.

#21 Thrylos

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 01:08 PM

I cannot see how anyone gets criticized for getting on base in front of Willingham. If anything needs to be criticized is the bunt attempt with 2 on and no outs that did not work. But I guess people are used to smallball and not to taking walks and waiting for the bomb
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#22 JB_Iowa

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:05 PM

I wish people would appreciate Joe Mauer for what he is instead of trying to make him into the type of streaky player who makes dumb mistakes and is frustrating to watch day in and day out.


And therein lies my problem with Joe Mauer. Logically, I can appreciate his performance. Emotionally, his performance leaves me stone cold.

I don't anticipate his plate appearances. I could care less whether he wins another batting title. He comes up to bat and I say "meh". I know that he will probably take the first pitch. I know that he will work the count. There is simply no element of surprise or emotion. That's the way he plays -- emotionlessly. And that's the way it leaves me -- emotionless.

I don't dislike him. I don't like him either. I really just don't care about him.

And that is a sad thing to say about your favorite team's "star".

#23 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:36 PM

I wish people would appreciate Joe Mauer for what he is instead of trying to make him into the type of streaky player who makes dumb mistakes and is frustrating to watch day in and day out.


And therein lies my problem with Joe Mauer. Logically, I can appreciate his performance. Emotionally, his performance leaves me stone cold.

I don't anticipate his plate appearances. I could care less whether he wins another batting title. He comes up to bat and I say "meh". I know that he will probably take the first pitch. I know that he will work the count. There is simply no element of surprise or emotion. That's the way he plays -- emotionlessly. And that's the way it leaves me -- emotionless.

I don't dislike him. I don't like him either. I really just don't care about him.

And that is a sad thing to say about your favorite team's "star".


Mauer is a pretty emotionless guy. I don't think he's a terribly exciting player to watch either. He never gets upset, never throws anything, just kind of goes about his day at and behind the plate.

On the other hand, while he's not the most exciting guy to watch, he's one of the best players in all of baseball. I'll take the guy who just "goes about his day" and piles up walks and hits compared to the guy who screams, yells, and breaks his bat on the way to a 200 strikeout season.

Joe Mauer is a very good baseball player and might be the greatest hit-for-average catcher in all of MLB history. He's an incredible talent.

And yet people around here want to change the guy and how he approaches hitting. How is that considered smart?

#24 Celebrity Weddings!

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:51 PM

White Sox fans used to say the same thing about Frank Thomas. In a few years, he'll be in the Hall of Fame and they'll be finishing fourth in the cornhole tournament their cousin Sean holds in his driveway in Evergreen Park.

I think there's a lesson for all of us there: Don't go to Evergreen Park.

#25 Bark's Lounge

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:53 PM

[quote name='Brock Beauchamp'][quote name='JB_Iowa'][quote name='Brock Beauchamp'] I wish people would appreciate Joe Mauer for what he is instead of trying to make him into the type of streaky player who makes dumb mistakes and is frustrating to watch day in and day out.[/QUOTE]

And therein lies my problem with Joe Mauer. Logically, I can appreciate his performance. Emotionally, his performance leaves me stone cold.

I don't anticipate his plate appearances. I could care less whether he wins another batting title. He comes up to bat and I say "meh". I know that he will probably take the first pitch. I know that he will work the count. There is simply no element of surprise or emotion. That's the way he plays -- emotionlessly. And that's the way it leaves me -- emotionless.

I don't dislike him. I don't like him either. I really just don't care about him.

And that is a sad thing to say about your favorite team's "star".[/QUOTE]

Mauer is a pretty emotionless guy. I don't think he's a terribly exciting player to watch either. He never gets upset, never throws anything, just kind of goes about his day at and behind the plate.

On the other hand, while he's not the most exciting guy to watch, he's one of the best players in all of baseball. I'll take the guy who just "goes about his day" and piles up walks and hits compared to the guy who screams, yells, and breaks his bat on the way to a 200 strikeout season.

Joe Mauer is a very good baseball player and might be the greatest hit-for-average catcher in all of MLB history. He's an incredible talent.

And yet people around here want to change the guy and how he approaches hitting. How is that considered smart?[/QUOTE]

Nice one Brock/RP. Sometimes it takes a player to leave the team for the fans to realize what they had and regret what they lost. It seems like a lot of fans have become jaded with Mauer and expect him to perform acts of unrealistic proportion. He is the best player on this team - bar none. I am assuming someone will throw his salary in my face after posting this.:)

#26 peterb18

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:04 PM

[quote name='gunnarthor']Without reading the article or watching the game, I understand what Joe C is trying to get at - for 23m, you want a guy in the three hole who is looking to drive in runs when he has the opportunity, esp late in a game, instead of putting it on someone else. Joe's a great hitter but that'll always be the criticism of him. He's not perfect but he is what he is, at this point, and that's probably not going to change.

I agree with the above statement. If Joe were batting in the 2nd position we wouldn't be having this discussion.

#27 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:14 PM

Joe Mauer is a very good baseball player and might be the greatest hit-for-average catcher in all of MLB history. He's an incredible talent.

And yet people around here want to change the guy and how he approaches hitting. How is that considered smart?


Don't you think that a good hitter's approach changes with the circumstances of the game? Wanting your best hitter to swing and hit at least one of the two strikes he watches -- to hit to score one run with two outs in the ninth is not the same as wanting him to change his overall approach to hitting.

Willingham's general approach is to put a power swing on any pitch over the plate... swinging for a home run/power every chance he can. I really hope his approach in his final at bat was not that, but to get on base, get that one run home. See the difference?

Kind feel like I have to say that Mauer is the best Twins since Kirby Puckett now -- get the bona fides out there -- to head off silly responses that I hate, am overly critical or just can't say something nice about Joe.
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#28 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:17 PM



Joe Mauer is a very good baseball player and might be the greatest hit-for-average catcher in all of MLB history. He's an incredible talent.

And yet people around here want to change the guy and how he approaches hitting. How is that considered smart?


Don't you think that a good hitter's approach changes with the circumstances of the game? Wanting you best hitter to swing and hit at least one of the two strikes he watches -- to hit to score one run with two outs in the ninth is not the same as wanting him to change his overall approach to hitting.

Willingham's general approach is to put a power swing on any pitch over the plate... swinging for a home run/power every chance he can. I really hope his approach in his final at bat was not that, but to get on base, get that one run home. See the difference?

Kind feel like I have to say that Mauer is the best Twins since Kirby Puckett now -- get the bona fides out there -- to head off silly responses that I hate, am overly critical or just can't say something nice about Joe.


It's my opinion that when you have a talent like Joe Mauer, you let him decide which pitches to hit. If he had weakly grounded out to second, the board would have been up in arms, yet that's essentially what some were advocating he try to do. If he had been given "his pitch", I really doubt that bat would have stayed on his shoulder. A guy doesn't rack up a career BA of ~.320 by hoping to take a walk in every AB.

It's not as if the guy is a wilting flower who buckles at the first sign of pressure. He has come through in plenty of spots for the team and sometimes, "coming up with the big play" means taking a walk if you don't get the right pitch and giving your masher a favorable situation in which to hit.

#29 one_eyed_jack

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:18 PM

I'll take the guy who just "goes about his day" and piles up walks and hits compared to the guy who screams, yells, and breaks his bat on the way to a 200 strikeout season.




---Me too, and so would any rational fan. The Milton Bradley routine of daily tantrums gets old pretty quick.

#30 jokin

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 03:23 PM

I'll take the guy who just "goes about his day" and piles up walks and hits compared to the guy who screams, yells, and breaks his bat on the way to a 200 strikeout season.




---Me too, and so would any rational fan. The Milton Bradley routine of daily tantrums gets old pretty quick.


I looked it up. This wildly veering and swerving "extremes approach" to making a counter-point is the NHS-certified 2nd most likely cause of whiplash.