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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.