#1. It was a 2-0 pitch. In a late situation where a HR wins the game. This has nothing to do with a "bad at bat." What's the worst that could happen? He doesn't hit a HR?
It's bad baseball NOT to sit on a pitch and try to pull it over the fence.
#2. If Rosario walks in that situation, it's up to an obviously hurting Buxton, against a RH pitcher. If Rosario ends up walking, after never getting a pitch to hit or fouling off the ones he gets, I have no problem with that. But the Twins are NOT in a better position if Rosario walks. And that exact situation applies to Mauer ABs as well. Take a walk when it's the right thing to do? No problem. Take a walk when the next hitter(s) have a lesser chance of driving in a run? I don't think that's smart baseball.
#3. Nobody is saying there's no abstract value in getting on base. I'm saying there are situations where it makes more sense to look for a pitch to hit. Don't get it? Fine. But if you do? You should be hacking, and hacking hard.
#4 Mauer never takes a bad AB? C'mon. BTW, "never changing" doesn't make him a "consummate professional." It makes him someone who can't or won't adjust to the situation. Running the ball, down 10 with 2 minutes left in a football game, just because you're good at it doesn't make you a professional, either. It just means you don't understand the situation.
#1: We're not talking about one at bat last night, we're talking about late-inning at bats in general. We can all remember Eddie taking some terrible at bats in that exact situation. Like last week. His approach last night was great - that's the player he is and he's never going to be Mauer. But Mauer isn't going to be Eddie and that isn't a problem either.
#2: No way that Buxton hits in that situation. They'd bring in Vargas/Granite etc. to hit lefty. And I think you've lost your mind when you say he shouldn't walk. It would be a way better situation - you'd move the runner into scoring position on a single. Let's look at it this way - if San Diego let Molly choose whether or not Rosario gets intentionally walked in that situation, he'd say yes every time. That should tell you about "smart baseball".
#4: I can't remember an at-bat where I was like, "Man, Mauer had a terrible approach and looked lost." He's been through slumps, he hits too many ground balls etc. - but he never looks lost up there. You never get that Torii/Buxton/Rosario feeling on an 0-2 where everyone knows the pitcher is going to throw a slider down and away and ______ is going to swing as hard as they can and miss it by six inches.
That's what I mean by Joe Mauer, Professional Hitter. He takes professional at bats. Always. And that is frustrating when you want him to swing for the fences late in a game but you have to step back and realize that's just not who he is and that what he is has incredible value.