I hesitate to weigh in because I appreciate so much of what Mauer offered this franchise, and was fortunate to be at his emotional final game...what a terrific moment in Twins history when he came out in his catcher's gear! But I agree with the minority here who see Mauer's retirement as clear addition by subtraction, albeit for a different reason. Mauer was not a rah rah type clubhouse leader, but he was the face of the franchise and THE guy whom our young players wanted to emulate.It seemed to me that "plate patience" and working the count was the calling card of the Twins offense during the Mauer era, because that was the way Joe approached an at bat. That led to a legacy of taking first pitch strikes that too often were the best pitch the hitter saw (yes, I'm looking at you too, Robbie Grossman).
While Cron over Mauer is definitely a step up in offensive production (without sacrificing too much on the defensive side), the real upgrade for this team is that Nelson Cruz is now the quiet leader that our young players look up to, and Nelson's approach to hitting is 180 degrees removed from Joe's.I don't know for sure, but I suspect Nelson is telling (or more likely, showing)the youngsters to not let a good pitch go by, even if it's the first one.Pitchers love to get ahead in the count, and often they try to do that by putting a fast ball right down Broadway.While the Mauer Era Twins invariably took that pitch, the 2019 edition is ready to hack at the first good pitch they see.This morning's Strib told us that 15 of Yelich's 21 home runs this season have come on the first or second pitch.Similarly, we've seen the Twins swing at that first fastball or hanging curve more than previous years, and the results have been astonishing.
Mauer's absence is certainly not the only reason for our hitting resurgence...we have a new crop of hitters that our brain trust brought in, and a new manager too (the hitting coach is unchanged).But I have thought all year that the change in hitting philosophy due to players now not thinking that they have to "hit like Joe (or Robbie)" is the main reason for the incredible power show this year.The worst year I ever had at the plate was a season playing for a manager that insisted we take the first pitch...I spent the entire season in an 0-2 hole and swinging defensively. Now that swinging at a first pitch fastball is no longer a "sin", we see a team attacking the first hittable pitch they see.And man has it been fun!