Posted at 8:30 PM on September 3, 2007
by Chris Dall
Well, I had been planning my "Are we bored with Joe Mauer yet?" entry when David beat me to the punch, but there's a lot to talk about here on the subject of the hometown hero, especially on the heels of Jim Souhan's column in today's Strib.
For starters, I think Mauer deserves a bit of a pass for this year, because it seems clear now that he hasn't really been healthy. His willingness to play through pain notwithstanding, I think the quad injury has affected him at the plate. So I think he's a better hitter than he's shown this year, and while he may not win another batting title, my guess is that we can expect him to put up better numbers than he has this year. His swing, his discipline at the plate, and his eye are just too good.
But the real issue, as has been noted, is that he's been built up by the organization (and our local media) to be a special talent. Well, a guy who hits above .300, gives you 5-10 home runs and 60-80 rbi's isn't really all that special. Yes, those numbers are rare for a good defensive catcher, but it's not like they're unprecedented. Jason Kendall put up similar numbers for the Pirates for his first few years. And check out Jorge Posada's numbers.
Which brings me to the suggestion, made by Jim Souhan today and by many others in the past, that Mauer change positions in order to stay on the field. In theory, yes, having Mauer in the lineup every day is a good thing. But his offensive numbers stand out even less at third base, a traditional power position (insert your favorite Nick Punto joke here). And yes, less wear and tear could mean better offensive numbers for Joe, but there's no guarantee of that. In the end, maybe he's just a line drive hitter with a really good eye who cares more about spraying the ball around the field than putting the ball over the fence. Maybe he's Wade Boggs reincarnated. And that's fine, but if that's the case, then his highest value is at the position he's playing now, until it becomes painfully clear that his body can't take it anymore.