A few months ago I speculated that it would be a good thing if Joe Mauer came into the 2012 season a little angry and feeling like he had something to prove. According to Twins writer Rhett Bollinger, that may be exactly what is happening. Due to nagging injuries, Mauer didn’t squat down and catch live pitchers until the middle of March last year, but he has already reached that milestone this year. And he admits he’s out to prove his doubters wrong, saying that he has a “chip on [his] shoulder.” I would hate to get my hopes up too early in Spring Training, but I think this is a very good sign.
Speaking of Mauer, Call to the Pen put out a piece yesterday comparing his 2012 comeback attempt to that of Giants catcher Buster Posey, who broke his leg on a play at the plate last May. It’s an interesting comparison and one that deserves watching this season. Mauer was the 2009 AL MVP while Posey was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year. Posey is a fresh-faced 24 year old who has yet to play a full MLB season, but Mauer is not exactly over the hill at age 28. When at their peaks, they are arguably the two best hitting catchers in the game, and they’ve put up some fairly similar numbers the past two seasons. Mauer’s OPS fell from .871 in 2010 to .729 in ’11, while Posey dropped from .862 to .756. And both suffered a power drought before injuries ended their seasons: Mauer hit just three homers in 296 at bats compared to Posey’s four in 162. Power is more important to Posey’s game than that of Mauer, who is a threat to put up a .400 OBP in any given season. But both men are catchers, which means it is critical for them to have strong legs under them.
By the way, San Francisco fans are fighting out the same controversy about Posey switching positions that we’ve been hearing about Mauer for the last few years, complete with the manager denying plans to move him in the near future. In many ways, Posey is Mauer’s version of the Bizzaro Jerry from Seinfeld. Except the Bizzaro Mauer won a World Series a year and a half ago. Some things just aren’t fair!
After you’re done reading the Call to the Pen piece, make sure you hop over to Seedlings to Stars and read the latest piece on Brian Dozier. You may recall that Dozier earned the 77th slot on S2S writer Nathaniel Stoltz’s Top 100 prospect list, three slots ahead of teammate Liam Hendriks. Stoltz says he “might’ve been a bit aggressive” by ranking Dozier that high, but that it’s reasonable to put him in the lower half of the top 100. I think Dozier is a solid prospect, and I don’t have a problem with his ranking. His productivity reminds me a lot of Jason Bartlett’s minor league numbers, and if Dozier turned into another Bartlett, that would definitely justify his #77 slot. But I can also see why some would disagree with putting him on the list. 2011 was the first year Dozier really started to hit, so he’ll have to prove this year that he can keep it up, or he’ll never be on a Top 100 list again.