Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer – A (Fraction of a) Season in Review
By Henry Hughes
Joe Mauer has been the face of the Minnesota Twins franchise for a while now. Let’s take a look at his 2017 season thus far.
It is no secret that Joe Mauer has provided a strong source of debate for Minnesota Twins fans over the past few years. Between his rookie season in 2004 and his last All-Star appearance in 2013, Mauer batted .323.
Between 2014 and 2016 Mauer batted .267, decreasing his career average to .308. This decrease in production has led many to doubt his potential as an offensive asset moving forward.
This season, Mauer started out slow, batting below .200 for much of the first few weeks. As of late, his hitting has picked up, hitting safely in his last 8 games, raising his season average to .260.
In addition to this success, Mauer hit his first walk-off home run on May 5th, silencing many skeptics for at least a short while. After this recent blossom of energy, the burning question remains whether Mauer can continue his success over the course of a season—much like he used to.
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Over the past couple of seasons, Mauer has performed below his once-stable .300 production. He has also been relatively streaky. Some instances early in the season his average would briefly spike above that now-elusive .300 mark.
Then the streaks would abruptly end and Mauer would sink below that elite level. This season, Mauer has yet to hit above that mark, but his recent success might lead to a trend toward the milestone. Only time will tell.
Something that has visibly improved this season has been relatively intangible statistically. The general attitude Mauer has brought to the plate has seemingly changed to become more aggressive.
Hitting his first walk-off home run after 14 seasons in the majors showcased this fact. In addition, Mauer showed a bit of fire in a plate appearance where he struck out looking on a controversial pitch.
Outside of the Diamond
Mauer made an appearance on MLB Network to promote the Twins’ Hope Week charity, showing a vested commitment to the community that is often doubted.
He is typically labeled by fans as somewhat passive. Although, Mauer has shown signs of leadership through enthusiasm. Clubhouse behavior that exudes enthusiasm brings energy to the team that has not been seen in Minnesota since Torii Hunter hung up his cleats.
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Although Mauer’s numbers in 2017 lag behind the lofty expectations placed upon him, his recent hitting power points to a possible resurgence. Or just another streak early in the season. Aside from the statistical side of his game, Mauer’s recent attitude has shown signs of leadership. If this continues, the Twins could have a spark in the clubhouse that serves as an intangible motivator for success.