Minnesota Twins top 2017 moments: Joe Mauer’s resurgence

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 15: Joe Mauer
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 15: Joe Mauer /

The Minnesota Twins had an incredible run to the playoffs in 2017. Let’s remember some of the best moments of the year!

The Minnesota Twins had an incredibly fun season to follow as a fan. To close out the calendar year of 2017, we will take a look back at some of the biggest moments of the season!

Our next moment really happened throughout the season as Joe Mauer re-established himself on both sides of the ball as one of the best hitters in the game and an elite defender at first base. However, on an August night in Detroit, he showed all of it in one game!

Mauer’s 2017 season

Mauer has struggled since the concussion issues that forced his move to first base. A career .323/.405/.468 hitter when the move happened, Mauer has not hit .280, gotten on base at a .365 clip, or slugged .400 since the move to first.

In 2017, he saw a significant improvement in all of those numbers, as he hit .305/.384/.417 on the season with 36 doubles and 7 home runs. Where he saw the most improvement was in his defense, though.

In his first few seasons at first base, Mauer was roughly league average at the position, showing very sure hands, but not great range. In 2017, he blew that out of the water, showing excellent hands (4.1 error runs saved), but the most impressive was his jump in range metrics. His UZR/150 topped out at 2.0 in his first three years at first base, but in 2017, he posted a tremendous 9.1 rating.

The game

The game on August 12th in Detroit was in the midst of the Twins surge back into relevance in the playoff race, and they entered the game leading the 2nd Wild Card spot in the AL, in spite of being just 2 games over .500. They’d drop back to just a game over .500 in this game in a crazy game overall, but it was a great show of Mauer’s impressive play on the season.

Jose Berrios struggled with his stuff in the first inning, giving up a grand slam on the way to a 5-run first inning, and the Twins bounced back to support him as he settled in starting in the 2nd inning.

Mauer opened the Twins attack on the day in the top of the 3rd inning with a sound double to the left-center gap that scored three runs. He came up in the top of the 4th with a pair of runners on and hit a ball that appeared out off the bat and was caught right at the wall, just missing a 3-run home run.

In the top of the 6th inning, he made sure he wasn’t denied that home run, going to one of the deepest parts of the park in the left-center gap with an opposite-field 2-run home run. Then in the bottom of the 6th, he flashed the leather:

Mauer came up in the bottom of the 7th and rolled over a pitch for a groundout. His final plate appearance of the day came in the top of the 9th inning as the Twins attempted to make one final push, up 11-10. Mauer walked in his final plate appearance to load the bases before Miguel Sano struck out to end the 9th. The Tigers would walk off in the bottom of the 9th with a 12-11 win.

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Mauer had an excellent May, with a .346/.442/.531 line, but his excellent finish to the season in the #2 hole in the lineup was a crucial part to the Twins’ success to finish the season. He combined in the final two months to hit .340.404/.459 with 17 doubles over 55 games.

Mauer finished as the 2017 Minnesota Twins team leader in batting average, on base, and he had the lowest strikeout rate of any qualified hitter.

Mauer also provided the team with valuable veteran leadership on a young roster, pairing well with the more vocal Chris Gimenez as veteran leaders within the clubhouse.

Next: How offseason deals affect the Twins' plans

Mauer finished the season in some pretty elite territory in Twins history. Here’s where he ranks in Twins franchise history:

  • Games played: 4th, 54 away from 2nd place, 209 from 1st place
  • Runs: 3rd, 94 from 2nd, 117 from 1st
  • Hits: 3rd, 100 from 2nd, 319 from 1st
  • Doubles: 2nd, 14 from 1st
  • RBI: 5th, 73 from 4th, 211 from 3rd
  • Walks: 2nd, 434 from 1st
  • Average: 4th, .005 from 3rd, .027 from 1st
  • On Base: 2nd, .003 from 1st
  • Runs Created: 3rd, 67 from 2nd, 211 from 1st
  • bWAR: 3rd, 0.5 from 2nd, 10.4 from 1st

Whether Mauer returns after the 2018 season will determine if he is able to achieve the top of a number of these lists, but he could move up on many of them during the 2018 season.