Mauer's dearth of power a symbol of homer-light Twins
Joe Mauer's celebrated career is synonymous with pursuits and achievements of the record-setting variety. But said records aren't normally (if ever) of the inauspicious ilk.
To wit: Jason Kubel's dual bombs in the Twins' 8-2 stomping of the Yanks yesterday may have ended the club's nine day power-outage, but while Mauer collected a single in the needed win his own homer drought continues.
Can a guy be knocked for hitting .338 and charting sixth in the A.L. in batting while also owning a stellar .406 On Base percentage?
Historically, Mauer has always been more Pete Rose than Pete Incaviglia and -- despite his impressive frame -- we've come to grips with historic achievements in batting average in lieu of power. But after bombing a career-best 28 HR's last year after never before accruing 14 in his four previous full seasons, perhaps we've come to expect the best of all worlds.
Yet, with just one homer since the second game of the season, Mauer -- should he play in 135 games this year -- is tracking for just 7 home runs for 2010. Again: Mauer isn't alone in the Twins' search for power. After hitting a measured 23 HR's in April, the Twins as a club have rocked a mere 17 in May, bad for 12th in the American League this month. Of those 17, nine have come from Kubel and Justin Morneau.
This isn't a rip on Mauer. Hell, if the guy hits .340 with a .420 OBP and 7 home runs this year while playing his stellar defense behind the dish, that would serve as a season of continued excellence. Anyone who doesn't dig that kind of campaign should have his melon checked for heat exhaustion -- even considering the bocu dollars that Mauer is set to start earning next season.
But just to throw a little white ash on the fire, here's where Mauer's currently-predicted 7 homers would chart in fewest bombs hit after an MVP season since the A.L. went to 162 games in 1961 and the N.L. followed in '62. Note that this does include strike seasons, and obviously excludes pitchers. In addition, any baller not appearing in 70 percent of games the season ensuing was excluded:
Fewest Home Runs hit the Year After MVP Season
1. (After 1962 N.L. MVP) Maury Wills: 0 in '63
2. (After 1973 N.L. MVP) Pete Rose: 3 in '74
3. (After 1977 A.L. MVP) Rod Carew: 5 in '78
4. (tie) (After 1965 A.L. MVP) Zoilo Versalles: 7 in '66
(After 1985 N.L. MVP) Willie McGee: 7 in '86
6. (After 2001 A.L. MVP) Ichiro Suzuki: 8 in '02
7. (After 1975 A.L. MVP) Fred Lynn: 10 in '76
8. (tie) (After 1971 N.L. MVP) Joe Torre: 11 in '72
(After 2007 N.L. MVP) Jimmy Rollins: 11 in '08
10. (After 1963 N.L. MVP) Ken Boyer: 13 in '64
Of course, the MVP isn't always about home runs but historically it's often among the top criteria. Moreover, there are plenty of admitted and/or suspected juicers on the MVP list, so that has to be taken into consideration as well.
Personally, given the anticipated boost in ball flight that should come with Target Field's
summer weather, I think the Boys will find their punch collectively and with a big series or two this power-outage will become a conversation that will fade before the All Star break. And that includes Mauer. The drop in long balls raises a slight concern at present, but I still think he'll conclude 2010 in the neighborhood of 15 bombs.
A Twins' surge would surprise few if it began this weekend against the Rangers. Texas arrives with an A.L. West-leading 26-21 mark, but to the delight of Twins' muscle, the Rangers staff has yielded 52 HR's, the fifth most in all of baseball.
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