Monday, May 13, 2013
Mauer's hot streaks and chasing doubles
Things started well in the first couple weeks of the season. Through 14 games, he was hitting .393/.439/.574 with two home runs and five doubles. His batting average was high, he was hitting the ball out of the park, and the Twins team was surprising experts with their .500 record.
It was quite as pretty at the plate for Mr. Mauer over the next 12 games. His batting numbers plummeted to .136/.269/.159 with only one extra-base hit and 12 strikeouts. He almost seemed like he was lost at the plate and the team suffered because of his streak. Minnesota went 5-7 over these games before Mauer finally snapped out of his cold spell.
The friendly confines of Fenway Park were a welcome sight to Mauer. He put on an offensive clinic in Boston and he was back to being on another hot streak. Over the last seven games, Mauer has been impressive to say the least. He has hit .533/.600/.833 with nine doubles and 10 runs scored. The Twins have also improved during this stretch by going 4-3 to push the team back near the .500 mark.
Even with a cold streak, Mauer sees himself near the top of the leader board in multiple categories. He ranks second in all of baseball with 15 doubles and Mike Napoli is only two doubles ahead of him. His on-base percentage is good enough for 8th in baseball and it ranks 6th best in the American League.
Since Mauer has already won multiple batting titles, the race for the batting crown can be a fun one to watch. Mauer's recent hot streak has him up near the top of the leader board. After Sunday's two-hit effort, Mauer has a .341 batting average. This places him behind Miguel Cabrera (.379) and James Loney (.376).
Cabrera is the defending batting champ so he will probably stay near the top of this list for most of the season. Loney has never hit higher than .289 in a complete season and he is a career .285 hitter. There is a good chance Loney won't be able to keep up this pace for the entire campaign.
Some other important metrics have him highly ranked. Out of all of the position players in baseball, he has the 10th best WAR. There are plenty of National League players near the top of this list so Mauer is good enough for 5th on the AL list of WAR for positional players.
Many fans are going to be happy with the increase in power from Mauer this season. His career record for doubles is 43 back in his MVP season of 2010. With 15 doubles in 33 games this year, he is well on his way to breaking that record. His personal home run record of 28 looks safe unless he goes on a weird batting streak during the rest of the season.
With the weather starting to warm up, it will be interesting to see if some of his long doubles end up turning into home runs. Target Field has never been a great place to showcase Mauer's home run power but some of the team's road trips could allow for this to happen. The MLB record for doubles in a season is 67 (currently held by Earl Webb) and Mauer has a chance to break that mark if he continues on his current pace.
Mauer is one of the best hitters in the game of baseball. There are going to be hot and cold streaks for any hitter in a season that is 162 games long. At the end of the year, Mauer will be near the top of the leader board in batting average and on-base percentage. He has been an on-base machine when he has been healthy in his MLB career.
If there is hotter hitting than cold streaks during the rest of the season, the MLB record for doubles could fall. It might not be the most important record in the world but it could something fun to follow during the rest of the summer.
Watch out Mr. Webb, Mauer is coming for you!