Monday, October 10, 2016

Contemplating Joe Mauer, web addition

The Monday print column considered the outlook for Joe Mauer. A tangent I skipped in that piece for space reasons:

On Aug. 16, Joe Mauer went 3-for-4 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored. The run he didn't score on the homer appears to have wrecked the rest of his season. He injured his right quadriceps scoring from first base on a double. As he tried to play with the injury, he strained the left quad, which left him with two gimpy legs.

At the end of that game, Mauer's slash line was .284/.384/.417. These are not MVP-quality numbers, to be sure, but they compare pretty favorably with most AL first basemen. An OPS of .801, had he maintained it for the rest of the year, would have ranked him fourth among the 10 qualifiers at the position, above such luminaries as Eric Hosmer and Chris Davis.

But, of course, he didn't maintain that rate. The rest of the season, Mauer slashed .146/.255/.244.

As the season wound down, the dwindling viewers of FSN's broadcasts could hear Bert Blyleven opine that an offseason's rest and rehab would get Mauer back into condition to perform at a high level again. The problem with that optimism: He'll be 34 before next April is over. He played the bulk of his career at a physically punishing position. Leg injuries probably aren't a fluke for him now.

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