Where’s the Mauer Power?

We’re two months into this season and Joe Mauer has been largely invisible. Sure he’s hitting .318 with a .392 on-base-percentage and, while both are very good numbers, they are below his career averages. And more importantly, where is the power?

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Many like to focus on Mauer’s three batting titles in the past four years and for good reason, but let’s not kid ourselves, the reason he won the AL MVP last year and got an insane 8-year, $184 million contract extension is because he started hitting homeruns – 28 in just 138 games. Maybe that was a fluke. Heading into tonight’s game at Oakland, the St. Paul native has just 2 dingers in 166 at-bats. He’s on pace for a measly 7 in 2010.

Not counting 2009, Mauer has 2,229 big league at-bats and has hit only 46 homers. I know he brings a lot to the game, including gold glove caliber defense, but when you make over $20 million annually you need to provide a substantial amount of power. There is just no debating that point. While the homers may not be there so far, Mauer is on pace for 50 doubles which is nice, but 80 RBI which is good, not great. To prove my point, let’s compare Mauer to another Twin who has also not lived up to expectations so far.

Jason Kubel’s .228 batting average is ugly and after hitting .300 last season, very disappointing. Kubel however does have 6 homers and 30 RBI in 148 at-bats. He’s on pace for 20 and 100, so when he does get hits, it makes a difference. The guy has single handedly beaten the Yankees twice. Can you think of any single game where Mauer has carried his team in 2010? I can’t.

I am not trying to run our beloved hometown hero out of town, but I think now that the Twins have basically mortgaged their franchise on him, it is time for us to be honest about Mauer and judge his performance more objectively. The honeymoon is over; he’s a (by far) the highest paid player on team with a new, publically financed stadium that needs to do more than win a mediocre division. Like a wise man once said, “Mo money, mo problems”, or maybe in this case, “mo pressure.”

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