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Twins Fan From Afar

Joe Mauer and Runners in Scoring Position

Rating: 2 votes, 3.00 average.
Though he had 2 hits last night, Joe Mauer came up
short when it counted the most.
[Originally published at Twins Fan From Afar]


Regardless of what some people in Twins Territory might think, the fact of the matter is that Joe Mauer has been very solid in his career when there are runners in scoring position. You might even call him "clutch," if you are one who believes that such a thing as clutch hitting exists. For his career, Mauer is a .323 hitter. When there are runners in scoring position, he's a .339 hitter. When there are runners in scoring position and 2 outs, Mauer becomes a .348 hitter. There's data from 2004-2012 backing those stats up, so it's anything but a small sample size at this point.


Thus far in 2012, Mauer is batting .313, with 1 home run and 9 RBIs. He has played in every game this season, which is a great sign. It's an even better sign that he's playing, and being productive. Still, though, it's easy to remember a few occasions during the first month of 2012 where Mauer failed to get a runner home from third with less than two outs. One incident, of course, was last night, following Jamey Carroll's leadoff triple in the bottom of the 8th inning. The game was tied at 5, and I thought the Twins were going to win it. After working the count to 3-and-2, Mauer helplessly flailed at the next pitch and bounced out weakly to first base. I'm not sure how he didn't break his bat or throw his helmet in the dugout in disgust. But it had to be frustrating. The other game that comes to mind was the Twins' great come-from-behind victory over the Angels a couple weeks ago at Target Field, when both Mauer and Morneau failed to get a runner on third home. The Twins won that game, though, and Mauer and Morneau both homered, so presumably all was forgiven.


But still -- in this short sample size of April, 2012, doesn't it feel like Mauer has stranded a higher-than-normal percentage of runners in scoring position? After all, over the past 5 games, the team is batting .170 (8-for-47) with runners in scoring position. Well, it turns out that Mauer is consistent -- even this early in the season -- in that his average with runners in scoring position is higher than his batting average. He's batting .412 (7-for-17) with runners in scoring position this season, and an even .400 (2-for-5) with runners in scoring position and two outs. Small sample size, yes, but given the several years of career data, it seems that Mauer is doing what he always has done: perform better when it matters most. It's interesting, though, because I went to bed thinking about this question, and fully expected that his average with runners in scoring position would be very low this season. It's funny what your brain focuses on. Still, though, the Twins need Mauer to be consistently great when runners are on, and he wasn't last night. It cost them a run, and possibly the game. Despite having 2 hits and a walk before the failed 8th inning at-bat, hopefully Mauer will come back with a chip on his shoulder tonight.


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A quick New Britain Rock Cats update. In chilly conditions last night, the Rock Cats lost the series opener to the Portland Sea Dogs 5-3, despite outhitting Portland 10-8 and being the recipient of 2 Sea Dogs errors. Starter Steve Hirschfeld took his first loss of the season -- in fact, the first loss of the season for a New Britain starter. He went 5 and 2/3 innings, gave up 5 earned runs on 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 3. He's 2-1 on the season now, and his ERA stands at 2.78. Blake Martin, David Bromberg and Luis Perdomo were almost perfect out of the bullpen, which is a good sign. The trio allowed no hits, walked 3 and struck out two. On offense, Evan Bigley and Estarlin De Los Santos each had 2 hits, and Chris Herrmann, Aaron Hicks, Deibinson Romero, Pedro Florimon, Nathan Hanson and Mark Dolenc all tallied 1 hit. Hanson, who had a double, drove in 2 runs, and Romero was responsible for the other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Much like their parent club, the Rock Cats scuffled with runners in scoring position, going 2-for-12. They will be back in action tonight. I plan to attend the game, so expect a better re-cap and some pictures tomorrow.


Finally, it was also announced that the Rock Cats placed starter Alex Wimmers on the disabled list with a right elbow strain. When I heard the announcement on AM radio, I believe the organization referred to the 7 day disabled list. The DL trip is no surprise, as Wimmers has not pitched since April 9. Here is the press release. Hopefully it's just a minor strain, and he has a speedy recovery.

Updated 04-24-2012 at 03:05 PM by Twins Fan From Afar

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Comments

  1. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
    Mauer did look upset on his way back to the dugout. I am going to the game tonight and I expect he will come out with something to prove. I enjoyed your analysis. After reading this, I got to thinking about the following question. I wonder what Mauer's career numbers with RISP would show when you factor the score of the game and inning into the equation. For example, do the numbers hold when he comes up with RISP in a close game in the 7th inning or later? I don't know these stats off the top of my head, but I am guessing his average is still good but maybe not quite as great as his overall batting average with RISP. I love Mauer and always have so I am excited to see him healthy and producing.
    Updated 04-24-2012 at 09:36 AM by TwinsGuy55422
  2. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinsGuy55422
    Mauer did look upset on his way back to the dugout. I am going to the game tonight and I expect he will come out with something to prove. I enjoyed your analysis. After reading this, I got to thinking about the following question. I wonder what Mauer's career numbers with RISP would show when you factor the score of the game and inning into the equation. For example, do the numbers hold when he comes up with RISP in a close game in the 7th inning or later? I don't know these stats off the top of my head, but I am guessing his average is still good but maybe not quite as great as his overall batting average with RISP. I love Mauer and always have so I am excited to see him healthy and producing.
    That is a fantastic question. Definitely deserving of its own post. I don't have an exact answer. Looking on fangraphs, they have a stat called Clutch. Here's how they define it:
    "Clutch measures how well a player performed in high leverage situations. Its calculated as such:
    Clutch = (WPA / pLI) WPA/LI
    In the words of David Appelman, this calculation measures, how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment. It also compares a player against himself, so a player who hits .300 in high leverage situations when hes an overall .300 hitter is not considered clutch.
    Clutch does a good job of describing the past, but it does very little towards predicting the future. Simply because one player was clutch at one point does not mean they will continue to perform well in high-leverage situations (and vice versa). Very few players have the ability to be consistently clutch over the course of their careers, and choking in one season does not beget the same in the future."

    They go on to say the majority of players scale between 1 and -1, with 0 being average. So where does Mauer figure on their scale? Very good.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx...ion=C#advanced

    Scroll down to the "Win Probability" section, and it's all the way on the right. For his career, he's at a .99, just .01 below "great," according to Fangraphs. For this season, though, he's at a -.25 -- just below average.

    I'm not sure that I really buy into this stat. It doesn't completely answer your question about how he does in high leverage RISP situations, either, but it's at the very least interesting.
  3. TwinsGuy55422's Avatar
    Thanks for checking into that. Those are interesting findings.
  4. TwinsFanLV's Avatar
    I think you must be campaigning for a job as the Twins' chief apologist. Ther is only one stat that counts. wins! Runner on third, less than 2 outs, $23 million, home town, Head and Shoulders boy at the plate....fails!

    The Twins are 5-12. Any in depth analyisis on that? Or are you "glad" they aren't starting too fast?
  5. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TwinsFanLV
    I think you must be campaigning for a job as the Twins' chief apologist. Ther is only one stat that counts. wins! Runner on third, less than 2 outs, $23 million, home town, Head and Shoulders boy at the plate....fails!

    The Twins are 5-12. Any in depth analyisis on that? Or are you "glad" they aren't starting too fast?
    I think it's abundantly clear that Mauer, Willingham and Doumit failed last night.
    Does the fact that Mauer is now paid $23 million a year, and is now a spokesman for Head and Shoulders, make it more likely that he will drive that run in, as compared to when he was making league minimum, or $12 million a season, or before he was a paid spokesman?

    I'm not sure why you are so snarky. I'm no apologist for this team -- they're not good. In fact, they've been awful thus far. I guess I went into this season expecting, at best, a .500 team, but hoping against reason for better. All I was doing in this post was looking up some data to figure out whether what was in my memory -- Mauer's failures this season to drive in RISP -- was reflected in the stats. Simple as that.
  6. deanlambrecht's Avatar
    Probably the biggest problem with the Clutch statistic is sample size. Even a multi-year veteran like Mauer takes a great deal of Clutch opportunities to compile statistically significant numbers.

    @TwinsFanLV, I understand your frustration, but I think it's misdirected here. This post is about Joe Mauer's ability to hit with RISP and in Clutch situations. The numbers support the notion that he's especially productive in such situations. If the "only" stat the counts is wins, then each year there are 29 "losers" and 1 "winner," and oddly enough under your construct, the "winner" is not even necessarily the team that wins the World Series (because that team doesn't always and doesn't necessarily have the most wins). So I think your notion of the "one stat that counts" can only lead you to a frustrating end. There's much more going on in a game than that, and I think you'll have more fun with the sport overall if you start appreciating the nuances, as frustrating as losses can be. Trust me, I'm not terribly happy, either.
  7. JB_Iowa's Avatar
    I appreciate the stats, Andrew but there seems to be a gap between the statistics and perception. And I wonder why that is?

    Is there something that observation tells us that can't be defined statistically? Even before last night's game, what percentage of the people who comment on this board (or of all fans for that matter), would have wanted Mauer to come up in that situation and what percentage would have had a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach?

    For reasons I can't explain, Mauer doesn't inspire much confidence in me. And it sounds like I'm not the only one. So what explains the discrepancy between our "gut feelings" and the stats you've cited?
  8. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa
    I appreciate the stats, Andrew but there seems to be a gap between the statistics and perception. And I wonder why that is?

    Is there something that observation tells us that can't be defined statistically? Even before last night's game, what percentage of the people who comment on this board (or of all fans for that matter), would have wanted Mauer to come up in that situation and what percentage would have had a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach?

    For reasons I can't explain, Mauer doesn't inspire much confidence in me. And it sounds like I'm not the only one. So what explains the discrepancy between our "gut feelings" and the stats you've cited?
    You've hit on a major point. I didn't want Mauer up in that situation last night, either. Maybe the 2006 or 2009 Mauer, but not the current version.

    I'm not sure what the real reason is. Was the damage done in our minds to his perception from last season so significant as to make us think that he can't produce when it really, really counts anymore? Was it the fact that we really could have used a well struck fly ball to the outfield, and we know that he's htiting lots of grounders this season (and last)? Or, instead of focusing on what "we" think, is this completely about Mauer: is he as confident as he once was? Did he go up there hoping to hit a long, sacrifice fly, or was he really thinking that hopefully he could draw a walk and let Willingham do the tough work? I doubt it, but we'll never know with him, because he rarely shows emotions.

    It's a great question, though. Something is lost in translation between the numbers (even this year's extremely small sample size) and fans' perception.
  9. TwinsFanLV's Avatar
    How many different ways are there to perceive 5-12?
  10. Ultima Ratio's Avatar
    Just to be clear (because there is some confusion) aveRISP has nothing to do with getting the RBI last night. To cite RISP as a stat that conforms to that situation is irrelevant. A hit wasn't necessary to get the RBI. I don't know if there is a stat for Sac fly/hit for the go ahead run. But that would be the only stat germane to last nights poor batting performance Mauer - Doumit (although ave RISP would apply to Doumit because with 2 outs there is not sac RBI opportunity).. Nice write-up otherwise.
  11. Twins Fan From Afar's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ultima Ratio
    Just to be clear (because there is some confusion) aveRISP has nothing to do with getting the RBI last night. To cite RISP as a stat that conforms to that situation is irrelevant. A hit wasn't necessary to get the RBI. I don't know if there is a stat for Sac fly/hit for the go ahead run. But that would be the only stat germane to last nights poor batting performance Mauer - Doumit (although ave RISP would apply to Doumit because with 2 outs there is not sac RBI opportunity).. Nice write-up otherwise.
    Absolutely correct. I just couldn't find that other stat.
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