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Thread: Jason Kendall vs Joe Mauer

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    Senior Member All-Star Bark's Lounge's Avatar
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    Jason Kendall vs Joe Mauer

    In the first half of Jason Kendall's Career as a MLB catcher he was an offensive force. Injuries plagued this All-Star and after his year 30 season he seemingly started to crumble into that of a punch and judy hitter without any pop in his bat.

    Was it injuries that changed this once potent bat into that of a weak singles hitter?

    Before I delve into this anymore, I want everyone to know that I think Mauer is a better player than what Jason Kendall was in his prime.

    Although Mauer is great as a catcher, did the amount of time allotted to him to play this position destroy his greatest asset... his offense and extra base hitting ability?

  2. #2
    I don't really see a big comparison. Kendall never showed anywhere near the power Mauer has in the past. He just isn't in the same class of player as Mauer. Mauer's value comes from being a catcher that can hit, a rare commodity. If you don't have him catch he's just not as valuable. Even with all the hand wringing this year about his offense, I think his OPS is in the top 2 or 3 in the league for catchers. He's still a good offensive player. I just think he's miscast as a #3 hitter and that magnifies his small flaws.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Bark's Lounge View Post
    In the first half of Jason Kendall's Career as a MLB catcher he was an offensive force. Injuries plagued this All-Star and after his year 30 season he seemingly started to crumble into that of a punch and judy hitter without any pop in his bat.

    Was it injuries that changed this once potent bat into that of a weak singles hitter?

    Before I delve into this anymore, I want everyone to know that I think Mauer is a better player than what Jason Kendall was in his prime.

    Although Mauer is great as a catcher, did the amount of time allotted to him to play this position destroy his greatest asset... his offense and extra base hitting ability?
    His slugging potential this season is much closer to his career average than his 2009 MVP season. Mauer has only hit more than 10 home runs in a season twice. That's not a power guy. He's been over .500 SLG twice in full seasons, but his career average is .468 SLG. Considering his current SLG numbers are only about 40 points below career numbers, I'd wait a bit to draw a causal relationship between number of games spent catching and power.

  4. #4
    Mauer had an HGH aided outburst in 2009 other than that he has never hit for power. Now that he is off the juice and can sit on his pile of money, we are stuck with an overpaid Judy who plays mostly DH and 1B.

    That sinking sound you hear is the entire franchise being dragged down by this collassol albatross of a contract.

  5. #5
    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
    Mauer had an HGH aided outburst in 2009 other than that he has never hit for power.
    This is a response to this post and to all posts like it:

    We don't want to censor people around here, but we also don't want this community to be viewed as one where libelous accusations are freely thrown around. If you actually have some sort of legitimate evidence pointing to PED use from Mauer, or if you want to examine the topic earnestly, then it's fair game. But needless comments like the one above bother people -- we've received multiple complaints about this particular one. I'm not going to delete it, but please just refrain from that kind of thing in the future.

  6. #6
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but this topic has been tugging at me for months and instead of starting a new thread, I thought I'd kind of bury my thoughts somewhat inconspicuously into an existing one. I'm a Twins fan, a fan of your old Nick's Twins Blog, and a daily Twins Daily reader. I appreciate the sensitivity of the issue, but the topic warrants some thoughtful discussion, maybe in a new thread.

    Since his graduation to the majors, I've been mostly mezzo-mezzo towards Joe, although I've certainly never rooted against the guy. The media and the fans heaped praise and now cash on him and he's never in my eyes really been that kind of Star player, like a Puck or even a Torii, but he's not shooting himself or anybody else, driving 100 mph down the highway, jumping into the stands to punch people, etc. so I qualify this post to let you all know that this has nothing to do with bitterness about a contract, animosity about bilateral leg weakness, shampoo commercials, or any of the other nonsense for which a good ball player got booed last year. Furthermore, unlike twinswon1991 above, I won't resort to baseless bomb throwing but will instead make statistical arguments, the TwinsDaily standby, and the gut test to substantiate the claim. The claim is that it is reasonable to be suspect of Joe Mauer's 2009 performance.

    The cursory data is all here:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/forums/topic.php?id=33164

    The most compelling of which, in my mind, is that in the 112 recorded seasons of baseball, only 57 players ever had a one year spike in HR #'s comparable to Mauer's, and 25 of those have happened since 1993. It wouldn't hold up in court but makes one think.

    Additionally, we're talking about a lot of money, not just to Mauer, but to his agent and the precedent his contract sets to other players' pending future contracts and the implications on those agents' fees etc. It's not unreasonable, then, to imagine a scenario, and I'm only posing this as a framing hypothetical, where once every off season or two, when these huge contracts loom in the next year, a super agent would know which PED's can NOT currently be tested for (because he pays handsomely for this information), sits down with the looming super contract star and basically tell them, "What if I could get you a bump in performance, a reduction in downtime, and another zero on your paycheck, without risk of failing a test? And I could guarantee it." There is little in our history - corporate, sporting, or otherwise - that would make me think this scenario should be dismissed out of hand.

    And I type all of this with heavy fingers, as I want all of it to be untrue. I hope Joe hits 25 hr next year and the year after to put this issue to rest. But until then, this question will remain for me.

  7. #7
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    When Mauer is healthy and with the help of the dh he can play in every game and he can do what ever he wants with the bat. He can hit
    40 hrs or bat .400 just stay health and Joe will be back!

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    Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
    Mauer had an HGH aided outburst in 2009 other than that he has never hit for power. Now that he is off the juice and can sit on his pile of money, we are stuck with an overpaid Judy who plays mostly DH and 1B.

    That sinking sound you hear is the entire franchise being dragged down by this collassol albatross of a contract.

    I'll just completely ignore the first part of this post for obvious reason. No need to insult your intelligence.

    However, as far as blaming Mauer's contract for the Twins' sucking....Let's pretend he's only making 13M instead of 23M. What's that 10M get the Twins? 1 half-decent starting pitcher? We could absolutely use another pitcher in the 10M range, but that would still leave us 2-3 arms short of a respectable starting staff. 10M doesn't take the Twins from the basement of the AL to the top of the AL Central. The Twins have won the whole division with payrolls below 60M.

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    Head Moderator All-Star glunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jm3319 View Post
    I'll just completely ignore the first part of this post for obvious reason. No need to insult your intelligence.

    However, as far as blaming Mauer's contract for the Twins' sucking....Let's pretend he's only making 13M instead of 23M. What's that 10M get the Twins? 1 half-decent starting pitcher? We could absolutely use another pitcher in the 10M range, but that would still leave us 2-3 arms short of a respectable starting staff. 10M doesn't take the Twins from the basement of the AL to the top of the AL Central. The Twins have won the whole division with payrolls below 60M.
    Well said, jm. And if the Twins had not shelled out for Mauer at that time, most fans would have been outraged. There is a risk whenever a team bets the store on such a huge contract. But let's all be glad that we have Mauer and not Pujols.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beton Brut View Post
    Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but this topic has been tugging at me for months and instead of starting a new thread, I thought I'd kind of bury my thoughts somewhat inconspicuously into an existing one. I'm a Twins fan, a fan of your old Nick's Twins Blog, and a daily Twins Daily reader. I appreciate the sensitivity of the issue, but the topic warrants some thoughtful discussion, maybe in a new thread.

    Since his graduation to the majors, I've been mostly mezzo-mezzo towards Joe, although I've certainly never rooted against the guy. The media and the fans heaped praise and now cash on him and he's never in my eyes really been that kind of Star player, like a Puck or even a Torii, but he's not shooting himself or anybody else, driving 100 mph down the highway, jumping into the stands to punch people, etc. so I qualify this post to let you all know that this has nothing to do with bitterness about a contract, animosity about bilateral leg weakness, shampoo commercials, or any of the other nonsense for which a good ball player got booed last year. Furthermore, unlike twinswon1991 above, I won't resort to baseless bomb throwing but will instead make statistical arguments, the TwinsDaily standby, and the gut test to substantiate the claim. The claim is that it is reasonable to be suspect of Joe Mauer's 2009 performance.

    The cursory data is all here:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/forums/topic.php?id=33164

    The most compelling of which, in my mind, is that in the 112 recorded seasons of baseball, only 57 players ever had a one year spike in HR #'s comparable to Mauer's, and 25 of those have happened since 1993. It wouldn't hold up in court but makes one think.

    Additionally, we're talking about a lot of money, not just to Mauer, but to his agent and the precedent his contract sets to other players' pending future contracts and the implications on those agents' fees etc. It's not unreasonable, then, to imagine a scenario, and I'm only posing this as a framing hypothetical, where once every off season or two, when these huge contracts loom in the next year, a super agent would know which PED's can NOT currently be tested for (because he pays handsomely for this information), sits down with the looming super contract star and basically tell them, "What if I could get you a bump in performance, a reduction in downtime, and another zero on your paycheck, without risk of failing a test? And I could guarantee it." There is little in our history - corporate, sporting, or otherwise - that would make me think this scenario should be dismissed out of hand.

    And I type all of this with heavy fingers, as I want all of it to be untrue. I hope Joe hits 25 hr next year and the year after to put this issue to rest. But until then, this question will remain for me.

    I think there are some problems with this. I agree the circumstancial evidence is there, though in Joes case, the jump occurred as he was going into his prime, which is not terribly unusual (see Plouffe, Trevor or Bautista, Tony). That said, MLB has been testing for PEDs, and if there are PEDs that can do what they did to Mauer, then why in the world was Ryan Braun ever caught? Every hitter in baseball would be on those.

    The other big thing is that Mauer played the next season in Target Field. The Metrodome was very friendly to the type of hitter Joe is and many of the HRs it recorded were warning track fly balls in TF or doubles in the gap/off the wall. I cannot give you an explanation for this, as the dimensions are fairly similar, but again the stats speak for themselves. Mauer was also in very good health in 2009. He had that going for him in 2010 as well, but has not had it hte last couple of years. Even though he's put up fairly respectable numbers, he doesn't seem quite himself. Not sure why that is.

    I do think that another part of it is that hte league has figured him out... why he doens't adjust is beyond me. During the Tiger series, the Tigers announcers made a big deal that Mauer was one of the top 5 in the league in not swinging at the first pitch (doing so less than 10% of the time), and so pitchers would grove a batting practice fastball in on him. He was always behind in the count. Mauer hasn't adjusted to this, and I'd add neither has Gardy... When Revere was on with 2 outs and Mauer was at the plate, I'd think Gardy would take advantage of this and call a hit and run... but nope.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Boom Boom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
    I do think that another part of it is that hte league has figured him out... why he doens't adjust is beyond me. During the Tiger series, the Tigers announcers made a big deal that Mauer was one of the top 5 in the league in not swinging at the first pitch (doing so less than 10% of the time), and so pitchers would grove a batting practice fastball in on him. He was always behind in the count. Mauer hasn't adjusted to this, and I'd add neither has Gardy... When Revere was on with 2 outs and Mauer was at the plate, I'd think Gardy would take advantage of this and call a hit and run... but nope.
    This bothers me a bit too. I hear Dick and Bert say all the time what a great 2-strike hitter Mauer is, like Carew or Boggs. But any good 2-strike hitter is probably a better 0-0 hitter.

    In fact, for his career, Mauer has a .658 OPS with two strikes, and a 1.003 OPS on the first pitch. And you can't walk on the first pitch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
    This bothers me a bit too. I hear Dick and Bert say all the time what a great 2-strike hitter Mauer is, like Carew or Boggs. But any good 2-strike hitter is probably a better 0-0 hitter.

    In fact, for his career, Mauer has a .658 OPS with two strikes, and a 1.003 OPS on the first pitch. And you can't walk on the first pitch.
    Mauer has a 1.003 OPS on the first pitch precisely because he is extremely selective with it. He is not taking the first pitch, he is looking for a certain pitch. When he gets it (or thinks he is getting it), he hits at a 1.003 OPS clip. When he has to expand his selectivity to protect the strike zone, like with two strikes, he hits at a .658 OPS clip. I don't know what the net effect on his stats would be, and we're not likely to find out, but that 1.003 would definitely go down (imo) if he swung at the first pitch more often.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Boom Boom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curt View Post
    Mauer has a 1.003 OPS on the first pitch precisely because he is extremely selective with it. He is not taking the first pitch, he is looking for a certain pitch. When he gets it (or thinks he is getting it), he hits at a 1.003 OPS clip. When he has to expand his selectivity to protect the strike zone, like with two strikes, he hits at a .658 OPS clip. I don't know what the net effect on his stats would be, and we're not likely to find out, but that 1.003 would definitely go down (imo) if he swung at the first pitch more often.
    I'm not saying swing at every first pitch and turn Joe Mauer into Delmon Young. But if the pitch he's looking for 0-0 is a fastball down the middle, he's letting that one go too much for my liking.

    Admittedly I have no stats to back that up, only what I've seen from watching Joe Mauer hit for several years.

  14. #14
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
    I'm not saying swing at every first pitch and turn Joe Mauer into Delmon Young. But if the pitch he's looking for 0-0 is a fastball down the middle, he's letting that one go too much for my liking.

    Admittedly I have no stats to back that up, only what I've seen from watching Joe Mauer hit for several years.
    Joe is selective. It's both a good thing and a bad thing. Asking him to change his approach for one pitch is a tall order. It transforms the entire AB.

    Mauer is an incredibly talented and smart ballplayer but he's not perfect. I'll take a niggling fault in his first pitch selection if it goes along with all the things he does well.

  15. #15
    Senior Member All-Star Shane Wahl's Avatar
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    Sorry, I just find the comparison ridiculous. The numbers do not compare. Mauer has 14 more homers now than Kendall did for his career. Walks and doubles are on pace to eclipse Kendall's numbers in 3 and 5 seasons, respectively. Kendall slugged above .435 for three seasons in his entire career. This will be Mauer's fifth full season doing so. And so on. And of course the key difference is that Mauer is now a 1/2 time catcher and is thus staying in the lineup almost all of the time. And what happened? The numbers went up.

    The comparison seems to just scare the crazed Mauer haters looking at the next 6 years of Jason Kendall post 30. And that's just stupid.

  16. #16
    Anyway....dragging this thread back to on-topicness.

    I notice that Kendall's slugging percentage really dropped the year he started playing for Oakland (age 31). Could Kendall's power drop be attributed to playing in a bigger ballpark? BTW I wouldn't call his .418 SLG average through age 30 as being a "potent bat."

    Mauer's power numbers spiked for one year and have since reverted to the norm. He's also playing in a ballpark that is less hitter friendly.

    Injuries plagued Kendall after his year 30 season? I see these number of games played by Kendall at these ages:

    Age 30 Games played 147
    31 150
    32 143
    33 137

    To summarize, in Kendall's case I think his SLG decreased because he was playing half his games in Oakland Coliseum. In his best year in Pittsburgh (1999) for SLG his home/away split was .610/.417. Once he gets in Oakland his SLG % is higher away than at home (though still overall depressed from previous year's, as per your contention.)
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand."

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    Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
    I do think that another part of it is that hte league has figured him out... why he doens't adjust is beyond me. During the Tiger series, the Tigers announcers made a big deal that Mauer was one of the top 5 in the league in not swinging at the first pitch (doing so less than 10% of the time), and so pitchers would grove a batting practice fastball in on him. He was always behind in the count. Mauer hasn't adjusted to this, and I'd add neither has Gardy... When Revere was on with 2 outs and Mauer was at the plate, I'd think Gardy would take advantage of this and call a hit and run... but nope.
    He's not "always" behind in the count or even close. He's been 0-1 163 times this year and 1-0 153 times. These are typical splits for him. He gets a smaller % of 1st pitch strikes than the league average (as he always has). And he doesn't even get fastballs "every" time on the first pitch, let alone batting practice ones. All that stuff is recorded so there's no need to rely on faulty perceptions.

  18. #18
    Pixel Monkey MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
    He's not "always" behind in the count or even close. He's been 0-1 163 times this year and 1-0 153 times. These are typical splits for him. He gets a smaller % of 1st pitch strikes than the league average (as he always has). And he doesn't even get fastballs "every" time on the first pitch, let alone batting practice ones. All that stuff is recorded so there's no need to rely on faulty perceptions.
    Well played.

  19. #19
    Senior Member All-Star Shane Wahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
    He's not "always" behind in the count or even close. He's been 0-1 163 times this year and 1-0 153 times. These are typical splits for him. He gets a smaller % of 1st pitch strikes than the league average (as he always has). And he doesn't even get fastballs "every" time on the first pitch, let alone batting practice ones. All that stuff is recorded so there's no need to rely on faulty perceptions.
    You know how some directors are auteurs that makes their films identifiable without being told who the director of the movie is? I swear, I could tell this was CDog without reading who posted it . . .

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDog View Post
    He's not "always" behind in the count or even close. He's been 0-1 163 times this year and 1-0 153 times. These are typical splits for him. He gets a smaller % of 1st pitch strikes than the league average (as he always has). And he doesn't even get fastballs "every" time on the first pitch, let alone batting practice ones. All that stuff is recorded so there's no need to rely on faulty perceptions.

    You coudl be right, I don't watch many games living in Indiana. That said, I did watch the Detroit series as I was in Michigan that week. It seemed as though every at bat he got a pitch somewhere in the 80s right down the middle (and well more than half were strikes), and the Detroit announcers kept talking up the fact that he only swung on less than 10% of first pitches... sure, that's SSS, but that's also a knock on him that we've all heard for years now and it seems that others know it too. You are correct that he doesn't get them "every" time, but he's getting them quite a bit.

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