Joe Mauer has one home run in 207 at bats this season. The lack of power has become a source of frequent criticism about the Twins’ left-handed hitting catcher.
His grandfather, Jake Mauer, has provided baseball counsel to the Twins’ $184 million man since Joe was a toddler. The older Mauer told Sports Headliners the left knee Joe had surgery on during the past offseason still isn’t right and the usual physical abuses of catching doesn’t help the power hitting either.
“Well, he’s banged up. He’s only 80 percent right now,” Jake Mauer said. “He still has trouble with his left knee. When he hits off the back foot he cannot put all his weight on it (the knee). He has to distribute his weight to the front foot, and therefore (hits) all ground balls, all easy plays. No power because you hit off your back foot.”
Mauer has never experienced such a power outage with the Twins. His previous season low was in 2004 when he hit six home runs in 107 at bats.
Mauer has played in part or most of eight seasons with the Twins. He’s not a home run hitter, only twice achieving double figures in home runs, with 13 in 2006 and 28 in 2009.
His grandfather believes the home runs will come with more frequency next season. “Oh, yeah,” Jake said. “He’ll get back next year, probably. He’ll have the whole winter to relax. No operation, no nothing.”
Many of Mauer’s hits this year are to left field, as they were during that 2009 season when he hit home runs that just cleared the left field fence at the Metrodome. That season Mauer won the American League batting title with a .365 average and was the AL MVP.
Mauer has played 11 games at first base without an error this season but his grandfather said Joe has no plans to give up catching. “He enjoys it (first base),” Jake said. “He thinks it’s fun. As a longevity (move), no. He wants to be a catcher.”
The Twins fell 10 games behind first place Detroit last weekend, ending hopes in the minds of many fans for a Minnesota Central Division title. How does Joe feel about the club?
“He still thinks he’s gotta chance,” Jake said. “What the hell else can he say? I think he’s saying that because he thinks no matter how low you can get, he always wants to climb up to be a winner. And he’ll never give up, and he still thinks the team is going to do it.”