Despite an injury-riddled 2011 and a slow start in 2012, Joe Mauer once again finds himself making a trip to the All-Star game. Always a fan favorite, the catcher was quoted as saying he will be bringing all of his gloves to the game so that he can play where he is needed.
One of the best parts of the early parts of 2012 is the fact that Mauer has stayed relatively healthy. Limited to just 82 games in 2011, Mauer has been able to limit his time on the disabled list so far this season. I know that I still hold my breath every time he takes a foul ball behind the plate.
The first half of the 2012 season started slowly for Mauer at the plate but he has been gaining steam as the season rolls on. The catcher/first baseman is currently ranked fifth in the AL with a .327 BA (at 8:25pm July 8th) in 326 plate appearances. Mauer has five home runs in 76 games, two more than he hit all last year in 82 games.
He has increased his totals from 2011 in doubles, walks, stolen bases, hits and is boasting a .417 OBP—best in the American League. All things (and stats) considered, Mauer is on his way to competing for another batting title and well on his way to a standard Joe Mauer season.
Every day he shows fans and critics alike why 2011 was a fluke. On the other hand, Mauer has continued his singles hitting approach which also makes 2009 look like a fluke. The power numbers have never returned.
Joe Mauer has spent 38 games behind the plate, 22 at DH and 18 at 1B this season. While I would like to see Mauer spend less time DH-ing and more time at 1B when he needs a break (a subject I talk about in Future on the Line: Why Twins, Joe Mauer Should Consider Changing Positions), the time he has spent in the field has been solid defensively. Mauer has just a handful of errors in his time catching and at first base so far this year and has a fielding percentage of .996 behind the plate and .986 at first base.
Disappointing for Mauer in the field is his percentage of baserunners caught stealing. So far in 2012, Mauer has thrown out just 16 percent of runners—this is down from his career average of 34 percent.
Mauer seems to be back to his consistent self however there are a few areas that could be better, but that is true for any MLB player. I have been pleasantly surprised but expected more in the first half of the season.
Midseason Grade: B+