The fantasy baseball community is buzzing over Joe Mauer’s newfound power stroke since returning from the DL on May 1. After his grand slam against the White Sox on Thursday, Mauer is batting .417 with eight home runs in just 72 at-bats. That’s one long ball every ninth at-bat.
The question is: Can he keep it up?
Conventional wisdom would say no, but let’s crunch some numbers just to be sure.
At his current pace, Mauer would finish the season with 54 HR. That’s six more than his career total in four-plus seasons prior to 2009. Based on that, it’s safe to say his HR rate will drop; but by how much?
Between 2005 and 2008, Mauer averaged about 10 HR per year, or one every 47 at-bats. During that time, he averaged 488 at-bats per season.
At that pace, Mauer would hit about nine dingers from here on out. Add that number to the eight bombs he’s already hit, and Mauer finishes 2009 with a career-high 17 HR.
That’s a decent total for any catcher, but when you consider eight of them were hit in May, that averages out to only about two jacks per month for the rest of the season. Not too impressive.
Mauer’s current HR/FB rate of 36.4 percent, however, is impressive and explains the early power surge. Based on his career mark of 10 percent, there’s plenty of reason to believe he won’t sustain his current pace.
So how do we know Mauer will revert back to hitting HR at his lousy rate of one per 47 at-bats?
We don’t know for sure; 72 at-bats is such a small sample size compared to four-plus seasons, so it’s more likely that his career averages will balance the numbers out.
However, while Mauer made his major league debut in 2004, it’s important to remember that the former No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft is still only 26 years old. If a player’s prime years come between 25 and 29, Mauer could finally be tapping into his power potential.
Call me crazy, but I’m a believer—sort of.
PACE represents Mauer’s current pace based on his career average of 488 at-bats per season...PROJ represents what I project his stat line will be at the end of the season. These numbers are based on games played before Friday, May 22.
Original Article: Baseball Reflections