May 13, 2009

Mauer for MVP!

Alright, may be a little misleading. This is not a post about Mauer being in the MVP race. I honestly don't see any relevance in arguing for that after ten games. But I figured I'd be the first to say it before everyone else start the 'MVP' chants.

It's pretty amazing. Ten games into his season, Joe Mauer already has four home runs. Alright, it happens. Many players seem to have spurts in which they show power over a short period of time. Take Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs for example, the light-hitting infielder has never hit more than three home runs in a season, yet he hit three home runs in a span of just four games last week. Last year, Mauer hit his fourth home run on July 5th.

I don't know what it is, but Mauer is just mashing the ball right now. He certainly could be benefiting from having Justin Morneau hitting behind in the batting order. Although it has gone on now for a couple years, it seems more and more pitchers are feeding Mauer fastballs, in anticipation that he won't be hitting it out of the park. That may be changing. All four of Mauer's home runs (including his 'should-have-been' home run in the first inning of yesterday's game), have come on fastballs. What's actually impressive is that all four home runs (including the 'should-have-been') have all been hit to left field. Most of the pitches have been over the outer-half of the plate, which is really beneficial for him to just take the pitch and continue to push it, instead of trying to pull it. Delmon Young tried it last year, but his pitch recognition is horrible and trying to push a low breaking ball is a lot harder than pushing a high fastball.

Mauer has a long way to go before being considered a 'power threat', but he should be making pitchers think twice before feeding him fastballs, especially over the plate. The unfortunate part right now (for opposing pitchers, of course) is that I really don't think it would matter if you threw this guy an invisible pea, he'd probably still hit it, and hit it hard.

Mauer is locked in. It's disappointing to see the team at just .500 with him in the lineup. But hopefully they can continue beating up A.L. Central teams and get to the top of the standings.

And who knows, the way Mauer is hitting right now is it too far-fetched to think he could win the MVP? Just some food for thought, I suppose.