All-Star week is not just a game, it’s an entire event filled with festivities throughout the host city during the break. One of the reasons you always find a player who plays in the host city, deserving or not, in the All-Star game is for the events, to act as an ambassador.
The Minnesota Twins have a couple players having surprising, but very good, seasons, players such as Brian Dozier and Phil Hughes. However, when you think of the Twins, you don’t picture Dozier, or Hughes, or anyone else for that matter besides Joe Mauer, the face of the franchise for nearly a decade.
Since his debut, Mauer has been one of the most consistent and best hitters not only in the American League, but in all of baseball. Year after year he hits well over .300, posts an on-base over .400, and has for the most part been a dynamic offensive threat, when healthy, for Minnesota.
However, his health forced him to switch from catcher to first base, and perhaps the position switch after so many years of catching has thrown him off at the plate. He is having by far his worst season, as his .258/.333/.333 triple-slash line is well off from his lifetime .319/.401/.461 line.
Even though the All-Star game wrongfully has actual meaning and incentive to win, the game is for storylines; such as Derek Jeter, who in no way is an All-Star player this year, to make his final All-Star game appearance, and will start at shortstop presumably, and for players like Masahiro Tanaka to finally show off to a worldwide audience just exactly how good he is.
Minnesota is going to need a well-known representative to act as ambassador during the break. Dozier will be an All-Star, but won’t cut it as host for the festivities, which is why Joe Mauer is going to be added to the All-Star roster. And for as good as he’s been over the course of his career, this is unfair to a deserving player who performed well enough to earn an All-Star nod.
Not only has Joe Mauer been unworthy of an All-Star selection, Joe Mauer has been a bad baseball player this year. His 86 wRC+ is 16th worst among all qualified American League hitters (14% below league average), and is the 4th worst of any first baseman in the AL. He ranks dead last among AL first baseman in Isolated Power, and by a very large margin. His strikeout rate is at an all-time high, he’s chasing more pitches out of the zone, and he isn’t doing anything to help the Twins win games other than getting on-base marginally above the league average rate.
Some may ignore that stats and argue that, “Oh, it’s Joe Mauer. Just his presence in the lineup adds value and gives the Twins a chance to win.” Well, no. As of today, Joe Mauer, 6-time All-Star, 3-time batting champion, and former MVP has a WAR of 0.0. Essentially, the Twins could start you or I at first base today and we would provide as much value as Joe Mauer is providing. Don’t like WAR? That’s OK. His WPA (Win Probability Added) for his career is usually right around positive 3 or 4. This season? Negative -1.21, worst among all AL first baseman, and 5th worst among any player in the American League. I repeat, NEGATIVE -1.21.
Just take a moment to comprehend all of that information, and then remind yourself that this guy is going to take the spot of somebody like Brandon Moss, Michael Brantley, or Lonnie Chisenhall on the All-Star roster. It’s going to happen, you just know it. He has to take the spot of a deserving candidate on the 34-man roster, and it’s a travesty.
Stats via FanGraphs.com.
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