Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Joe Mauer has bounced back strong in 2012, putting in an incredibly consistent performance. Will his hard work be rewarded with another batting title?
Yesterday in a comment thread I said that I had discounted Joe Mauer's chances at winning another batting title. It seems that was just a mental process, since I made the following prediction in my second half crystal ball:
Joe Mauer wins his fourth AL batting title
Mauer's second half picks up where his first left off, and finishes the season with a .338/.431/.461 triple slash. Paul Konerko's stellar season takes a small dip; pitchers begin to adapt to Mike Trout as scouting reports have more data to analyse; Austin Jackon's second season sees his numbers come back to earth. Joe's .338 average falls short of Andrew McCutchen's MLB-best .346 average.
To be fair to Mauer, in his last 11 games he's a blistering 20-for-45 (.444) with a .480 on-base percentage. He's slugging .667 in that span as well. But that's a tough pace to keep up, even for him, and even if he averages four at-bats per game over the team's last seven games he'd need to collect 16 hits and hit .338. That's 16-for-28 in the last week of the season.
Luckily he doesn't need to go quite that far. Following his 3-for-4 performance last night he's now batting .326, trailing the American League leader Miguel Cabrera by just three points. Cabrera hit .344 last season to win his first batting title, and he's not exactly fading down the stretch.
A batting title this season would be Mauer's fourth in the last seven years. Only Rod Carew has more batting titles as a Twin (7), and it's also worth noting that from the time Carew won his first he also won four in seven years. He would, of course, go on to win seven in a ten-year span.
Joe still has an uphill battle if he's going to overtake Cabrera. But he's put together a bounce back season that's shown he can stay healthy and be surprisingly consistent in his production. I've said it before and I'll say it again - we're watching the career of one of, quite possibly, the best two pure hitters in the history of the organization.
And we have something to really cheer for this final week of the season.