Joe Mauer and the big K

The successes of the great Joe Mauer this season have been well documented. He’s hitting a very solid .340 and is second in the league in doubles with 15. Coming into the May 15 game against the White sox, Mauer on a 13 game hitting streak and has been great batting second for the lineup all season.

But has anyone noticed how much Mauer is striking out this season?

Here’s another streak Mauer is currently on: he’s struck out at least once in 13 straight games. THIRTEEN. His next longest strike out streak is only six games, which he accomplished way back in 2006. He has only two fewer strikeouts than Aaron Hicks, the player who was literally known as "that guy who strikes out all the time" earlier this season.

The number of times Mauer has walked away from the plate striking out is at an unprecedented level when compared to the rest of his career. What’s scary is that his number of strikeouts has been rising the past four seasons.

From 2004-2010, Mauer averaged between one strikeout every 2.0 games to 2.9 games. In 2010, he averaged a strikeout every 2.6 games. In 2011, one strikeout every 2.2 games. 2012, one K every 1.7 games. This season, Mauer is striking out on average once per game.

In his injury shortened season of 2011 where he only played in 82 games, he struck out 38 times. In only 35 games this season, Mauer has already been rung up 34 times. At this pace, if he plays in 140 games, a reasonable number, he will strike out 132 times. That will easily surpass his career high of 88 set last season.

So what does it mean? If his stats are so high then is there a problem? Mauer is not going to be a top-tier player forever. His BABIP this season is a staggering .438. The league average is .294. Mauer can’t keep the pace he’s going up forever. If his athletic ability starts to wane while his strikeouts continue to rise at the pace they are on, his fall from the top will be a swift one.

There may not be a lot to complain about right now with Mauer being sixth in the league in batting average, but these strikeouts may be a warning sign that Joe Mauer will soon enter the descent of his career.

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