Super Joe, Part XXIV
After just four weeks being back in action, Joe Mauer has already accumulated a WAR rating of 2.6. WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, is an accumulating number that measures a player's worth. At 2.6, Mauer is already fifth in all of baseball.
Is it really a surprise? After a month of hitting .414/.500/.838 with 11 home runs, the answer is no. One of every three fly balls is leaving the yard, walk rates are at a career high, and on top of it all he's swinging at fewer pitches than ever (just 31.4%).
Looking at his batted ball results, apart from that HR/FB rate things aren't overly impressive. 19.8% line drives, 45.3% ground balls, 34.9% fly balls; no charted infield flies however, which is amazing.
What makes Joe so good, or has made him so unstoppable this month, is his ability to put the ball wherever the hell he wants it. Comparing his line drive rate to his .417 BABIP, you'd consider him to be lucky. But with Mauer we're not talking about just another player, we're talking about one of the best hitters in the game over the last twenty years much less the last five. Superior plate control, knowledge of the strike zone, quick hands and the ability to read pitches and understand the situation make him someone you simply have to stop and watch whenever he steps in.