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Joe Mauer's Weird Season

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Joe Mauer is having the worst season of his career. He's also having one of the strangest years.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

At Inside Edge, I have made it to a co-worker's "Top 5 Bottom" list. That is, I am one of his five least favorite people in the office. Now, it's meant to be a joke - even though he may argue otherwise - because all I've done to earn my ranking is from being "a Dozier apologist." Simply put, he doesn't like Brian Dozier, but I do, and that makes me a despicable human being, I guess.

Anyway, the real truth is that I'm really a Joe Mauer apologist. No matter what, I have always supported Mauer in spite of his lack of power and supposed refusal to play through injuries. However, even I can admit that it's been tough to explain Mauer this season as he's in the midst of the worst year of his career. Yes, even worse than the bilateral leg weakness season. Yep, even worse than the year after his concussion. Any way you slice it, 2015 has not been good to Joe Mauer.

Now I am not smart enough to know what's causing these issues. I can hypothesize that it's a combination of age and post-concussion effects (even if Mauer vehemently denies feeling different at the plate), but other than that, I have no clue. However, I did find it interesting when Parker Hageman of Twins Daily tweeted this out.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MNTwins?src=hash">#MNTwins</a> Avg Batted Ball Velo Leaders (in MPH):&#10;&#10;Plouffe 90.09 &#10;Mauer 89.74&#10;Hunter 89.43&#10;Dozier 88.43&#10;Vargas 88.42&#10;&#10;(via <a href="https://twitter.com/darenw">@darenw</a>)</p>&mdash; Parker Hageman (@ParkerHageman) <a href="https://twitter.com/ParkerHageman/status/615901155839754241">June 30, 2015</a></blockquote>

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

So, Mauer has been hitting the ball pretty hard compared to the rest of the Twins this season. This made me wonder, if this data suggests he's still hitting the ball with authority, then why are his overall numbers so bad? The following is all the interesting numbers I found on Joe Mauer this season compared to the rest of his career.

1. He's hitting lefties better than righties this year.

2015

vs. LHP: .267/.321/.436, .757 OPS, .168 ISO, 7.3 BB%, 13.8 K%

vs. RHP: .254/.335/.328, .663 OPS, .073 ISO, 10.8 BB%, 16.7 K%

Career

vs. LHP: .293/.364/.386, .750 OPS, .093 ISO, 9.8 BB%, 14.2 K%

vs. RHP: .327/.414/.490, .904 OPS, .163 ISO, 13.1 BB%, 10.9 K%

One of the rare times I didn't mute my TV during a Twins game, I heard Dick Bremer mention that three of Mauer's four home runs this year have been off lefthanders. I've always been aware of his splits, specifically that he doesn't hit for much power against southpaws, so I investigated and was surprised by what I found. Yes, his batting average and OBP are down overall, but his SLG has been good enough to keep his OPS in line with his career numbers against lefties. Meanwhile, he has dropped off a cliff against righties in all facets. He's not hitting for average, power, or even making as much contact as in the past.

2. He's been awful when it doesn't matter and unbelievably clutch when it does.

2015

Low leverage: .214/.254/.258, .512 OPS, .044 ISO, 5.3 BB%, 16.0 K%

Medium leverage: .317/.393/.505, .898 OPS, .188 ISO, 11.1 BB%, 15.4 K%

High leverage: .333/.538/.556, 1.094 OPS, .222 ISO, 30.8 BB%, 15.4 K%

Career

Low leverage: .308/.374/.444, .818 OPS, .136 ISO, 9.5 BB%, 12.5 K%

Medium leverage: .331/.419/.476, .895 OPS, .144 ISO, 13.3 BB%, 11.0 K%

High leverage: .292/.429/.421, .850 OPS, .129 ISO, 20.0 BB%, 14.0 K%

Another thing that's jumped out at me was that Mauer's had a solid RBI total in spite of his poor batting numbers. Additionally, teams still intentionally walk him even though us Twins fans know Mauer is a shell of his former self. Although there's no evidence that players can perform better in the clutch, Mauer sure is trying his hardest to prove that it's not true, and those numbers in medium and high leverage situations show why teams still fear him at the plate.

3. His batted balls are no different this year

2015

Spray types: 24.2 LD%, 52.4 GB%, 23.4 FB%

Spray directions: 28.9 pull%, 35.8 cent%, 35.3 oppo%

Career

Spray types: 23.9 LD%, 50.2 GB%, 26.0 FB%

Spray directions: 28.7 pull%, 36.6 cent%, 34.6 oppo%

Mauer is notorious for hitting grounders to second base, so whenever he's struggling, I tend to think he's getting a little pull-happy and gets over the top of pitches on the outside corner of the plate. Well, in spite of his poor batting performance this year, he's not hitting significantly more grounders, nor is he pulling the ball more. He does have a career-low BABIP of .298, so he's definitely been hitting the ball at fielders more often this season.

What other weird numbers can you find on Mauer this season?