Justin Morneau And Joe Mauer In 2013: Is Team MNM In Its Last Year?
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Thursday February 28, 2013
By Kyle Holland (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @TheKHolland13
In the last 2 years, the Minnesota Twins have not lived up to what they did prior to 2011. Back in 2008, the Twins finished 88-74. They ended up losing a one game playoff to the Chicago White Sox – to just narrowly miss the playoffs and round out the summer at 88-75. Just one year later the Twins would again find themselves in a one game tiebreaker against the Detroit Tigers.
This time it was their turn to advance to October play – as they defeated the Tigers 6-5, to finish the regular season with a 87-76 record in 2009. Lady luck would not be on their side in the Postseason, being swept by the New York Yankees 3 games to none. In 2010, with a brand new stadium in Target Field, the Twins finished a brilliant season. They went 94-68 – to clinch their sixth playoff appearance in 10 years. The Yankees swept them again in the ALDS.
In 2011, the Twins fans and management expected big things for the team, especially out of First Basemen Justin Morneau and the MLB 11: The Show cover boy, Joe Mauer. All was not well in The Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Twins would not live up to expectations. The squad would wind up going from first-to-worst – finishing in last place in the AL Central, with a 63-99 record. So there was no way they would throw out back to back horrid seasons right? Wrong.. The Twins only improved on their record by 3 games. Now what exactly started this stroke of bad luck? That’s right, injuries to their two All-Stars. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer.
Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau Tribute:
It all started in 2010 with Morneau. Just before the All-Star Break – which the Canadian slugger was voted into as the starting 1st Baseman, when Morneau suffered a concussion on July 7. He ended up missing the remainder of the 2010 campaign with effects of post-concussion symptoms.
He was scheduled to come back in the ALCS, but the Twins failed to get past the Yankees in the ALDS. Morneau had only managed to appear in 81 games – but he amassed 1st half totals of a .345 Batting Average with 18 HRs. The former 2006 AL MVP was to return at the start of 2011 year. He seemed set on having a healthy, successful season. Instead what ended up happening was neck surgery to fix two pinched nerves that cost him 2 months – and later a shoulder injury in mid-August, that caused him to be sidelined for the last month-and-a-half of the summer.
With Morneau being injured in 2010, the last thing they wanted to happen was for the team’s MVP Joe Mauer to get injured. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened to the man originally from Minnesota. Mauer missed the majority of Spring Training after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery at the end of the 2010 season – and had difficulties recovering. Mauer started the year with the club before ending up on the DL after the game on April 15. Doctors stated it was a bilateral leg weakness caused by not much work done in Spring Training. He did return in June, however was never himself. It would turn out to be his worst season – only playing 82 games and hitting a Career low of .287.
|Rank||Player (yrs, age)||Batting Average||Bats|
|1.||Albert Pujols (12, 32)||.3246||R|
|2.||Joe Mauer (9, 29)||.3229||L|
|3.||Ichiro Suzuki (12, 38)||.3223||L|
|4.||Todd Helton (16, 38)||.3199||L|
|5.||Miguel Cabrera (10, 29)||.3182||R|
Both ended up being healthy throughout the 2012 season, including a 5th All-Star Appearance by the 3 time AL Batting Title Champion Joe Mauer. The 29 Year Old led the AL in OBP last season with a .415 clip. He also finished in 4th for Batting Average. Mauer also only played 74 games behind home plate. The other times he was on the diamond was split pretty evenly between playing 1B and being the clubs Designated Hitter. You can look for that kind of split in the upcoming season. As you can see in the graphic above, Mauer may also make a charge at the best Active Batting Average in the MLB – as Albert Pujols will see his Batting Average continue to drop down a little.
Now as the 2013 season gets closer and closer, Mauer and Morneau will need to both have a successful season if the Twins want to go anywhere this year. You better believe that the Twins want to be back on the baseball map. Both sluggers are going to be getting out to an early start in competitive baseball as they are representing the US (Mauer) and Canada (Morneau) in the third World Baseball Classic. This could either be good new or bad news for the Twins. On one hand they get their two stars out playing in serious baseball – so they should be ready for the start of the season. On the other hand, they are taking an injury risk by playing in the WBC.
Justin Morneau has been injury prone more than people realize recently so anything could happen to him while playing for team Canada. As for the Catcher, you never know what could happen behind the plate. Wear on the knees, a foul ball off the hand, getting run over, etc…. Anything can happen at the plate to either of the two also so getting injured would put the Twins in jeopardy for the beginning of 2013.
As for Morneau he is hoping to have a big season for the Twins this year. He feels better physically this year than he has in the past few years. “I’m not going to blame anything for this year, that year, whatever it is, but I feel good. I feel strong. I think with me, as for most guys, with strength comes confidence.” He is on the last year of his contract. Morneau will turn 32 on May.15th of this year. He would do himself a world of good-by having a campaign that resembles the stretch of play he put forth from 2006 – to mid 2010. If the Twins are out of playoff contention by the ALL-Star Break, Morneau may enter in to the Trade Deadlines sweepstakes.
The bottom line is Mauer and Morneau are a big reason the Twins are either successful, or unsuccessful. If these two can have big years and carry the team, it will go along way for the club to be competitive in the AL Central. If they aren’t very impressive or the rest of the dugout doesn’t help out, they will be in for yet another long season. Who knows, the tandem may not even finish the season as teammates by the end of the year…. or heading into the 2014 season after being on Minnesota together for the last decade.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
A big thank-you goes out to our Baseball Writer Kyle Holland for preparing today’s featured article. Kyle is a life long baseball fan outside of Boston. He is a sophomore in high school has played baseball since he was 5. Although growing up in one of the best baseball towns in the major leagues, he has been a Giants fan since 2009. He credits his aunt with the Giants being his favorite team as she lives in San Francisco. Some of his favorite players include Buster Posey, Stephen Drew, Trevor Bauer, Stephen Strasburg, and Minor Leaguer Danny Hultzen. You can find Kyle on Twitter Follow @TheKHolland13
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Posted on February 28, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged 2006 MVP, 2008 Playoffs, 2009 ALDS, 2009 Playoffs, 2010 ALDS, 2010 playoffs, 2013 world baseball classic, @thekholland13, @TheKholland13 on twitter, al central, albert pujols, chicago white sox, detroit tigers, ichiro suzuki, joe mauer, justin morneau, Kyle Holland, miguel cabrera, minnesota twins, MLB 11: The Show, new york yankees, team canada, team usa, todd helton, world baseball classic. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.