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Joe Mauer’s Comeback Effort

November 8, 2012 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Josh Bell did not establish himself with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Josh Bell deserves a longer look in the Show.

When we last checked in on Joe Mauer, he was quietly working his way into the AL batting race in the hopes of bagging yet another hitting title and denying Miguel Cabrera the Triple Crown.

Well, that plan fell short as he went 1-for-10 in October to slip to .319, good for fourth in the AL behind Cabrera, Mike Trout and Adrian Beltre.

Still, heading into 2013, is there a catcher in the American League more valuable than Mauer (let’s not forget he also qualifies at 1B)?

We think not.

We love the fact that he stayed healthy enough to set a new career high in at-bats, reached double digits in homers for the third time, enjoyed another big RBI season and rode his best walk rate ever to the highest OBP in the majors this year (.416).

Yes, Joe is back and given that the Twins are likely to play him more and more at first base going forward, his injury risks will be mitigated to an extent, an important consideration for keeper league owners.

Now the question is whether the Twins will have to break up what’s been a pretty good offense to address their horrid pitching. Mauer heads a sweet 3-4-5 combo (with Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau) for the Twins, but the chances of that group staying together for another full season seem slim.

Morneau is heading into his walk year and given that it would take a miracle for the Twins to be contenders in 2013, you can pretty much guarantee that the Canadian slugger will be dealt.

Will that affect Mauer’s numbers? That’s a reasonable concern.

There’s still talk that Mauer himself could be dealt, but his massive contract and no-trade clause make that seem unlikely. Stranger things have happened, though. And who knows what will transpire if a team like the Yankees decides to flex their muscles.

Quick Hits

  • When we last checked in on Cole Hamels in late-September we mentioned that he wasn’t exactly dominating down the stretch and while he wasn’t super sharp in his penultimate start, he did enough to bag his 16th win. And then he wrapped his campaign with a superb effort in Miami for yet another W and a fifth straight start with just one walk allowed. The final tally included career bests in wins and strikeouts, and without Hamels’ consistent effort as probably the team’s best starter, you can’t help but wonder how bad Philly’s record would have been. The Phils rewarded him with a huge money extension before the deadline that surprised many, but also pretty much guaranteed that the club won’t be making a play for any of the real big name free agents this fall.
  • One minor league transaction that caught our eye yet did not get much attention was when Arizona removed third base prospect Josh Bell from its roster and outrighted him to Triple-A last week. In late-May, Bell was a waiver wire recommendation when he was given a shot at the third base job in Arizona after Ryan Roberts was shifted to a utility role. Well, Bell failed to take advantage of the opportunity and soon found himself back at Triple-A. Still, he’s not 26 until next week and while he missed some time with injuries this year, he really developed as a hitter in the minors, showing sweet extra-base pop and enjoying a very productive campaign. We’re not sure if he’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but if so, Bell could land with a team that’s hopefully willing to give him a more extended look in the majors.

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