Joe Mauer is healthy and raking again. Should he be considered a potential waiver wire add?
Joe Mauer has been a highly debated fantasy player during his career as owners have consistently argued over his lack of power and true fantasy value. No matter what anyone says though, he was one of the best hitters in the game during his prime, even if he never reached the power ceiling that everyone thought he could. Unfortunately, a major concussion in 2013 seems to have derailed his success the last two seasons, but his early season results in 2016 have him looking like his old self.
We are all familiar with Mauer’s history, from 2006-2013 he had never hit below .287 and in 2009 he put it all together to mash a career high 28 homers. The power surge gave us all hope that Mauer had finally turned the corner power wise and it was going to be just the start of his power fully coming into from. But, that was not the case as the highest HR output he has had since is 11 in 2013.
In 2013 Mauer was named an All-Star and was having a torrid first half of the season until a concussion halted his season. It not only ended his 2013, the remnants of the concussions would also plague him the next two seasons. After he scuffled in 2014, last season proved to be his worse season in the majors as he was only able to post a, .265/10 HR/66 RBI/.718 OPS, line.
Now most fantasy owners have written off owning Mauer in general since his days of being unable to follow his 28 HR barrage, but Mauer revealed a symptom that many were unaware that he was dealing with after his concussion. This spring he pointed to vision issues over the last two seasons as the root of his struggles. As fantasy owners it does seem to hold weight as well, as 2015 was the first time Mauer had struck out over 100 times in his career and his chase rates went through the roof.
As disconcerting as that news was, it was also great to hear Mauer state that the issue had subsided and he was seeing the ball a lot better this spring and it appears as though, he was not lying either based on his early success. The Twins lineup and team overall have been terrible to start the season, but that is no fault of Mauer’s. He currently sits with a, .371 AVG/1 HR/3 RBI/1.008 OPS, line.
Fantasy owners know that Mauer will not be a power option at first base, but as a utility or CI option, he can stabilize a fantasy lineup that saps AVG and lacks RBI producers. The Twins lineup will come around eventually, so Mauer’s lack of RBI output comes from the fact that he has no one when he gets up to the plate.
A more encouraging revelation, is that he has shown his great eye at the plate again, walking six times this season while only striking out four. I get that fantasy owners do not like going back to veteran retreads on the waiver wire, but Mauer looks very close to the guy that was challenging for a batting crown every season.
He is not a sexy pickup and has lost the fantasy luster he once had, but in a day and age where everyone swings at everything, Mauer provides the AVG/OPS production that fantasy owners need to stabilize their lineup. Minnesota has a solid lineup and it will come around, allowing Mauer to have more counting stat opportunities in the future as well. It may be an attempt to turn back the clock, but it is hard to ignore the way Mauer looks at the plate now.