Even a regression in AVG would still have Mauer hitting in the .330’s, but there is a chance that his power may not translate as well in the new Target Field. First of all, on cold days the ball won’t travel as far. Secondly, there will be wind, though we can’t say for sure which way it will blow on most days inside the bowl of the stadium without actual game data.
Using data from hittrackeronline.com, we can break down his power by location and length. One thing to note in this data is that Mauer led the Twins in home runs that were classified as “just enough” with 11 and seven of those came at home in the windless Metrodome.
In many ways Joe Mauer is comparable to David Wright in the sense that he is more of a pure hitter with power rather than just a pure power hitter. Mauer’s focus is not necessarily to try and hit home runs, but try and get a good pitch to hit and let his swing drive the ball where it is pitched. For instance, Mauer’s power isn’t prolific, it’s proficient. Hit Tracker Online uses two types of distance: “True Distance” and “Standard Distance” (definitions here). Last season the average true distance for the American League was 396.9 feet and the average standard distance was 394.8 feet. Joe Mauer’s average true distance of home runs hit was 397.7 feet and his average standard distance was 395.5 feet, both just slightly above the league average.
If all things were equal it would seem, given the new dimensions, that Joe Mauer would not suffer from the outdoor park. But what about that wind? What about Mauer’s injury past? What about the rise in his HR/FB rate from 6.5 percent in 2008 to just over 20 percent last season?
One interesting point that was brought up by Dave Cameron of Fan Graphs a week ago is that when Mauer pulls the ball he hits it on the ground 76.5 percent of the time. The next day, Dave Allen of Fan Graphs followed up with an article showing that Mauer hits for significantly less power the further the pitch gets inside inside. Which begs the question: Will opponents pick up on this and start pitching Mauer inside more? If they do, will that decreace his power output or will he adjust?
While it looks like Target Field is fit for Mauer’s swing, there are still a handful of questions that have yet to answer themselves when projecting his 2010 season. The safe bet is to say that he will regress a little in both AVG and power. That would still make him the clear cut number one fantasy catcher, but it would also make him a risky first round pick.
In no way does Joe Mauer project to be a bust in 2010. He should, even with a little regression, still hit for enough power and AVG to be a solid second round pick given his premium fantasy position. However, given some question marks and unknowns, using a first round pick (I have seen as high as pick number six) on Mauer is unadvisable given the consistent, proven bats that are available.