Fans sour on Mauer after latest clutch whiff

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A chorus of boos echoed through Target Field on Wednesday night after Twins first baseman Joe Mauer struck out in the seventh inning of a 1-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The Pioneer Press reports the boos only lasted for about five seconds, but it was five seconds in which the crowd of more than 26,000 released its frustration.

"I don't even really have a comment for that," Mauer said. "Just a tough night. Runs were at a premium. I'm probably a lot more frustrated than those people that were booing."

CBS Sports took the angle of saying Mauer handled the booing like a pro.

Sometimes being booed by hometown fans is part of the job -- a job that pays Joe Mauer $23 million a year to play a game. And when he succeeds, he's treated like a God. That is also part of the job. Kudos to Mauer for getting it.

There's good reason for both Mauer and the fans to be upset. The Twins have lost five of six and Mauer is having a terrible season.

For perspective, take a look at what Mauer normally does over the course of a 162-game season compared to what he's done through 45 games this season. See all of Mauer's numbers at Baseball Reference.

  • Normal: .321 average, 14 home runs, 86 RBIs, .867 OPS
  • 2014: .277 average, two home runs, 15 RBIs, .712 OPS

His numbers are down in every category, but most noticeably in batting average and OPS. OPS is the combination of slugging percentage and on-base percentage – two of the most important stats in the game.

The stat from Nick Nelson tells part of the story why Mauer isn't ranked in the top five of American League first basemen in All-Star voting.

But wait, there's more.

The Pioneer Press dug up numbers that show Mauer is hitting just .194 (7 for 36) with 12 strikeouts in clutch situations this season, and he's hitting a paltry .227 against left-handed pitching.

Jim Souhan wrote earlier this month that Mauer's bad back was cause for his slow start, but Mauer told the Star Tribune after Wednesday's game that he's feeling pretty good.

“I’m feeling pretty good actually, which is even more frustrating,” he said. “I’m hitting a lot of balls hard and just not having much to show for it. Hopefully that turns here soon.”

Injuries have been a problem for Mauer throughout his career. He was off to a great start last season before a concussion cut his campaign to just 113 games, as recorded by USA Today.

Mauer's slow start, by his standards, could be comparable to slow starts that baseball greats Derek Jeter and Tony Gwynn suffered through. Props to Matt Zimmer of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader for digging up this golden nugget.

In 2004, a 30-year-old Derek Jeter woke up on June 1 hitting .192, 48 games into the season. He finished at .292.

In 1988, Tony Gwynn was hitting .246 as late as the 4th of July. He ended up winning the NL batting title.

Time will tell if Mauer can get back on track, but he's quite simply not getting the job done right now.

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