Is Bill Dickey’s record .362 mark for catchers in jeopardy?
The Minnesota Twins are among baseball’s hottest teams, but in a strange twist of fate, the division they play in is actually hurting their post-season aspirations as opposed to feeding them as per usual.
Wednesday’s win over the sagging Dodgers was the Twinkies’ lucky seventh straight. Minny was a dismal 27-34 and 11.5 games back in the AL Central after getting beat by the O’s on June 10. Since then, the club has gone an unconscious 15-1. And guess how many games they’ve shaved off of the Tigers’ lead with this run? Uh, try a half a game.
Such is the fate of the AL Central division also-rans this year. Go on a 15-1 tear and gain almost no ground. And as we discussed Thursday, the Tigers aren’t going anywhere soon. And with the White Sox nearly as hot as the other two clubs, any hope of getting into the Wild Card race also looks fairly remote. It appears that Minnesota just picked the wrong season to start sluggishly.
Johan Santana is going on another of his now-patented runs. How about seven shutout innings of two-hit, nine-strikeout ball on Wednesday? That’s win number nine and an ERA down to an AL-best 2.59 for the league’s most dominant lefty. Here’s his June: six starts, 5-0, 1.05 ERA. Yeah, I guess that’ll do. Let’s see… Santana leads the majors in strikeouts (124) and the league in WHIP (0.96) and IP. Can you say a second Cy Young award in three seasons? Sorry, Roy Halladay, but Johan rules the roost in the junior circuit.
And then there’s Joe Mauer. He’s a mere 11 for his past 13, including a run of eight straight hits at one point. I get excited when I go on a streak like that in slo-pitch. Friggin’ slo-pitch! Mauer’s June performance? Uh, a mere 46-for-95. That’s .484 for those keeping score at home. Just sick. For the season, Mauer is up to a major-league best .392. Catchers don’t often win batting titles as anyone that doesn’t live in a cave knows. But flirting with .400? We’re witnessing history here, folks. The highest full-season batting average ever for a catcher is .362 by Hall of Famer Bill Dickey in 1936 and equalled in 1997 by Mike Piazza, arguably the greatest hitting catcher ever… for now (no, Todd Pratt is not about to overtake him).
It’s gotten crazy enough that Torii Hunter wondered what the 23-year-old Mauer is “going to do when he gets man muscles.” Good question. I’ll be 40 next month and I’m still wondering what I’m going to do when I get man muscles. Maybe I’ll lift up a Smart Car and move it somewhere for kicks. Oh, the possibilities.