But before we get too wrapped up in Mauer's strikeout pace -- basically one per game, way more than his career average -- we want to take a step back and acknowledge an amazing 15-game stretch that we might not ever see from Joe again because of the numbers it produced.
During a 15-game stretch starting April 30 against Detroit and ending Saturday against Boston, Mauer had:
*At least one hit in every game, giving him a 15-game hitting streak. That was one short of his career-long streak of 16. He has 11 career double-digit hitting streaks, it should be noted -- including two this season.
*At least one strikeout in every game. So yes, he had at least one hit and one strikeout in 15 consecutive games. His hitting streak ended Sunday, but he fanned three more times in that game to make it 16 consecutive games with at least one strikeout. His longest strikeout streak prior to that? Six consecutive games.
*His batting average during the streak was .443, which is impressive enough. But his batting average on balls in play was an astounding .659 (27 for 41). We tried to explain BABIP to the RandBall Better Half this weekend, and she wanted nothing of it. "So it's like when he does something good, he does something really good?" she questioned. "It makes no sense. Tell everyone in the baseball community they can't have Babip (pronounced as a word, not an acronym). They can only have regular batting average." But we digress. Basically two of every three times Mauer put the ball in play during the streak, he got a hit -- evidence of some luck, but also hitting the ball with authority. His career BABIP is .348. this year, it's almost 100 points higher (.447).
*He didn't homer during the streak, but he did have 12 doubles, helping him to a .639 slugging percentage (for perspective, he slugged .587 during his MVP year in 2009). In spite of hitting for pop, Mauer had only five runs batted in during his streak. As a result, the streak was wasted in some ways. The Twins, after all, only went 6-9 in those 15 games despite having their best hitter about as hot as he gets.