When Joe Mauer is healthy, he is going to hit. And be an All-Star.
He is headed to his fifth Midsummer's Classic after being named to the American League team that will take on the National League on July 10 at Kansas City. He is batting .324 and leads the AL with a .414 on-base percentage, numbers too good to ignore.
After playing in only 82 games in 2011 because of various injuries, Mauer has bounced back. He just completed a June in which he hit .397 with a .438 OBP and a .548 slugging percentage.
"Any time you get asked to the All-Star Game, it's a great honor," Mauer said. "After the season we had last year and the season I had last year, it's nice to go. It just kind of hit me that I'll be heading there."
Mauer was a special selection by AL manager Ron Washington and the league office, meaning he didn't get enough votes through fan or player balloting -- although he finished second on the fan ballot with 2,922,422 votes, nearly 1.4 million behind the 4,317,718 votes for Mike Napoli of the Rangers.
"He's played through an awful lot this year," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "and to be recognized like that is a nice thing. He is an All-Star, there's no doubt. One of the best catchers in the league if not the best, offensively and defensively. It's very, very deserved for Joe. We're all happy for him."
But only Joe Mauer could bring out the detractors.
Many Twins fans vented their displeasure online, arguing that outfielder Josh Willingham should have been the team's representative.
Twins President Dave St. Peter went on Twitter to defend Mauer, pointing out that he began the day having played 69 of 77 games when someone argued that he has played in half the Twins' games.
Willingham, by the way, was 21st among outfielders in fan balloting with 918,147 votes. And the pool for catchers is not nearly as deep as it is for outfielders.
"The only thing I can say is I'm happy with the way my season has gone so far," said Willingham, who hit a big three-run homer in Sunday's 10-8 victory over the Royals to give him 17 homers and 55 RBI on the season. "Obviously, we want to keep winning as a team and I'm happy for Joe. He deserves to go and he is going to represent this team well."
The AL reserve outfielders, Baltimore's Adam Jones and the Angels' Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout, are all having strong seasons. The 20-year-old Trout, called up after the season began, is the seventh-youngest position player to make the AL squad.
Mauer mentioned Willingham, along with Glen Perkins, Jared Burton and Denard Span, as worthy All-Star teammates.
"I was hoping to bring a couple with me," Mauer said.
"We have a lot of guys in there with great years and definitely deserve it."