if you weren't running all over town last night trying to find a Favre jersey, perhaps you watched Joe Mauer continue an amazing stretch of play with three more hits and two more home runs -- in this case, enough to lift the Twins to a victory.
Mauer has been blistering-hot lately: a 15-game hitting streak during which he is 33 for 63 (.524) with seven home runs and 19 RBI. And, sadly, the Twins are 5-10 during that stretch, mostly because their pitchers have undergone some sort of medical procedure that gives them a bad case of "Scott Arm." (Klingenbeck for the righties, Aldred for the lefties).
The Twins are 57-62 this season. They were 11-11 without Mauer in the month of April and 46-51 since. In those 97 games since Mauer has been on the active roster, he has 25 home runs and 77 RBI in 363 at bats.
1) Is it possible for Mauer to make a run at .400? Well, there are 43 games left on the schedule. Let's say he continues to average the same number of at bats per Twins game that he's been active for during the rest of the year (3.74). That would mean another 161 at bats, which would put him at 524 for the season. The lowest number of hits needed to bat .400 in that many at bats is 210. Mauer currently has 139 hits, so he would need 71 more in his final 161 at bats to hit .400 if all paces stay the same. That's a .441 clip for the final quarter of the season. Translation: Mauer would need to come close to replicating the two hottest stretches of his season (May and these past 15 games, when he was a combined 74 for 162). Not impossible, but not likely for someone who has taken a pounding at catcher.
2) Is it a crime that the Twins have wasted such magnificent years from Mauer, Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau? (Yes, yes it is).
3) Even if the Twins continue to flounder in mediocrity, is Mauer a viable MVP candidate? If he winds up hitting somewhere around .360-.370 with 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI, perhaps winning another batting title in the process, he would have to at least become part of the conversation, right?