Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/14/13
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Joe Mauer played a career-high 147 games last season after playing just 82 games in 2011. In fact, Mauer has actually registered at least 550 plate appearances in six of the last eight years, falling short in 2007 (471 PA in 109 games) and 2011. He’s even topped 600 plate appearances three times in the last five years and four times overall. I’d still classify Mauer as an injury-prone player, but I was surprised by how many games he’s actually been healthy for.I was also surprised that Mauer, the man who has challenged for and won batting titles for the past seven years on the strength of great plate discipline and strong contact, actually posted best line drive rate of his career in 2012 (25.0%). And — fun fact! — did you know that Mauer has walked more than he’s struck out in six of the last seven years with 2011′s injury-riddled numbers the only year he failed to do it?Mauer will be 30 years old this April and at this point you know exactly what he is. I’m just glad that even at 30 years of age he’s still capable of being the player we saw five years ago.At a GlanceStrengths: R, BA, RBI, OBP, OPSWeaknesses: HR, SLGNeutral: SBPlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Buster Posey (SF) but less powerLikely scenario: Martin Prado (ARI), Derek Jeter (NYY), Melky Cabrera (TOR)Worst-case scenario: injured, otherwise Yadier Molina (STL)Joe Mauer 2013 Fantasy ProjectionWhen presenting the following numbers I’m just going to toss Mauer’s 2011 out the window. He was hurt. He missed time. It could happen again. Factor that into where you want to slot him in drafts, but I want to talk about who Mauer is when he’s on the field, which is actually a lot of the time.He’s scored 80+ runs in each of the last four seasons, driven in 85+ in three of the last four, hit either 9 or 10 homers in three of the last four (and 28 that one year, wtf?), and batted at least .319 in four straight. Cumulatively that means we’re looking at a projected line around 80 runs, 10 homers, 85 RBI, and a .320 average. This comes pretty close to our expected line of 80 runs, 11 homers, 80 RBI, and a .316 average.You might notice we have Mauer a little lower on the RBI and the average while pegging him at the lower end of the runs spectrum. We did this for two reasons:Mauer’s injury historyTwins GM Terry Ryan said Mauer will play around 125 games at catcher in 2013Are you serious? Why, Terry? Why?! Mauer played 74 games behind the plate last year in a career-high amount of games played overall. Maybe he could handle that when he was 25, the last time he played over 125 games at catcher, but now he’s 30.I’ll approach Mauer this year with the same cautious optimism that I approach him with every year, and his current ADP of 56.6 is far too high for my liking.
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