In less than three months, the Minnesota Twins will be hosting the All-Star Break at Target Field.
The ballots were officially released on Friday, and for the first time in his career, Joe Mauer is listed as a potential player for first base.
However, Mauer is facing tough competition this year for the All-Star spot, with other contenders being Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Other Twins on the All-Star ballot are catcher Kurt Suzuki, designated hitter Jason Kubel, second baseman Brian Dozier, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, shortstop Pedro Florimon and outfielders Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham.
In his 11th Major League season, Mauer is spending his very first season as a first baseman, having made the move from catcher after a season-ending concussion last year. In his 11 years, Mauer has been named the American League MVP for 2009, is a six-time All-Star (2006, 2008-2010, 2012-2013), three-time American League batting champion (2006, 2008-2009), three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2008-2010), five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2006, 2008-2010, 2013), and a World Baseball Classic participant for 2013.
Mauer has also been putting up fairly decent numbers over the years to gain those awards, as well. Overall, Mauer has 1,439 hits, 284 doubles, 20 triples, 106 home runs, 640 RBI, 44 stolen bases and has a .322/.404/.465 average.
This year has been a slow start for the Minnesota native, as he only has a .266/.378/.319 average with just one home run, two doubles and six RBIs in 23 games. Manager Ron Gardenhire has state that he is not too concerned about the slow start, and I’m sure Mauer isn’t concerned, either.
The big question then is, will he make the cut?
No doubt about it.
But will he be the starting first baseman?
It’s tough to tell.
With the other prospects on the ballot, it’s going to be a tough competition indeed. Pujols made headlines recently as becoming the 26th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs in his career. And Pujols has by far the best numbers of the potential first basemen in the running for the All-Star spot. In 23 games, he currently has a .299/.358/.639 average with 29 hits, including six doubles, 9 home runs and 21 RBIs.
Chris Davis has somewhat similar numbers to Mauer. In 22 games so far this season, Davis has a .250/.372/.382 average with 19 hits, including four doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs.
Miguel Cabrera is also in a similar ballpark. In 21 games, Cabrera has a .259/.308/.412 average with 22 hits, including seven doubles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.
At this point in the season, I think that Mauer has a high chance of making the All-Star Break, especially since it is being held in Minnesota this year. As for starting the game, I think that honor may be going to Albert Pujols. With what he has accomplished, particularly with his home run achievement, there may be no doubt that he’ll be the one covering first at the start of the game. But, I’m sure that Mauer will be a very close second.
Related link: Mauer in impressive first-base race on All-Star Ballot