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Fantasy Baseball: Will Mauer's Power Return?

After a remarkable 2009 Joe Mauer likely didn't earn his wage in most if not all fantasy leagues last year. Heading into 2011 his price remains high but is much lower than last year meaning there is a better chance he will return a profit. If he recaptures some of the power he showed in 2009 he would again be among the game's most valuable players. But how likely is that to happen?

Mauer's 28 home runs in 09 were a bit of a surprise considering he had totaled 29 the previous three seasons. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise when he dropped to 9 in 2010. The problem with Mauer's power is he doesn't hit the ball in the air often enough to be considered a power hitter. His HR/FB was a dismal 6.7% last year so what little time he put the ball in the air it didn't go far. Target Field is thought to be a pitcher friendly ballpark so a return to near 30 HR production seems unlikely.

There is still hope for a 20+ HR season though. It is possible that Mauer struggled at learning how to get the ball out of his new home park and he could see a power revival the way David Wright bounced back in 2010. The only difference is Wright had established himself as a power threat for 4 1/2 seasons whereas Mauer only had 1 productive power year. There is also the chance that Mauer sacrifices some hits for more home runs by putting the ball in the air more often, however, with his career HR/FB rate he would have a hard time reaching 20 HR.

It appears that Joe Mauer isn't the monster we saw in 2009 and he is more likely to struggle to hit double digits. He is going to give you .320+ in AVG but without the power he does little to separate himself from the catching pack. He is sure to be a strong performer and power upside remains but unless he shows something this year it's best to forget about 28 and readjust your sights to 8. Right now he should be valued right alongside V-Mart, McCann and Posey.