Red-hot Mauer looks to extend hitting success in Tampa

Since July 4, Joe Mauer is batting .352 with a .441 on-base percentage and .557 slugging percentage.

Jim Mone/AP

There’s no denying that Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is on a hot streak lately.

Mauer has 12 hits over his last four games (his slash line is a scorching .667/.714/1.222). But his superb batwork extends further than that.

Since July 4, Mauer is batting .352 with a .441 on-base percentage and .557 slugging percentage. In those 24 games (21 one of which he started), he has 21 runs and 13 RBI with 14 walks and 11 strikeouts. (Minnesota is also 14-10 in those games.)

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Only four players in the majors have a better batting average over this span: Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (.418), Houston’s Jose Altuve (.369), Atlanta’s Adonis Garcia (.366) and the Angels’ Andrelton Simmons (.352). Only Votto (.543), Cleveland’s Mike Napoli (.444) and the Angels’ Mike Trout (.442) have a better on-base percentage. Mauer is also tied for fifth in runs during this time period.

With the Twins in Tampa Bay to play the Rays, history suggests Mauer isn’t about to cool down. His .455 career on-base percentage is the highest of any active player vs. an opponent (minimum 250 plate appearances). The players closest to him are some of the biggest names in baseball: Albert Pujols (.451 vs. Montreal/Washington), Trout (.450 vs. Texas) and Miguel Cabrera (.448 vs. Texas and .447 vs. Montreal/Washington).

Mauer also owns a .360 career batting average and .477 slugging percentage against the Rays. At Tropicana Field, Mauer is even better: .398 batting average, .500 on-base percentage and .585 slugging percentage in 30 career games. His batting average and slugging percentage are his highest at any ballpark in which he’s had at least 25 plate appearances.

If Mauer can do what he usually does, the Twins have a good chance of winning against Tampa Bay. And if Minnesota is winning, there’s a good chance Max Kepler is involved, too.

Kepler has the highest slugging percentage in team wins for any player in the American League this season (min. 100 PA) at .767. Next up on the list are Cleveland’s Tyler Naquin (.754), Toronto’s Josh Donaldson (.739), Trout (.731) and Boston’s David Ortiz (.726).

Overall, Kepler is hitting .311 with a .392 on-base percentage and 14 — of his 15 — home runs in Minnesota victories this season.

Other notes:

— Since June 19, Ervin Santana ranks first in the American League in opponent on-base percentage (.245) and opponent OPS (.523). He is also second in ERA (1.96) and opponent slugging percentage (.277).

— 51.7 percent of Tampa Bay’s total bases are via infielders. That is the highest percentage in the AL since 1974. The previous high was 50.4 percent in 2005 by Baltimore and 2003 by Texas.

Statistics courtesy STATS LLC and baseball-reference.com