There is only one day until the start of the MLB playoffs and SportsPickle is previewing each playoff team. Today: Minnesota Twins.
With only three games left in the regular season, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer is within reach of baseball immortality. If he can string together a few hits in the final weekend of the season, Mauer can be the first player to hit .400 since Ted Williams in 1941.
"It won't be easy," says Mauer, who will need to go 28-for-28 in the three closing games against the Royals to get it done. "But hitting .400 isn't easy."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says the toughest part for his young catcher will be getting off to a good start.
"If he can open the series with a nice 10-for-10 or 11-for-11 game, I think everything else will fall into place," said Gardenhire. "But we have to help him out, too. We have to put him in situations where he is getting good pitches to hit. Also, we have to play 20-inning games."
Mauer enters the series hitting .367 on the season, needing to up his average only 33 points over the final three games to reach the milestone.
"Back at the start of the season I raised my average from .000 to .700 in three games," says Mauer. "I know I can do something like that again. In fact, .400 might even be a conservative goal."
While Mauer and the Twins are eyeing history, the Royals say they don't want to be the team Mauer achieves history against.
"No one wants to be the pitcher who let a guy hit .400," says Royals ace Zach Greinke. "And absolutely no one wants to be the pitcher who let a guy go 11-for-11 off of them. Although I don't know if my arm has enough in it at this point in the season to throw 20 innings."
At the end of the weekend, Mauer will either reach .400 or he won't. And he knows it. The pressure is on.
"I'm honestly not too nervous," he says. "There is room for error. I don't have to be perfect. I can foul some pitches off. Or I can go 29-for-30. I'll be okay."