Mauer's home run propensity declined a bit over the final four months of the season, but he still finished with 28 jacks, more than doubling his previous career high. The rapid power development rounded out the one aspect of Mauer's offensive game, transforming him from a great hitter to the American League's most threatening hitter. He easily captured league MVP honors at season's end. At 26, it seemed that Mauer had finally discovered his power stroke.
Now, we're two months in to the 2010 season and Mauer has hit just two home runs. He's been healthy and his game is holding up in other aspects -- still hitting .321 with a .396 on-base percentage, still walking more than striking out, still driving in runs -- but Mauer's ability to put the ball over the fence has all but evaporated. After homering once per every 19 at-bats last year, Mauer has gone deep just twice in 159 at-bats in 2010.
The drop-off was hardly impossible to foresee. Here's what I said about Mauer in my preseason writeup of the catcher position:
As pitchers continue to adjust to Mauer, who hit nearly all his home runs to the opposite field last year, I suspect we'll see some reduction in the home run proclivity, particularly considering that many of his round-trippers barely cleared the wall last season. One might argue that a drop-off in homer frequency might be offset by not missing a month of the season, but it probably isn't realistic to expect a whole lot more than 600 plate appearances from Mauer this year given that his previous career high in that category was 633 (again, this only helps reinforce how amazingly durable Mauer was after coming off the disabled list last year). I'd guess that Mauer's home run total this year will drop closer to 20 while his doubles total moves closer to 40.
True to form, Mauer's home run output has taken a dive early in this new season while he's on pace to set a career high with 41 doubles. Of course, the homer decline is more drastic than even I could have expected, as he'd have a very tough time reaching even double-digits at his current rate, but I suspect Mauer will bump up his long-ball tendencies over the next several months to finish with a respectable figure. Any thoughts that he might eclipse or surpass his homer total from a year ago are pretty much out the window at this point, though.