As I begin to think about our annual awards for the top players across the St. Louis Cardinals system this year, the question of the major league club’s MVP is front and center.
Is it the perennial winner Albert Pujols, who has come on strongly late in the season? Could it be the cleanup hitter Matt Holliday, about whom manager Tony La Russa told me Monday, “This club is built around Matt”? Then there is surprising Lance Berkman, who may receive a majority of votes for the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.
One who gets little notice other than for his defense, as recognized by Gold Glove Awards and All-Star Game selections, is catcher Yadier Molina. In 2011, people should celebrate his offensive contributions as well.
The 29-year-old had never hit double-digits in home runs before smacking 13 this season and needs just one more RBI to match his career-best of 62 set last year. His .298 batting average and 133 hits are highest among National League catchers.
Molina’s Tuesday night double was his 30th of the season. He is the first Cardinals catcher to collect 30 or more doubles since Ted Simmons in 1980 and is only the fourth to ever accomplish the feat. As such, it is not surprising that Molina’s current OPS of .792 is not only a career best, it is almost 100 points above his eight-season average.
Simmons remains the Cardinals catching gold standard, with six of the team’s nine seasons of 30 doubles by a catcher. (He had two other seasons of over 30 doubles, as well, but fewer than 30 were while he was stationed behind the plate.) The other 30 doubles-hitting catchers are Bob O’Farrell in 1926 and Walker Cooper in 1943.
|30 or more doubles by Cardinals catchers||Year||As catcher||All positions|
Thanks to researcher Tom Orf for the above data.