In what was arguably the play of the game in one of the wildest St. Louis Cardinals contests in recent years, catcher Yadier Molina launched a two-run home run in the ninth inning in Miami on Monday night.
Down by two, the Cards were just one out away from defeat. With a runner on first, Molina connected off Marlins closer Heath Bell to tie the score. St. Louis went on to win in the tenth inning by an 8-7 margin.
The dramatic blast was Molina’s 11th home run of the 2012 season and put him just three short of his career-best year. The 29-year-old launched 14 long balls in 2011. At this point last season, Molina had four.
From a historical perspective, this is the second-best home run pace by a Cardinals catcher in team history. Only Ted Simmons, with 18 home runs through the first 75 games of the 1979 season, had a faster start as a catcher than Molina.
At the right of the table that follows is the single-season home run leaderboard for Cardinals catchers. Simba added just eight more home runs following game 75 in 1979 to finish with the team record of 26 for the position. The gold standard for power-hitting catchers in franchise history, Simmons logged seven of the eight seasons that topped Molina’s 14 long balls last year.
Most home runs by a catcher, St. Louis Cardinals, through 75 games and full-season
|Thru 75 Games||Season|
|1||Ted Simmons||1979||18||1||Ted Simmons||1979||26|
|2||Yadier Molina||2012||11||2||Ted Simmons||1977||21|
|3||Ted Simmons||1980||10||3||Ted Simmons||1980||20|
|4||Darrell Porter||1983||9||4||Ted Simmons||1978||18|
|4||Ted Simmons||1977||9||5||Ted Simmons||1974||17|
|4||Ted Simmons||1975||9||6||Ted Simmons||1975||16|
|4||Ted Simmons||1974||9||7||Darrell Porter||1983||15|
|4||Hal Smith||1959||9||7||Ted Simmons||1972||15|
|9||Joe Torre||1970||8||9||Yadier Molina||2011||14|
|9||Eddie Ainsmith||1922||8||10||Tom Pagnozzi||1996||13|
|11||Todd Zeile||1990||7||10||Ted Simmons||1973||13|
|11||Ted Simmons||1972||7||10||Tim McCarver||1967||13|
|11||Tim McCarver||1965||7||10||Gene Oliver||1962||13|
|11||Carl Sawatski||1962||7||10||Hal Smith||1959||13|
|11||Tony Pena||1988||7||10||Eddie Ainsmith||1922||13|
|16||Eli Marrero||1999||6||16||Todd Zeile||1990||12|
|16||Darrell Porter||1984||6||16||Darrell Porter||1982||12|
|16||Ted Simmons||1978||6||16||Tim McCarver||1966||12|
|16||Tim McCarver||1967||6||16||Carl Sawatski||1962||12|
|16||Gene Oliver||1963||6||16||Del Rice||1947||12|
|16||Del Rice||1947||6||16||Bill DeLancey||1934||12|
Note that Molina already ranks in a tie for the 22nd-best season with his year-to-date total of 11. With game 75 being Tuesday night in Miami, Molina technically has one more game to add to his fast start total.
If Molina could double his total the rest of the way this season – far from a sure thing given the heat of summer and the grind of catching every day – his theoretical total of 22 homers would rank as the second-best year for a catcher in team history, just four behind Simmons high-water mark.
The table above was provided by researcher Tom Orf.