With each home run, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina extends his second consecutive career-best season. The 29-year-old cranked number 19 on Friday night in Los Angeles.
In doing so, Molina joined teammate David Freese on the very edge of joining the 20-home run club for the first time in their respective major league careers.
That kind of power balance has is unprecedented in team history. If/when the next time Molina and Freese go deep, it will mark the Cardinals first-ever season of five players with at least 20 home runs.
The others include Allen Craig, who already launched his first-ever 20th homer as a major leaguer almost three weeks ago, on August 26, but remains stuck there. Earlier, veterans Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday blew past 20 on their way to their current home run totals of 29 and 27, respectively.
There won’t be a sixth as this group is most secure at the top of the team’s home run leader board this season. No other Cardinals hitter has even a double-digit total. In fact, Matt Carpenter, who like Molina went deep in Dodger Stadium on Friday night, is next with just six.
As individuals, the 2012 Cardinals lack the home run propensity of Albert Pujols, who was often among the league leaders. Still, as a team, this year’s Cards rank a respectable seventh in the National League with 146 long balls. In overall runs scored, St. Louis is just three off the league lead, currently held by the surging Brewers.
I asked researcher Tom Orf to pull the top home-run hitting groups in team history.
Four past Cardinals clubs had four 20-homer players, while the current team sits alongside the 2006 World Champions with five at 19 or more. That season, Jim Edmonds ended with 19 as they just fell short of the record that is now so close to being achieved in the final 18 games of the 2012 season.
St. Louis Cardinals, most 20-home run hitters in a season, team history
|2008||4||Rick Ankiel 25||Troy Glaus 27||Ryan Ludwick 37||Albert Pujols 37|
|2004||4||Jim Edmonds 42||Albert Pujols 46||Scott Rolen 34||Reggie Sanders 22|
|2001||4||J.D. Drew 27||Jim Edmonds 30||Mark McGwire 29||Albert Pujols 37|
|1998||4||Ron Gant 26||Brian Jordan 25||Ray Lankford 31||Mark McGwire 70|
St. Louis Cardinals, most 19- home run hitters in a season, team history
|2012||5||Carlos Beltran 29||Allen Craig 20||David Freese 19||Matt Holliday 27||Yadier Molina 19|
|2006||5||Chris Duncan 22||Jim Edmonds 19||Juan Encarnacion 19||Albert Pujols 49||Scott Rolen 22|