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Molina, Simmons and Cardinals 20 home run hitters

In their 5-0 win over Houston on Wednesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals reached a team milestone for the first time.

Third baseman David Freese and catcher Yadier Molina each hit their 20th home runs of 2012. This is the first time in history the team has five players with 20 or more homers in one season. Carlos Beltran (29), Matt Holliday (27) and Allen Craig (21) had reached that figure earlier. (Further details here.)

Over time, the Cardinals haven’t been known as a home run-hitting franchise, Mark McGwire being a notable exception. While this current feat is an admirable measure of balance, it isn’t unusual for a number of other MLB clubs.

According to researcher Tom Orf, across MLB history, five different teams had seven players with 20 home runs or more. 13 clubs had six hitters with at least 20 long balls. With their current total of five, the 2012 Cardinals joined 66 other teams in MLB annals that accomplished it before them.

To me, the most notable member of the Cardinals current longball five is Molina, who is beginning to receive notice in discussions about the National League Most Valuable Player. On Wednesday night, he became the first Cardinals catcher to hit 20 or more home runs in a season since Ted Simmons had 21 in 1980.

In fact, Molina is now tied with Simba for third on the single-season home run list by a Cardinals catcher. With one more, he will tie for second. While Molina would need a whopping six more in St. Louis’ final 13 games to gain a share of the top, his feat is still most admirable.

Home runs as a catcher, St. Louis Cardinals, season, team history

Player Year HR
Ted Simmons 1979 26
Ted Simmons 1977 21
Ted Simmons 1980 20
Yadier Molina 2012 20
Ted Simmons 1978 18
Ted Simmons 1974 17
Ted Simmons 1975 16
Ted Simmons 1972 15
Darrell Porter 1983 15
Yadier Molina 2011 14
Ted Simmons 1973 13
Gene Oliver 1962 13
Tim McCarver 1967 13
Eddie Ainsmith 1922 13
Hal Smith 1959 13
Tom Pagnozzi 1996 13
Todd Zeile 1990 12
Del Rice 1947 12
Bill DeLancey 1934 12
Carl Sawatski 1962 12
Darrell Porter 1982 12
Tim McCarver 1966 12
Joe Torre 1970 11
Del Rice 1952 11
Darrell Porter 1984 11
Tim McCarver 1965 11
Walker Cooper 1944 11
Darrell Porter 1985 10
Tony Pena 1988 10

(Note that the above table does not include home runs hit that season while playing at other positions.)

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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7 Responses to “Molina, Simmons and Cardinals 20 home run hitters”

  1. crdswmn says:

    Molina is getting more notice for MVP, but he is still behind Posey, Braun, and McCutcheon.

    McCutcheon’s performance has dropped off and his team is sinking fast. His August was terrible and his September numbers are better but still not significantly better than Molina’s. Braun has great numbers and his team is surging, but I wonder if his PED issues will haunt him. Posey clearly is the front runner, but I get a little annoyed at all the “best catcher in the NL” labels he gets. He’s the best offensive player who just happens to be a catcher, that is all. He might as well play another position, because it isn’t his catching abilities that stand out. They are pretty average. I know defense is weighted much lower when MVP voting comes around, but in my opinion it shouldn’t be, especially for one with the defensive caliber of Molina who stands out head and shoulders above the rest. But, it is what it is, and Molina would have to have a surge in his offensive numbers in the last two weeks to have any shot of overtaking Posey.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Molina has always been able to make contact. He does not whiff easily.
    His evolution into excellent hitter has taken time. He has taken a major leap forward during 2011 and 2012, his 8th and 9th seasons in the Show. His worst season as a hitter was his 3rd, 2006, when his OPS was beneath 600, beneath the Izturis line. Now it is near 900. Baseball entails learning and ML players can improve their hitting through the years. Molina is one of the clearest examples of hitting improvement.

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