The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

TCN blog 2013 top story #3: Molina’s MVP bid

The days when some pundits trashed the St. Louis Cardinals for signing catcher Yadier Molina for a five-year, $75 million contract have long passed.

During 2013, the 31-year-old cemented his reputation as the game’s top defensive player, continued to improve his offensive contributions and again led his club into the World Series.

Given the unusually high number of rookie pitchers and innings they were needed to pitch, Molina’s steady leadership behind the plate was a key to the Cardinals success.

Molina led the Cardinals in batting for the third consecutive season (.319) and finished fourth in the NL. He tied for seventh in multi-hit games (50), tied for fifth in three-hit games (14) and tied for third in four-hit games (4). The right-handed batter was fifth-toughest to strike out in the NL (one per every 9.84 plate appearances). His 44 doubles were second-most by an NL catcher and set a new all-time team record for the position.

The Puerto Rican native was the top vote-getter for the National League All-Star team and received his sixth consecutive Gold Glove Award following the season.

Throwing out runners daring enough to try to steal against him is Molina’s forte. This season, he gunned down an MLB-best 42.2 percent (19 of 45). Despite missing 14 games with a knee sprain, he led NL catchers in games played (131), innings caught (1115 1/3), total chances (1043) and putouts (976).

While playing all of those innings, Molina guided the Cardinals youthful staff. The Cards led MLB with 36 wins by rookie pitchers, the most for St. Louis since 1941. The club sent pitchers age 25 or younger to the mound to start 67 games, winning 40 with a 3.10 ERA.

Overall, the Cardinals starters’ 3.42 ERA was second-best in the league. The team ERA, also 3.42, was fifth.

Molina’s day in and day out leadership of the Cardinals – evidenced by their 97 wins, the most in the National League – was a difference-maker. I believe the catcher is the most indispensable player on his team.

Some believe that the Cardinals’ two Most Valuable Player candidates split the vote, keeping either from winning. Molina came in third and teammate Matt Carpenter was fourth, however Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen collected 28 of 30 first-place votes as the landslide MVP winner.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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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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16 Responses to “TCN blog 2013 top story #3: Molina’s MVP bid”

  1. […] Hall selection 5. Wainwright’s continuing leadership 4. Matt Carpenter’s rise 3. Molina’s MVP bid 2. […]

  2. blingboy says:

    Yadi turns 32 this season, which isn’t old. Except he has ten ML seasons worth of wear and tear under his belt, at a physically greuling position, so it sort of is. He is just a few innings short of 9,900 behind the plate in the bigs. A couple thousand more in the minors. 4,600 PAs. He’s been a horse. We need him to last so we better start being more careful. A 32 year old body is not a 22 year old body.

    And we need somebody to start looking like a successor in the next couple years.

    • crdswmn says:

      I agree, but unless Carson Kelly pans out, there is no one currently in the system that is anywhere close to replacing Molina. They are going to have to draft one, and high ceiling catchers usually go too high in the draft for the Cardinals to get them. They will have to hope they find a diamond in the rough somewhere and then keep it a secret.

      They could try to con Dayton Moore into trading us Salvador Perez. 🙂

      • Brian Walton says:

        It takes work and some luck, but it can be done. Remember that Molina was a fourth-rounder. All they need is one catching gamble per decade to come through… 😉

        • blingboy says:

          If we can’t come up with a more impressive catching prospect than Bean with the 59th overall pick, we could be in trouble.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Plenty of 59th overall picks do not pan out, especially high schoolers (though I am not suggesting the Cards have given up on Bean). Either way, it doesn’t mean they should stop trying. Further, a selection at one spot has nothing to do with the capabilities of the player picked the next round, let alone the same round the next year.

            • blingboy says:

              One issue I see coming along is that nobody is going to look really good next to Yadi. The bar is impossibly high.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Fair point, but so it is with anyone unfortunate enough to have to follow a future Hall of Famer. (I think Molina is on that trajectory.) Molina will not eventually lose the position because someone else is better. At some point, physically Molina and the Cardinals overall will be better off with him at first base. The Cards have to hope that is years in the future though.

                • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                  Seriously doubt that he ends up at first. Cards argued long and hard the Molina was worth at least 15 million less than he got. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t have at least had that knee cleaned up in the off season. Give that one some thought? Did he? Or didn’t he? How could they not expect that of demand that of him. How about his insurance carrier should he miss portions of 2014?

                  If you tell me he didn’t need it……….. lets watch…….if he did?…….and didn’t get it……. what does that tell you? Did I miss the announcement?

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    I didn’t mean at first in 2014, I meant eventually. Good question about knee surgery. I will look into it.

                  • blingboy says:

                    A thought, looking forword a few years. Just because Yadi can no longer catch regularly does not mean he will be the best availible option to play 1B. What then?

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      Then the other 1B will move to make room for Molina.

                    • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                      He is deadly slow. When his legs are thought to be too damaged to catch….how fast is he then?

                      If he missed half of 2014…………. all the young pitching could fail….. and that would be the reason…… they managing his career? like it or not…no legit insurance carrier would have allowed the Garcia…….Furcal……. or Motte scenarios to come to pass…… period………. you guys have asked for this situation……. watch the issues play out….. keep in mind, if they say he gets a procedure, he gets it…….. all of this Furcal and Garcia taking positions is BS……. a team can file a grievance on those issues without a problem.

              • crdswmn says:

                We are not likely to find another Molina, but if we can find a guy who is a 75%-80% Molina, I say we grab him.

                Guys like Molina are once in a lifetime.

                • blingboy says:

                  I think we will have to accept less than 75% as good. I say that because Yadi excels at every aspect of the job. Nothing really close to that is going to happen. To put a number on it, a 2.5 WAR guy could be said to be 50% as good. The guy would also have to be half as valuable as to those aspects of the catcher job that do not factor into WAR, but which Yadi also excels at, in spades.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    When Johnny Bench retired, the Reds did not have another Johnny ready to call upon. The drawback to having a great catcher is he is very hard to replace. A big falloff is normal.

    The Cards gambled a second rounder on USC’s Stock in 2009, inadequate as a hitter. 4th rounder Stanley 2010. 6th rounder Erlich 2011. 2nd round Bean in 2012, no high pick in 2013. Further back, there was first round Barton in 2003, 4th round Anderson 2005. They ink a kid catcher from Venezuela most years. Audry Perez has oddly declined as a hitter the past two seasons, despite hitting before. If they keep up the search, some more catchers will emerge in time.

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