Cardinals Should Give Yadier Molina More Time at First
Over the past few seasons, while not only becoming the best catcher in baseball, Yadier Molina has stepped up as an offensive force in the Saint Louis Cardinals lineup. However, Molina is on the wrong side of 30 for catchers and that usually starts the trend of stints on the DL or more frequent days off. That thought won’t sit will with Molina who is one baseball player that hates being idle for too long.
Since 2009, Molina has had at least 518 plate appearances–which is a lot for a catcher who spends at least 95% of his innings behind the plate–and has played in no less than 136 games. Many catchers split time with their backups and even platoon at first base. That might be something St. Louis–and Molina–might want to consider this year.
Molina is a career .279 hitter and has maintained an average OPS just shy of .800 in the past three seasons. His power has taken off (.173 ISO) in the last two years and has and average wRC+ of 114 in the past four.
Want more proof of his offensive effectiveness? He’s only broken the 10% strikeout rate once since his rookie year in 2004.
Getting Molina to 600-plus at bats will only help one of the top offenses in baseball be that more potent as they attempt to go for “12 in ’13″. The Cardinals could do that by working Yadi in at first base more. Molina will start at first in Thursday’s spring training game against the Miami Marlins as a primer for potentially being the starter for Puerto Rico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Molina isn’t familiar, but isn’t exactly a stranger, to first base having played there at least on inning since 2005. Given his comptetative edge and drive to win, the Cardinals are also missing some ‘oomph’ when he’s riding the pine.
John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny should watch Yadi closely in the WBC while he’s at first. It needs to become a spot he’s comfortable with if they want to keep his production for another few years.