Sunday afternoon provided a few rare swings-and-misses (pun somewhat intended) from St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Not only did the fantastic veteran strike out in an 0-for-4 performance but he failed to guide his pitching staff through a game where they twice had a three run lead. The ultimate result was a rare road loss for the Cards as they fell 7-5 at the Oakland A’s.
Nine times out of 10 Molina is as good as it gets when it comes to being a battery-mate for his pitchers. St. Louis has five complete games so far this season (best in MLB) plus they are in the top-tier for categories like team ERA, opponents batting average, and no team walks fewer batters than the Cards.
Molina has been a great defensive catcher with game calling skills for a while now, but the 2013 version of Yadier has also developed into an elite hitter. Everything pitchers do (practice, side sessions, etc.) is geared towards creating better planes to the plate for their pitches so as to attack the lowest part of the strike zone. Those pitches are the toughest to hit hard and generate the sort of backspin which hurts pitchers (home runs for example). Mistakes that are elevated get hit (hard) by MLB hitters, and this season even perfectly placed low strikes have been hit hard by Molina. He is abvle to use the entire field and he has developed into a t-o-u-g-h out. I am starting to hold him in the same reverence that I hold Miguel Cabrera. There is no place a pitcher can go to attack Miggy as his plate coverage is simply next-level, and that is what Molina has become too. Impressive stuff.
Molina will set career highs this season for batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS at the very least. His career best for doubles is 32, and he is already at 26 this season. The Molina’s are a legendary baseball family, and Molina is becoming a legend on his own as he has developed into a fantastic offensive and defensive asset.