The St. Louis Cardinals need to have catcher Yadier Molina healthy if they want to advance past the NLDS. It doesn’t matter if the Cardinals play the Cincinnati Reds or the Pittsburgh Pirates; if they would happen to lose Molina for some reason, the Cardinals’ season would be over.
Molina has become one of the best offensive catchers in the game over the past few seasons. In the 2013 regular season, Molina hit for a .319/.359/.477 slash line in 541 plate appearances. When you add the fact that the Cardinals are playing without the 13 home runs and 97 RBIs that Allen Craig provided in the regular season, it makes Molina much more important.
Molina has always been a superior defensive catcher. He seemingly wins the NL Gold Glove award at catcher each and every season. He has even won the Platinum Glove, which goes to the best overall defender, twice. Of the 46 stolen bases that were attempted against him this season, Molina threw out 20 of them.
He is also a very good game-caller and his pitchers love throwing to him. Much like Russell Martin of the Pirates, Molina’s pitchers never hesitate to give their catcher a lot of credit when they throw a great game. Without Molina, it’s hard to tell where the Cardinals would be at this point.
Molina is a definite MVP candidate, and in any other year, he would probably be the most likely to win it. Unfortunately for him, Andrew McCutchen and the Bucs have done something that hasn’t taken place in 20 years, so the votes are probably going to swing in his favor.
It doesn’t matter who the Cardinals play — if Molina is healthy, the Cards will be the favorite; if he isn’t, they probably don’t stand a chance.