Like an impressionist painting, the Cooperstown credentials of Yadier Molina become clearer when you take a step back and look at the entire picture.
Originally known as the little brother of Bengie and Jose Molina, he has turned their identities to “Yadier’s big brothers.”
A big leaguer since he was 21, Molina has quietly evolved into a superstar. Defensively, he became the best in the business and a perennial lock for the Gold Glove. Consistently, he would throw more runners out that any other catcher. And Molina’s Total Zone Runs among catcher would be among the best if not the best every year.
As a handler of pitchers, he has no peer. While much of the credit for the St. Louis Cardinals mindboggling success with young pitchers and reclamation projects went to Dave Duncan, it continued after his departure. The common factor from Jeff Weaver to Jeff Suppan to Kyle Lohse to Jason Motte and Michael Wacha? Throwing to Molina.
Now he can add elite hitter to his resume. Once known only for his glove, Yadier Molina has become a consistent .300 batter, passing the mark four times including in the last three seasons. As he becomes an offensive weapon as well as a defensive force, Molina has reached the level of MVP candidate. This year will probably result in his second straight top five MVP finish.
The Cardinals have won World Series titles throughout the years with a Hall of Famer at the center of the team, such as Rogers Hornsby, Dizzy Dean, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith and Albert Pujols.
The current Cardinals team looks to join those legends. The face of the post Pujols Cardinals is Yadier Molina, who might not look like a Hall of Famer at first. But keep looking. He is quietly but steadily making his case.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Francis Sullivan is the creator of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast, which produces a new episode seven days a week year round. He also writes the blog Sully Baseball, is the lead writer for MLBReports.com and has been featured on HBO Sports and ESPN2. He’s an Emmy nominated television producer whose credits include "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart", "Ax Men" and "The Bonnie Hunt Show. He is also an award-winning filmmaker. He lives in California. Please call him Sully.