Yadier Molina has been a staple on the Cardinals for 15 years, but is he good enough to be in Cooperstown?
Molina has always been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, but where people do not give him enough credit is with his bat. People say his offensive is heavily downgraded from his offense, but, that is very far from the truth.
Starting off with the basics, Molina’s career batting average, .282, compares to Johnny Bench’s and Ivan Rodriguez, two catchers who were praised for their defense in their careers. While Molina is not quite as powerful as the other two, one of the few true knocks against him, there are many other areas where he makes up for it. Molina is on pace to have more hits than Bench, and more RBI’s as both Bench and Rodriguez. As far as advanced stats go, Molinas OBP, Slugging and OPS are all very comparable to Ivan Rodriguez, who is considered one of the best hitting catchers of all time.
On defense, Molina really stands out. His fielding percentage and defensive runs saved are higher than both Bench and Rodriguez, and his amounts of pickoffs, double plays turned and amounts of passed balls and wild pitches are all close to, or on pace to be very similar to the other two. With that, Molina is also on pace to catch over 2,300 games in his career, roughly where Rodriguez sits.
However, there is a compelling argument against Molina too. Obviously, the biggest one is his offense, and that really shows with the lack of home runs. Believe it or not, that is a big stat that people look at for the Hall of Fame. With that, Molina’s WAR is not quite 50, which is usually where players start getting looked at as locks into the hall.
Finally, most fans view the leadership Molina has as not a valuable enough stat to reach the hall of fame. However, these arguments can easily be refuted. The lack of home runs do not necessarily mean much, as players like Ichiro Suzuki, who has less than 125 home runs, are considered locks for the hall of fame. The WAR is a tough argument to go against, but comparing it to some other hall of famers, recent inductee Harold Baines actually has a lower WAR than Molina does right now, and with time left to play, Molina will almost surely put that number in the dust. Finally, the leadership argument. While it is not a stat, most voters go with players like Molina, whose attitudes truly match up to that of a Hall of Famer.
While Molina might be reaching the end of the road soon, fans will not know for sure if Molina will be a Hall of Famer for years. With a five year wait period after retirement, Molina showing no signs of slowing down, and a max of ten years on the ballot, it could be up to 20 years or more until we know for sure.