St. Louis Cardinals: Why Yadier Molina Is Best Catcher in Major League Baseball

Adam Spencer@AdamSpencer4Correspondent IApril 16, 2012

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - MARCH 13:  Catcher Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on prior to playing against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park on March 13, 2012 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Yadier Molina has improved every season he’s been in the Major Leagues. He’s a force defensively behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals and has improved in the batter’s box the past couple years as well.

He’s the best catcher in the league when it comes to handling the Cardinals pitching staff. The Redbird pitchers know they can throw any pitch in any count and Molina will catch it.

His leadership skills are a big reason the Cardinals have jumped out to a strong 7-3 start this season.

Molina has won four straight Gold Gloves behind the plate and it would be shocking if he didn’t win a fifth Gold Glove in 2012.

Based on that production, his five-year, $75 million contract is looking like a bargain in the long run.

Molina’s cannon arm also takes away opponents’ ability to steal bases against the Cardinals. Unless a runner gets a great jump against a pitcher, Molina is more than likely going to gun him down.

For his career, Molina has thrown out 44 percent of would-be base stealers, an outstanding percentage for a catcher.

Additionally, if a runner strays too far off of first base, he runs the risk of being picked off by Molina.

He’s also making strides with his offense. In 2011, he led the Cardinals in batting average, hitting .305. The batting average was a career-high, as were his 14 home runs and 65 RBI.

He’s picked up right where he left off in 2012. Through 10 games this year, he’s hitting .353 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

For a guy who regularly hits in the sixth or seventh spot in the Cardinals batting order, that’s great production.

If he can hit this well all year, the Cardinals offense will be a force to be reckoned with.

Even though he doesn’t produce like a true slugger during the season, he saves his clutch hitting for the playoffs.

In the hard-fought 2006 NLCS against the New York Mets, Molina hit two home runs, including a game-winning home run in Game 7 that sent the Cardinals to the World Series.

In the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, Molina hit .333 and drove in nine runs in the series.

For all these reasons, there’s no one I’d rather see behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals than Yadier Molina. He’s the best catcher in Major League Baseball.