In a televised announcement Tuesday evening, Molina was awarded his fifth consecutive Gold Glove for his stellar defensive performance behind the plate.
Last week, he was honored with the Fielding Bible Award in a unanimous vote and more recognition this week only further illustrates his prowess as a defender.
For years, Molina has been pegged by most as the best defensive catcher in baseball and for the most part that is reflective in the Cardinals team defensive statistics.
A total of 56 bases were stolen against the Cardinals in 2012. That ranks the team 29th of 30.
In terms of runners caught stealing, a total of 43 base stealers were busted in 2012. That puts the Cardinals in a tie for seventh in all of MLB.
There’s a reason there aren’t many stolen bases – they simply don’t run on Molina anymore.
The fact that only 43 base runners were caught is a testament to the same.
The Cardinals stolen base percentage in 2012 also came in at 29th with .566 – one 1/100th of a percentage point from being the best in baseball.
No one argues about Molina’s defensive ability. After 2012, no one will be arguing about his offensive output either.
Molina had career highs in home runs (22), RBI (76), batting average (.315), runs scored (65), hits (159), stolen bases (12), OBP (.373), slugging (.501) and OPS (.874).
He has officially transitioned into an elite five-tool player.
Molina hits well for average and for power. He’s not the fastest, but he is a smart base runner. He has one of the best arms in the league and his fielding ability is second to none.
He also brings a lot of intangibles to the team as well in his work with the pitching staff. He knows the competition well and knows his pitchers better. Both have a mutual respect for him.
Prior to his start in Game 5 of the 2012 National League Championship Series, Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn spoke about what Molina means to him as a starter.
“You see Yadi doing his work day in and day out,” Lynn said. “The guy never wants to take a day off. We have to force him to take a day off here and there during the season. So you know that he wants to be the best. In my opinion, he is the best.”
With that kind of work ethic comes a deep level of trust.
“He has a great feel for what they’re trying to do. He knows how we can be successful with doing what we do the best,” he said. “You have the most faith that you can have with someone when every time he puts down a finger you know that there’s a good thought behind it. He’s not just down there putting fingers down for the heck of it.”
Molina’s performance this past season makes his contract extension look like a bargain at $14.5 million AAV over five years through 2017 with a $15 million mutual option for 2018. Had the Cardinals not gotten a deal worked out prior to the season, he would have brought big bucks on the free agent market.
It’s not his first Gold Glove, but with a minimum of five more years in his contract and after watching him grow in 2012, there is no reason to expect this to be Yadier Molina’s last either.
Corey Noles is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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