The St. Louis Cardinals enter the postseason yet again, this time holding the best record in the National League. A case can be made for Matt Carpenter as the league's Most Valuable Player; there is no doubt when it comes to which player is truly irreplaceable on the roster.
The Cardinals need Yadier Molina in order to have a successful run at this postseason. Most importantly, the Cardinals need Molina to remain healthy—a concern that has flared up a few times already this season—in order to lead them to another World Series championship.
The Offense Needs Molina's Bat
The obvious contributions are on the offensive side of the spectrum, where Molina has suddenly found himself a major contributor of the last few seasons. The loss of Allen Craig puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the rest of the team's core offensive players to produce, despite the fact that Matt Adams is a suitable replacement that still provides some power in the middle of the lineup. Should Molina need a day off or be injured at any point, the drop-off from his offensive production to that of backup Tony Cruz's production is drastic. Cruz can handle the bat, but not to the extent that Molina provides.
The Best Defender In The Game
It is practically impossible to talk about Yadier Molina without talking about defense. Rawlings, the company that awards the prestigious Gold Glove Award annually to the best defender in each league at their respective positions, unveiled the Platinum Glove Award in 2011. The Platinum Glove was to be given to the best overall defender in each league, as voted on by the fans. Molina has taken home the National League award both years. His work behind the plate keeps opposing runners in check on the bases and gives his pitchers confidence.
The Young Pitchers Need His Leadership
This Cardinals team has some young pitchers in key spots this postseason. Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist will almost certainly be on the roster for the entirety of the postseason, and Michael Wacha has definitely made his case to be a part of the rotation in October. Rosenthal will most likely handle the duties normally assigned to a closer, though the team is not willing to provide him with that official tag at this point. Maness and Siegrist will look to get the ball late in ballgames as they try to bridge the gap to Rosenthal. Miller will be in the starting rotation, regardless of the decision to go with three or four starting pitchers.
Yet, as backup catcher Tony Cruz maintains: "It's so much more than what people see on the field as far as his blocking and his good arm. It's that leader aspect, I think, that he carries. It's obvious that his ability is way up there. But it's the passion and that drive that he has to want to be the best. I don't think anyone outworks him. He strives to be the best and he puts in the work to do it."
Later in that same article, Langosch points out the importance of Molina working with the young pitchers:
Young pitchers are told never to shake him off. And when they mature, they usually still don't.
Molina may be the most irreplaceable person on the field for the St. Louis Cardinals this postseason. An injury to the leader of this team would decimate their chances going forward.
When it comes to the Cardinals, it seems to be "In Molina, We Trust".
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