For the tenth time since 2000, the Cardinals have Gold Glovers in their clubhouse.
This time, Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols paired up to make a defensive duo for the Redbirds.
For Molina, this award comes as no surprise. It's his third straight, placing him on the verge of joining an exclusive club composed of Johnny Bench, Del Crandall, Charles Johnson, and former Cardinal Mike Matheny—the only National Leaguers to win the award more than three times.
"Winning the award for a third year means a lot to me," said Molina. "It's why I work hard every day to be one of the best at my position. I'll continue to work hard to be the first to win four."
With his most recent victory, the question has become not whether Molina is the premier defensive backstop in baseball, but by how much he outpaces his peers. This season, Molina's 17 Zone Runs led all catchers, and was nearly double the total of runner-up Humberto Quintero. His 1.6 Defensive WAR also led all catchers by a wide margin, and Molina was fourth in the league in both categories.
Teammates have nothing but good things to say about the backstop.
"He's unbelievable," staff ace Chris Carpenter said of Molina, who has been his catcher since he won the Cy Young Award in 2005. "He's like the guy in the book 'The Blind Side.' Everybody talks about the wide receivers and quarterbacks and running backs that make those great plays, but none of that happens if the lineman does not do his job. ... Yadi is the unsung hero. He does so many things behind the scenes like calling pitches and blocking balls. It's not just about throwing guys out. He's an amazingly smart catcher, and it definitely gives me an advantage having him back there."
What he really excels at, though, is shutting down the opponent's running game. He led the league in caught stealing percentage once again this season, with 48.5% of runners caught.
Cubs fans will not soon forget the play Molina made against them last year. With a left-handed batter at the plate and a man on first, Molina deftly picked a breaking ball out of the dirt, wheeled around, and threw around the batter, picking the runner off at first.
Molina currently has 33 pick-offs through his first six full seasons. At that pace, he'll shatter the record of 81 set by Ivan Rodriguez, and will challenge the major league record of 94, held by pitchers Andy Pettitte and Kenny Rogers.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched Molina play. His laser-cannon arm, plus nearly telepathic connection with first baseman Albert Pujols, are reminiscent of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who, like Molina, is the most cerebral player in his sport.
Speaking of Pujols, this was his his second such award, and although he isn't the revolutionary defensive wizard Molina is, he was still clearly the best player at his position. Albert led the league in putouts, double plays, fielding percentage, and range factor, and led all first basemen in assists.
He becomes the third Cardinal first baseman to win the award twice, joining defensive wizards Bill White and Keith Hernandez.
Pitcher Adam Wainwright and shortstop Brendan Ryan were also in contention for the award, but missed out to Bronson Arroyo and Troy Tulowitzki, respectively.
The winners were Arroyo, Molina, Pujols, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Tulowitzki, Reds third baseman and former Cardinal Scott Rolen, and outfielders Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, and Carlos Gonzalez.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!