Yadier Molina Catches First Gold Glove Award

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst INovember 7, 2008

It was a long time coming.

Yadier Molina, widely considered one of the best defensive catchers in the league, earned his first Rawlings Gold Glove award on Wednesday.

The young catcher had to continually help guide a rotation that had more patches in it than an old quilt last season. With significant injuries to their two best pitchers, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, it is a testament to Molina's ability as a leader and as a catcher.

Molina had been one of the few Redbirds that consistently put up solid numbers throughout his tenure in St. Louis. So ironically, last year's performance behind the plate was a down year for him.

Managing to only throw out 18-of-52 base stealers coupled with a career-high 10 errors, Molina had seen better years defensively. These numbers don't tell the whole story as he was only charged with just five passed balls, his lowest total of any season.

General manager John Mozeliak knew exactly what he had behind the plate.

"You look at what he's done with our pitchers and our pitching staff over the last few years, and when you look at what he's done as a pure catcher, he ranks up there at the top, if not in the top two," Mozeliak said earlier this year. "So with that said, he's definitely a cornerstone of this club moving forward. I really think he has been the last couple years as well."

With all of the solid years Molina had put up in years past, he had been eligible every year for the award. However, last year's offensive numbers put him over the top. Batting .304 with a .349 on-base percentage, a .392 slugging percentage and 56 RBIs (all career highs) his time was due.

Molina becomes the third catcher in Cardinals' history to win a Gold Glove with an impressive seventh honor in 18 years for the Redbirds' battery. Tom Pagnozzi won in 1991, '92 and '94, and Mike Matheny won in '00, '03 and '04.

For St. Louis' other Gold Glove candidates, Albert Pujols, Troy Glaus, and Cesar Izturis, they all fell short in voting. Molina's award came on the heels of St. Louis being shut out in voting in 2007, the first time since 1999.