As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Yadier Molina
Season stats: 121 G, PA, 473 R, 19 2B, 11 HR, 66 RBI, 3 SB, 24 BB, 79 K, .252/.297/.370, 86 OPS+, 1.8 bWAR, 1.0 fWAR
Statcast: .305 xwOBA, 5.2 barrel %, 88.0 exit velocity, 31.6 hard hit %, 16.7 K %, 5.1 BB %
Best Statcast category: K % (77th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Chase Rate (2nd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 12, Goat 8
Positives: Continued to be the rock of the organization….extended his run of starts with Adam Wainwright to over 300….had a two-homer game April 17 against Philadelphia….had six three-hit games….was a Gold Glove nominee, though he did not win the award….had an .851 OPS against left-handed pitching….eight of his home runs came in the first half….hit .323 with a .997 OPS in April….in 13 games hitting cleanup, slashed .277/.333/.596….hit .292 when he swung at the first pitch and .361 when he hit it….hit .301 when the count was even….had an .832 OPS and four homers with runners in scoring position….with two outs and RISP, put up a .316/.350/.509 line….had a .783 OPS in late and close situations….in high leverage situations he batted .354….had a 1.047 OPS in the third inning and hit .306/.351/.438 in the first three….hit .319 in day games.
Negatives: Had a .631 OPS against righties….was weaker in the second half, putting up a .606 OPS….hit .184 with a .494 OPS in June….went 0-3 as a pinch-hitter….hit .208 when leading off an inning….slashed .214/.292/.317 when taking the first pitch….hit .194 when ahead in the count….had a .600 OPS with nobody out….hit .204 with nobody on base….posted a .607 OPS in low leverage situations….hit .182 against power pitchers….hit .217 against the Cubs.
Overview: It’s Yadier Molina. Do we really need to say much more than that? In his 17th season in the big leagues, Yadi was Yadi, especially the Yadi of the past few years. The defense might be a step slower, he might not block quite as much, but pitchers still love throwing to him and base runners still don’t run on him. It feels like he conserves so much for the big moments, doesn’t it? Even with all the big guns on this team, if there’s a runner on third and two outs, there’s hardly anyone else I want up but Molina, because it’s almost assured he’s going to slap a single up the middle and get that run in. (Perhaps less so with a runner on first and less than two outs, given he hit into 16 double plays.) His relationship with Wainwright is remarkable and such a great thing to see. There’s no doubt that overall, he’s slid offensively (he’s been under 100 OPS+ for four of the past five years) but he’s going to leave a huge hole when he’s gone and whomever has to fill it, Andrew Knizner or Ivan Herrera or someone else, is going to pale in comparison.
Outlook: Taking out the drama of last winter, Molina has already signed a one year contract and has proclaimed that it is his last season. That said, he said that when he signed his last contract and if he and Wainwright can’t get that battery record in 2022, both may sign on for 2023 to get there. Molina gave way to Knizner more during the last month or so and it will be interesting to see how Oli Marmol doles out the playing time. Molina should get most of it (and all the Wainwright starts) but if he stays healthy all year and plays just 110-120 games, that will be a significant change in the dynamic. No matter how often he’s out there (and hopefully hitting sixth or lower in the lineup), we need to appreciate our last looks at the legend.