One of our regular offseason traditions is the Exit Interview, where we look back at each player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals in the past season. This is the 11th season we’ve done this and it’s a good way to get a view of the whole year, not just a short stretch of games. It’s sort of like a performance review before the players went off to their offseason work, spending a little time with Oli Marmol and going over what went right, what went wrong. Stats and grades are only for a player’s time in St. Louis, though splits numbers may include other teams. As always, my sincere thanks to the legend of cardinalsgifs for providing the header image!
Player: Yadier Molina
Season stats: 78 G, 270 PA, 19 R, 8 2B, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 2 SB, 5 BB, 40 K, .214/.233/.302, 53 OPS+, 0.0 bWAR, 0.1 fWAR
Statcast: .254 xwOBA, 3.1 barrel %, 84.7 exit velocity, 26.0 hard hit %, 14.8 K %, 1.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Framing (79th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Sprint Speed (1st percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 3, Goat 5
Positives: Set the all time battery record with Adam Wainwright, running it out to 328 starts before the end of the year….singled in his final postseason at bat….was part of the epic walking off the field with Wainwright and Albert Pujols in the final regular home game of the season….had one three hit game and one multi-homer game….hit .254 against lefties but four of his homers came against righties….four of his homers came at Busch….hit .263 with three homers as September Yadi….hit .235 when hitting sixth….had a .915 OPS when ahead in the count….unsurprisingly given Yadi, went .304/.333/.326 in high leverage situations….hit .289 when he batted in the second inning….hit .333 (4-12) when seeing a pitcher for the third time in a game….hit .277 against power pitchers….caught 39% of baserunners stealing.
Negatives: Missed a couple of games in Arizona in part due to his basketball team playing for their championship in Puerto Rico….missed about six weeks in the middle of the year with leg fatigue but didn’t rehab around the club, instead going home….went 0 for his last 10 during the regular season….hit .201 against right-handers….had a .424 OPS on the first pitch….hit .190 with two outs in an inning….had a .586 OPS with runners in scoring position….the OPS was .408 when there were two outs and RISP….had a .420 OPS against the Cubs and a .398 OPS against the Brewers….grounded into 10 double plays.
Overview: Some players age like fine wine, going out with a flourish. Sometimes, though, Father Time wins more decisively. It was great to have the final run with Molina and Pujols and there were some wonderful memories, but this was a weird and at times painful to watch year for the longtime catcher. The notoriously competitive Molina leaving mid-season to check on his basketball team? Going home for six weeks instead of staying in St. Louis and being around the team? It was really strange to see that out of Molina. The offensive woes, well, those have been coming on for a few years now. You can’t get to 40 playing catcher almost every day and expect to still be a huge factor at the plate at the end of your career. He did move up some of the Cardinals career lists, including passing Ted Simmons for most home runs by a Cardinal catcher and finishing third all time in hits for the franchise, but it seemed pretty clear the time had come to move on.
Outlook: Of course, moving on is easier said than done and we’ll never see a backstop as ingrained in the team, as smart with the whole game plan, as Molina. The adjustment to whomever takes the field next year is going to be huge. As for Molina, he can come back in three years to go into the Cardinal Hall of Fame, then a couple of years after that wind up in Cooperstown for his enshrinement there.