It’s early in the season but if I had to choose right now who my Most Valuable Player candidate from the Cardinals is, it would be Yadier Molina.
The catcher is already one of the best defensive catchers in the major leagues. He’s got a streak going in Gold Gloves. He has five consecutive awards for his position.
Offensively, he’s coming into his own. He’s not going to rival Johnny Bench anytime soon in hitting for power but maybe Ted Simmons, who happens to be a former Cardinal in his own right. With the start of the 2008 season, with the exception of the 2010 season, Molina has become, in essence, a career .300 hitter. Entering Sunday night, he carries a .280 career batting average.
Molina just started his 10th season in the majors. He picked up his 1,000th career hit last year.
ESPN senior writer Buster Olney writes just how important the longtime catcher is when it comes to setting up the Cardinals defensively.
Entering Sunday night’s game, the Cardinals have played 154 1/3 innings while in the field. Molina has caught all but seven of those innings. Backup catcher Tony Cruz caught the innings that Molina did. It just shows how much of a workhorse Molina is.
Some catchers, such as Buster Posey, will make a point of resting before some games, reducing the work they do on the field, but day after day, Yadier Molina goes through the same routine as all of his teammates — and every day, he takes the time to field ground balls at shortstop or third base.
This is why Molina is my candidate for MVP as we are just a bit past the halfway point of the first month of the season. With a .328 batting average and 11 RBIs entering Sunday night’s contest against the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s hard to find another candidate on the Cardinals team that would meet the definition of MVP.