Just a couple of weeks ago, the Best Catcher in Baseball went down. All of Cardinal Nation mourned the loss of Yadier Molina. Sure, he was only on the fifteen day DL, but would he be ready in just fifteen days? Even more importantly, would he be the same player when he came back?
Well, he did come back in fifteen days. But he just doesn’t look the same as before.
He looks a whole lot better.
Yadi was slumping after the All-Star Break, and from July nineteenth to the thirtieth, he wasn’t hitting well at all. He had an ugly .237 batting average, an atrocious .275 OBP, and recorded only four extra base hits and five RBIs over those eleven games. It was terrifying watching his batting average fall from .340 to .330. In short, he looked bad.
But the time off seems to have done our beloved catcher some good. Or maybe a lot of good. Since coming back on the fifteenth, Yadi has been tearing the cover off of the ball, posting a .435 average, a .435 OBP (who walks when you can hit?), a .913 slugging percentage, two home runs, five doubles, five RBIs, and six runs scored over the past five games.
That’s including the 0-5 his first game back. His batting average has jumped from .330 to .336, he’s back to leading the NL in average, and looks much better than he did before.
He’s looked good on defense as well, throwing out one and allowing one stolen base to Segura last night (if Wong had caught the ball, then it would be two thrown out and no stolen bases, but he’s new so we’ll let it slide).
As a former catcher myself, I have always loved Yadi, and every year that he puts up reasonably good offensive numbers, I find myself hoping that he wins the MVP award.
I admit, however, that toward the end of July I started wondering whether or not Molina would even be in contention for such a high honor.
Well, I think that Yadi’s answered that question by fervently reasserting that he is the Best Catcher in Baseball, and maybe the best player on any baseball field this year.
That’s what those five consecutive All-Star appearances mean.
That’s what those five consecutive Gold Gloves mean.
That’s what those two consecutive Platinum Gloves mean.
Hopefully, before long, we’ll be saying that his shiny new Most Valuable Player Award means the same thing.
After this season, I hope the rest of the baseball world will realize that there’s no better defensive or offensive catcher anywhere. (That’s right, Buster: anywhere).
Regardless of whether Yadi is recognized for his outstanding season anywhere else, all of St. Louis can agree that it’s good to see number four back behind the plate. And stepping up to the plate.