St. Louis Cardinals Best/Worst Case 2016: Yadier Molina
By Landon Clapp
Best Case: Yadi Comes Back With a Vengeance
Health is going to go a long way in determining what kind of year Yadier Molina has with the St. Louis Cardinals.
In my most rosy of outlooks for Yadi in 2016, the key decision will have been deciding that he needed the second off season thumb surgery, and making sure that it is completely healed before returning. That surgery will prove to strengthen that left thumb to a level that Yadi has not felt since his early days in St. Louis.
The time away from baseball activities this off season means that Yadi’s knees will be as fresh as they’ve been in a decade. Yadi will start the season 100% healthy, and Mike Matheny will strike the perfect balance of playing time between Molina and backup catcher Brayan Pena.
The result is a career year for Molina with the bat. Now that Molina’s surgically repaired thumb(s) have been fully rehabbed, Yadi starts to generate bat speed that he hasn’t had in the past couple of years.
Yadi turns in his first 20+ home run effort since 2012, when he slugs 25 long balls as part of a suddenly juggernaut Cardinals offense.
He does more than just swat long balls, though. In Yadi’s fairy tale 2016, he hits better than .300 and shows off his world-class approach at the plate, drawing 55 walks en route to an OBP near .380.
As a revitalized offensive presence in the middle of the St. Louis order, Yadi adds 30 doubles to his 25 long balls to the tune of 90 runs batted in.
In all, Yadi slashes .308/.378/.535 en route to a top-three MVP finish. He ends up as a top-five finisher for the National League batting title, and he wins the Silver Slugger award for NL catchers.
Yadi catches 55% of would-be base stealers, the second highest total of his career, en route to his ninth-straight Gold Glove and the fifth Platinum Glove of his career.
In a year that Yadi makes his eighth straight All Star Game appearance, the Cardinals win the World Series on the back of their now Hall of Fame catcher, who solidifies a spot in Cooperstown with his magical 2016 campaign.
Next: Yadi's Body Betrays Him