Old but Gold: Yadi still an essential contributor
Yadier Molina is an immortal piece of St. Louis Cardinals history and is a first ballot Hall of Famer. However, age has seen Yadi’s offensive production take a bit of a hit, so sliding him down a bit in a more talented line up makes sense.
2017: .273/.312/.439, 18 home runs, 82 RBI’s in 543 PA’s
2017 as #6 hitter: .255/.288/.468, 2 home runs, 5 RBI’s in 52 PA’s
Career as #6 hitter: .297/.349/.418, 36 home runs, 219 RBI’s in 1999 PA’s
Make no mistake, he can still hit the ball well enough to be an offensive asset. That is why he is still in the very relevant six spot, ready to drive in the middle of the line up. Yadi was great with runners in scoring position last season, slashing .315/.338/.476 with 64 RBI in those scenarios in 2017.
Some may argue Yadi should be fifth instead of Fowler based off of Yadi’s elite RISP numbers and better overall average. However, it is far easier for Yadi to drive in Fowler as opposed to the other way around due to Yadi’s lack of speed. In addition, Fowler’s ability to get extra base hits and put himself in scoring position will only make Yadi’s job easier.
As mentioned before, Yadi could switch with Fowler and see no complaints as the fifth hitter, but I would rather see him here when considering the fact that subtle signs are showing that age is creeping in on Yadi. While he is still one of the elites in staving off strikeouts, he finished with a career high 13.6 K%. While this number is still among the best, it shows that Father Time might finally be taking it’s toll.
He is still an important producer on this St. Louis Cardinals team, and this production would be wasted should he be placed any lower than six. Having Yadi sit back as a secondary run driving threat and ahead of a low average, high power player (who we’ll be talking about next) is important to fully utilize him while hiding his base running deficiencies as much as possible.