Yadier Molina was the only St. Louis Cardinals player who won a Gold Glove in 2018, which makes him the only one in the running for the Platinum Glove. He has already won four of the 7 NL Platinum Gloves, but did he play well enough to add a 5th to his collection in 2018?
As much as we hate to admit it, St. Louis Cardinals fans can’t avoid the fact that Yadier Molina‘s defensive performance, while still elite, dropped off this season. Father Time is undefeated, and Molina won’t be the first to be slowed down by his cruel embrace. This was the first year in his whole career that Molina finished the season with a negative DRS, and his dWAR was the lowest it’s been since his rookie season
Despite this, there are plenty of people outside of St. Louis Cardinals fans who still respect Yadi as one of the best defensive catchers ever, and even in one of his worst seasons, Molina won the Gold Glove at catcher. Even a diminished Yadier Molina can show that he is still one of the best defenders in the league.
He allowed just 4 passed balls and committed just 2 errors in 1017.2 innings. This elite blocking resulted in Yadi registering the lowest passed ball rate at 254.3 Inn/PB amongst NL catchers with at least 750 innings, even ahead of Buster Posey‘s 3 passed balls in just 759.1 innings (253.03 Inn/PB). His 99.8% fielding percentage was also the best in the league in that same category.
One glaring flaw is his handling of stolen bases, but even that was very solid in comparison to other catcher. Despite catching just 12 potential base swipers, he only allowed 27 stolen bases, giving him the best Inn/SB ratio among NL catchers with 500 innings, and only Jeff Mathis with just 523.3 innings allowed less stolen bases than Molina.
Was it Enough?
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On paper, you can see how Molina was able to pick up his 10th Gold Glove, but is it enough for a Platinum Glove? Well, it is hard to directly compare catcher defense to fielder defense, but I can say with confidence that Yadier Molina will not win the 2018 NL Platinum Glove. As much as St. Louis Cardinals fans may want to hear Molina’s name on November 9, it seems incredibly unlikely to happen.
The only comparable stats between fielders and catcher are the ones that aren’t flattering to Yadi. With a negative DRS and .4 dWAR, Molina will not be looked on favorably in comparison to guys like Ender Inciarte and Nick Ahmed, whose high dWAR, DRS, and range stretching plays throughout the year will certainly beat out a season that looked far better than negative DRS, but had enough flaws to result in a negative DRS.
I love Yadi; he is a St. Louis Cardinals lifer, future Hall of Famer and has proven to be one of the greatest defensive catchers of all time. Unfortunately, it seems he didn’t produce enough to be called the best fielder in the NL in 2018.