He may be 38, but St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina proved on Friday that he still has some strength in his homer against the Astros.
St. Louis Cardinals fans were all relieved when Cardinal legend Yadier Molina was brought back for the 2021 season. While his statistical output has fallen some over the years, there is no question about what Molina means to the team as a leader and a quarterback behind the plate for the pitching staff.
Now 38, Molina has prioritized longevity as he aged. For the most part that has meant that he keeps coming into spring training lighter and lighter. His knees have surely thanked him for it and he’s been able to stay healthy for the most part, but he has understandably lost some power over the years.
Way back in 2012 in his prime, Molina set his career-high with 22 homers. This was one of only two times that he’s hit 20 or more, with the second coming in 2018. In 2013, he set his career-high in just extra-base hits with 56. However, this was nine and 10 years ago.
Though he did hit 20 homers in 2018, Molina only hit 40 total extra-base hits that year and it dropped to 34 in 2019 and just six in 42 games in 2020. Lining up with that trend is Molina’s average exit velocity numbers. After sitting at 88.2 mph in 2018, it dropped to 87.4 mph and then 84.7 mph in 2020.
2020 was a forgivable year, but rarely do players or even catchers get a power boost at Molina’s age.
However, on Friday night, Molina got a hit—a homer—that was his hardest-hit ball in quite some time.
Here is the homer we are talking about.
As soon as Molina hit it, everyone in the park knew it was out. On a night where the team’s two best hitters (Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado) struggled to get anything going, Molina got the Jupiter crowd riled up with that shot.
The pitcher, Blake Taylor, is a member of Houston’s bullpen, so it wasn’t some 19-year-old Molina hit this off.
Nobody is saying that Molina is going to go on some power surge this year, it’s just nice to see that he’s still got it in the tank. Urban Dictionary defines “old man strength” as “The uncanny ability of older men to lift copious amounts of lumber, heavy furniture, and beat their sons in arm wrestling.” For Yadier Molina, 38 might be the age that his own “old man strength” kicks in.
This would now qualify as the second time this spring after his strike-em-out-throw-em-out he did last week after daring the runner to steal second. He’s definitely still got the confidence of a top-end catcher.
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes that old dog remembers the old tricks. Molina’s homer on Friday ended up being the difference that won the game for the Cardinals. Hopefully fans are treated to some more feats of old man strength for the whole year.