It’s only Opening Day, and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is setting another MLB record.
Yadier Molina is one of the most dependable catchers in baseball history. That is pretty well-established. But when you put it into context, his run of sustained high-end play becomes even more impressive.
Molina made his 17th consecutive Opening Day start for the St. Louis Cardinals, as noted by the Major League Baseball Public Relations. It’s a franchise record for consecutive Opening Day starts at a single position, putting him on a list that includes only Ivan Rodriguez (20) as the only catchers in Major League history with 17 Opening Day starts.
What Molina has done in a Cardinals uniform has been nothing short of amazing, and why it was pivotal to re-sign him this winter. The front office, led by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, and manager Mike Shildt wanted his presence in the locker room to ease Nolan Arenado into St. Louis so he didn’t feel pressured to take on a prominent leadership role too early. They also love what Molina brings to their pitching staff, especially when it has as many questions as it does with multiple starters out due to injury.
But the Cardinals realize that Molina still can make an impact at the plate. He’s hit .281/.332/.404 with 160 home runs and 933 RBI in 17 seasons. He hit .262/.303/.359 with four home runs and 16 RBI in a COVID shortened 2020 season. And Molina, who went 1 for 4 with an RBI on Opening Day, has been eager to prove that he has not declined entering his 18th season.
Molina prioritized being with a contender when he was a free agent. His presence behind the plate, along with Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt headlining the lineup, has both the player and the Cardinals optimistic about their postseason chances – and perhaps even competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.