St Louis Cardinals: Yadier Molina the difference in Saturday’s win
By Matt Graves
The St Louis Cardinals needed a win badly after Friday’s stomping and despite problems, Yadier Molina lifted the team to victory.
The St Louis Cardinals are seeing a different version of Yadier Molina this year on the field. In past years, Molina came into spring training lighter and lighter to keep weight off of his knees. However, Molina came into 2021 stronger and bigger (in a good way) than he has been in a while.
At the plate, Molina’s approach has also changed. Since Molina’s slugging percentage peaked in 2012 at .501, there has been a steady decline in his power despite a few bumps here and there, and I don’t think fans blamed him. Catcher is the toughest position on the baseball field on your body and as Molina aged, it takes its toll.
This year though, Molina has done nothing but attack at the plate, and he, at 38 years old, looks like a new man with a newfound power swing.
On Saturday, the second game against the Chicago Cubs was in need of a hero. Miles Mikolas had done well in his first start back, but left the game before throwing a pitch in the fifth inning due to injury. The Cardinals were getting stymied by Cub starter Adbert Alzolay but Molina stepped to the plate with a smile and put the Cardinals on top.
This homer was Molina’s 7th on the year, and was the difference in the game as the Cardinals’ bullpen hung on to win the game 2-1. Seven homers through 45 games puts Molina on pace to hit 25 bombs, something he hasn’t been able to do before in his entire career.
Molina’s current career-high is 22 homers in that 2012 season, but he’s only hit 20 twice. If he’s able to stay healthy, breaking his career-high isn’t out of the question.
Molina won’t be an .877 OPS hitter for the whole season, but he is defying expectations right now with his best offensive season since 2012. On Saturday, he was the difference between winning and losing.