Yadier Molina muscled a fastball over Miller Park’s right-centerfield wall in the sixth inning of Saturday’s win. It was his second home run of the day and second two-homer game in four games.
“What he’s doing behind the plate is willpower; being able to handle pain and discomfort,” Mike Matheny said after Molina’s second two-home-run performance of the year. “He’s smarter at the plate. He has such a great idea, and he’s dangerous, obviously. It’s hard to say, if he kept playing where he’d be right now in the home run column and a number of others.”
Despite missing a month of games due to a groin injury, Molina leads all National League catchers in home runs (11) and ranks fourth in RBI (31) and batting average for starting catchers (.270) in the National League.
His 11 long-balls are tied with Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal for the National League lead, but Grandal has 16 more games under his belt this year. Molina would have a projected 17 homers if he were healthy all year, ranking first in the Majors. Using the same projections, he would also lead baseball in RBI with 49, tying Astros backstop Evan Gattis.
Although his defensive prowess isn’t what it once was, Molina is still one of the most consistent catchers behind the dish. He only has one error on the year and three passed balls. His command of the Cardinals pitching staff has been remarkable, especially with the amount of new faces — namely Miles Mikolas, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and most of the entire bullpen.
“When I signed here [this offseason], I was so excited to play with [Molina],” Cardinals closer Bud Norris said. “To see the caliber of player he still is at this age is incredible… Everybody is leaning on him right now. It was a big fall when he left, and we’re ecstatic to have him back.”
Molina’s case will strengthen if he continues playing at this level, putting him in the conversation to make his ninth career All-Star appearance.
Jack Parodi covers the St. Louis Cardinals for 590 The Fan and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi.