With Ivan Rodriguez making it into the Hall of Fame this week, it got me wondering about Yadier Molina. While Molina doesn’t have the offensive resume that Pudge had, he did take over the mantle of the best defensive catcher of his generation.
Looking at Molina’s offense, he doesn’t really have a case. He has a 0 on Bill James‘ Black Ink test and only scores a 20 on the Gray Ink test (James believes a player needs 27 and 144 respectively to be considered a Hall of Famer). If you look at offensive WAR, Molina only has 4 seasons where he’s been worth more than 3 wins.
Defense is where he shines. He’s had 5 seasons worth 2 WAR or more. He’s locked down 8 Gold Gloves (in a row no less, until this past season). The only season that he had a fielding percentage less than .990 was 2008. He’s never had a double digit season in passed balls.
He’s thrown out 301 of 722 runners who have tried to take a base off him. The 722 attempts is a remarkable number in the fact that people don’t run on Yadi; this last season was the highest number of successful steals (67, next highest was 46) and steal % (79%). Here’s a breakdown of his caught stealing percentage:
Unfortunately, he’s not the same player any more; more players are running on him and his reaction time isn’t the same as 10 years ago (heck, 5 years ago even).
Yadi has also excelled at pitch framing, which he’s been positive in every season. He saved 9.4 runs in pitch framing in 2016; the only trend is his last 3 seasons have been lower than his career, but not going down.
The other HOF indicators are mixed.
According to James’ HOF Monitor, Molina should be in. He’s scored a 122, when the likely Hall of Famers are at 100. His HOF Standard is subpar though; he’s at 28 while the average HOFer is at 50.
When you look at Jay Jaffe’s JAWS score, Molina ranks 29th among all catchers. Of the 14 HOF catchers, 13 are ahead of Yadi; of active players, Yadi is 5th (Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Victor Martinez, and Russell Martin are ahead of him; so really, it’s 3 active catchers).
According to JAWS, Molina isn’t even the best Cardinal Catcher not in the Hall; Ted Simmons (10th overal) is ahead of him – 42.4 to 30.1. Simmons is 10th all time.
At this point, Yadi is borderline. He’s got 1 indicator and probably won’t add more to Black and Gray Ink. He’s got a possibility of moving up in Standards and JAWS.
The voters might go for him. He’s never been a negative personality and his impact on the Cardinals for the last 13 seasons has been positive. The local writers will definitely vote for him for his pitch handling and impact on a pitching staff. Unfortunately, I don’t know if the national writers will.