After straining his left oblique Sunday night, many expected Yadier Molina to miss the remainder of the NLCS. Yet to everyone’s surprise, the best catcher in the league will remain on the roster for the St. Louis Cardinals. While A.J. Pierzynski will get the start in game three for the Cardinals, Molina will stay on the roster in hopes that he might be able to return before the end of the series.
It is no secret that the loss of Molina is no doubt a tough blow to the Cardinals as he is not only the leader of the ballclub, he is also the best catcher in all of baseball. However, the loss of Molina’s bat will not be as insurmountable as many are making it to be. Sure, Molina is the heart of the club and he is the best defensive catcher in the game, but the Cardinals can easily survive his loss.
Replacing Molina’s bat in the lineup is easier than we are willing to admit. In 2014, Molina has not been the same hitter he once was – even as recent as 2013. Whether it be injuries or his age (32) catching up to him, Molina registered a .282 average with a .333 on base percentage, seven home runs and 38 runs batted in. While those are great numbers for most catchers, this was the first time since 2010 that Molina had an average under .300, an OBP under .349, less than 12 home runs and the first time since his rookie year of 2004 that he had fewer than 40 RBI.
This postseason hasn’t been too kind on Molina either – he is hitting .227 with one extra base hit (double) and no RBI. So while there will definitely be a void left from the injury to Molina, it won’t necessarily be noticeable from the team’s offense. Considering the San Francisco Giants have only two steals this postseason (and ranked second to last in all of baseball with just 56 in the regular season), the Cardinals won’t have to fret the loss of Molina’s unique ability to throw out base-runners.
While the loss of Molina is grabbing headlines, the impact is not as significant on the field. The Cardinals are a team that shines when their backs are against the wall, with different heroes coming through each night. The loss of Molina will be felt more in the media and the stands than it will on the field and in the lineup. After all, the leadership of Molina will remain in the dugout with the team even when he isn’t playing.
Don’t let anyone fool you, the loss of Molina will not deter the Cardinals from achieving the goals they have laid forth for themselves.
Cover Photo: Associated Press
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