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Yadier Benjamin Molina, nicknamed “Yadi”, is a Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has played his whole MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals since making his debut in 2004, and made 4 appearances for the Puerto Rican national team on the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Commonly considered among the greatest defensive catchers of all time, he is a two-time World Series champion and four-time National League pennant winner with the Cardinals, and a two-time silver medalist with Puerto Rico.
Molina ranks second all-time among catchers with 130 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and first among active catchers with 845 assists, 41.69% of runners caught stealing, and 55 pickoffs. He also ranks in the leading 70 among catchers in history in each of fielding percentage, games played, double plays turned and assists. As a hitter, he has accumulated more than 1,500 hits, 100 home runs, and 700 runs batted in (RBI) during his career, while batting over.300 five times. The anchor to the Cardinals’ postseason success, Molina’s MLB differences include eight All Star Game selections, eight Gold Gloves, 4 Platinum Gloves, and one Silver Slugger Award. Even more, he is a two-time selection to the All-WBC Tournament Team.
The product of a baseball household, Molina was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. His father was an amateur second baseman and the all-time hits leader in Puerto Rican baseball, and his two older bros, Bengie and José, also turned into standout defensive catchers with lengthy MLB careers. Long before playing professionally, Molina’s pitch-handling and throwing skills caught the attention of scouts. The Cardinals’ 4th round selection in the 2000 MLB draft, he rapidly revealed one of the strongest and most accurate arms in the game after starting play in the big leagues. Having actually earned a credibility as a team leader throughout his career, Molina develops fielder placing plans and total pitching strategies to opposing players.
At first considered a light hitter, Molina substantially improved his offense and raised his career batting average from .248 in 2007. He has actually appeared on 5 Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) tallies, ending up 4th in 2012 and third in 2013. The Cardinals have appeared in the postseason in nine of his first 12 seasons, and he is the only catcher in club history to appear in a minimum of five. In 2006, he ended up being just the third catcher to play in two World Series prior to age 25, following Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. He became the all-time Cardinals’ leader in games caught with 1,439 on April 8, 2016. Molina is under contract through 2020.
Before he was drafted, Molina worked out for the Cincinnati Reds. He put on a phenomenon at Riverfront Stadium with his arm and bat that got the attention of executives, scouts, and prominent former Reds players, including Johnny Bench and Bob Boone. As Molina recalled, he left the session with the impression that Cincinnati intended to draft him. Undeterred by the universal reservations about his offensive ceiling, the St. Louis Cardinals instead took Molina in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB draft and signed him for $325,000.
At age 33, Molina broke the Cardinals’ all-time games caught record on April 8, 2016, in his 1,440 th game, passing Ted Simmons (1968– 80). His 1,343 games began since the beginning of the 2005 season was the highest overall in the major leagues. He made his 1,500th career major league appearance on May 14 in a 5– 3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While playing the Washington Nationals in the seventh inning of a 2– 1 loss at Nationals Park on May 26, Stephen Drew hit a high infield fly that stayed over the pitcher’s mound. With both Aledmys Díaz and Mike Leake trying to catch the ball, Molina positioned himself and waited. As the ball deflected off Díaz’ glove, he nearly collided with Leake, but Molina naturally moved his glove and caught the ball prior to hit the ground. He recorded his 1,500 th career hit on July 2 versus Milwaukee, ending up being the 34th catcher in MLB history, and second for the Cardinals, after Simmons.
Molina’s ninth-inning, RBI double, tied the July 27 game versus the New York Mets at 4 − 4, ending Jeurys Familia’s consecutive-saves streak of 52, the third-longest in big league history. His tenth-inning double versus Milwaukee on August 30, his 30th of the season and 300th of his career, helped lead the Cardinals to a 2– 1 victory. He caught a career-high 146 games. After starting with a .256 average through 85 games, Molina batted.365 from July 8 to the end of the season, and overall hit .307, eight home runs, 58 RBI, and led all big league catchers with 164 hits and 38 doubles. His hit total was also a career-high, leading the club, and he was 8th in the league in batting and ninth in doubles.
During Spring Training prior to the 2017 season, the last surefire year on Molina’s contract, the Cardinals started to negotiate a contract extension that would attempt to keep Molina in St. Louis for the rest of his career. He accepted a 3-year contract extension for a reported 60 million, making him the highest-paid catcher in baseball. He wasn’t thinking about exercising his 2018 shared option, which would have been worth $15 million. The extension guarantees Molina of remaining in St. Louis through 2020, and increases the possibilities that he will finish his career having actually played for simply one organization, the one that drafted him. This distinction of having Molina retire as a Cardinal is something that carried weight for both parties throughout the negotiations.
On June 26, Molina ended up being the ninth catcher all-time to record 11,000 career putouts at the position. For the eighth time in his career, he was an All-Star choice, as led to a vote by fellow players.