St. Louis Cardinals legend Yadier Molina believes he’s a Hall of Famer. While Molina hasn’t retired just yet, he believes his “numbers are obviously” worthy of the Hall, according to ESPN’s Marly Rivera.
Molina, 37, was asked whether he thinks about the Hall of Fame. He responded by saying he believes he’s one of the best catchers to ever play the game.
“Yes, I think about it. When I started my career, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. And even though Tony [La Russa] gave me a chance, I was bombarded by negative comments. The press killed me because of my offense, my personality, whatever. All I've done is work hard to get better and better every single year to become the best catcher I can be. And my numbers are obviously there. I think that, because of the way I catch, that I'm one of the best catchers to have ever played baseball.”
Molina is right about one thing: He’s undoubtedly one of the best catchers to play baseball. Molina’s 40.1 bWAR ranks 23rd all-time among catchers. Molina could rank even higher depending on how he performs before he retires.
Despite that, however, Molina’s case for the Hall of Fame isn’t cut and dried as far as the numbers are concerned. Molina has a career .282/.333/.405 slash line, which is good for a 98 OPS+. That means Molina’s OPS has been 2 percent worse than the league average over his career. By Jay Jaffe’s excellent JAWS stat — which measures a player’s Hall of Fame credentials — Molina sits at 34.5 JAWS. The average Hall of Fame catcher has a 44.2 JAWS score and a 53.6 bWAR. Molina falls short in both areas.
Molina’s case goes beyond those numbers, though. Molina is regarded as one of the best — if not the best — defensive catchers of his era. While we have metrics to evaluate defense, they are spotty, and may not accurately reflect a player’s true defensive value. If voters care about intangibles, Molina also shines in that category. His reputation as a leader and hard worker should earn him some votes once he’s up for induction.
If you’re looking at Molina’s accomplishments and wondering how in the world he falls short according to JAWS, you might be on to something. Hall of Fame voters have been stingy when it comes to inducting catchers into the Hall of Fame. The standards are incredibly high, with only 16 catchers getting into the Hall. Molina is better than five of those players by bWAR.
Even if the numbers don’t make him a slam dunk, Molina seems like a shoo-in to get inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. And while some might take issue with that, Molina’s induction could be the thing that makes voters loosen their standards when it comes to inducting catchers into the Hall of Fame.
That could be a good thing, especially for those who think Jorge Posada deserved better.
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