Molina Redux

A couple of weeks ago, I commented that young Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina was showing signs of offensive life, stirring from a slumber at the plate that had left his average well below the proverbial Mendoza line of .200. An interesting tidbit by Bernie Miklasz in his Sport OT article in the May 14 Post-Dispatch proved that Molina wasn't just stirring, but was beginning to hit with authority.

Miklasz noted only that for the month of May, Molina was hitting .302 through the May 12 game. Curious about that number, some further analysis showed that Molina's offensive performance has continued and is an important part of the Cardinal success this month.

After Monday's game against the Pirates, Molina is now hitting a robust .315 for the month of May. Mother Molina should be proud of her son. At the start of the month, his average was .181. It now stands at .230, not remarkable to the passive observer but a full 49 percentage points higher than just 24 days ago. Most important, when Molina hits, the Cardinals win. They are 8-2 when he collected at least one hit this month. When Yadier was hitless, the team record was 2-3. His pop at the bottom of the order means victories for the good guys.

As Molina continues to work with Redbird hitting coach Hal McRae, I expect his numbers to continue to trend upward and stabilize in the .265-.275 area. Cardinal management knew they were giving up a ton of defensive excellence in letting Mike Matheny walk to the Giants. They knew that Molina would be a strong defensive catcher, and they also believed that he had more offensive up side than Matheny. While slow to realize that potential, Molina through hard work and the intangible "coachability" or willingness to learn has translated that potential into reality and Cardinal wins. That's the bottom line and so far the Cardinals are winning their division and the Molina-Matheny gamble.

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