Molina's fast RBI start invokes past memories

Yadier Molina is off to one of the fastest starts in terms of RBI by any St. Louis Cardinals catcher in more than a half-century.

In the constant quest for balanced coverage, a day after poking at the lack of productivity from the number six spot in the St. Louis Cardinals batting order, it is worth noting that catcher Yadier Molina came through again on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. Both of his recent night heroics came while batting sixth.


Molina's two-run single in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie, powering St. Louis to a 5-4 win over the visiting Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. It was the second consecutive night that the native of Puerto Rico drove in the go-ahead runs.


After the Braves intentionally walked red-hot Colby Rasmus with first base open in the eighth inning of Monday's series-opening tie game, the Cardinals catcher made them pay. His run scoring double to left-center field plated the eventual winning run in the 4-3 victory.


As Molina collected his 12th and 13th RBIs of the month (and season) Tuesday night, it officially became his biggest April of his six seasons as a major leaguer. In 2009, Molina accumulated 12 RBI on the way to 54 that year, second only to his career-best 56 in 2008.


With just one more RBI in the next three games, Molina will tie for the second-most RBI by a Cardinals catcher in April since at least 1952.


Of course, the gold standard for good-hitting St. Louis backstops was Ted Simmons. "Simba's" modern club record of 20 April RBI set back in 1977 appears safe.


RBI by Cardinals catcher during April (1952 though 04/27/10)

Catcher Year April RBI
Ted Simmons 1977 20
Ted Simmons 1975 14
Yadier Molina 2010 13*
Mike Matheny 2003 13
Ted Simmons 1974 13
Joe Torre 1970 13
Yadier Molina 2009 12
Ted Simmons 1978 12
Tim McCarver 1967 12
* current


While Mike Matheny was not known for his offense, Molina's hot start also eclipsed several other famous catchers' best first months of the season as Cardinals, including Joe Torre (1970) and Tim McCarver (1967).


From a career perspective, despite being just 27 years of age, Molina is already sixth on the club's list of most RBI by a catcher. With an average 2010, Molina should pass Jimmie Wilson and Tom Pagnozzi to rank fourth all-time by the end of the season.


RBI by Cardinals catcher, career

Rank Catcher Career RBI
1 Ted Simmons 929
2 Tim McCarver 453
3 Del Rice 373
4 Tom Pagnozzi 320
5 Jimmie Wilson 303
6 Yadier Molina 276


Though he did not enjoy as fast of a start in April as others noted above, when discussing Cardinals catchers, the late Darrell Porter deserves note, as well. Porter, who played with St. Louis from 1981 through 1985, had the unenviable job of replacing the popular Simmons, traded to Milwaukee in December 1980, and became an important part of Whitey Herzog's first two National League pennant-winning clubs and the 1982 World Champions.


Porter offers Molina a target in 2010 as he registered the top two RBI seasons by a St. Louis catcher in the post-Simmons years.


Note that due to pinch-hitting and well as playing at other positions, not all the RBIs of these catchers were accumulated while they were in the game as assigned behind the plate.


RBI by Cardinals catcher, season, 1981-present

Player as C RBI Year Age
Darrell Porter 67 68 1984 32
Darrell Porter 61 66 1983 31
Tom Pagnozzi 56 57 1991 28
Tom Pagnozzi 55 55 1996 33
Yadier Molina 54 54 2009 26
Yadier Molina 53 56 2008 25
Tony Pena 51 51 1988 31
Mike Matheny 50 50 2004 33
Yadier Molina 49 49 2006 23
Yadier Molina 49 49 2005 22
Todd Zeile 41 57 1990 24


Special thanks to statistician Tom Orf for teeing up the data tables shown above.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Brian pens a column each Wednesday at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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