Yadier Molina – Hall of Fame Bound?

  • Cade Slaughter / September 8, 2021

There’s no question that there has been quite a bit of controversy regarding Yadier Molina’s Hall of Fame potential. While ‘Yadi’ may be considered one of the best defensive catchers of all time throughout baseball history, there is no doubt that his offensive numbers spark a question mark when it comes to his Hall of Fame status.

Thou shalt not steal on Yadier Molina (or these other great catchers) — A  Hunt and Peck - Viva El Birdos
Yadier Molina, center, getting ready to throw the ball back to the pitcher (circa 2018).

There is also no doubt that Yadier Molina is already one of the best catchers who has ever stepped foot on a diamond. It may seem tough to figure out whether Yadier is ‘Hall of Fame ready’ based on certain statistics, however many reporters feel as if he is a potential first ballot hall of famer in Cooperstown.

As of June 21, 2021, Yadier Molina threw out yet another baserunner, making that the 361st baserunner Yadier has caught stealing in his career, and was noted as the 893rd steal attempt against him. According to Baseball Reference, one of the top baseball statistics pages in the world, Roy Campanella is currently the leader in caught stealing percentage, meaning that Campanella is the one sole catcher within baseball history whom baserunners failed the most while attempting to steal against. Of course, Campanella spent a majority of his time in the Negro leagues, due to the systemic racism at the time. Of course, the two catchers played in completely different eras, and that only sums up one of the defensive aspects of the game. Of course, it is not a perfect comparison by any means – they played in two completely different eras. That is what makes baseball extremely difficult in terms of comparing the ‘greats’ to the current stars of today’s day and age.

Currently, Yadi sits at 209th on the all-time list from B-Ref at 40.43%. This specific list contains catchers with a minimum of 200 stolen base attempts against them. Among the current qualified catchers from Fangraphs’ career leaderboard, Yadi is fourth behind Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez (45.68%), Thurman Munson (44.48%), and Jim Sundberg (41.16%). Molina currently allows approximately 30 stolen bases a season on average. That tells us that Yadier likely will not be the all-time leader in caught stealing percentage no matter how one breaks the statistics down, but it does not take away from the fact that he is among the elite defensive catchers in the metric.

As far as the other statistics are concerned, Yadi contains the second best overall defensive WAR as a catcher, currently behind Ivan Rodriguez which stands at 26.3 WAR, Wins-Above-Replacement. Molina is also .005 higher on fielding percentage than some of the greats ahead of him, such as Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench. Yadier currently stands alone at the top of that statistical board.

Range factor per game is also increasingly high, second behind Ivan Rodriguez, while adding the fact Yadier leads all current catchers and is apart of the team with the least amount of stolen base attempts since circa ’05 – which is a great WAR factor as far as defensive catching is concerned. As far as his offensive numbers, however, Yadier currently sits as 20th on the all-time leaderboard with Wins-Above-Replacement (WAR).

Yadier Molina provides more heroics for Cardinals in NLDS - Los Angeles  Times
Yadier Molina, center, celebrates a walk-off single as the Cardinals win it against the Atlanta Braves in a season exhibition game.

As far as Yadier’s offensive numbers are concerned, Yadier sits 10th in all-time hits among catchers. Yadi’s JAWS statistics are quite skewed also. JAWS is simply a statistic that compares and contrasts current major league players to hall of fame players. Yadier currently sits at 22nd on the all-time catchers list, which is due to his poor offensive numbers when comparing him to the ‘greats’.

While Yadi may not be the best catcher of all-time by a long shot, he definitely contains hall of fame potential with his defensive statistics. Many MLB.com reporters have claimed Yadi’s poor offensive reputation is likely due to his poor slugging percentage, which can cause a significant decrease in his OPS statistics (On-base percentage + slugging percentage). We also have to take other hall of famers into effect. Yadier is considered one of the three best defensive catchers of all-time with one year left to go in his career. Ozzie Smith is considered one of the best shortstops of all-time with an OPS+ sitting at 87th career all-time.

While I believe Yadi will eventually make it into the hall, it will likely take a few ballots before the catcher is inducted due to his poorer offensive statistics.

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