Baseball Hall of Fame and Yadier Molina’s place in it

There has been some buzz lately regarding Yadier Molina and whether or not he’s a Hall of Famer with concerning variations as to his place in it. However, before we discuss Molina, we must address what is really going on with the Baseball Hall of Fame, and how much credibility it has left.

It is an absolute disgrace that players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire are not in the Hall of Fame. Regardless of whether or not those players utilized performance enhancing drugs they were still amongst the best baseball players of all-time who aided the sport when it had been in serious trouble for fans’ attention. Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player of all-time and there’s no denying his place in the game even as year-after-year writers keep denying him entry into the Hall of Fame.

Even crazier and incomprehensible is the fact that Pete Rose isn’t in the Hall of Fame, but players like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and Tim Raines are in. That’s the problem that this decision to keep these guys out has created, they’ve kept the great ones out, and placed players in it who had mediocre careers, but rewarded them for not using performance enhancing drugs (or for not getting caught).

Now the whole system is in shambles as evidenced by the recent discussion regarding Yadier Molina.

The problem with these tweets is that Jeff Passan is a respectable baseball writer with plenty of influence in the baseball community and actually owns votes. His existence is based on spreadsheets and not the actual game. It’s arguments like these that are hurting the current popularity of the game, and the reason why attendance is at a 15-year low.

It’s the argument against players like Javier Baez – which by the way, you’ll never see Jeff tweet about Baez unless it’s about him doing something kind for a fan.

Baez is a nightmare for writers like Passan. It’s incomprehensible to him that fans have such love and passion for a player who can’t draw a walk. The abundance of walks is the very reason the game is so slow. They love players like Mike Trout whose best ability is his patience and tendency to swing at strikes. No one goes to the ballpark to watch players draw walks. Fans rather see action – there’s nothing exciting about a walk.

Baseball writers still can’t understand why Mike Trout isn’t as popular as he should be. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t even know, as his comments during the All-Star Break were the topic of discussion, with Trout feeling the need to submit a statement on his behalf.

Passan is so caught up on sabermetrics that he argued against Miguel Cabrera when he secured the first Triple Crown in 45 years. His argument was based solely on the fact that Mike Trout had a higher Wins Above Replacement number than Cabrera. When we don’t reward touching storylines, the game dies. We can’t steal emotions from the fans, that’s the reason we watch sports – to disconnect from the realities of the world and find truly touching stories that are abundant in this world we follow.

Which brings us back to Yadier Molina’s Hall of Fame case, which by the way, it’s not just a feel good story. Molina has been the best in-game manager in MLB since he pretty much came up from the Minor Leagues and replaced Mike Matheny as the everyday cardinal catcher.  No one has handled a pitching staff as well as Yadi. Pitchers come and go from St. Louis, but look at their pitching numbers when Yadi is behind the plate vs. when he’s not (Busch Stadium is no Coors Field). It’s not a coincidence that their performance is significantly higher when he’s catching.

Chris Carpenter‘s 6 years in Toronto: 49 Wins – 50 losses, 4.83 ERA
Chris Carpenter’s 9 years in St. Louis: 95 Wins – 44 losses, 3.07 ERA

Ryan Franklin‘s 6 years in Seattle: 35 Wins – 50 losses, 4.34 ERA
Ryan Franklin’s 5 years in St. Louis: 21 Wins – 19 losses, 3.52 ERA (reliever)

Kyle Lohse‘s 6 years in Minnesota: 51 Wins – 57 losses, 4.88 ERA
Kyle Lohse’s 5 years in St Louis: 55 Wins – 35 losses, 3.90 ERA

Jaime Garcia‘s year in Atlanta: 4 Wins – 7 losses, 4.30 ERA
Jaime Garcia’s 2 years in the American League: 4 Wins – 9 losses, 5.52 ERA
Jaime Garcia’s 8 years in St Louis: 62 Wins – 45 Losses, 3.57 ERA

Lance Lynn‘s year in the American League: 8 Wins – 8 Losses, 4.68 ERA
Lance Lynn’s 6 years in St. Louis: 72 Wins – 47 Losses, 3.38 ERA

Jeff Suppan‘s 5 years in Kasas City: 39 Wins – 51 Losses, 4.73 ERA
Jeff Suppan’s 4 years in Boston: 12 Wins – 10 Losses, 5.87 ERA
Jeff Suppan’s 4 years in Milwaukee: 29 Wins – 36 Losses, 5.08 ERA
Jeff Suppan’s 4 years in St. Louis: 47 Wins – 32 Losses, 3.94 ERA

Shelby Miller‘s 3 years in Arizona: 5 Wins – 18 Losses, 6.39 ERA
Shelby Miller’s 3 years in St. Louis: 26 Wins – 18 Losses, 3.33 ERA

There are plenty more examples, but these are the ones that stand out. Perhaps these numbers are part of Molina’s popularity, or he just absolutely controls the game and calls for the best pitches. The pitchers agree that he has something to do with their success.

If those examples above are not telling enough, check this one out from Molina’s catching influence in the World Baseball Classic where Puerto Rico has finished runner-up twice in a row.

Nelson Figueroa’s 9 years in MLB: 20 Wins – 35 Losses, 4.55 ERA
Nelson Figueroa’s 2013 WBC: 2 Wins – 0 Losses, 1.80 ERA

Those Nelson Figueroa numbers are extremely impressive, given the fact that he’s facing the best players from every country in the World Baseball Classic tournament.

Regardless of popularity awards or not, Yadier Molina’s career achievements speak for themselves:
9-time All-Star
8-time Gold Glove Winner
64.1% Caught Stealing rate in 2005 (hasn’t been this high since, closest was Molina again in 2007 with 54%)
2-time World Series Champ (4 World Series appearances)
2013 NL Silver Slugger

According to Passan, gold gloves are a byproduct of popularity. How does one gain so much popularity that gold gloves are just automatically given out regardless of performance?

He cares so much about the Wins Above Replacement stat that he probably prays to it at night, so let’s talk about the famous WAR in regards to his beloved Mike Trout. Yes, Trout has had the best WAR numbers in MLB, and is a great player, no doubt. However, with all of those wins that he brings above his replacement, he has only made the postseason once in his career and performed poorly.

Trout’s sole postseason appearance was abysmal. His batting average (BA) was .083, on-base percentage (OBP) .267, and that on-base plus slugging (OPS) number Jeff mocked in his tweet was an “eh” .600.

Yadi’s career WAR is 38.5, which is 23.5 less than Trout while playing eight more seasons than him. However, in 15 seasons, Molina has made the postseason nine times. His numbers in the postseason are even better than his regular season numbers, which tells you something about the person and his performance when the stakes are higher.

Yadier Molina’s numbers in the postseason: .286 BA, .339 OBP, .707 OPS
Yadier Molina’s numbers in the NLCS: .326 BA, .365 OBP, .799 OPS
Yadier Molina’s numbers in the World Series: .328 BA, .395 OBP, .798 OPS

His numbers get better and better the more the games matter. He elevates the pitching rotation, and even elevates the players around him. There’s something about Yadi that can’t be measured by numbers. If you’ve been part of any team, whether in sports or in an office, every now and then you’ve been around an individual that just gets the best out of every person, and we can’t intelligently explain how it happens – it just does.

We’ve been picking a lot on Mike Trout, to no fault of his own – he’s just a good player to utilize for comparison, but if he was to retire today, he’d be in the Hall of Fame the next day, and it would be justified – he deserves it. But does he make his teammates better? Is he invested in the team’s success? Why can’t the Angels make the playoffs? He lured away Albert Pujols from Yadi, and is he better? Why was Pujols the greatest hitter we’ve ever seen in St. Louis and a so-so hitter in the Angels lineup, getting playing-time solely due to that reputation word Jeff keeps tossing around when mentioning Yadi?

If Yadier Molina doesn’t get voted into the Hall of Fame the moment his availability comes up, it will be a sign of deeper problems within MLB that may or may not be resolved. Molina is a winner, a hustler, a warrior, a role model, a leader, a hard-worker, and an inspiration to us all – do right by him.

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