SocraticGadfly: Is Yadier Molina a Hall of Famer (repost)?

November 13, 2020

Is Yadier Molina a Hall of Famer (repost)?

Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals' backstop for going on 15 years, and arguably the best defensive catcher since Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, insists that, like Pudge, he belongs in Cooperstown. So do many Cardinal fan blogs.

But, does he?
(Note: This is a repost because the original HTML that I had posted using Baseball-Reference's "linker" was apparently invalid. And that's because they changed the order of some of the specific material within the linking for players' names since I first blogged this in advance two weeks ago.
Update to the note: OK, maybe it wasn't invalid. As, now, both this AND the original seem to be getting picked up. Just another bad day from B-Ref's RSS feed for blogs. See bottom of page.)

Yes, he broke a counting stats with 2,000 hits, but let's look at the big picture, as I remain less than fully convinced.

First, WAR. He's right at 40, and given his last three years, he won't cross 42 next year, with him pushing off his retirement another year. He could play two more years and not cross 43.

That would leave him behind, among others, the career-ended-by-death Thurman Munson, who criminally is still not in the Hall. It would put him even with Jorge Posada and behind Bill Freehan.

Does anybody think either of them is a HOFer?

Right now, he's 24th in the JAWS ranks.

BUT his defense?!?!

First, dWAR still remains even more subjective than oWAR.

Second, one of the catches ahead of him in dWAR is ... Bob Boone, not close to being a HOFer. In a near tie? Jim Sundberg, also not a HOFer. Tony Pena and Rick Dempsey, among others, have two-thirds his dWAR. Not HOFers.

Now, Yadi's defenders will be saying, but, all that offense!

Well, he had more than Boone or Dempsey. (That, of course, ain't saying much.) Not Sundberg, who's an almost exact comp. And, someone with less dWAR but again, almost the same total? Darrell Porter. Good player. Compelling personal story. Not a HOFer.

Throw in him still being below 1,000 RBIs, which he'll need two seasons to cross, and under 200 HRs, which he won't, period?
Related: Of catchers with 2,000 or more hits, he's second-last in homers, last in OPS, second-last in OPS+.
Let me put it another way, fellow Birds fans. Right now, besides some of those older catchers, his closest career comp, among semi-contemporaries? Jason Kendall.

Or to put it a third way? Due to the relative lack of offense, he doesn't even have the best WAR of active catchers. Buster Posey does. And, Posey's peak WAR for his seven best years is eight full points ahead of Yadi.

Not a HOFer.

But, that pitch framing!

How do you know Boone wasn't better? Or, certainly, Johnny Bench? Or, Yogi Berra, who reportedly made any pitcher who joined the Yankees better?

I certainly expect him to break 5 percent with the voters in his first year of eligibility, but I'd be surprised to see him ever get over 35 percent or so.

In the Cardinals pantheon picture? Paul Goldschmidt, in my book, is the only person currently wearing birds on bats who has a 50 percent shot or better at Cooperstown, and post-trade, his chances aren't much higher than 50 percent.

Next catcher? Either Posey or Munson, if the next Modern Era version of the "Veterans Committee" pulls its collective head out of its collective ass. (I hope, and semi-expect, writers will recognize that much of Joe Mauer's career was at 1B/DH, and his numbers are nowhere near 1B HOF level. (Posey is moving out from the plate more and more, but I assume he'll still do a fair amount of catching in 2021, and the year off may have rejuvenated him.)

Meanwhile, Kool-Aid peddling Cards fan blogs talk about things like "most clutch Cardinal." Go away. 

I would, to finish prepping for the future, give Yadi ONE more year at a cut rate, and make it clear that, short of him being named Comeback Player of the Year, a second year ain't in the offing. The Cardinals were wisely unsentimental about Albert Pujols and need to take the same stance here.


Oh, per the material in parentheses up top? This is frustrating. Since it went to this "linker," I've also seen B-Ref's RSS feed once be "12 hours slow" and once have a full multiple days of glitchiness.

A weird sidebar on that. There are multiple Tony Pena's in MLB history. The Linker deal doesn't sort them out and you have to wade through the HTML as to whether you want THE Tony Pena, as in the Cards' catcher, or one of two later Tony Penas. Ditto for other named duplicated in MLB history, and the Linker doesn't cue you to ask for one of the three. When adjusting the HTML under the hood at the original blog post, as in replacing it for all players' names, I realized that it wasn't that way for Pena there, and I'm not sure I had fixed it; another clue, if I didn't fix it, that something was wrong with the generated HTML.

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