When the team announced the deal, it was revealed that next season would be Molina’s last.
Breaking: Yadier Molina says next year will be his final season.
What a career 👏 pic.twitter.com/fCD5NSrZCe
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2021
The 39-year-old is a Cardinals legend, and when he retires, it will be the end of an era.
He’s a 10-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion.
There’s no questioning his resume.
But is he still a valuable asset at this stage in his career?
Let’s find out.
Offensively, He’s A Negative Asset
Molina has never been an elite offensive player.
During his prime, he had a few seasons with an OPS north of .800, and he did win a Silver Slugger Award in 2013.
But that’s about it.
He’s a career .280 hitter with a .734 OPS and 97 OPS+.
Those numbers are pretty average.
However, in recent years, he has been worse than average offensively.
He finished the 2019 season with an OPS+ of 88, the 2020 season with an OPS+ of 83, and he has an OPS+ of 89 this season.
OPS+ isn’t everything, but it’s a pretty good overall measure of a player’s offensive production.
Fortunately for Molina, he brings value to the table in other ways.
Defensively, He’s A Positive Asset
Molina is widely regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in MLB history, and that remains the case in 2021.
For the current season, he has an outstanding defensive WAR of 1.1.
That puts him on pace for his best defensive season (going by WAR) since 2015.
He also has five Defensive Runs Saved this year.
With that statistic, anything better than zero is above average.
Molina fields his position extremely well, he throws runners out at an elite clip, and he is an outstanding pitch framer.
— Justin Groc (@jgroc) May 17, 2021
It’s no coincidence that he’s a nine-time Gold Glover.
When it comes to defense, Molina’s still got it.
In The Locker Room, He’s A Positive Asset
To state the obvious, there’s no replacing this guy.
Molina is coming up on two decades in the Majors, and he has spent his entire career with St. Louis.
His veteran experience and leadership is invaluable.
He’s the type of player that every team needs to have around.
This is arguably the most valuable part of what Molina brings to the table these days.
The Verdict: Overall, Molina Is Undoubtedly Still A Positive Asset
Sure, he’s past his prime.
But all things considered, Molina is still a positive asset for the Cardinals.
You can live with his below-average offensive production when you factor in his elite defense and locker-room impact.
Plus, Molina has tons of postseason experience.
If St. Louis sneaks into the playoffs this season or next, the team will be able to feel really good about having a leader with plenty of postseason history.
From a game-calling perspective, his presence behind the plate becomes even bigger in October.
But also, he doesn’t shy away from the moment offensively when the lights are the brightest.
He’s a career .280 hitter in the playoffs.
Cardinals fans should feel good about having Molina around for one more year in 2022.