Cardinals Yadier Molina: An Underrated Catcher Option

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has been around for a while. But, he had arguably his best season in 2016. How do you value him this season?

The St. Louis Cardinals had a good season last year. They had a few hitters hit more than 20 home runs and saw some young players develop into stars. Despite the injuries to the starting rotation already, the Cardinals will be competing for a division title. One of the anchors of that team is catcher Yadier Molina. For fantasy, he falls in drafts year after year. Is he being undervalued?

Molina has been around since 2004 when he played 51 games in his rookie season. Very few teams have someone play behind the plate for that long. Though, Molina hasn’t always been the healthiest of catchers.

From 2005 to 2015, he averaged just 128 games per season. Missing an average of 34 games per season does not help his stock for fantasy owners. Last season, though, Molina put up career bests in multiple categories.

He played in a career-high 147 games. Molina hit .307, his best since 2013, with eight home runs and 58 RBI. His .360 on-base percentage was his highest since 2012. At 33 years old, Molina is still chugging along.

Of catchers with at least 130 games played, nine players, Molina was one of three with an average over .300. He was tied atop the list with Wilson Ramos.

Molina isn’t showing any signs of stopping either. While playing for Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic, he has a .333 average with two home runs and six RBI in 21 at-bats.

Molina’s arm is still a threat behind the plate. If you missed it, here’s the link of him picking off Jurickson Profar as he was celebrating a single. Here’s a second link of Molina throwing to second base and getting Andrelton Simmons caught in a rundown. If he can still perform at this level at 34, then fantasy owners need to take notice.

He isn’t going to hit double-digit home runs like he did from 2011 to 2013, but he’s also not going to hit under .285 like he did in the following two seasons.

I know standard fantasy leagues don’t use pickoffs as a fielding category for catchers. However, it helps his fellow pitchers by taking away the opponent’s ability to score. So, if you have a Cardinals pitcher on your team, you’re going to want the WBC version of Molina.

Molina is currently ranked as my No. 13 catcher. He has the best batting average on the Cardinals. Aledmys Diaz was behind him at .300. He can hit 10 home runs, but I chalk him up to hit seven with 63 RBI and a .303 average. As a 23rd-round pick in one-catcher leagues, that’s excellent value.