Defining the "Yadi Effect"

September 20, 2014 Posted by admin

Dan Buffa is a Cardinals writer for Cards Conclave.He is also a contributor to and Arch City Sports while writing for his own website, Dose Of Buffa. Contact him at or on Twitter at @buffa82.

It is true what they say, ‘sports is a team game.’ However, there always is a single one player a team can’t do well without. A vital component to the operation. A trusted source of production and leadership. The Bulls had Michael Jordan. The Kings had Wayne Gretzky. The Blues had Brett Hull. The Yankees have Derek Jeter. When I think of the most important part of a successful Cardinals team, I think of one man. Yadier Molina.

Molina’s importance was tested this year. He was out for two months. The Cards stayed above water without him, winning more games than they lost but they weren’t complete. The pitching staff took a hard shot and their collective earned run average went up. Adam Wainwright battled more than he had to since 2007. Trevor Rosenthal continued to spiral. The rotation started revealing more cracks. Fill in catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Tony Cruz were average behind the plate but the entire mindset of the opposing team changed. They could run on the Cards and they could stand on first base without keeping Molina in their thoughts. Yadier tore ligaments his thumb and with his injury, the fabric of the rotation and bullpen went into disarray.

The effect of Yadi on Wainwright can not be determined, but the two have worked together since Waino has pitched for the Cards. There hasn’t been a sustained absence other than Adam’s Tommy John Surgery in 2011. These two were the best battery in baseball. Breaking that up had its consequences. Yadi’s real effect on the pitchers is a general calming effect. He makes the staff a little less stressed out there. All they have to do is look in for the sign and throw. With other catchers, a pitcher has to think more and dictate his own pace. With Molina behind the plate, it’s like staring in at your brother. There is a trust. The ERA without Molina from July 9th to August 29th was 4.60. Since Molina returned, the ERA is 3.19. Use that to measure Yadi’s overall effect.

Molina’s bat is among the sharpest in the league. That much is known. His ability to acknowledge the strike zone is only matched by his fellow Cardinal, Matt Carpenter. In 1,318 career games, Molina has only struck out 458 times while walking 355 times. He has went from being an offensive liability in 2006(.216 average) to being a career .284 hitter. He makes the pitcher work harder than most and gets his fair share of big hits. He has a career high of 80 RBI and 22 HR but it’s the average and year long result that Molina gives you at the plate that counts the most.

If things were right in the world, Molina would own an MVP award or two. Since the voters love HR and RBI so much, he only has a handful of gold gloves. If Yadi hit more home runs, he would own an MVP award. Molina’s effect on the game and his team can’t be shoved into one sabermetric or one easy stat. It’s enormous and can be properly viewed over an entire season. If voters don’t get it right, fans and local writers can appreciate it often. Molina is the best kept secret in the MVP roundtable but he is easily #1 in St. Louis.

His work ethic can’t be questioned. He studies tape of hitters every day. He works with every pitcher. He convenes with pitching coach Derek Lilliquist and manager Mike Matheny as if he were a coach. He prepares a game plan for every game. He is the mind behind the attack unlike other catchers in this league. Sorry, Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy, but the overall effect of your performance doesn’t come close to Yadi’s on a night to night basis.

Ask any Cardinal on the team tonight who represents “a leg” on this team. One player they don’t want to start October without. Ask them who is the most vital component on this team. A leg as in if it was kicked out, the team would scrap the floor for a while before eventually collapsing. The answer is easy. Yadi.

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