Jaffe: Yadier Molina’s climb toward Cooperstown

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on July 12, 2018:

Yadier Molina was added to the NL All-Star team on Monday, replacing the injured Buster Posey, who’s been slowed by a bout of inflammation in his right hip and recently received a cortisone shot. Molina’s addition is just the first of a wave that will dull some outrage over the most obvious snubs from Sunday’s roster announcement; on the AL side, Jed Lowrie was named as Gleyber Torres’ replacement on Tuesday. As Molina is a Star Player of a Certain Age, his ninth selection to the Midsummer Classic in a 10-year span (he missed 2016) set off another round of everybody’s favorite parlor game, Is He a Hall of Famer?. You know I can’t resist buzzing in for that one.

But first, the selection. Molina, who turns 36 on July 13, is having a pretty good season, particularly for a guy who missed a month due to [crosses legs uncomfortably] emergency groin surgery necessitated by a foul tip. He’s currently hitting 274/.317/.484 with 13 homers in 240 plate appearances, and while his on-base percentage is nothing to write home about — how is it a guy who spends half the game minding the strike zone for his pitchers can walk just 5.4% of the time? — his slugging percentage is his highest since 2012, his best offensive season. His 115 wRC+ is his highest since 2013, and it’s lifted his career mark to an even 100. Of the 23 catchers with at least 200 PA this year, that 114 wRC+ is tied for sixth overall. Both MLB leader J.T. Realmuto (149) and fourth-ranked Willson Contreras (122) are already on the NL All-Star squad, with the latter elected the starter.


As for Molina and the Hall, he may well become the most polarizing candidate this side of Jack Morris or Omar Vizquel, because the popular perception doesn’t jibe with the numbers. As I noted last year while at SI.com, industry heavyweights such as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, ESPN’s Buster Olney, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale refer to Molina as a surefire Hall of Famer thanks to his defensive excellence. An admittedly unscientific Twitter poll taken by MLB Network pot-stirrer Brian Kenny, which helped to set off the latest round of this conversation, received over 19,000 responses, 73% of which favor Molina as a Hall of Famer. His score via the Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor, a relatively old-school metric that gives credit for awards, league leads, milestones, and postseason performance — things that historically have tended to appeal to Hall voters, at least prior to the post-strike offensive explosion and the influx of PEDs — is 140, where 100 is a likely Hall of Famer and 130 is “a virtual cinch.” Yet advanced metrics such as WAR, WARP, and JAWS leave him wanting.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/yadier-molinas-climb-towards-cooperstown/

Originally published: July 12, 2018. Last Updated: July 12, 2018.