by Scott Bierman / BaseballStL
(BaseballStL) -- It always seems that when you talk about the St. Louis Cardinals and the strong start which has propelled them to best record in the majors, Yadier Molina’s name will be mentioned shortly after it.
That’s because the Cardinals have a guy who can do it all: hit, field and manage the game.
Molina collected two more hits in a 7-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks to bring his season batting average to .350, which is tops among all players in the National League. He leads Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Jean Segura by six points.
Molina is also putting behind the days where catchers weren’t notoriously great hitters. To put it in better prospective, San Francisco’s Buster Posey, who won last year’s NL MVP, has the second-best average among catchers in the NL with a .308 batting average, 42 points behind Molina. The next closest is Colorado’s Wilin Rosario at .254, almost 100 points behind the Cardinals star.
“That’s pretty good,” Mike Matheny said of Molina’s average. “He’s just taking great at-bats. He had one little period there where he was fighting himself a little bit.
“That’s the difference right now with the guys with the high numbers in their batting averages is that they’ve been able to keep those to a minimal and figure it out.”
He has also committed only two errors in 465.1 innings behind the plate this season while throwing out more than half of the base runners trying to steal. No catcher has caught more innings this season than Molina (Miguel Montero is second with 437.2 innings).
“I don’t know if you guys know, but he’s played a lot,” Matheny said. “He’s had a little bit more than the average guy behind the plate, but that’s what he set out to do. He’s an incredibly motivated person.”
His teammates have taken notice, too.
“He’s the best in the game,” Matt Carpenter said. “There’s no question. We get to see it everyday and people that aren’t here don’t realize it.”
The starting rotation is currently the youngest in the majors with the average age of 25 years. The rotation is a combined 33-11 with a major-league best 2.52 ERA. Not to mention, that the rookies have combined for 13 wins this season.
Would the rotation be as successful without Molina?
“Our pitching staff has been incredible and he has a lot to do with it, especially the young guys that have come up from the minor leagues and made such a smooth transition,” Carpenter added. “Yeah, those guys are talented. They’ve done a great job, not to take anything away from them, but he is a big if not the number one part for that case.”
Molina is currently appealing a one-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball after making contact with an umpire after being ejected in the third inning of Sunday’s game.
“We had a little bit of a conversation,” Matheny said about his catcher’s decision to appeal. “He also talked with his representation, his agent, and they felt comfortable at that point with filing the protest against it. It’s tough to figure that stuff out, but I think in time it will all clear up.”
It came as no surprise to Monday’s starter Lance Lynn that Molina would come back strong the next night.
“He wasn’t happy with the way yesterday went and you can’t blame him,” Lynn said. “You knew he was going to show up tonight and give us everything he had and that’s good.”
Molina went 2-for-4, drove in two runs and hit his fourth home run of the season on Monday night.
It’s just something we have all come to expect.