ST. LOUIS -- Continuing his impressive run, Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina pulled in his seventh consecutive Gold Glove Tuesday.
The 32-year-old backstop joins Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez as the the only catchers in history to win at least seven in a row, and is now tied with Bob Boone for the third most Gold Gloves by a catcher. He trails Bench by three and Rodriguez by six.
Molina topped Milwaukee's Jonathan Lucroy and Pittsburgh's Russell Martin in the voting, despite finishing behind them in runs saved. A torn thumb ligament cut his appearances to just 110 games, but the six-time All Star still led the NL in caught stealing percentage at 48, a full 20 percent better than the league average. His two errors and three passed balls are again among the best numbers in baseball, and despite limited innings, he posted a positive runs saved number based on his pitch blocking (1.8).
Molina also possesses a defensive acumen beyond what we have the statistics to measure. His understanding and management of the pitching staff, near-photographic memory of hitters' preferences and tendencies and in-game instincts compliment his perennially elite stats, making him the Gold Glove favorite nearly every season.
When he returned from his thumb injury, manager Mike Matheny immediately saw improvement from reliever Carlos Martinez. The former catcher pointed to Molina's presence as the catalyst, explaining the veteran had a tremendous feel for how to handle the fiery pitcher, drawing steady performance out of him.
Cardinal pitchers routinely praise Molina's instincts and game plans, using the word 'trust' often and with sincerity. Opposing baserunners talk about his ability to change their strategy and aggressiveness, evidenced by the low steal attempts agains him.
Molina is the third catcher to win a Gold Glove with the Cardinals, and now represents seven of the 13 for the franchise.