Athlete Profile of The Day – Yadier Molina

Yadier B. Molina (born July 13, 1982 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico) is a MLB player who plays for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Molina is only the third catcher to play in two World Series before age 25, along with Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra.  He is widely considered one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball. In his young career, Molina has thrown out 55% of runners attempting to steal, and has led major league catchers in pickoffs.

Molina made his debut with the Cardinals during their pennant-winning season of 2004,  backing up Mike Matheny.   Matheny served as a mentor to Molina, and like Matheny, Molina is an outstanding defensive catcher. Molina was picked over Matheny to start Game 4 of the 2004 World Series against the Boston Red Sox and during the following off-season,  Matheny signed a 3-year, $10.5-million contract with the San Fransico Giants,  clearing the way for Molina to become the starting catcher for St. Louis.

In 2005,  Molina’s defense did not disappoint, and despite an awful offensive start, Molina proved to be a consistent contact hitter. In 114 games, he posted a .252 batting average with eight home runs and 49 RBI’s.

Prior to the 2006 season, Molina changed his number from 41 to 4. In 2006,  in Game 7 of the NLCS,  Molina hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning off Aaron Heliman of the New York Mets, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead and helping them secure a trip to the 2006 World Series, where they defeated the Detroit Tigers in five games.

After the 2006 postseason, Molina proved to be both a good defensive and offensive player in the 2007 season ending the season with a .275 batting average, 6 home runs, and 40 RBIs. He enjoyed a two home run game for the first time in his career against the Milwaukee Brewers, helping the Cardinals beat the Brewers 8-0, in Milwaukee on August 16, 2007.

Molina is primarily known for his defensive play. Through the 2007 season Molina has thrown out 50% of those runners attempting to steal while he is behind the plate. Manager Tony Larussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan estimate that Molina is responsible for calling over 75% of all pitches thrown during a game. On January 14, 2008 it was announced that Molina and the Cardinals had agreed to a 4-year, $15.5 million deal with a club option for a fifth, cementing his position as their catcher of the future. After the 2008, Molina was awarded his first Gold Glove Award.

On July 5th, 2009, after holding off Braves catcher Brian McCann, Molina was selected to represent St. Louis in the 2009 All Star Game as the NL starting catcher.

On November 11th, 2009 Molina won his second Gold Glove award with first time winner teammate Adam Wainwright

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