Bernie Miklasz in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch makes this astonishing point about Yadi Molina, the Cardinals great catcher:
I have said it before and I will say it again: there is no player in major-league baseball more valuable to his team on a daily basis than Yadier Benjamin Molina.
I don’t give a damn if other players hit more home runs, get more attention from ESPN, or are overlooked in the official MVP voting by hopelessly inattentive baseball writers that should know better.
You want a stat?
Well, here’s a stat:
Since Molina became the Cardinals’ full-time catcher in 2005, the team has a winning percentage of .577 when he starts a game, and a winning percentage of .489 when he doesn’t start a game.
I'm assuming that Miklasz has his stats straight. But that last paragraph is amazing. Molina has been at best an average offensive player during his tenure with the Cardinals. He's better than that over the last 3-4 years, but before that he was below average. (Four of the six years from 2005 through 2010 Molina had an OPS below .700, and his highest was .749. His best year during that span for HRs and RBIs was 8 HRs in 2005 and 62 RBIs in 2010. None of those numbers look like Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra or Mike Piazza.)
So figure him for a 0-1 WAR player as a hitter. But then the only thing that makes the Cards better when he plays must be (a) the way he calls a game (doesn't show up in statistics); and (b) his fielding as a catcher, including throwing out runners (which largely doesn't show up in statistics because they don't run on good catchers very much, and Molina is the best, so hardly anyone ever tests his arm). How much is that worth?
Well, apparently it's worth .088 in terms of winning percentage. Multiply that by 162 and you get 14.2 extra wins because Yadi is catching rather than the Cards' "replacement" catcher.
Maybe the best player in baseball and one of the best ever.
Hall of Fame?
I say yes. If Ozzie Smith is in for his fielding, Yadi should be in too.
UPDATE: Just checked in on the Cardinals day game. 3-1 Cards in the 7th. Nationals have runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Joe Kelly is struggling and goes 3-0 on the next hitter. Then he battles back to bring the count full. On the 3-2 count, the runner goes, Kelly strikes out the batter, and Yadi throws a BB to second for the double play to get out of the inning. The throw was a laser that was right on the bag; all Kozma had to do was catch it and drop his glove a foot and the runner was out by a mile.
That's why Yadi is the MVP.