The Statistical Case for Molina

The talk of baseball for the past month or so has been the debate of Mike Trout vs Miguel Cabrera. And when you look at their stats, all talk should be about them! Mike Trout has been putting up unreal rookie numbers and has basically made America forget about wonder-kid Bryce Harper. And Miguel Cabrera could very well become the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years! If Cabrera were to somehow pull off this feat, deciding the AL MVP may not be that difficult, but assuming that Josh Hamilton holds onto his homerun lead, voters have a tough decision ahead of them.

Equally as hard is the decision for NL MVP. Names that have been tossed around all season are individuals that I'm not sure voters really want to vote for. Option one is current NL batting leader, Melky Cabrera, who was suspended for the last 50 games of the season for performance enhancing drugs. Option two is Ryan Braun who leads in homeruns and RBIs, but he has also had a run-in with performance enhancing drugs, and though test results were overturned, his reputation is still tarnished and could cost cost him some votes. And option three is the Pirates outfielder, Andrew McCutcheon, who we all thought might be the one to finally carry the Pirates to a winning record, but his recent form eliminates all need to even test him of performance enhancing drugs, as he has seen his MVP hopes quickly diminish during a personal and team downward spiral through August and September.

So then we come to option four, and this is where I cast my vote: Cardinals catcher, Yadier Molina.

Molina isn't going to win the batting title, but he is batting .321 and with Melky Cabrera eliminating himself from contention, that puts Molina third in the National League in batting average.

Molina isn't even in the top 25 in homeruns, but his 21 homeruns have been far more important than the 34 by Giancarlo Stanton and 31 by Alfonso Soriano. Compared to his 21 homeruns, Molina has struck out just 53 times this year (about half that of Braun and McCutcheon).

Molina isn't even in the top 35 in RBIs, but again, let's consider the situations when he is getting those RBIs. 48 of his 71 RBIs have come with runners in scoring position (a situation in which he is batting .333) and 25 of those have come with two outs (in which he is batting .315). In the meantime, Braun bats .286 is the latter situation and McCutcheon .261. And Molina does that from the 5th or 6th spot in the batting order.

Defensively, there is none better in all of baseball that Yadier Molina. He has a .997 fielding percentage, which is second only to Braves catcher, Brian McCann, and has only had 3 errors all season, which is also second to McCann. However, he has played nearly 150 more innings than McCann and has also given up about half as many stolen bases. His 2.6 Defensive Wins Above Replacement (DWAR) is almost double that of any other catcher and is tied for 5th among all major league players (the other with 2.6 is Mike Trout). Those with a higher DWAR are not in MVP contention.

Overall Wins Above Replacement, he is 3rd in the NL, one point behind Braun and McCutcheon, but of the top 4, only his Cardinals are currently sitting in playoff position.

Say what you want about the stats, but MVP stands for Most Valuable Player. On a team that entered the 2012 season having traded star slugger Albert Pujols and having lost their ace, Chris Carpenter, for almost the entire season, and on a team run by a rookie manager and a rookie pitching coach, the outlook on the season was a bit uncertain. Yadier Molina stepped up in the leadership department and has dealt with the change by putting up career highs in almost every category. He has dealt with the frequent change in the Cardinals pitching rotation, and he is the only Cardinal who is literally involved in every single pitch. Compare that to the single digit number of plays that outfielders Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutcheon, and Melky Cabrera are involved in on a nightly basis.

Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to vote for this year's MVP, but if I did, Yadier Molina would be my man. When looking for an individual that characterizes not just the stats of the MVP award, but also the character and leadership of the MVP award, there is no one in baseball, not even in the American League, who embodies that more. Yadier Molina, the entire city of St. Louis is on your shoulders and we trust in your leadership. Now let's go towards the postseason and have another one of those crazy rides!