Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are both entering what will likely be their final seasons in 2022. Molina debuted in 2004 and Waiwright debuted in 2005 and both players have spent their entire MLB careers with the St. Louis Cardinals. As such, it is to be expected that they rank highly in numerous stats in franchise history. With one season to go, both players have areas where they can move up the all-time Cardinals leaderboard.
We’ll start with Molina. The catcher currently ranks ninth in WAR (as calculated by Baseball Reference) among position players at 42.1. He needs just 0.3 WAR to move above Curt Flood and into 8th and he would need something of a renaissance next season to pass 7th placed Ted Simmons aat 45.0. At this stage in his career, a 3 WAR season is not realistic for Molina. Still, he will likely finish his career with the 8th most WAR in the organization all time, and that is while playing a position that is likely undervalued by WAR.
Molina is second in defensive WAR (26.8) behind only the great Wizard of Oz (35.2). He has clearly been one of the most valuable players in Cardinals history and he has a red jacket in his future.
Outside of WAR, Molina is third in games played (among hitters), at-bats, plate appearances, and hits behind Stan Musial and Lou Brock in all three categories. Molina is not going to move up in any of these categories next season. He needs to play in 144 games to pass Lou Brock and move into second place, but unless he plays in 2023, he is not going to reach this milestone. Brock played more games in fewer season, but it needs to be mentioned that Molina’s longevity at the most demanding defensive position is admirable.
Molina is 6th in total bases and needs 100 to move ahead of Enos Slaughter for 5th place. The catcher had 163 total bases in 2021, so as long as he stays healthy, he should move up one place. He would need at least another season to pass Rogers Hornsby at 3342.
The 39-year-old ranks 10th in home runs, but is just one long ball behind Ted Simmons and ten behind Jim Bottomley. A power surge of 23 home runs in 2022 would see him pass Hornsby, but for 7th, but an 11 home run season would let him retire in 8th place. He hit 11 bombs last year, so it is possible. Molina could also move up in the RBI rankings. He is just three behind Ken Boyer in 6th and 74 behind Hornsby in 5th. He had 66 RBI in 2021, so it is entirely possible that he moves past Hornsby, but my guess is that he ends his career in 6th place.
Yadi has already hit the most sac flys in organizational history and he is 4th in hit by pitches with 74. If he gets beaned 14 times, he will finish at the top of the organization in the most painful statistic, which is fitting for someone who has been lauded for his toughness throughout his career.
Moving to Adam Wainwright, the 40-year-old moved into second in pitching WAR (again, as calculated by Baseball Reference) last season, and that is where he will stay. His mark of 40.2 is well below Bob Gibson’s 81.7. Even though Wainwright cannot pass Gibson, he can still pass Molina, and that will be something fun to track during the season. Molina starts with a lead as his 42.1 WAR is better than Wainwright’s 40.2, but a repeat of last season would see Wainwright surpass Molina.
Waino is third in wins with 184 and he will not move up unless he plays another season. Still, the race to 200 is on and if he can replicate his 17 wins from last season, then he will surpass the milestone.
The right-hander is sixth in both games played (among pitchers), with 425, and innings pitched, with 2375.2. 31 games next year would see Wainwright move ahead of Al Brazle (442) and Bob Forsch (455) and 75.1 innings would see him rise above Bill Doak (2387) and Bill Sherdel (2450.2). Wainwright pitched in 32 games last season, so he will be hard pressed to reach fourth in games played, but he should move up the innings pitched rankings, provided he stays healthy. On the same note, 30 starts would give Wainwright the third most games started. 30 starts would push him above Jesse Haines, and he would only finish below the two Bobs, Forsch and Gibson.
Wainwright will finish his Cardinals career second in strikeouts, behind Bob Gibson but one of only two pitchers to top 2000 and one of only five to even top 1000.
Hopefully 2022 will be a fitting farewell to two Cardinals legends. The pair could join a group of Cardinals legends with three World Series victories as Cardinals if the team goes all the way in 2022. Only five players by my count have won three World Series in a Cardinals uniform, but that number could increase to seven after next season. This would far outweigh any of the other accolades and milestones that Molina and Wainwright have collected over the years. Even without another World Series title, the pair will be wearing red jackets in the near future. Molina should make the Baseball Hall of Fame while Wainwright will probably fall short, but even so, we need to enjoy the final season with the longtime battery mates on the field.