Jose Molina can’t hit, but he sure can frame pitches

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On the surface Jose Molina had a pretty ugly season for Tampa Bay, hitting just .223 with a .640 OPS in 274 plate appearances and throwing out a good but not great 33 percent of stolen base attempts.

However, he also spent 710 innings behind the plate catching what was the best pitching staff in the American League and his pitch-calling skills lived up to the hype after offseason research pegged him as the best receiver in baseball.

Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus broke down the numbers and then took things a step further, finding specific video evidence of Molina coaxing strike calls out of umpires on pitches that were clearly outside the strike zone.

It’s a great blend of stats and observation, so check it out: “The 50-Run Receiver”

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.