Yadier Molina
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Yadier Molina on Hall of Fame: ‘My numbers are obviously there’

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ESPN’s Marly Rivera caught up with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, publishing their interview earlier today. Among the topics discussed was the catcher’s future candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Molina is confident about his chances for enshrinement, saying, “All I’ve done is work hard to get better and better every single year to become the best catcher I can be. And my numbers are obviously there. I think that, because of the way I catch, that I’m one of the best catchers to have ever played baseball.”

Molina definitely has a case. To say his numbers are “obviously there” is a bit of a stretch, however. According to Baseball Reference, Molina has, to date, accrued 40.1 Wins Above Replacement over his 16-year career. There are only 25 catchers in the Hall of Fame; Molina’s career WAR would rank ahead of only four of them: Ernie Lombardi, Roy Campanella, Ray Schalk, and Rick Ferrell. Among catchers who had a lengthy post-integration career, Molina is well behind Ted Simmons (50.3), Yogi Berra (59.0), and Mike Piazza (59.6) for starters.

Of course, it’s not just about WAR, but it’s a good place to start. Molina has hit .282/.333/.405 over his career, good for an adjusted OPS of 98. 100 is average. Defense was more Molina’s forte. Of that 40.1 WAR, 25.0 of it came from defense. The only Hall of Fame catchers with more dWAR than Molina are Iván Rodríguez (29.6) and Gary Carter (26.1). Molina ranks ahead of Johnny Bench (19.7) and Carlton Fisk (17.0). If we’re talking only about defense, then Molina’s claim, “I’m one of the best catchers to have ever played baseball,” is true.

Further bolstering Molina’s case is that he was a nine-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, a four-time Platinum Glove Award winner, and he even won a Silver Slugger in 2013. He also helped the Cardinals to two championships in 2006 and ’11. That being said, Molina has a career .683 OPS in 380 playoff plate appearances.

Molina is, at minimum, a fringe Hall of Fame candidate. Depending on which aspects of his playing career and which statistics you value most, he may or may not make the cut. Molina, who is a free agent after 2020, says he wants to play two more years, which would mean he would first become eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2028. We’re going to have to wait a while longer to see how the BBWAA electorate feels about Molina’s career.

Ramon Laureano’s suspension reduced from 6 games to 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland Athletics center fielder Ramon Laureano had a six-game suspension reduced to four games Friday after appealing the penalty for his role in a benches-clearing brawl with the rival Houston Astros.

Major League Baseball said a settlement had been reached and the A’s were informed of the decision. Laureano was set to begin the four-game suspension Friday night and will miss a three-game weekend Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants. After sitting out Monday at Arizona, he will be eligible to play Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron received a 20-game suspension and a fine Tuesday for his role in the fracas at Oakland last Sunday. Laureano also received a fine.

Cintron’s suspension is the longest for an on-field transgression in 15 years, since Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers received 20 games for his altercation with two cameramen in 2005.

Laureano was hit by a pitch from Humberto Castellanos with one out in the seventh inning of Oakland’s 7-2 victory – the third time he got hit in the series and the fifth time overall for an A’s batter. Houston players weren’t plunked at all. He pointed at Castellanos and began exchanging words with a gesturing Cintron then left first base, threw down his batting helmet and began sprinting toward the 41-year-old Cintron.

Astros catcher Dustin Garneau tackled Laureano before the A’s outfielder got to the hitting coach. Laureano is a former Astros player and the rival clubs have been the top two teams in the AL West the past two years. A’s pitcher Mike Fiers, another former Houston player, revealed the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in November to The Athletic.