Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Look Back At 2008: Jose Molina

It's October and for the first time in 13 years the Yankees won't be playing baseball this month. It was a disappointing season to say the least. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be taking a look back at the individuals that took part in the 2008 Yankees campaign, offering up some opinions and assigning each person a grade. I hope to do at least one person a day so make sure to check back. And please feel free to add your own thoughts and comments.

Today's look back at 2008 is Jose Molina.

Jose Mo will forever be known as the last person to hit a home run in Yankee Stadium. Wow. I don't think anyone would have predicted that considering he isn't exactly Babe Ruth at the plate. But Jose is not on the Yankees because of what he brings to the table offensively. It's what he does behind the plate that makes him so valuable.

For a while at the beginning of the season it looked like Jose was going to be an offensive machine. Through his first 10 games he was hitting .364 with 7 double and an OPS of .939. If my memory serves me correctly, at that time he was tied for the league lead in doubles. But then he quickly realized that he was Jose Molina and his numbers quickly dropped off. Jose finished the season with a .216 average, hitting 17 doubles and 3 HRs, knocking in 18 RBI. His numbers were a little below his career average but were in the ballpark. Jose is a career .237 hitter. For all intents and purposes, he performed as expected at the plate. Again, he's not Babe Ruth. He's Jose Molina. You don't expect the world from him at the plate.

Defensively, you have to love what Jose brings to the Yankees. Jose's ERA as a catcher was 3.69. There were 4 catchers in MLB that caught more innings than Jose who had better ERAs, 3 of which were by .06 percentage points or less. The Yankees team ERA was 4.28, more than half a percentage point higher than Molina's. I know a lot of it has to do with the guy on the mound executing his pitch, but it's the catcher that calls the what and where. You've got to give Jose some credit. Mike Mussina has said many times he loves the way Molina calls a game. I believe he's gone as far as saying he was one of the best catchers he's ever thrown to. Considering Moose is on his way to the HOF, that's saying a lot. Is it a coincidence that Moose won 20 games for the first time in his career with Molina as his catcher? I think not. Molina definitely had something to do with Moose's success.

Molina's greatest asset though is his arm. Molina gunned down 44% of the runners who attempted to steal. He allowed 42 steals in 75 attempts. That was the highest in all of MLB for catchers who had more than 25 stolen bases attempted on them. The Yankees don't exactly have the best pitchers on the mound when it comes to holding on runners. Having a guy like Molina behind the plate neutralizes that threat. And when you've got teams with speed in your division like the Rays and Red Sox, you need all the help you can get keeping those runners from taking extra bases and getting into scoring position. Stealing on Posada has pretty much become a given, or as close to is as can be. Posada allowed 34 swipes in 41 attempts, catching 17.1% of runners. Yankee catchers not named Jose Molina caught 24.46% of runners. As a team the Yankees caught 32.7% of runners. I hate to think what that statistic would be if Jose wasn't the backup catcher . I wish I could easily calculate how many runs he saved and how many extra wins his arm got us. He came up big defensively for the Yanks in '08.

As I mentioned above, Jose isn't on the team for what he does at the plate. He pretty much performed as expected. Defensively, that's a different story. He definitely exceeded my expectations and filled in for Jorge Posada better than I could have ever expected. J-Boogie's 2008 final grade for Jose Molina is a B+. Feel free to post your own grades or comments.

If you want to check out any of the previous 2008 look backs, click on this link "2008 Look Back." It'll take you to my previous look back posts. Next up: The Giambino, Jason Giambi

Peace, love and Pinstripes,


1 comments: said...

I think B+ is an appropriate grade for Molina. I'd almost give him an A, just because he's done everything that was expected of him and more. As you point out, no one thought he'd be Babe Ruth. But he caught a ton of games without his body breaking down. He's great at throwing out runners, frames pitches really well and blocks the plate better than Posada (sorry, Jorge). That said, I can't wait to have a healthy JoPo back next season.