During Wednesday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reached yet another historic milestone in his career: most innings caught by a Cardinals catcher, by reaching 12,336 innings caught during the fifth inning.
The original record was 12,335 innings, which was held by Cardinals’ Hall of Famer Ted Simmons, whose career with the Cardinals lasted from 1968-1980. During his 13-year career as a St. Louis Cardinal (he played eight more seasons in baseball afterwards), Simmons was primarily known for his hitting, with 1704 hits, 172 home runs, and 929 RBI’s to go along with a batting average of .298.
While he was more known for his offense, Simmons’ defense possessed top skills as well.
In 20 seasons playing catcher, Simmons only committed a combined 130 errors, a decent for a catcher over that duration of time. An eight-time all-star, he also caught two no-hitters in his career with the Cardinals: one from Bob Gibson, and the first of Bob Forsch‘s no-hitters.
As for Molina: it’s without a doubt that he has been a staple of St. Louis for over a decade now. He has thrown out nearly 45% of baserunners attempting to steal and is the MLB active leader in pickoffs, with 52 total.
ESPN’s Keith Law once said about Molina’s impact on baseball: “Molina missing two-plus months would be bad for the Cardinals, but also just bad for baseball, period.” He has won eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards, has committed only 60 errors in 13 seasons behind the plate, and has a .994 fielding percentage, one the top percentages in all of Major League Baseball.
“You don’t ever have to worry about bouncing a ball to Yadier,” Cardinals start Adam Wainwright once said. “He’s a human vacuum behind the plate. The only thing you have to think about is making the pitch, because you know Yadi’s going to catch whatever you throw.”
On Wednesday night, Wainwright got the start on the mound, while Molina was behind the plate, with both playing pivotal roles in the Cardinals winning 2-0 over the Colorado Rockies, improving to 20-19 on the season.
Even at 34 years old and removed from multiple thumb surgeries, Molina is still considered to be the most feared catcher in baseball.
As well as one of the best.