My eyebrows have been raised a few times lately when doing my morning routine of checking the handful of writers and sites I trust to see if anything interesting happened on the MLB hot stove.
There’s been more than one mention from more than one source that the Yankees may be interested in parting ways with Gary Sanchez (see my previous blog for my thoughts on that) and signing free agent Yadier Molina to replace him.
[Me, squinting over my coffee]: “Molina…? Is there a 4th Molina from the famed squatting Molina clan of whom I’m unaware? They can’t mean Yadier…can they…?!?”
Apparently they do, much to my consternation.
Here’s the thing about Molina:
He’s 38 years old.
He’s had two great seasons and 15 that weren’t great.
He’s been below average for a while.
In 2012 and 2013, Yadier was a monster. In 2012 he posted a .373/.501 OBP/SLG and a 137 OPS+ and in ’13 he went .359/.477 and 129 in those categories. Add top level defense as a catcher to that production and you’ve got two well-earned top 5 MVP finishes.
But outside those seasons of 7.2 and 6.2 WAR, his next best season out of 15 others is 3.2 WAR. His WAR average for the other 15 seasons is 1.8. (As a simplified reminder, 2 WAR is considered average, 3 good, 5 All-Star.) He’s essentially had 15 seasons that are equally distributed among a tick better than average, average, and a tick below average. That’s not a knock by any means, that’s a career of which almost all MLB players would be proud.
But let’s be clear: He’s been overrated for a very long time and is nowhere near a Hall of Famer. It needed to be said.
The above of course is a summation of a 17 season career. What about the “right now” and recent performance?
Since 2018, among 25 catchers who’ve played at least 200 games, Molina is 13th in WAR (Sanchez is 11th) 14th in defensive WAR (Sanchez is 16th) and 13th in OPS+ (Sanchez is 8th).
Did I mention that Molina is 38?
Gary Sanchez has been one of the more vilified Yankees in my memory and even at his worst over the past two and a half seasons, has been better than Molina. Heck, as recently as 2018, Fangraphs had Molina’s and Sanchez’ defense ranked equally.
And before it’s said, because I know it will be: If you think this Yankee group, comprised mostly of veterans, which is built to win 105 games and a World Series right now, needs some “veteran leadership” and coddling, I have news for you – you have bigger problems than Gary Sanchez.
Are there times that non-quantifiable, intangible factors need to be considered when making roster decisions? Of course.
This isn’t one of them. We need to look at what’s actually happened on the field and what’s most likely to happen ongoing as opposed platitudes about grit, toughness and leadership.
Did I miss something? Let me know.
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