Yadier Benjamin Molina (Spanish pronunciation: [ʝaˈdjer moˈlina]; born July 13, 1982), also known as "Yadi", is a Puerto Rican professional baseball catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Cardinals selected him in the fourth round of the 2000 MLB Draft and he made his MLB debut in 2004. As of 2014, Molina is a two-time World Series champion and has earned six consecutive selections to the All Star Game, seven consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and one Silver Slugger Award. In the first eleven years of his career, the Cardinals appeared in eight playoff tournaments.
Coming from a baseball family, Molina grew up in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. His father was an amateur second baseman in Puerto Rico, and his two older brothers, Bengie and José, were also major league catchers. Molina's pitch-handling and throwing skills originally caught the attention of scouts before being drafted. Soon after making his major league debut, he quickly won a reputation for possessing one of the strongest and most accurate arms in the game. As of 2014, he had thrown out 257, or 45% of, runners attempting a stolen base over his career and led active MLB catchers with 52 pickoffs. Molina also formulates fielder positioning plans and complete pitching strategies to opposing hitters, earning a reputation as an on-field leader.
Initially considered a light hitter, Molina significantly improved his offense and raised his career batting average from .248 in 2007 to .284 by 2013. As of 2014, he also had a .290 career batting average in the postseason. In 2006, he became just the third catcher to play in two World Series before age 25, following Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. He also played for Puerto Rico in all three tournaments of the World Baseball Classic. On March 1, 2012, Molina agreed to a five-year extension with the Cardinals through 2017, worth $75 million.
By Dean Hanley
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