St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has committed to play for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which would be his fourth consecutive appearance. The Puerto Rican team wound up falling in the Championship Game to the Dominican Republic for the third time in the tournament.
This past season was the first time since 2008 that Molina, a Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native, was not named to the All-Star team. Despite that misnomer, Molina still hit .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs in his age-33 season. The 147 games he appeared in was a career-high for Molina, who has been nicked by injuries and a conservative approach by manager Mike Matheny over the past half decade. He led the league in both games caught and putouts registered this past season.
Molina’s peak seasons came in 2012 and 2013, when he had back-to-back Top 4 National League MVP finishes, posting career-highs in OPS and batting average. From 2008-2015, Molina won the league’s Gold Glove Award behind the plate each season. (He would also win the league’s Platinum Glove Award four times, which is given to the best overall defender in the game.) Known for his defensive prowess as a young catcher prior to his offensive development, Molina is a two-time World Champion in his time with St. Louis.
The Puerto Rican roster now boasts five players to the early fray, with Molina joining fellow All-Star Carlos Beltran, as well as World Series Champion Javier Baez (who is from Bayamon as well), and pitchers Edwin Diaz and Joe Jimenez.