According to a recent article from Five Thirty Eight Sports which highlighted metrics from Baseball Prospectus, the framing ability of St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has greatly declined over the last couple of seasons. Writing that Molina’s defense “was a mess” the piece noted he ranked 60th in framing ability this season.

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Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny had read the article and when asked by St. Louis Baseball Weekly to assess Molina’s framing ability, did not shy away from voicing his feelings on the critique of his catcher.

“Yeah, I read that article–that’s a crying shame,” stated Matheny. “I still don’t know–and I believe in every bit of information we can get but there’s so many components that come into that. I’ll give you an example. I remember when I was catching–they just started bringing in where they were evaluating the umpires. They started telling me I was making them bad on their reports because I made the low pitch look so good. So then they started to have to counter that and started calling the borderline pitch a ball, even though I made it look like a strike.

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“That’s actually taking technology to the point–we say we don’t want to eliminate the human element, how about a guy who’s worked his whole career to try and make a pitch look good and all of a sudden it’s working against him. It’s working against him because of technology.

“I think the same thing can be said with Yadi. He’s making pitches look good–maybe making umpires look bad, so then they have to compensate. I think there’s just too much human element in that whole thing, too much subjectivity, I believe. I don’t think there’s enough hard evidence, because I’m watching this guy every single night steal pitches. I can see it from here. And I’m watching some guys who they’re saying are at the very top–can’t catch a cold. And so, I’m not going to name any names, but I’m just want to tell you, I think our guy’s doing a terrific job and you look at our record and you look at what our pitchers have done–you can’t deny what this guy’s done behind the plate.”

Impassioned as he was in defense of Molina, Matheny remains open to learning more about the metric.

“I want to learn more because I want to learn how we can teach it,” added Matheny. “If there’s an art to it, that it’s something that we’re doing wrong I want to make sure we fix it and teach it not just to Yadi but very kid in our organization to see how we can get more pitches called. But right now, it just seems like a loose science.”

photo credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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