Yadi eyeing HOF: 'I'm one of the best catchers to have ever played'
Yadier Molina is one of the most decorated catchers in recent MLB history and he knows it.
The St. Louis Cardinals backstop has appeared on nine All-Star teams, won two World Series championships, earned nine Gold Glove awards, and finished top five in MVP voting on two occasions over the course of 16 seasons. Molina sees a trip to Cooperstown in his future.
"Yes, I think about (the Hall of Fame)," he told ESPN's Marly Rivera in a wide-ranging interview. "When I started my career, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. And even though (former MLB manager) Tony (La Russa) gave me a chance, I was bombarded by negative comments. The press killed me because of my offense, my personality, whatever. All I've done is work hard to get better and better every single year to become the best catcher I can be.
"And my numbers are obviously there. I think that, because of the way I catch, that I'm one of the best catchers to have ever played baseball."
In addition to his defensive prowess, Molina owns a career batting line of .282/.333/.405 with 1,963 hits, 156 home runs, and 916 RBIs in 1,983 games.
Through his first several MLB seasons, Molina was seen purely as a defensive-minded catcher with little pop in his bat. Hall of Famer Dave Winfield even labeled Molina an "easy out" when the latter was slated to bat ninth at the 2010 All-Star Game (Yadi hit .262 that year but had hit .304 and .293 the prior two seasons). The catcher used those words as motivation.
"There was a dinner after the Home Run Derby and he made a comment that, 'the only easy out there is Yadier Molina,'" Molina recalled. "Back then, he focused only on the numbers. And that became a huge motivation for me. That a great player, a Hall of Famer like Dave Winfield, thought that about me, it motivated me to make a lot of people eat their words."
Whether or not it was Winfield's comments that sparked the shift, Molina batted north of .300 with double-digit homers in three straight seasons from 2011-2013.
Molina, 37, told Rivera he has more in the tank and now cares only about winning more championships before retiring. Once his playing career is over, he wants to be remembered "as the best catcher to ever play baseball."