Stats & Info: Yadier Molina

Top stats to know: Cardinals vs Pirates

May, 11, 2014
May 11
A pair of underachieving teams will go at it on "Sunday Night Baseball," with the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates at 8 ET.

Here are some of the statistical storylines our broadcast crew will be touching on Sunday night.

Miller’s unusual success
Cardinals starter Shelby Miller is 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA, but he’s been fortunate. Miller has walked 23 hitters and allowed seven home runs in 39 1/3 innings. He’s surviving largely on the strength of holding opposing hitters to only two hits in 31 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

We utilize a video-review service that tracks every batted ball and rates it as hit hard, medium or soft. Miller has given up hard-hit balls at a higher rate (23 percent of at-bats) than any starting pitcher in the majors this season.

Miller’s issue this season has been throwing his off-speed pitches for strikes. His 56 percent strike rate with those pitches rates fifth lowest in baseball. That may explain why he throws his fastball 76 percent of the time.

Morton’s struggles against the Cardinals
Pirates starter Charlie Morton is 2-9 with a 6.52 ERA in 14 career starts against the Cardinals. The Pirates have lost each of his last seven starts against St. Louis.

Among the hitters with past success against Morton are Allen Craig (9-for-18), Jon Jay (8-for-18), Matt Holliday (10-for-28) and Yadier Molina (8-for-22).

Morton does have one thing going for him: He has the highest ground-ball rate since the start of last season (63 percent of batted balls).

Star Watch: McCutchen and Molina
What do Molina and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen have in common?

Both excel in two-strike situations.

Molina’s .255 batting average with two strikes ranked seventh in the majors last season.

McCutchen is hitting .311 with two strikes in 2014. That ranks fifth in the majors and second in the National League entering Sunday. McCutchen missed Saturday’s game with an ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Matt Adams, shift beater
The Pirates are on pace to use the sixth-most defensive shifts of any team this season. It will be interesting to see how they approach Matt Adams, who has seen by far the most shifts of any Cardinals hitter this season.
Matt Adams
Adams has done well against the shift this season, thanks in part to a 32 percent line-drive rate (which ranks fifth in the majors, behind team and league leader Matt Carpenter’s 38 percent) and an approach in which he's much more conscious of going to the opposite field than he had previously.

Adams already has as many opposite-field hits in 138 at-bats this season (19) as he had in 296 at-bats last season. He’s 12-for-30 when hitting a grounder or short line drive against the shift this season. His .400 batting average in those instances ranks fourth among hitters who entered Sunday having seen at least 20 shifts this season.

Pirates first baseman Ike Davis rates first, going 9-for-13 (.692) when hitting grounders/short liners versus shifts in 2014.

Top stats to know: NL MVP candidates

November, 14, 2013
The National League MVP will be announced Thursday night, with Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, Arizona Diamonadbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina as the three finalists.

Regardless of who wins, it will be his first MVP award. It figures to be a tight competition, with each of the three having a legitimate argument.

Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen would be the seventh different Pirates player to win MVP and the first since Barry Bonds in 1992.

McCutchen had arguably the best season by a Pirates player since Bonds, ranking second among National League position players in Wins Above Replacement.

He rated in the top seven in the NL in all three slashline stats (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage), as well as doubles and stolen bases. He also had a career-high seven Defensive Runs Saved and was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award in center field.

Paul Goldschmidt
Goldschmidt is trying to become the first Diamondbacks player to win the MVP Award. The highest finish by a Diamondbacks player in the MVP race is third, by Matt Williams in 1999 and Luis Gonzalez in 2001. Goldschmidt finished third among position players in Wins Above Replacement. He had the best offensive numbers of the three finalists, leading the NL in OPS, home runs and RBIs. He also won a Gold Glove for his defense at first base, ranking second in the NL in Defensive Runs Saved.

Goldschmidt also became known for his penchant for big hits. He had a major league high eight go-ahead or game-tying homers in the seventh inning or later.

Yadier Molina
Cardinals players have previously won 20 MVP Awards. Albert Pujols has won the last three of those, in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

The last Cardinals player other than Pujols to win was Willie McGee in 1985. The last Cardinals catcher to win an MVP was Bob O’Farrell in 1926 (who was best known for throwing out Babe Ruth on a steal attempt to end that year’s World Series).

Molina had his third straight solid offensive season, with a .319/.359/.477 slashline, 12 home runs and 44 doubles. He was his usually stellar self behind the plate, winning his sixth straight Gold Glove Award.

Top stats to know: 2013 Gold Glove Awards

October, 29, 2013

USA TODAY Sports/Getty ImagesYadier Molina and Dustin Pedroia have Gold Gloves to go along with a World Series appearance.

The Gold Glove Awards were announced on Tuesday, with this year’s field featuring a nearly even mix of first-time honorees and repeat winners.

For the first time, a statistical component factored into the voting -- the SABR Defensive Index accounted for 25 percent of the vote. The remaining votes came from major league managers and coaches.

Royals, Orioles take home the most Gold
The Royals and Orioles each won three Gold Glove Awards. First-time winners Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer joined Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who won his third straight.

Manny Machado, who led the majors in Web Gems at third base, joined repeat winners J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Adam Jones at center field for the Orioles.

With a statistical component comprising part of this year’s vote, Jones wasn’t necessarily expected to win this year. He was the only Gold Glove winner with a negative defensive runs saved total for the season, but he passed the eye test, garnering enough votes to beat out Lorenzo Cain of the Royals and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox.

Another one for Molina
Yadier Molina became the fourth catcher to win six straight Gold Gloves, joining Ivan Rodriguez (13), Johnny Bench (10), Bob Boone (7) and Jim Sundberg (6).

Molina’s current streak is the best for an NL catcher since Bench won 10 in a row from 1968 to 1977.

Molina’s teammate, pitcher Adam Wainwright, won his second Gold Glove. They are the second pitcher-catcher combo to win the Gold Glove together more than once. The other is Kenny Rogers and Rodriguez, who won as teammates in 2000 and 2006.

Victorino, Phillips win again
Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino and Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips each won their fourth Gold Gloves.

Victorino, who had won three previous times with the Phillies as a center fielder, joined second baseman Dustin Pedroia as Red Sox winners. Victorino finished with a major league-best 23 defensive runs saved in right field, the highest total in any season in his career.

Phillips has won the award four times in six seasons. His four wins are one shy of Hall of Famer Joe Morgan for the most by a Reds second baseman.

New winners becoming a tradition
The corner infield spots in the National League were won by a pair of first-timers: Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Goldschmidt is the NL’s fifth different winner in the last five years at first base. Arenado is the sixth different winner in six years at the hot corner.

It’s been a long time
Some notable droughts were broken with Tuesday’s awards. Among them:

Perez became the first Royals catcher to win a Gold Glove since Bob Boone in 1989.

Hosmer became the first Royals first baseman to win a Gold Glove. Hosmer beat out a field that in past years would have been led by Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez. With Teixeira and Pujols injured and Gonzalez now in the National League, the field was wide open at that position.

Machado became the first Orioles third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Brooks Robinson in 1975.

Andrelton Simmons became the first Braves shortstop to win a Gold Glove and the first Braves infielder to win one since Terry Pendleton in 1992.

Carlos Gomez became the first Brewer to win a Gold Glove since Robin Yount in 1982 and the first Brewers outfielder to win one since Sixto Lezcano in 1979. Gomez led the majors with five home run robberies. No other player had more than two.

Top stats to know: Gold Gloves preview

October, 29, 2013

Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesAndrelton Simmons and Manny Machado are among the favorites to win Gold Gloves tonight.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be handed out at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Here are some of the top statistical storylines that Adnan Virk and Nomar Garciaparra will be talking about during the broadcast.

A new generation of defensive stars
If the winners match up with the advanced defensive stats, a number of young players will be taking home some hardware.

Of the eight players with at least 20 defensive runs saved at their respective positions, five were in either their first or second major league season and four are finalists (the exception being Mets center fielder Juan Lagares).

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons tied Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra for the major league lead with 41 defensive runs saved, the most by a player in a single season in the 11-year history of the stat.

Second-year third baseman Manny Machado of the Orioles was not far behind, leading all players at his position with 35 defensive runs saved; he also led the majors in Web Gems. In the National League, Rockies rookie Nolan Arenado led third basemen with 30 defensive runs saved.

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte had 20 defensive runs saved, the most for anyone at that position. He’ll be competing with past winner Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and former Rockies utility man, Eric Young Jr. of the Mets.

Royals, Diamondbacks best of the best
The Royals and Diamondbacks were the top two teams in defensive runs saved and each had significant individual success, as well.

The Royals have five finalists, three of whom led the American League in defensive runs saved at their respective positions: Salvador Perez at catcher, Lorenzo Cain in center field and Alex Gordon in left field. Their other nominees are first baseman Eric Hosmer and shortstop (and Web Gem regular) Alcides Escobar.

The Diamondbacks had three players earn finalist honors: Parra, as previously mentioned, tied the record for most defensive runs saved in a season as an outfielder. Paul Goldschmidt had the second-most defensive runs saved among first basemen, and Patrick Corbin had the most among any pitcher.

Another one for Molina?
Yadier Molina has won five straight Gold Gloves and will contend with Pirates catcher Russell Martin and Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis for a sixth.

Only four catchers have won at least six Gold Gloves -- Ivan Rodriguez (13), Johnny Bench (10), Bob Boone (seven) and Jim Sundberg (six).

Molina’s current streak is the best for an NL catcher since Bench won 10 in a row from 1968 to 1977.

Two other finalists will be vying for their fifth Gold Glove -- Blue Jays pitcher Mark Buehrle (who is competing with teammate R.A. Dickey and Tigers pitcher Doug Fister) and Adrian Beltre of the Rangers, who goes up against Machado and Evan Longoria.

A new statistical component
Rawlings introduced a new statistical component, SDI (SABR Defensive Index), to account for approximately 25 percent of the vote (the rest of the votes are from major league coaches and managers).

The SDI combines five advanced defensive metrics (including the one ESPN uses most frequently, defensive runs saved) that evaluate a fielder’s ability to convert batted balls into outs and make other plays (such as convert double plays and deter baserunner advancement) relative to others at his position.

Cardinals' walk-off win is unprecedented

October, 27, 2013
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY SportsThe Cardinals are the first team to win a World Series on an error since 1986.
It was a World Series game that ended in a way we’ve never seen before.

The St. Louis Cardinals won after Allen Craig scored on an obstruction call at third base. Jon Jay grounded into a fielder’s choice, as Dustin Pedroia threw Yadier Molina out at home. As Craig approached third base, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball past third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Craig tripped over Middlebrooks and was tagged out attempting to come home, but obstruction was called, which resulted in Craig scoring the game-winning run.

It was the first postseason game ever to end on an obstruction error, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

From the MLB rule book:

Rule 2.00
OBSTRUCTION is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and
not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

It was the first time the Red Sox lost a World Series game on a walk-off since Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets -- aka “the Buckner game."

It was only the fourth World Series game ever to end on an error, the first since that same Mets-Red Sox game in 1986.

The Cardinals, leading the series 2-1, are in the driver’s seat. According to Elias, 16 of the 18 teams to win Game 3 of the World Series after the series was tied 1-1 went on to win the series.

Dodgers winning formula: Hit it really far

October, 16, 2013
The Los Angeles Dodgers stayed in the NLCS, beating the St. Louis Cardinals with a home-run barrage in Game 5.

That one’s gone … and so is that one, and that one, and that one
The Dodgers tied a team single-game postseason record with four home runs, matching marks they’d previously reached in 1977 and 1978. It’s the first time they hit four in a postseason game in Dodger Stadium.

Adrian Gonzalez had his first career postseason multi-homer game. The first of those two homers was a 450-foot shot, the longest postseason homer since Prince Fielder hit one for the Brewers against the Phillies and Joe Blanton in Game 4 of the 2008 NLDS. It’s the longest homer for Gonzalez since a 452-foot homer in April 2009.

Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis had the other two home runs. Crawford’s was calculated at 426 feet, his longest home run since hitting one 437 feet at Kauffman Stadium on Aug. 21, 2011.

Crawford has four homers in nine games this postseason after hitting six in the regular season. The four home runs is one shy of the team record for a single postseason.

That mark of five was set by current Dodgers coach Davey Lopes in 1978.

How Greinke won
Other than one brief blip, Zack Greinke was in shutdown mode, limiting the Cardinals to two earned runs in seven innings. He’s now allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 straight starts and has a 1.74 ERA in his last 19 starts.

Greinke threw 47 breaking balls, his second-most in any start this season (they accounted for 45 percent of his pitches, his highest usage rate of 2013).

He yielded a third-inning RBI double to Matt Holliday with his slider, but after that, it became a valuable pitch for him. Greinke threw 14 sliders in the last four innings and they netted him six outs without yielding a baserunner.

Greinke’s slider has been very effective in his last five starts. The 87 he’s thrown have produced 24 outs and resulted in only two hits.

Greinke also helped his cause with an RBI hit, the first Dodgers pitcher with an RBI in an LCS game since Orel Hershiser had one in Game 7 of the 1988 NLCS against the Mets.. This is the first postseason in Dodgers history in which two different pitchers recorded an RBI (Hyun-Jin Ryu is the other).

Greinke has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all three starts this postseason. The only Dodgers pitchers with more consecutive starts of that nature in a single postseason are Burt Hooton (five in 1981) and Don Sutton (four in 1974).

Key player: Brian Wilson
Dodgers setup man Brian Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving him 17 2/3 innings pitched in his postseason career without allowing an earned run.

Wilson’s 16 straight appearances to start his postseason career without allowing an earned run are fifth-most all-time. The most is 20, by former Braves reliever John Rocker.

Stat of the Day: Molina’s rough afternoon
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina became only the second player in postseason history to ground into multiple double plays, strike out multiple times, and go hitless in a postseason game. The other was Chris Gomez for the 1998 Padres against the Braves in the NLCS.

Still a tough task for the Dodgers
The Dodgers will still have to win two games in St. Louis to win the series. The Cardinals haven’t lost consecutive home games since losing four straight August 7-10.

The last team to win on the road in Game 6 and 7 to win a postseason series 4-games-to-3 was the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees.

Wainwright's curve carries Cards to LCS

October, 9, 2013
What were the biggest statistical keys for the St. Louis Cardinals in their NLDS win over the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Adam Wainwright was the best pitcher in the series
The Cardinals ace was awesome in both Game 1 and Game 5. He’s now 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his past six home starts, combining regular season and postseason. He's 4-0 for his career in postseason play.
Adam Wainwright
Wainwright became the fourth Cardinals pitcher to throw a complete game while allowing one run or fewer in a winner-take-all postseason game, joining Dizzy Dean (1934, against the Tigers), Danny Cox (1987 NLCS, against the Giants) and Chris Carpenter (2011, against the Phillies).

Wainwright’s curveball wasn’t as good as it was in Game 1, in which he threw 27 of 33 for strikes, and it netted 11 outs and yielded no hits. But it was good enough to record six strikeouts, including the series-ender against Pedro Alvarez. He threw it more often in Game 5 (45 percent of his pitches) than he did in any start in his career.

Complete games in winner-take-alls have been a trend the past four seasons. Five pitchers have them: Wainwright, his teammate Carpenter, CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander and Cliff Lee.

The Cardinals made the plays when they had to
The Cardinals had some defensive blips in Game 2 but made big plays in key spots in this series. Yadier Molina threw out Josh Harrison trying to steal as the tying run in the eighth inning of Game 4 to aid that win.

In Game 5, Pete Kozma made two nifty plays at shortstop and Matt Carpenter made a pair of catches on line drives that resulted in double plays.

Carpenter’s first catch, on a line drive hit by Alvarez in the second inning, snuffed out an early rally.

It also validated the use of a defensive shift by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals have ranked among the teams that shifted least often over Matheny’s first two seasons.

But since Alvarez had the lowest rate of hitting ground balls to the opposite field among those who qualified for the NL batting title (four percent of balls hit), the Cardinals had Kozma and Carpenter shifted. Thus, Carpenter was in the perfect spot to make the catch.

The Pirates lacked support at the top
The Pirates got some punch from Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen had his share of base hits, but a couple of hitters didn’t perform as they usually did.

The Pirates' 1-2 punch of Starling Marte and Neil Walker were a combined 1-for-38 in the series.

Cardinals pitchers put on a clinic in how to get Marte out, getting him 13 times on pitches on the outer half of the plate or off the outside corner.

Walker set a Pirates postseason record for worst oh-fer in a series with his 0-for-19.

Reds win all the key matchups vs. Cardinals

September, 4, 2013

There were three pivotal matchups in the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

Let’s run through them from a statistical perspective and show how important they were to that victory.

Matt Holliday vs. Homer Bailey
Matt Holliday entered this season 11-for-25 in his career against Reds starter Homer Bailey, but Bailey has figured out how to get him out repeatedly in 2013.

Holliday is 1-for-10 against Bailey this season. He was 0-for-3 against him on Tuesday, striking out three times on pitches off the plate.

The big change in Bailey’s approach against Holliday has been in where he’s located his fastball. From 2009 to 2012, he threw 37 of 54 fastballs to Holliday to the inner half of the strike zone or off the inside corner. Holliday got seven hits and made only four outs against those pitches.

This season, when Bailey’s thrown Holliday a fastball, there’s been less predictability to it—half have been outer-half, half have been inner-half. Holliday has made five outs against it, without getting a hit. And he’s flailed repeatedly against Bailey’s offspeed stuff.

The strikeout pitches you see atop this article were the kind Bailey had working all night. He got 12 swings and misses on pitches out of the strike zone, tied for his second-most in any start this season.

Holliday would also strike out in the ninth inning against Aroldis Chapman, giving him four strikeouts in four plate appearances for the game. It marked only the second time in Holliday’s career that he struck out in every plate appearance, batting at least four times. The other came against the Diamondbacks (Micah Owings and Juan Cruz) in 2008.

Billy Hamilton vs. Yadier Molina
With rosters now expanded to 40, the Reds dispatched their new weapon, speedster Billy Hamilton, as a pinch-runner with the score tied in the seventh inning.

Hamilton was up for the challenge in trying to get his first major-league steal. He’s had 230 in the minors over the last two seasons.

Opponents had only stolen successfully against Molina 58.8 percent of the time this season entering the day, tied for the lowest rate for a catcher in the majors (matching that of A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers).

Molina had only allowed 20 steals in 932 innings this season. The seven other catchers who entered the day with 900 or more innings caught have averaged allowing 55 steals between them.

Hamilton was able to win that matchup and put himself in scoring position for Todd Frazier, who would drive him home with a double against Seth Maness.

Anyone vs Aroldis Chapman
We mentioned that Chapman struck out Matt Holliday. What we didn’t mention was that he did so with a 103 mph fastball.

Chapman seems to be pitching as if he’s on a mission to break the record for the world’s fastest fastball.

Through his first 56 appearances this season, about one of every four Chapman heaters was clocked at 100-plus.

But in his last three games, he’s thrown more than half of them at triple digits—34 of 60 to be exact.

Good luck to anyone trying to get a hit against one of those fastballs. Opponents are 3-for-57 this season when an at-bat against Chapman ends with a pitch thrown 100 mph or faster.

Pirates controlling the Cards this season

July, 31, 2013
Joe Sargent/Getty ImagesMark Melancon has the best ERA among relievers this season (minimum 40 innings pitched).
The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates meet in the fourth game of a five-game series tonight at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN, with Pittsburgh dominating the series recently.

Here’s a look at the rarity of the Pirates’ dominance of this matchup and the strengths of each team.

Pirates' recent dominance

The Cardinals were swept in a doubleheader Tuesday for the first time since 1996. That snapped a streak of 22 doubleheaders played without being swept, which had been the longest active streak in baseball, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

After winning the first three games against St. Louis, the Pirates are seeking to sweep a five-game series for the first time since September 1996. The Cardinals haven't been swept in a series of at least five games since losing all six games at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants in September 1916. The last five-game sweep in the majors came in 2006, when the Yankees swept the Red Sox.

The Pirates have won five straight games against St. Louis, and they have not won six straight meetings since winning 13 in a row during the 1992 season. That was the last time the Pirates made the playoffs and finished better than .500.

Cardinals get clutch hits

The Cardinals hit well with runners in scoring position. St. Louis is batting .334 with runners in scoring position, the best in the majors by a large margin. Elias tells us that .334 clip would be the best average with runners in scoring position over the past 50 seasons.

How wide is the Cardinals’ lead in batting average with runners in scoring position? They could go hitless in their next 131 at-bats with runners in scoring position and still lead the majors. They could also go hitless in their next 235 at-bats with runners in scoring position and still lead the National League.

The Cardinals have four of the top nine hitters in baseball with runners in scoring position: Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran. Craig leads the majors with a .475 average with runners in scoring position, which would be the best mark for a season since George Brett hit .469 in 1980.

Shutdown pen in Pittsburgh

The Pirates’ bullpen has been the key to their success this season. Pittsburgh's bullpen leads the majors in opponent’s batting average and WHIP and ranks second in bullpen ERA.

The Pirates are all but guaranteed to win if they lead late in the game, as they are 49-2 when leading after seven innings and 54-1 when leading after eight innings.

Even with closer Jason Grilli on the disabled list, the Pirates have two elite relievers. Mark Melancon leads all relievers (minimum 40 innings) with a 0.89 ERA, while Justin Wilson’s 2.08 ERA ranks in the top 10 among National League relievers.

Pirates push Cards out of first

July, 31, 2013
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarThe Pirates swept the doubleheader vs the Cardinals Tuesday and currently have baseball’s best record.
For the first time in 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates are leading their division on July 30.

The Pirates swept a doubleheader Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals to move into the division lead. It was the first time since 1996 that the Cardinals were swept in a doubleheader, snapping a streak of 22 doubleheaders played without being swept. That was the longest active streak in MLB, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Pirates eight of their last 11 games while the Cardinals have lost six straight, their longest losing streak since 2011.

What has gone right for the Pirates
Whether it’s rotation veterans like A.J. Burnett in Game 1 or rookie call-ups like Brandon Cumpton in Game 2, the Pirates continue to win on the strength of their run prevention. Their 3.02 team ERA and 3.16 starters ERA both lead MLB.

Cumpton, who pitched seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball, was the ninth Pirates starter to win a game this season. That’s tied with the Cardinals for most in the National League.

The key for Cumpton was his ability to pound the zone and get quick outs. He threw 75 percent strikes, the third highest percentage by any starter vs the Cardinals this season. More than half of the outs Cumpton recorded came on three pitches or fewer.

What has gone wrong for the Cardinals
Simply put, the Cardinals haven’t hit. They’ve been outscored 28-6 during the six-game losing streak. They’ve been held to two or fewer runs in all six games, their longest such streak since 1992 and tied for the longest streak by any team this season.

This is a team that prior to the losing streak was leading the National League with five runs per game and a .754 OPS.

One area, in particular, in which the Cardinals have struggled is situational hitting. They’re hitting only .182 with runners in scoring position during the losing streak, including a 1-for-15 (.067) performance in Tuesday’s doubleheader. Prior to the losing streak, the Cardinals were hitting .340 with RISP; no other team in MLB was above .290.

Yadier Molina’s impact
It could get worse for the Cardinals, as Yadier Molina left Tuesday night’s game with a sprained right knee. Molina will return to St. Louis for further evaluation and said he expects to land on the disabled list.

Molina was in the midst of perhaps the best offensive season of his career. His .374 on-base percentage is a career high and ranks fourth among all players whose primary position is catcher this season. Molina has also saved five runs defensively, which ranks fourth among catchers.

Needless to say, the Cardinals will miss him in the lineup. They’re 132-94 when Molina starts the last two seasons and 18-21 when he doesn’t. Molina’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement ranks second to only Buster Posey among catchers the last two seasons.

But has Molina worn down? He’s has caught 805 innings this season, more than any player in baseball and on pace for a career high.

Stats to know about Salvador Perez

March, 27, 2013
ESPN Stats & Information
Five stats to know about Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.

He can hit
Perez has played a little less than three-quarters of a season (115 total games) in the last two years, and his numbers rate very well.

His .310 batting average and .471 slugging percentage are a near-match for what Yadier Molina has done in the same span (albeit in more than twice as many at-bats).

He can hit anything
Perez is one of the game’s best contact hitters. Last season, he put 55 percent of his swings in play, the fifth-highest rate among players with at least 250 plate appearances.

He was able to do this because he was very adept at hitting pitches outside the strike zone. Perez put half of his swings against those pitches into play, the highest rate in the majors.

All right vs lefties
Perez’s contact numbers are even better against left-handed pitchers. In two seasons, he’s hitting .393 with as many home runs as strikeouts (6) in 112 at-bats against lefties.

In the first 200 swings Perez has taken against left-handed pitching, he’s missed only 10 times. That 5 percent miss rate is bettered over the last two seasons by only Jeff Keppinger.

A good glove
Perez has brought value on the defensive end. Last season, he finished with nine Defensive Runs Saved. Perez threw out 15 of 40 runners attempting to steal, the best rate among any American Leaguer who caught at least 50 games. His five pickoffs were the most of any catcher in baseball.

Lots of value
In his 115 games, Perez has been worth 4.2 Wins Above Replacement. The five other players who have caught games for the Royals in that two-year span have combined for 0.4 Wins Above Replacement.

Perez’s 4.2 WAR is tied for 11th-best among catchers. It’s the same total as Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, but in half as many games.

Top stats to know: St. Louis Cardinals

March, 4, 2013

Denis Poroy/Getty ImagesYadier Molina excels with both the glove and the bat.
With Baseball Tonight at St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp on Monday, here’s a look at notable “Stats to Know” about a team that always seems to find itself in the mix for the National League pennant.

Best of the NL
The Cardinals have had a winning record in all but one season since 2000.

Their 1,177 wins and .559 winning percentage rank second in the majors over that span, trailing only the Yankees in each category.

The Cardinals have also made the playoffs nine times in the last 13 seasons, second-most of any team.

No Pujols, no problem
The Cardinals barely missed a beat with the loss of Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their first basemen finished with a combined .293/.348/.485 slashline and .832 OPS that ranked fourth-best in the NL.

Allen Craig fared the best of them, hitting .304/.349/.513 with 16 home runs in 390 plate appearances at first base.

Craig excelled throughout 2012 wherever he played. His .400 batting average with runners in scoring position was the best in the majors.

Molina on a roll
Catcher Yadier Molina is coming off of what was by far the best season of his career. He posted career highs in all three slashline stats and had his highest home run (22), RBI (76) and stolen base (12) totals. Molina also finished with 16 Defensive Runs Saved, the second-best total he’s amassed in a season.

In all, Molina's 6.7 WAR was the highest by a catcher in Cardinals single-season history. Only Joe Mauer in 2009 and Buster Posey in 2012 have had a higher single-season WAR by a catcher for any team over the last 10 seasons (see chart).

Potential issue: starting pitching
Cardinals starters ranked fourth in the majors last season with a 3.64 ERA. But they’re already down one pitcher they were counting on (Chris Carpenter) and lost Kyle Lohse to free agency.

Pitcher to watch: Trevor Rosenthal
Trevor Rosenthal lit up the radar gun with his late-season stint. Rosenthal had a 2.78 ERA in 22⅔ big-league innings in the regular season, then pitched 8⅔ innings with 15 strikeouts and no runs allowed in the playoffs.

Rosenthal hit 100 miles-per-hour on the radar gun 12 times in the regular season and then 19 more times in the playoffs. Despite not debuting until July, the 31 pitches of that speed were eighth-most in the majors last year.

Molina, Barney, Heyward stats good as Gold

October, 30, 2012
Getty ImagesYadier Molina, Darwin Barney and Jason Heyward were statistically-dominant on the defensive side.
Here's a look at the notable storylines involving the NL's Gold Glove victors.

Molina takes the 5th
St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won his fifth straight Gold Glove Award, the longest current streak among winners in the majors.

Molina led major-league catchers in caught stealing percentage, throwing out 46 percent of the baserunners who tried to steal against him. Baseball Info Solutions also charted him with 554 potential wild-pitch blocks based on its video review, the most in the major leagues.

Molina also dominated in the advanced defensive metrics. His 16 Defensive Runs Saved were more than double the NL catcher with the next-most, Ryan Hanigan of the Cincinnati Reds.

Molina’s total is one more than his manager, Mike Matheny, won in his major-league catching career.

Darwin’s evolution into a winner
Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney had about as good a defensive season as any player in baseball, and was rewarded with his first career Gold Glove.

Barney had the most Defensive Runs Saved of any player at any position with 28 and also led NL second basemen in fielding percentage. He tied Placido Polanco’s major-league record for longest errorless streak by a second baseman- 141 games.

Barney broke the NL record, which previously stood at 123 games. The man whose record he broke was the last Cubs second baseman to win a Gold Glove- Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg in 1991.

Heyward the lone Brave to win
The Braves outfield rated best in the majors by advanced defensive metrics, and all three of their regular outfielders were finalists for a Gold Glove, but rightfielder Jason Heyward was the only winner.

Heyward led National League rightfielders in Defensive Runs Saved with 20 and tied for the lead among rightfielders in assists with 11.

He is the first Braves player to win a Gold Glove Award since Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur each won in the outfield in 2007.

Other winners …
Notes and nuggets on the other Gold Glove Award winners:

A change of leagues didn’t hinder Mark Buehrle defensively, as the Florida Marlins pitcher won his fourth straight Gold Glove.

Buehrle led NL pitchers with 12 Defensive Runs Saved and became the first Marlins pitcher to win a Gold Glove, the first Marlins player to do so since Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell won in 2005.

Washington Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche won his first Gold Glove and became the second Nationals player to win a Gold Glove since the team moved to Washington. The other was third baseman Ryan Zimmerman in 2009.

Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins ended Troy Tulowitzki’s two-year run and won his fourth Gold Glove, his first since 2009.

Gold Glove Awards have become a regular thing for the Phillies, who have had at least one winner every year since 2007. Though Rollins did not fare well via advanced metrics, he led the NL with a .978 fielding percentage.

San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley also did not rank among the advanced metrics leaders at his position, but he did lead major-league third basemen in assists by a wide margin with 314.

Headley is the first Padres player to win a Gold Glove since Adrian Gonzalez in 2009 and their first third baseman to win since Ken Caminiti in 1997.

Colorado Rockies leftfielder Carlos Gonzalez won a Gold Glove for the second time in three seasons. He became the second Rockies outfielder to win multiple Gold Gloves, joining Larry Walker.

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen won his first career Gold Glove Award. He became the third Pirates player to win one in the last twenty seasons, joining shortstop Jay Bell in 1993 and outfielder Nate McLouth in 2008.

Cardinals, Giants: Differing streaks on line

October, 21, 2012
The San Francisco Giants will be looking to end a century’s worth of heartbreak in postseason winner-take-all games in a best-of-seven series when they face the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Their 0-5 record in best-of-seven deciding games is the worst in major-league history.

The run dates back to their time as the New York Giants.

In 1912, they lost to the Boston Red Sox. The Giants blew a 2-1 10th-inning lead with their ace, Christy Mathewson pitching. The Red Sox scored twice in the 10th, the key play being a muffed fly ball by center fielder Fred Snodgrass to lead off the frame.

In 1924, they blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning and lost to the Washington Senators, 4-3 in 12 innings. The winning run scored on Earl McNeely’s double after the Giants made two errors earlier in the inning.

Legend has it that the winning hit took a bad hop over the head of the Giants' third baseman (Fred Lindstrom) because it hit a pebble.

In 1962, they lost Game 7 of the World Series 1-0 to the New York Yankees. The Giants had runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth when Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey lined to second base to end the series.

In 1987, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-0. Jose Oquendo, who hit one home run all season, hit a three-run home run in the second inning to put the game away.

In 2002, they blew a 5-0 lead to the Anaheim Angels in Game 6 and then lost Game 7, 4-1. Garret Anderson had the go-ahead hit, a three-run double in the fourth inning.

The Giants got the tying run to the plate in three different innings, but could not get the key hit they needed.

They’ll be trying to win against a Cardinals team that is 11-4 all-time in Game 7s.

The win total and win percentage are the best for any team in major-league history.

The Cardinals have also won six straight winner-take-all games, tied for the longest-ever streak of success.

That streak also belonged to the Cardinals and ended in 1968, when they lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Detroit Tigers, a series in which they blew a 3-games-to-1-lead.

The Cardinals have players familiar with key Game 7 moments on their roster. The last time they played Game 7 of the NLCS, they beat the New York Mets, the go-ahead hit coming on a two-run home run by Yadier Molina.

Adam Wainwright struck out now-teammate Carlos Beltran with a nasty curveball for the final out of the series, stranding the bases loaded.

Molina also had two RBIs in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, as did teammate David Freese.

Allen Craig added the hit that put the Cardinals ahead for good that day, a third-inning homer versus Matt Harrison.

Kelly keeping opposition grounded

August, 29, 2012
The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals meet tonight (ESPN, 7 ET) with the season series tied 7-7. Since their 19-inning marathon which the Pirates won 10 days ago, the two teams have gone in opposite directions. The Pirates have dropped six of eight while the Cardinals have won six of eight.

Cardinals Need Yadier Molina

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will likely be out for tonight’s game after taking a hit at the plate from Josh Harrison Tuesday.

St. Louis likely cannot afford to go without Molina for long, as he's already set a career high with 17 homers. He needs just three more RBI to tie his career high of 65, and he’s stolen a career-high 11 bases.

He’s also on pace to set a career high in batting average (.325) and OPS (.886). What's more, he leads all catchers with 13 Defensive Runs Saved this season.

Cardinals Heating Up

The Cardinals are getting hot at the right time, and after spending most of the season leading the MLB in run differential, the wins are finally starting to come. Since July 1st, St. Louis is 31-20, the sixth-best record in the MLB in that span. Much of that success can be attributed to St. Louis pitching. Since June 9th, the Cardinals have a 3.30 ERA from their starting rotation, tops in baseball in that span.

Tonight's starter, Joe Kelly, has been effective for the Cardinals this season in his rookie year posting a 3.26 ERA in 14 games (12 starts). Kelly throws his fastball very hard (94.1 miles per hour average), and has been good at keeping the ball in the park by keeping it on the ground. Kelly has a groundball percentage of 57 against his heater, tied for the second-highest percentage in the NL.

Wandy Rodriguez Relies on Curveball

No player has thrown more curveballs this season than Wandy Rodriguez, who opposes Kelly tonight. In fact, he’s led the league in curveballs thrown in each of the previous three seasons, and since 2009, he's thrown 809 more curveballs than any other pitcher in baseball.

Since being acquired by Pittsburgh in late July, however, Rodriguez hasn’t been what the Pirates had hoped. He has a 4.86 ERA with Pittsburgh after posting a 3.79 ERA with the Houston Astros, and is winless in five starts.