Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free sample: UCB Annual Publication

Each year, the United Cardinal Bloggers publishes a collection of stories, perspectives, and commentary looking back on the previous season.  This year, the publication is available in ebook format via amazon.  (paperback coming soon?)

For less than the cost of a subway footlong, you can enjoy a robust collection of written gold from various members of the world-famous* UCB.  I've decided to include a small sample of what you'll find in this glorious collection.  Enjoy what you read here for free.  $4.99 is enough to buy the whole thing.

Another season, another career high in nine of the 10 categories we’ve been looking at. Toss in yet another Gold Glove Award, the inaugural National League Platinum Glove Award, another All-Star appearance, another top-25 in MVP voting, as well as another World Series Championship, and you’ve got Yadi’s 2011 season.

Let that sink in for a minute. Go ahead and read that last paragraph again.

Now we come to the 2012 season. World Series hangover, new manager, no Pujols, new pitching coach, Wainwright coming off Tommy John surgery, Carpenter with the whole brachial plexus issue, a new contract looming … etc. There were several factors going into 2012 that could’ve been used coming into spring training as potential excuses. Hedging before the season would’ve been a very easy thing to do for anyone on this team, and Molina would have been no exception.  

Instead, the guy went out and did what? You guessed it. Set new offensive career highs. You know the drill (+ prev career high):

  • 65 times, dude dented the plate (+10)
  • Put the ball between the lines 159 times (+14)
  • 28 two-baggers (second only to ‘11’s career high 32)
  • 22 fair souvenirs (+8)
  • 76 ribs (+11)
  • Stole a dozen bags (+3)
  • Batted .315 (+.010)
  • Slugged .501 (+.036; and +.109 over next-highest career SLG)
  • .874 OPS (+.060; and + .125 over next-highest career OPS)
  • 253 Total Bases (+32)

And, of course, no Yadier Molina season would be complete without, (say it with me), earning his fifth consecutive Gold Glove Award, his second straight Platinum Glove Award, his fourth All-Star appearance in a row, and finished fourth in NL MVP voting.

A lot of Cardinals fans think of Yadi as a defensive god who has been coming around the past couple of years with the bat, to complerment his skill set on the other side of the ball. Not to sound like a homer, but those folks are half right -- he is a defensive god. His bat, however, has evolved into much, much more than a mere complementary aspect of his game that’s “coming around.” This guy finished fourth in the MVP race this year. Players who finished fourth the past few years include Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Manny Ramirez, David Wright and Carlos Beltran. Most folks wouldn’t figure Yadi to be in that kind of offensive company. But he is.

Not “he could be,” “he has the potential” or “he could blossom into.” He is. This is the real (and yes, I believe possibly Hall-of-Fame-bound) Yadier Molina.

In 2012, Molina cracked the top 100 list for career defensive WAR, passing skilled counterparts from years gone by such as Lance Parrish and Benitgo Santiago, who once threw out Vince Coleman from his knees. Yadi’s defense, his run-prevention/reduction and near elimination of opponents’ running game is clearly a tremendous asset for both he and the Cardinals. It’s also a major part of the reason why the organization wisely rewarded him with a handsome, yet sane, contract extension.

So there you have it, a taste of what the UCB Annual contains this year.  For more, check out the details on amazon.  If it's not the best Cardinals-related $4.99 you'll spend this year, let me know, I'd be tempted to refund your money personally.  You won't be disappointed.

*or, you know, at least a decent-sized portion of the KMOX listening area.