The happiest man in a Rays uniform the last few weeks has to be Jose Molina. With all Rays fans hating on Hideki Matsui, it is almost as if the fanbase has forgotten how terrible Molina has been.
And yes, he has been terrible. But as we will see below, it’s not like the Rays have better options lying around.
First let’s look at how the pitchers do with Molina as compared to other catchers (Jose Lobaton, Chris Gimenez, Stephen Vogt). Molina was brought on board in large part because of how he handles a pitching staff and his ability to frame more pitches into strikes than the average catcher (ISO is number of extra-base hits per at bat)…
Pitchers have a better ERA with Molina, but the rest of the numbers are fairly similar. In other words, it doesn’t look like Molina makes the pitching staff much better. Maybe a little, but that’s it.
Now let’s look at their bats. In this case we left Vogt out of the “others” since he only had two plate appearances as a catcher…
Molina has been a little better with the lumber thanks in large part to his four home runs. Lobaton and Gimenez have combined for a grand total of zero home runs.
Finally, let’s look at their success versus base stealers, and the one thing that drives us all mad about Molina, his ability (or lack thereof) to catch a baseball…
On the one hand, Molina is much better at throwing out would-be base-stealers. It’s not even close. But all five passed balls this season by Rays catchers belong to Molina. And while wild pitches are charged to the pitcher, a good catcher should stop most of them.
Molina gives up a wild pitch or passed ball once every 17 innings. Meanwhile, the other catchers allow a ball to reach the backstop just once every 25.2 innings.
Is Molina that bad?
Yes. Yes he is. But what other options do the Rays have right now? At worst, Molina and the others are interchangeable. And in some cases, Molina is a little better despite all the passed balls and wild pitches.
So until the Rays find a better option, Molina is just as good as anything else they’ve got. And we are just going to have to put up with the gigantic hole between his legs.