COMMENTARY | At the turn of the century, the St. Louis Cardinals began to jell as a perennial threat in the National League.
By the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, the term MV3 was beginning to be used to describe the three offensive threats that led the Cardinals on and off the field. Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen may have earned their place in St. Louis history, but Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina deserve that title every bit as much.
A different level of value
It is important to note at the beginning of this discussion that we are talking about a different style of "most valuable player." Rolen, Pujols, and Edmonds were defensive players that provided the typical offensive numbers. Home runs, runs batted in, and batting average were the currency of the three players. Any one of them could have been the premier player for most teams in Major League Baseball based on those categories.
Molina, Carpenter, and Craig lead the team in various ways that don't always show up in the normal counting stats. Each player provides the team with multiple beneficial resources beyond those typical stats and has formed his own brand of MV3 for Cardinals fans to enjoy.
Craig has earned many nicknames in his short time with the Cardinals. Some call him "The Wrench,",a number of people online refer to him as "That Amazing Whacker Guy," and I've even seen someone take to calling him "Coin Flip" since his batting average with runners in scoring position has stayed near .500 this year. What it all comes down to is simple: He is one of the most clutch hitters in baseball today.
Over his career, Craig has driven in a run once every five times to the plate. He has continued that pace this season and is approaching 100 runs batted in for the first time in his career. He is hitting .452 with runners in scoring position through August 27, which is the highest average among players with at least 100 at-bats in that situation. Simply put, he is the guy you want at the plate when you need a run.
The surprise player of the group is Matt Carpenter. Before the season started, everyone was concerned about Carpenter's ability to make the transition to second base. Now, he's developed into a sure-handed fielder and one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball this season.
He is hitting .319 on the season from the first spot in the batting order, second only to Jose Altuve when looking at hitters with more than 100 at-bats in the situation. He has also driven in 57 runs,
scored 84, produced 138 hits, and hit 35 doubles as a leadoff hitter. That places him first or second in each category this season.
As impressive as those two are, Yadier Molina is the leader of the team. He is the league's leading hitter with a .333 batting average and has hit 37 doubles, produced 10 home runs, and 60 runs batted in. Fairly good numbers for a guy that is expected to provide stellar defense and leadership.
He still does those things well, however. The handling of the extremely young pitching staff this season, his work with established veterans and his leadership on the field of play has come through in a major way this season. The one time the Cardinals have struggled coincided with Molina's trip to the disabled list.
Molina is easily the MVP of the team and very deserving of being discussed as the MVP of the National League. The Cardinals have quietly put together a solid core of players and a new version of the MV3 of the past.
The future and the present looks bright with these three at the helm.
- Sports & Recreation
- Yadier Molina
- Matt Carpenter
- Allen Craig
- Albert Pujols