Yadier Molina is the first catcher in 36 years _ and only the fourth since 1900 _ to lead the Cardinals in batting average for a regular season.
Ted Simmons, Joe Torre and Frank Snyder are the other catchers who led a Cardinals team in batting.
Molina batted .305 in 518 plate appearances this season, edging right fielder Lance Berkman (.301) for the team batting crown. Reserve outfielder-infielder Allen Craig hit .315 but had just 219 plate appearances. A player needs 502 plate appearances to qualify for a league batting title.
A right-handed batter, Molina had 145 hits in 475 at-bats. He was impressively consistent, hitting better than .300 in most months and slumping only in June.
The month-by-month breakdown for Molina: April/March (.289), May (.330), June (.215), July (.311), August (.342), September (.341).
Molina primarily batted sixth or seventh in the order and was effective in both spots. He hit .316 (54-for-171) when batting sixth and .307 (82-for-267) when batting seventh.
When ahead in the count, Molina was especially potent. He hit .538 (7-for-13) on 3-1 counts, .522 (12-for-23) on 2-0 counts and .450 (9-for-20) on 2-1 counts.
Molina hit .306 (38-for-124) with runners in scoring position.
He had his most hits (20) against the Cubs and batted .377 versus Chicago. Molina hit .400 or better against the Braves (.471), Dodgers (.412) and Phillies (.400).
A .274 career hitter in eight major-league seasons, this year was the second Molina batted .300 or better. He hit .304 in 485 plate appearances in 2008.
A three-time Gold Glove Award winner known for his strong, accurate arm and his smart handling of pitchers, Molina’s hitting has come a long way since he batted .216 in 2006 for a World Series championship club.
Here’s a look at the other team-leading season batting marks for Cardinals catchers:
The switch-hitter was the last catcher to lead the Cardinals in batting until Molina accomplished the feat.
Simmons is the only catcher to twice lead St. Louis in batting: .332 in 1975 and .310 in 1973.
In 1975, Simmons finished second to National League batting champion Bill Madlock of the Cubs (.354). Simmons had 193 hits, 11 more than Madlock.
In 1973, Simmons’ .310 batting average was 13 points better than the next-best Cardinal, outfielder Lou Brock.
(Updated Oct. 16: Some also credit Simmons with leading the Cardinals in batting in 1978. That year, outfielder George Hendrick hit .288 for the Cardinals in 417 plate appearances after being acquired from San Diego. Simmons batted .287 in 604 plate appearances for St. Louis).
In 1970, Torre led the Cardinals with a .325 batting average. For the only time in his six seasons with St. Louis, Torre played more games at catcher (90) that year than he did at third base (73) or first base (1). As a catcher, Torre hit .330 in 1970. Overall, he placed second to 1970 National League batting champion Rico Carty of the Braves (.366).
A 21-year-old catcher, Snyder hit a team-high .298 for the 1915 Cardinals and edged right fielder Tom Long (.294) for the club batting championship. It was Snyder’s best season for St. Louis. A right-handed batter, he hit .265 in a 16-year big-league career (nine with the Cardinals).