Without catcher Yadier Molina, the defending World Series champion Cardinals wouldn’t have qualified for the 2012 postseason and likely would have struggled to achieve a winning record.
That’s one reason _ along with his special combination of defensive excellence, handling of pitchers and productive hitting _ why Molina is our choice for the label of most valuable player in the National League.
For the third consecutive year, the RetroSimba blog has been invited to vote for the NL postseason baseball awards presented by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.
STAN MUSIAL AWARD for most valuable player
Selection: Yadier Molina, Cardinals catcher
Runners-up: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates outfielder; Ryan Braun, Brewers outfielder
Molina had the best production by a Cardinals catcher since Ted Simmons and consistently provided stellar defense at the game’s most demanding position.
Fourth in the NL in batting at .315, Molina collected 159 hits in 138 games. He had 22 home runs, 76 RBI, 12 stolen bases and a .373 on-base percentage.
Molina ranked first among NL catchers in assists (a career-high 88) and second in fielding percentage (.997). He threw out 48 percent of the baserunners who attempted to steal against him (second-best in the NL).
For all-around excellence, no NL player was better than Molina.
WALTER JOHNSON AWARD for best pitcher
Selection: R.A. Dickey, Mets
Runners-up: Johnny Cueto, Reds; Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
Dickey, 37, a knuckleball specialist who only once before had won as many as 10 in a season in the majors, had a remarkable performance for an unremarkable team.
The right-hander led the NL in strikeouts (230), innings pitched (233.2), complete games (5) and shutouts (3). He also rated second in wins (20) and ERA (2.73).
GOOSE GOSSAGE AWARD for best reliever
Selection: Craig Kimbrel, Braves
Runners-up: Jason Motte, Cardinals; Aroldis Chapman, Reds
Kimbrel and Motte each had a NL-best 42 saves. Motte accounted for all of the Cardinals’ saves, the first time that has happened since 1900.
I wanted very much to vote for Motte. But Kimbrel was better. Kimbrel had a 1.01 ERA (Motte’s was 2.75) and 116 strikeouts in 62.2 innings (Motte struck out 86 in 72 innings). Also, Kimbrel had only three blown saves compared with seven for Motte.
WILLIE MAYS AWARD for best rookie
Selection: Bryce Harper, Nationals outfielder
Runners-up: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks pitcher; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals infielder-outfielder
At 19, Harper showed the phenom tag may be justified. He produced 144 hits in 139 games (including 22 home runs and 26 doubles) and had 98 runs scored.
CONNIE MACK AWARD for best manager
Selection: Davey Johnson, Nationals
Runners-up: Dusty Baker, Reds; Mike Matheny, Cardinals
Johnson, 69, was masterful in guiding Washington to a 98-64 record and first-place finish in the NL East.
He adeptly handled a young pitching staff (no regular starter is older than 28) and juggled a lineup that lost key players (catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielders Jayson Werth and Mike Morse) for large periods because of injuries.
To put the feat in perspective, Johnson got the most from a thin bench that at various times included Cardinals retreads such as Rick Ankiel, Mark DeRosa and Cesar Izturis.
Previously: Yadier Molina joins Ted Simmons in 20-homer club