Injury – He sustained a torn ligament in his left thumb when tagging Anthony Rizzo at home plate in September 2015 which required two surgeries during the offseason.
2015 Season – Molina missed the last couple weeks of the regular season after injuring his thumb and finished with a .270 batting average with four home runs, 61 RBIs, 34 runs scored and three stolen bases. He did return to play in the NLDC against the Cubs but was scratched the last couple games of the series due to the injury.
Reason For Optimism
- Molina has been one of the most durable and productive catchers in baseball for the past decade.
- He had his cast removed last week and has begun taking throws at first base.
- Despite all of the mileage he has put on his body, Molina is still just 33 years old and in great shape in order to bounce back from the injury.
Reason For Concern
- Molina has yet to catch pitches behind the plate so we do not know whether he will be able to handle any pain still associated with his surgically repaired thumb.
- He believes he won’t be able to hit before he is able to test whether he can catch which means he will not have much time before Opening Day to work on his offense.
- Even before this injury, Molina’s offensive output has been in serious decline since 2013 with his batting average, home runs and RBI totals decreasing each year.
2016 OUTLOOK – Molina has been a reliable fantasy catcher for many years including some elite seasons from 2011-2013. However, he is coming off of two sub-par years which saw his batting average and power output drop significantly. Now 33 years old, Molina’s warrior demeanor and unmatched endurance may have caught up with him as he attempts to come back from two surgeries on his left thumb. There are serious questions about his ability to catch, as well as swing the bat. Chances are that he will have to start the season on the disabled list simply because he will need time to get his work in behind the plate and at-bat. Even if he was ready for Opening Day, his fantasy baseball value has plummeted because we can only expect offensive statistics that are akin to bottom tier catchers. It’s always possible he surprises everyone and bounces back because that is the type of baseball player he is, but the empirical data and physical evidence show otherwise. He will last much longer in drafts than we are accustomed to, so he can be had at a discount which could provide good value if you are punting the catcher’s position. Be prepared to draft his backup, Brayan Pena, because chances are that Pena will see significant playing time this year.
If you are wondering the best way to evaluate players such as Molina so that you can be prepared for your draft, then be sure to check out the 2016 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide.
Michael A. Stein, Esq. is the Chief Justice of Fantasy Judgment, the industry's premier dispute resolution service, and co-host of the Fantasy Alarm Podcast. You can contact him at email@example.com or on Facebook and Twitter (@FantasyJudgment).