Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 4/28/12
ST. LOUIS -- On the day he was presented the Rawlings Platinum Award for being the best defensive player in baseball, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reminded folks that he swing the bat a little bit, too. Molina has turned himself from a defensive wizard to one of the better all-around players in the game in recent years, posting a career year at the plate in 2011. And he continued that progression Saturday, going 4-for-4 and hitting the eventual game-winning home run to break a 3-3 tie in the Cardinals 7-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. "He's a complete player," said pitcher Kyle Lohse. "He's everything you want as a catcher. He calls a great game, defends and his bat, I think people are starting to catch on that he can swing it. It's not just power or this and that, it's the key hits and the ability to come through the way he has, it's fun to watch." Molina recorded his team-leading eighth multi-hit game of the season and tied his career high with four hits, doing so for the 10th time since he broke into the big leagues in 2004. He singled in the second and singled again in the fourth before golfing a pitch into the front row in left for a two-run shot that give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead. Molina tacked on another hit and scored as part of a two-run eighth inning, helping the Cardinals move to a season-best 14-7 on the year. "I don't look at my stats," Molina said. "I look at the end of the game and if we got the win, that's a good day. "I'm seeing the ball pretty good." Molina was known primarily as a defensive catcher for the first couple years of his career, hitting a career worst .216 in 129 games in 2006. But he's continued to improve at the plate and hit at least .293 in three of the past four seasons. The 29-year-old Molina enjoyed his best offensive season, finishing with career highs in batting average (.305), home runs (14), doubles (32), RBI (65), and runs scored (55). But he's on pace for even bigger numbers this year. Molina is hitting .324 with four home runs, 15 RBI, 14 runs scored and a team-high nine doubles. "I think it does at times but I'm sure he's OK with that," said manager Mike Matheny. "I know where he stacks his priorities and his first responsibility is taking care of his pitching staff and doing what he needs to behind the plate. It's almost like a separate personality once he grabs the bat, it's like two different games for him and he does a nice job of separating them as well. "He had a great offensive year last year." Molina, who will turn 30 in July, signed a five-year, 75 million extension with the Cardinals during spring training. It's one of the biggest contracts for a catcher in baseball history, but he's looking like he'll be worth every penny so far. With longtime friend Albert Pujols gone to Anaheim, Molina has more than picked up the slack offensively. And he's showing no signs of slowing. "He has a great approach up there and he's not afraid to take that single or double to right," Lohse said. "If you leave something over the plate, he's going to hit it hard to the pull side. "He's coming into his own and it's fun to watch."
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