Scouting the Cardinals

The Cardinals are talented and experienced. Don't be surprised to see them in the Fall Classic.

Originally Published: October 2, 2005
By Gary Gillette | ESPN Insider
Editor's Note: Report is updated through the Cardinals' Division Series victory over San Diego.

Position players

Yadier Molina, C
Stepping into Mike Matheny's shoes, Molina has made the kind of largely seamless transition that Cardinals fans have come to expect of their first-class organization. Molina plays excellent defense and, while not a good hitter, does have a little pop in his bat and has hit for a .309 average versus lefties. Only brave or foolhardy baserunners take off against Molina's strong and accurate arm; he's thrown out 64 percent of those poor souls who dare try.
Key stat: More important than how many runners Molina has thrown out is how remarkably few runners even attempt to steal: only 39 in 114 games. Holding runners close to first and keeping the DP in order is a little-appreciated part of a top defensive catcher's game.

Albert Pujols, 1B
Scouting Pujols must be like scouting Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays in their prime: There is nothing the Cardinals superstar can't do with a bat. He's a plus defender at first base and a plus baserunner also. Pujols hasn't quite hit with the power he did in 2004, especially late in the season, but he remains truly fearsome. A great competitor who controls the strike zone and has outstanding power to all fields, Pujols has no weaknesses at the plate.
Key stats: Though he didn't hit a home run in the Division Series, Pujols went 5-for-9 with two doubles and four walks while scoring four runs. It is virtually impossible for an opposing manager or pitcher to prevent Pujols from hurting them.

Gary Gillette | email

ESPN.com MLB insider contributor
Gary Gillette, a contributor to MLB Insider on ESPN.com, is the editor of the 2006 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia, which was published in March by Sterling. Gary can be reached via e-mail at GGillette@247Baseball.com.