The St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants are meeting in Game 1 of the NLCS Sunday night, and we were quickly introduced to one of the narratives we'll get for the rest of the series: Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, and the National League MVP award. Posey's almost certain to win it, but Cardinals fans will be happy to make the case that Molina's been significantly underrated by the electorate. In fact—allow me.
Posey was a significant better hitter in 2012—in fact, he led baseball in OPS+, with 172. He won the batting title, he drove in 103 runs, et cetera. But Molina was no slouch, and his offensive context was higher, because he played all but nine of his innings this year at catcher. (Posey played 10 more games than Molina, but 32 of them were at first or DH.)
Molina is also a significantly better defensive catcher than Posey; Posey's reputation is sterling, but the defensive metrics don't have him at Molina's level.
Altogether Posey is probably the deserving MVP; his outstanding second half pushed him ahead by most metrics sometime in September. But Molina deserves to be a part of the conversation, and if nothing else the NLCS will make that certain.