So Jose Molina Has Three Stolen Bases

It’s a bit of an odd time to write about baseball. Some trades are trickling in, but we’re about a week removed from the All Star Game. The ASG break is a great time to do some summaries, compare some first halves, look at some guys who may be surprising or disappointing. But there’s only been a handful of days since everyone submitted those stories, and very little has happened since, at least as far as big-picture stuff goes. It is for this reason, and many other selfish reasons, that I am now writing about husky guys stealing bases.

This actually started as a tweet from fellow FanGraphs-er Jason Collette. It’s a fairly innocuous thing on its own. The fact that Molina has only scored three runs is a bit of an oddity, but more on a “weird baseball” level — which I assume Jason was going for. The fact that he has three steals is even less of a big deal. Lots of dudes don’t have many steals. As of this writng, 64 players have less than 3 steals. It is slightly noteworthy that Jose Molina has as many steals as both Starlin Castro and Andrelton Simmons, but only because guys like Castro and Simmons are smaller young guys that look like they should be speedy. Conversely, Molina looks like he should not be speedy. That is, he’s 39 years old and rotund.

As I am forced to do so due to lack of options, I’m going to assume that Molina is 39 years old and weighs 250 lbs. Do “official” heights and weights differ from actual players sizes? Probably! Is it reasonable to assume that Molina is at least 250 lbs.? Quite! And as stat-friendly as the Rays are, I doubt they will let me carbon date Molina, so I’ll go with his official age of 39, as well. (Yes, I know carbon dating would be pointless as Molina is certainly not 60,000 years old. I’ll wait while you backspace through your comment.)

OK. So Molina is portly and old for a baseball player. Let’s deal with the first fact first. In the last 30 years, 66 players have had seasons in which they a.) weighed 250 lbs. or more and b.) stole three or more bases. Matt Holliday and Frank Thomas make the list, but they are a different kind of 250 lbs. aren’t they? Still, your David Ortizs, Yonder Alonsos, Adam Dunns, Prince Fielders and Carlos Lees make up most of the list. Sixty six isn’t a whole heck of a lot, all things considered. In fact, of all the players who logged three steals in a season during the same time, about 0.98% of them weighed 250 lbs. or more. A small sample, indeed.

GIF MACHINE, ACTIVATE!

6/20

molinasteal620

7/12

molinasteal712

7/22 (trail runner)

molinasteal722

All of Molina’s steals come on two-strike counts, when the pitcher is theoretically paying the most attention to the batter. One happens on a double-steal. Two happen on pitches in the dirt. There’s a little bit of luck here, but there’s also the idea that Molina is picking his spots. I’m sure he knows just as well as you or I that he’s not built for speed per se. But that prejudice from the opposing pitcher allows him to sneak a steal in here and there. It may be safe to assume that Molina’s roll role as a catcher provides him some hyper-insight into how pitchers work, though we can’t be quite sure who gave him the green light. Double steal calls usually come from the dugout, after all. Nevertheless, Molina is running on situations that play in his favor. Because of this, he has a 100% success rate. This adds him to a list of six other players from the last 30 years with big bones and a perfect steal rate.

Season Name Weight SB CS
1998 Frank Thomas 275 7 0
2006 Adam Dunn 285 7 0
2013 Yonder Alonso 250 6 0
2013 David Ortiz 250 4 0
2012 Yonder Alonso 250 3 0
2002 Frank Thomas 275 3 0
2014 Jose Molina 250 3 0

There’s one other facet I mentioned earlier that makes Molina’s rate even more impressive, however. We know that carrying a heavier load makes stealing bases more difficult, but carrying a heavy load on 39-year-old knees makes it even harder. Here’s a list of all the players from the last 30 years who were at least 39 years old and weighed at least 250 lbs.

Year Name SB CS SB% Weight Age
2000 Andres Galarraga 3 5 37.50% 250 39
2014 Jose Molina 3 100.00% 250 39

Hachi machi! Only one other guy makes this list, and he was pretty bad at stealing bases that season! If Molina never steals a base again, he’ll be the most successful jiggly and old base-stealer of the past three decades. I’m not sure what importance this carries, but it certainly is something. Right? I’m saying it’s something, at least.

Jose Molina is an interesting dude. He has two other brothers who also played catcher. He was the last catcher to throw out Rickey Henderson stealing. He’s a portly catcher nearing 40 years old who is excellent at framing pitches, doesn’t hit very well, and doesn’t look like he’s trying to run all that hard most of the time. Yet here he is — on pace to become the most successful base stealer in his age and body-type category in a long time. It’s only three steals, and all three likely have more to do with Joe Maddon and the Rays brain trust than with Molina specifically, but it’s something to ponder while we wait for the rest of the season to shake out. The Rays probably won’t be there at the end, but who knows? They are 19-7 since Molina stole his first base. Just saying.



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David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.


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MattR
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MattR
2 years 1 month ago

Clearly the best way to get an accurate age on a Molina is to count the tree rings.

A
Guest
A
2 years 1 month ago

Remember when Jose Molina stole home when he was with the Angels? Yeah, that happened, and it was one of the best baseball moments I’ve ever witnessed.

mr33
Guest
mr33
2 years 1 month ago

Were he to do it again, his run total for the year would rise by 1/3.

X
Guest
X
2 years 1 month ago

Though he may weigh 250lbs, saying that Molina must be rolled out to his role as catcher is kind of a cheap shot.

Miles
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Miles
2 years 1 month ago

this

Kyle
Guest
Kyle
2 years 1 month ago

On the contrary, 60K years would actually be too far in history to carbon date. The issue with carbon-dating Molina is that he is (presumably) not dead.

Science
Guest
Science
2 years 1 month ago

Agreed. Because of the half-life of the Carbon-13 isotope, the maximum age for accurate carbon dating is about 16,000 years and the clock on the Carbon-13/12 dating system starts when the organism stops absorbing fresh carbon (i.e. death). It would be possible to date a portion of his body containing dead cells, like his hair, but as every cell in the human body is replaced about every seven years, you would find that Molina was born after his major league debut.

jock
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jock
2 years 1 month ago

shut up

Anon
Guest
Anon
2 years 1 month ago

Yadier Molina is very slow as well, but has 41 SB in his career because he takes what the defense gives to him (which isn’t much in the last two years).

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
2 years 1 month ago

Another fun fact:

Frank Thomas (32) had more career stolen bases than Joe DiMaggio (30).

Mac
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

As much as home runs dominated and small ball seemed dead in the Steroid Era, it’s fascinating that SB per game was overall at it’s lowest in DiMaggio’s time:

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2010/01/stolen_base_str.php

Detroit Michael
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Detroit Michael
2 years 1 month ago

BOO! Don’t pollute our fun facts with real facts!

Jon Sullivan
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Jon Sullivan
2 years 1 month ago

I love everything about this post. Just want to inject it directly into my veins.

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker
2 years 1 month ago

Jose may be slow, but he certainly isn’t the slowest Molina brother. Benji was glacial.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 1 month ago

And hit for the cycle in his elder years.

Radiokev
Guest
Radiokev
2 years 1 month ago

Jose Molina also hit the last homerun in old Yankee Stadium.

EM
Guest
EM
2 years 1 month ago

Remember when Ryan Howard stole 8 of 9 back in 2009?

The lorax
Guest
The lorax
2 years 1 month ago

He was also the last player to hit a home run at old Yankee stadium… Go figure

Jeff Gross
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Jeff Gross
2 years 1 month ago

love the critic reference

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