Here’s my latest in a series of detailed report cards for members of the 2022 Cardinals. I’m using a thorough approach so it takes time to get these out.

In this one, I’m using a slightly different form by taking a look at two players (instead of one) in evaluating the work turned in by the St. Louis catchers in 2022.

That would be Yadier Molina and Andrew Knizner. They essentially shared the job, with Knizner playing in 96 games to Molina’s 78. Rookie Ivan Herrera and journeymen Austin Romine chipped in, but the basis for my grade will be the Molina-Knizner combination.

Opening Thoughts: Molina struggled with excess weight and a knee injury in his final major-league season that included multiple absences from the team. He maintained his high defensive standards but failed miserably at the plate. Knizner experienced the most extensive action of his career and was exposed for his defensive shortcomings and limited capability as a hitter. The Cardinals are searching for a new No. 1 catcher this offseason and have a substantial need for an upgrade at the position going into 2023. Hopefully the front office will take advantage of the opening; St. Louis hasn’t shopped for a starting catcher since the pre-2000 offseason. It would be a shame to relinquish a major opportunity to improve a key spot.

Overall Value: Poor, for the most part. Cardinal catchers combined for minus 0.6 WAR in 2022, which was below replacement level and tied for 26th in the majors. (Wins Above Replacement accounts for offense, defense and baserunning.) Over the past two seasons St. Louis had the worst all-around catching performance in the majors ranking 30th in WAR across 2021 and 2022.

The Offense: In a word? Awful. This past season Cardinal catchers batted .208 (23rd in the majors) and were 25th in onbase percentage (.264), 28th in slugging (.290) and 28th in OPS (.553.) Using park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+), the STL catchers were 39 percent below league average offensively.

The Cardinals have been owned by Bill DeWitt Jr. and partners since the start of the 1996 seasons. During the DeWitt Era, which consists of 27 years, this was arguably the worst showing offensively generated by the team’s catchers in a season. Their 2022 catchers ranked 27th among the 27 DeWitt teams in batting average, OBP, slugging and OPS. And they were 26th among the 27 in WAR. They were, however, 24th among the 27 catcher delegations in wRC+. Do you feel like applauding that? Not me.

Knizner batted .215 with a .301 OBP and .300 slug for a .601 OPS. He had four homers and 25 RBI. His OPS+ was 25 percent below league average. He had two above–average months offensively, posting a .778 OPS in April and a .894 OPS in August. And during a stretch of 80 plate appearances that began July 11, Knizner was terrific offensively with a .338 batting average and .879 OPS … and then proceeded to hit .158 with a .485 OPS over his final 19 games.

Molina batted .214 with a .233 OBP and .302 slug for a .535 OPS. He had five homers and 24 RBI, and his OPS+ was 47 percent below average. Molina’s 53 OPS+ in 2022 was tied for fifth worst by a Cardinal in a season during the DeWitt Era among 262 hitters that had a minimum 270 plate appearances.

Molina had a decent September, coming in at 11 percent above league average offensively per wRC+. But from April through August he batted .200 with a .219 OBP and .254 slug and was a staggering 66 percent below league average offensively.

May 22, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catchers Yadier Molina (left) and Andrew Knizner (right) celebrate after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Cardinals won 18-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Defense: Molina was effective. Strong when he could play.

The positives:

– 9 defensive runs saved which ranked tied for 6th among MLB catchers.

– 3 adjusted earned runs saved which ranked tied for 5th among catchers.

– Plus 5 in framing runs which ranked tied for 8th.

– A 49.1% strike rate which ranked 13th.

– A 39% caught-stealing rate which was second-best in the majors to Philadelphia’s J.T. Realmuto among catchers that logged at least 628 innings behind the plate.

Now for Knizner …Frankly, he was terrible. I know that’s tough, and he’s a great dude and all of that … but I need to go with honest, unfiltered opinions here. Along those lines, I don’t understand how so many people fall for the ridiculous spin used by the Cardinals to convince the media and fans of Knizner’s solid defensive work. It’s completely bogus.

Knizner ranked near the bottom of the MLB rankings among catchers with minus 9 defensive runs saved. Kiz was minus 6 in framing runs which ranked 53rd among 60 catchers. He was 51st in strike percentage among the 60 catchers. And Baseball Prospectus ranked Knizner 63rd among 69 catchers in Fielding Runs Above Average at minus 6.9.

Random Stat: Here are the individual Catcher ERAs for the Cardinals in 2022:

Molina, 3.52 in 628 innings
Knizner, 3.95 in 685 innings
Herrera, 4.27 in 63 innings
Romine, 4.29 in 59 innings

Baserunning: It’s not a strength for most MLB catchers. Especially in St. Louis. Per Bill James: in 2022 Molina was a minus 13 in net baserunning gain. Knizner was minus 10 in net baserunning gain.

Final Thoughts: Molina is one of the greatest catchers in MLB history, and we’ll see him enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame some day. He’s also high on the list of the best players to ever wear the Birds on the Bat, but the intense wear and tear of a lengthy big-league career caused a steep decline offensively during his final few seasons. But he maintained his plus defense in the majors over his entire 19 seasons. We have deep respect for Molina, and the fans enjoyed the opportunity to watch and honor him during his farewell season. But this evaluation is supposed to be focused on the overall performance of his season – just as my reports on the other Cardinals are keyed on the 2022 season.

Knizner may have a role as a No. 2 catcher in 2023, but the Cardinals can’t possibly view him as a starter … and to be blunt about this, they can probably find a better No. 2 catcher, especially if they go with a platoon-type arrangement. Knizner, who bats right, hit .138 with a .507 OPS vs. lefties last season and is a .229 hitter for his career against LH pitching. But if the Cardinals bring in a high-level catcher to take over, it would be OK to have Knizner as a backup. But I don’t understand why this team can’t compel or teach Kiz to get better at framing pitches. He’s been in the bigs for four seasons.

My Season Grade On The Catchers: I’m going with a D minus. That would have been an F grade, but Molina’s defense boosted the final mark. But Knizner caught more innings than Molina in 2022, and Knizner’s poor defense made the Cardinals a below-average team at the catcher position in both defensive runs saved and pitch framing. If you think I should have gone with an “F” grade — because of Molina’s absences — that’s fair.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Stats used in my baseball columns were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.

Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.