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September 14, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Yadier Molina's Throw to Second

by Larry Granillo

In case you had forgotten, Yadier Molina is an absolutely fantastic defensive catcher. As a reminder, please watch this video of Molina gunning down Dee Gordon on a stolen base attempt with maybe the best throw to second you have ever seen.

Did you watch it? Have you picked up your jaw yet? Good.

Dee Gordon is one of the fastest men in baseball and he got himself a good jump against Edward Mujica. He had no chance, though, as Molina caught the ball, stood up and fired a strike to Skip Schumaker in less time than it took for me to pour a glass of orange juice this morning.

In case you were wondering how fast Molina had to throw that ball in order to nail the speedy Gordon, I did the math asked some smart guys to do the math for me. Watching the video, I timed the throw from Molina-to-Schumaker at roughly 1.2 seconds. Over 127 feet (the distance from home to second base), that's an average speed of 72 mph. Thrown balls slow down while traveling through the air, though, so the average speed doesn't tell us how fast the ball actually was traveling out of Molina's hand.

According to the all-knowing Mike Fast (along with a little help from this very nifty Trajectory Calculator from Alan Nathan), the ball must have left Molina's hand with an initial velocity of 83 mph (and arrived at Schumaker's glove traveling 63 mph) in order to travel that distance so quickly.

That may not sound that impressive to those of us used to hearing about 95 mph fastballs, but Molina is a catcher crouching behind home plate, not a pitcher on an elevated mound who gets to go through his full wind-up. Molina had to catch the ball, grip the ball, stand up, change his body position, and throw a perfect strike to a blind target all with the pressure of a moving Gordon on the bases (and while wearing pads and a mask). A nearly-instantaneous, no-wind-up 83 mph throw is terrific.

So, yes, Yadier Molina is fantastic. Please remember this.

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