|Nothing like setting a new career high on July 15. (Getty Images)|
Sunday night against the Reds, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina hit his 15th home run of the 2012 season. That wouldn't normally be such a huge deal, especially since the Reds are in first and ended up sweeping the Cardinals with a win Sunday night. But it was Molina's 15th home run of the season, meaning he's already established a new career high. Check out the numbers:
• From 2005-2010, Molina averaged six homers in 424 at-bats per season.
• In 2011, Molina hit 14 home runs in 475 at-bats.
• So far in 2012, Molina has 15 home runs in just 288 at-bats.
So what's up with the power surge?
Numbers-wise, he's simply far more powerful than he ever has been before. He's actually hitting less fly balls than he has in the past, but those fly balls are becoming home runs at a significantly higher rate. In his entire career, 6.7 percent of his fly balls have left the yard. This year it's happening at a rate of higher than 17 percent.
Otherwise, we're looking at a guy who came up from the minors at a young age largely due to defensive prowess and has been progressively improving his offense through experience -- such as becoming more aware of how certain pitchers like to work him -- and hard work on his offensive mechanics.
Whatever he's doing, it's working. Molina has become a legitimate power source. Last decade, that just didn't seem possible.