(1) Let’s start with the predictable reason shall we? Yadi’s arm is amazing. He threw out 64% of would be base stealers in 2005, which was of course the best in MLB. He is just a few less passed balls away from being an unquestioned Gold Glover. Soon…very soon! (By the way I call him Yadi not because I know him, and we’re friends but because I wish we were!)
(2) The next thing I love about him is even though his offensive numbers were…umm…not great (.252, 49 RBIs, 8 HRs in 2005), I still feel like he’s going to get a hit every time he’s at the plate. Originally, I figured this was a combination of my optimistic outlook for all Cardinals and the fact that he’s my favorite player, but when I looked into his numbers I found something that might actually validate my belief. Amazingly, Yadi struck out only 30 times in 114 games and 385 at-bats last season. That means he struck out only once every 12.83 at-bats. (By comparison Albert Pujols, who is known for having low stike out totals, struck out once every 9.09 ABs in 2005.) In fact, in 165 career games (or just three games more than a regular season) Yadi has struck out a grand total of 50 times. So, in the end, I think my belief that he’s going to get a hit is the result of him consistently hitting the ball. I’m surprised that no one has ever brought this to my attention before…I honestly don’t remember a TV announcer or writer commenting on Yadi’s ability to make contact although someone was bound to have done so. (And just for the record I think he’s going to have much better numbers this season.)
(3) His eternal happiness is uplifting. Alright, he’s probably not actually happy all the time, but it sure seems like it. The amount of joy he seems to get from playing the game of baseball is parallel to the amount of joy I get from watching him play.
(4) For such a young guy the way he handles the pitching staff is unbelievable. Last year, he had a ridiculously low CERA (Catcher’s Earned Run Average) of 3.39, and even more impressively the Cards’ pitchers never seemed to have any reservations about trusting him in his first full year in the big leagues. I remember reading this quote in Tim Kurkjian’s column in ESPN The Magazine from an anonymous Cardinal’s pitcher before the season in even started last year…”We will lose nothing, and I’m president of the Mike Matheny Fan Club.” Wow. Just wow.
(5) Darn it…he’s cute, even adorable. Sorry if you saw this one coming, but I can’t help myself. The guy’s smile (as illustrated in the picture above) could soften even the hardest of hearts. I’m going to leave it at that…
The single negative thing I have to say about Yadi is that I’m extremely disappointed that he changed his uniform number from 41 to 4. Last year my step-dad surprised me with a sweet Molina jersey/t-shirt that is now out-dated. Oh well, I’ll have to get a new one in Jupiter! (Insert huge smile here.) Check out the picture below…he still has 41 on his chest protector.