Molina with the Texas Rangers
|Born: July 20, 1974|
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
|September 21, 1998, for the Anaheim Angels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 2010, for the Texas Rangers|
|Runs batted in||711|
|Career highlights and awards|
Benjamin José Molina (born July 20, 1974), nicknamed "Big Money", is a former Major League Baseball catcher, first base coach, and catching instructor for the Texas Rangers. He is the older brother of major league catchers José Molina and Yadier Molina.
Initially regarded as a "good glove, no hit" catcher with a strong arm and an exceptional ball blocker, Molina won a Gold Glove as the top defensive player at his position in consecutive seasons in 2002 and 2003. But he also developed into a very good contact hitter and free-swinging power hitter. Between 2000 and 2007, he struck out just 331 times, and in 2000 led the American League in average at-bats between strikeouts, with 14.3. He is the only player in history to hit a home run and not get credit for the run. He was regarded as one of the slowest baserunners of his day. Bengie currently provides color commentary on the Spanish language radio broadcast for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Molina entered the major leagues by playing two games for the Anaheim Angels in 1998, and a handful of games in 1999. He became the Angels' regular catcher in 2000 and remained so through the 2005 season. Over his last few seasons with the Angels, his backup as catcher was his brother, José Molina. Molina got his first championship ring in 2002 after the Angels beat the San Francisco Giants in seven games in the 2002 World Series.
Molina's contract with the Angels expired after the 2005 season, and the team decided not pursue him because of the salary he would demand. He signed a 1-year $5 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, with a mutual option for a second year. After signing with the Blue Jays, Molina expressed his anger at the Angels over how he parted company with them. "The way they let me go without a notice, without calling me, that said a lot," Molina said. "That's what really hurts me. I think I built a good relationship with them," he said. "They never let me know. They just threw me like a piece of trash." Molina's agent, Alan Nero, later confirmed however, that both he and Molina had in fact received calls from the Angels informing them of the team's decisions. Nero suggested that Molina's comments were born of his disappointment that he was not retained by the Angels.
Molina was announced as the Willie Mac Award winner for 2007 (for spirit and leadership) in a pregame ceremony on September 21, 2007. He got the most out of 1,617 votes from the fans. Later in that September 21 game, Molina knocked in career RBI number 500 in the bottom of the first on a single that scored Dave Roberts. They lost the game to the Cincinnati Reds 9-8 in 11 innings. In 2007, Molina walked only 2.9% of the time, the lowest percentage in the NL.
On September 26, 2008, Molina became the first player in MLB history to hit a home run and not get credit for a run scored. In the 6th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he hit a ball off the right field wall at AT&T Park which the umpire called in fair play, and wound up at first base. Emmanuel Burriss immediately ran out to first base to pinch run for Molina before anyone else could intervene, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy discussed the matter with the umpires. However, the umpires used instant replay and subsequently ruled the hit a home run, but refused Bochy the opportunity to reinsert Molina into the game. San Francisco continued the game under protest, but won 6-5 in the 10th inning. Preceding the same game, Molina had received the Willie Mac Award for the second year in a row.
Following one of the Giants' longer losing streaks of the season, and the sudden emergence of rookie catcher Buster Posey, Molina was traded to the Texas Rangers on June 30, 2010, for relief pitcher Chris Ray and a player to be named later, which was minor league RHP Michael Main. As two of the Giants' best pitchers commented upon Molina's departure, his contributions to the Giants were very significant. "He helped me mature and succeed. I've said time and time again that he deserves half of those awards that I've gotten," said Tim Lincecum, the reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner. "The things he's done for me - for calling a game, to give me confidence throwing different pitches in different counts - really, really, really benefited me," Matt Cain said of Molina.
Notorious for his lack of baserunning ability, on July 16, 2010, Molina hit for the cycle against Boston. He had (in order) a single, double, home run (grand slam), and triple. He was then pinch run for and left the game in the top of the 8th inning after hitting the triple, with a leg injury. He is the fifth Texas Ranger to hit for the cycle. He is also the first catcher in MLB history to hit a grand slam and hit for the cycle in the same game.
In Game 4 of the 2010 American League Championship Series, with 2 outs in the 6th inning and the Rangers trailing the New York Yankees, 3-2, Molina hit a three-run home run off A. J. Burnett. The home run, arguably one of the most important in Rangers history, proved to be the game-winner for the Rangers and gave the underdog Rangers a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. The Rangers won the ALCS against the Yankees in six games, which allowed the Rangers to enter the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
Since the Texas Rangers made it to the World Series, along with the San Francisco Giants, Molina became the sixth player to play for the two World Series teams in the same season. Due to having played for both Giants and Rangers during the 2010 season, Molina was guaranteed to receive a World Series ring regardless of whether his current or former team won the World Series. In the 2010 World Series, Molina batted only .182 with one RBI. The Rangers eventually lost the World Series to the Giants in five games. After the season was over, Molina was released as a free agent.
Molina spent most of the 2011 season on free agency and eventually retired.
Molina joined the Rangers' coaching staff for the 2014 season as their first base coach and catching instructor.