Christian Molfetta ripped off his helmet and violently stomped on the plate. The graduate transfer infielder walked to the dugout, where he was mobbed by teammates after clobbering his second home run of the weekend against Ohio State.
Molfetta has been red-hot over the past several weeks and is one of the Wolverines’ most consistent performers throughout the season. He went 6-for-13 over the weekend with two walks, leading Michigan in its quest for the Big Ten title.
“He’s been huge,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “He just brings elite experience, a chip (on his shoulder) and he wants to win. He is looking at it as a second chance and he brings all the intangibles.”
Molfetta can do it all offensively, hitting for average and power at the top of the lineup. He sports a team-leading .349 batting average and 1.039 on-base plus slugging percentage. He has also racked up four home runs, good for second on the team.
Molfetta is a graduate transfer from Stanford, where he played sparingly throughout his five years, primarily as a catcher. Though he made 14 starts during the shortened season last year, Molfetta largely struggled, hitting just .245 as Stanford went 5-11. Molfetta also made 24 starts in the 2018 season, but struggled once again, hitting just .188.
At Michigan, he has stepped into a different role, where the presence of graduate transfer Griffin Mazur and sophomore Jimmy Obertop have left the catcher position loaded. Molfetta transitioned to third base, where he has started every game for the Wolverines.
“(Molfetta) is just a calming presence to the offense and to the defense,” Bakich said. “He’s got a steady consistency about him that is super valuable for us. To have a guy like that, he came in as a catcher, a guy that can anchor down one of the infield positions, hit at the top of the order and just find a way to get on base and make hard contact all the time is huge.”
Molfetta moved up to second in the batting order by the third game of the season after starting in the sixth spot. He has since cemented himself in that position, starting every subsequent game at third base and hitting out of the two hole.
“He brings a good amount of experience just because he’s an older guy,” redshirt junior outfielder Danny Zimmerman said. “He’s just always smiling. Even when stuff goes wrong, he’s always still happy. He just keeps everybody in a good mood.”
By nailing down down the third base position and bringing offensive consistency to the top of the order, Molfetta has become a large reason why Michigan boasts such a powerful offense. Even while other players, such as sophomore outfielder Tito Flores and Obertop have gone through ups and downs at the plate, Molfetta has been the consistent presence the Wolverines needed.
“He’s been there in big spots and has provided a spark, whether it’s offense or defense,” Zimmerman said. “That’s his second time leading off an inning with a home run that turned into a bigger rally after that. He’s just a great guy to cheer for and play with.”