With the new sensations in town in Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk, word on the street is Matt Holliday seems to expendable when it comes to the formation of the St. Louis Cardinals’ outfield this year, next year and beyond. While nobody is asking for the big guy to be traded or sent out, their lineups aren’t highlighting a hitter with some pop and production left in his bat. As Holliday works his way back from his second quad injury in 2015 and an injury plagued season, I’ll warn you. Don’t write off the Stillwater, Oklahoma native just yet.
Piscotty and Grichuk may be the brisket rub of the moment in this town, but they’ve been doing this for less than a season. Their contributions are great and have helped a team carrying an inconsistent offensive attack, but dismissing the idea of Holliday returning is quite humorous considering how this lineup thrives with him in the #3 spot.
It’s true. Matt Holliday doesn’t have the big boom in his stick anymore. It’s doubtful he will reach 30 home runs again. Those days are behind him but that doesn’t render his bat optional. While it’s nice to see Jon Jay making progress and Grichuk starting to do some activities, Holliday is the bat I am looking forward to seeing the most.
The Cards don’t run on power. They run on consistently good at bats and on base percentage. Holliday provides both and has been doing so for years.
People will complain he gets hurt a lot. Wrong. In five of the last six seasons leading up to 2015, Matt Holliday has played in 140 games or more. Holliday is no Tulo. He’s still durable at 35 years of age, and that comes from staying in marvelous physical shape and being smart with his choices.
Leave the power, take the OPS with Holliday. While his slugging percentage has decreased from .525 to .420 this season, his on base percentage still sits near .400. Before he got hurt, Holliday got on base 40 percent of the time. With his healthy .290 average maintaining fuel, Holliday’s OPS is a robust .829 this season. Over the past three seasons, it’s .876, .879 and .811. He isn’t diminishing in overall offensive value, so why hand this man the walker?
I understand transformation and bringing in new players but the kids will have to do more than spark a wire in a hot car during one summer in order to push Holliday to reserve status. He’s going to play when he gets back and he’s going to be here next year and more than likely, the year after that. If that means Matt Adams has to hold off Piscotty at first base, so be it. Competition keeps the kids hungry and the veterans on their toes.
Come postseason time, you’ll want Holliday and his 13 career October home runs. He has a thing for showing up in big moments. The man churns out game deciding hits like John Mozeliak changes bow ties. Sorry he doesn’t make diving catches in the outfield but there’s a guy named J-Hey for that.
Holliday has simply transitioned into a different hitter as his career hits the final strip of pavement. He has went from a power hitting Coors Field resident to an all around Busch Stadium stinger. Holliday still hits the ball harder than most, and his line drive rate is healthy. His plate discipline has never been better than it was this year, with 39 walks to just 44 strikeouts. He’s a smart guy at the plate and in a lineup full of easy 100 strikeout guys this season, that discipline is required.
While it’s normal to talk about the next generation of players, it’s wrong to start writing off Matt Holliday. If he is 100% in September and can contribute, he will play. He’s earned that right. Not to mention the effect he has on this clubhouse as a leader and in the community becoming the face of St. Louis Albert Pujols was before he departed for the West. Holliday can also hold his own in a broadcast booth, but that’s icing on the cake.
Appreciating Matt Holliday in 2015 is a little harder than it used to be, I know. The Baseball Card mafia has to look a little closer and see a guy with some gas left in the tank. Just remember this. Home runs are fascist and Matt Holliday isn’t going anywhere and for good reason.