Friday, December 16, 2011

Can Holliday be the Main Guy?

Matt Holliday - Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five

Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday had a up and down year last season. This is a guy who hit .324 in the first half and .263 in the second half, while hitting .435 in the NLCS and .158 during the World Series. He had all sorts of injuries to his middle finger, pinkie finger, back, knee, and quad. Holliday also had a appendectomy, food poisoning, and a moth fly into his ear during a game this season. He played in 124 games last year only starting 119 of them(5 as a DH) batting .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs, a down year for him. However his on base pct. was .388 and slugging pct. was .525, both very close to career totals.

Needless to say, Holliday had some bad luck last year. Holliday's career batting average is .315 and he is usually good for 25-30 homers, 100 RBIs, and a bunch of doubles. Last season was the most injury plagued year Holliday has had, so the Cardinals hope he can stay healthy next year. They'll need him too with the loss of 3 time MVP Albert Pujols. Holliday is going to have to be the face of the franchise now, and he will take over the 3rd spot in the lineup. Lance Berkman will be his protection in the cleanup spot, and he's coming off a pretty good year. The Redbirds are also banking on postseason heroes David Freese and Allen Craig to carry over their postseason success next season. Injuries seem to be the only thing stopping them, and Craig will likely be out until May due to recent knee surgery.

Holliday has carried teams in the past, with the best example being the 2007 Colorado Rockies. He nearly won the MVP that season, leading the league with a .340 average, 137 RBIS, 386 total bases, 216 hits, and 50 doubles. Holliday also scored 120 runs, hit a career high 36 home runs, while compiling a .405 OBP and a .607 SLG pct. While he did play his home games at Coors Field that year, he has hit well away from it since. He batted over .310 and drove in over 100 runs in 2009 and 2010. Holliday was on fire in 2009 after being traded to St. Louis, batting .353 in 63 games. Holliday is also a five time All Star and stole over 10 bases from 2005-09.

Holliday doesn't have to put up Pujols type numbers next season, but he does need to have a normal Holliday year. He is the Cardinals highest paid player at $17 million a year, and has the Cardinals record for a contract. His defense is sometimes shaky, and there are moments were he doesn't seem to have his head in the game. He'll need to improve on that. One thing he does have over Pujols is that he hustles more and runs out ground balls. That one trait about Pujols I won't miss.

Its hard to forget about some of the bad moments with Holliday last season, but he was pretty good in the first half and has a track record of success in the past. With the Rockies, Holliday will always be remembered for the game winning slide and run in the 2007 wild card tiebreaker and as the best player on that run for Colorado. In the spotlight here in St. Louis it hasn't been as good. There was the critical error in Game 2 of the 2009 Division Series that cost the Cardinals the game. A similar thing happened to Holliday in the 2010 All Star Game with Adam Wainwright of all people pitching. Its hard to forget about Holliday's last play of the World Series, getting picked off of third base and coming out of the game with a pinkie injury that would keep him out of Game 7. While he had a subpar World Series, he tore up Milwaukee pitching in the NLCS. I would still say Holliday is one of the best left fielders in baseball even if he's slightly overpaid. Its much better than having Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee, or Jason Bay, who have all been much worse for just as much money. The pressure will be on Holliday next season, though.

Holliday's career stats

Cardinals News and Notes: The Cardinals have re-signed Skip Schumaker to a 2 year/3 million dollar deal and non-tendered Ryan Theriot, making him a free agent. Schumaker will serve as a 4th outfielder, occasional second baseman, and pinch hitter next season. Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso look to get most of the playing time at second now that Nick Punto signed with the Red Sox.

Bernie Miklasz from the Post Dispatch made a good point about Yadier Molina recently. He's on the last season of his deal in 2012 and the Cardinals need to work on an extension. He'll be 30 next year, so 4 years sounds about right. I don't know how Molina feels about his close friend Pujols signing with the Angels, but thats why the Cards should work to re-sign him before Pujols can recruit him to the Angels.

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