2009 First Round – Matt Holliday

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Looking at Matt Holliday and his candidacy as a First Round pick for 2009 is certainly an intriguing conversation, and one that we need to have.  Overall this season he has already reached the 20/20 plateau for the first time in his career, hitting .329 with 25 HR, 84 RBI, 102 R and 27 SB through Saturday.

Those are great numbers, though the power and RBI are down, while the SB are up, significantly, which I really won’t talk about much since I don’t have a good explanation for it.  After stealing just 11 last season he already has 27 in ’08.  He had never even shown the potential for this type of year, with a career high of 16 in the minor leagues.  Who knows what he may do next season, but somewhere in the middle (around 17-18) is a pretty good guess.

Injuries to the rest of the offense could help to explain the decrease in RBI, though that’s really not enough of an excuse for me.  He drove in 137 last season, but this year does not appear primed to eclipse 100.  That is a very significant drop-off.

Granted, he was on the 15-day DL earlier this season with a strained hamstring, so getting to the same type of numbers he did in ’07 was pretty much impossible.  Still, the decline is just too great just to attribute to that.

His batting average with runners in scoring position this season is at .293, going 39-133, driving in 57 runs.  Those certainly are not terrible numbers.  In 2007, he hit .333 with RISP and drove in 94 RBI, so the decrease is there right off the bat.  Looking at it even deeper, last season he had 192 AB with RISP, so not only did he have more production, he had significantly more opportunities.  Less production, no matter how much less, plus less opportunity is always going to equal lower numbers.

He has also been extremely more productive playing in the friendly confines of Coors Field, though the numbers are amazingly down from a year ago.  Let’s take a look at a comparison:

  • 2007: 327 AB, .376, 25 HR, 82 RBI, 67 R
  • 2008: 269 AB, .346, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 60 R

Obviously, the season is not over yet, so the comparison is not quite accurate, but there is no doubt that he is going to finish off with numbers lower then he did in ’07.  The injury, I’m sure, plays a part in it, but again that’s just enough of an excuse for me.  Holliday is one of the best hitters in all of baseball and needs to be producing at a much better clip.

So, now let’s take this comparison on the road, but we are going to go back 3 years:

  • 2006: 307 AB, .280, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 49 R
  • 2007: 309 AB, .301, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 53 R
  • 2008: 244 AB, .311, 10 HR, 25 RBI, 42 R

Surprisingly, he has actually been improving on his average over the past 3 years away from Coors, while the power has been pretty consistent.  Yes, the RBI are dramatically down, but we’ve already discussed that one.

All those numbers are fine and dandy, but the biggest question surrounding Holliday is if he will be calling Coors Field home again in 2009.  Obviously, just by looking at the home/road splits, there is no doubt that his value would be dramatically affected if he is moved.  Could he still be a 20/20 player?  Yes, considering if you project out his road numbers he would reach around 20-25 HR a year.

The thing is, the difference between 25 HR and 35 HR is dramatic, to say the least.  I don’t want to call him strictly a product of Coors Field, because I don’t believe that, but there’s no denying that playing in Colorado has definitely helped his production.

If he is traded in the offseason, I have to say that there is no way I take him in the first round, more likely a mid- to late-second round pick.  It’s not that I don’t think he’s going to be productive, but there is just way too much of a risk involved in taking him so early.

If he is still in Colorado, which I am anticipating, I think that he has to go at the end of the first round once again.  He’s just proven to be too good of a hitter, and despite a down season this year, I would expect him to fully rebound come ’09.  He’s just too good and the opportunities are going to be there for him to succeed batting in the middle of that batting order.

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