What's not to like about Matt Holliday?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on September 29, 2013 

Maybe Cardinals fans are jaded by the success of their club playing in three World Series in the last decade.

Or maybe they're spoiled by the fact that they have three legitimate National League Most Valuable Player candidates on their 2013 roster. 

Whether it's for that reason or some other one I have overlooked, I just don't get all the crabbiness about Matt Holliday's "disappointing season."

Holliday hit the .300 mark on Saturday giving him a good shot at his sixth season of .300 or better in 10 MLB campaigns. He topped the 20 homer mark which gives him nine years in a row and he's got an extremely respectable 94 RBIs. Holliday's career numbers prove he is easily one of the top 10 hitters in the National League over the last decade.

So what's not to love? The fact that he's only fourth in batting average on a team with three guys who hit .315 or better? That he's only second in home runs on a team that saw a huge power decline in 2013? 

Holliday got off to a bit of a slow start that skewed his batting average. And he hit third on a team that put a lot of runners on base so, naturally, he hit into a lot of double plays. But let's not forget that he's hit .348 with nine home runs since the All-Star Game. Since the beginning of September when the Redbirds were in second place and threatening to fall to third, he's carried the team on his back with a .378 batting average and a .485 on base percentage as top RBI man Allen Craig sat on the bench with an injury.

Still don't believe Holliday is a key cog in the Cardinals offense? Holliday's season on base percentage is a remarkable .389, second on the club only to Matt Carpenter's .394. His .490 slugging percentage is second only to Carlos Beltran's .493. Now I hear all the time that batting average is a bad statistic and that on base plus slugging percentage is where you really see what kid of hitter you have on your hands. If that's your measure, Holliday was the best hitter to wear the Birds on Bat in 2013. His OPS average is .879, just ahead of Carpenter's .878. Yadier Molina's OPS is .836. Beltran has an .833 OPS. Craig's OPS is .830.

Think Holliday strikes out too much. He had 86 whiffs with 69 walks going into the last game of the season. Believe it or not, that was the second-lowest total of all Cardinals starters -- Molina has 55 strikeouts, the only guy besides Holliday to not threaten the century mark. Oh, but that's because Holliday had less plate appearances, right? Wrong.

Holliday had 602 plate appearances as of Sunday morning. Craig had 563 plate appearances and 100 strikeouts. Freese has whiffed 106 times in 543 plate appearances. Beltran struck out 98 times in 598 plate appearances.

Holliday might not be the best guy in the outfield with the glove. But he's at least average and how many top sluggers -- and Holliday's statistics prove he is still one of the top sluggers in baseball -- can claim better than that? He's not exactly Adam Dunn with the glove. Shane Robinson could out-field Holliday all day. But he can't touch Holliday's offense. To get a big boy who can hit doubles all over the ballpark you might have to sacrifice a little bit of mobility and speed.

Maybe Holliday gets grief because some people think he ran off Albert Pujols. Maybe it's because of his big contract (which doesn't seem that outrageous in a world where Hunter Pence gets a $90 million, five year deal.) But I hope Holliday has a huge post season and carries the Cardinals to another championship so he finally gets the respect he deserves. Or at least so he shuts up the complainers.

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