Why Matt Holliday is about to explode

By Stephen Nations

As we slowly approach the official beginning of summer, there are a few constants you can expect to happen in St. Louis. The VP fair, a sweltering heat wave, and rock concert-esque crowds out in front of Ted Drewe's are all on that list.

You could probably add Matt Holliday crushing baseballs on to that list at this point too.

As the calendar turns to June, history tells us we're going to see a different Holliday for the next two-and-a-half months than the one we saw for the first two. That's good news for Cardinals fans, who have been teased by Holliday's relatively slow start and lack of power this season.

Holliday is currently carrying a .756 OPS-a far cry from his career number of .912-but has been starting to heat up, as he often does at this time of year. In his last seven games, Holliday now has ten hits, three RBI, a double, and a home run. His career June average sits at .323, which is accompanied by 28 home runs and a .919 OPS. While Holliday has a slightly higher OPS in July, his June BAbip of .372 is off the charts and tells us that Holliday starts making his best contact when the weather heats up in June. His power, which has been lacking early on, seems to be a menial issue when looking at Holliday's tendencies in 2014 versus the rest of his career. Holliday's line drive rate is about 2% lower than his career average. His flyball rate is 3% lower than his career average, and his groundball rate is up about 5%. There's nothing there that you could call more than a standard deviation for any player.

However, there is one very telling statistic to Holliday's tendencies this year, and that is FB per HR. Over his career, about 16% of the flyballs Holliday has hit have left the park. This season, he has seen just over 5% of his flyballs leave the yard.

Is this a function of a player just losing some power as he gets into his mid-30's? Is it a fluke? Does it mean anything? The jury is still out, but Holliday should be able to stay productive longer than most power hitters, due to the fact that he is unique in that his power and spray chart is all over the field. Many power hitters are pull hitters and as they get older, they compensate by starting their bat sooner in order to get around on balls and be able to pull them in to the stands. The result is an increase in strikeouts and a decrease in batting average in order to keep the power numbers consistent. Holliday won't have this problem due to his ability to hit the ball with authority everywhere (not just straight-away-leftfield) and should be able to maintain good numbers throughout the life of his contract.

Holliday's powerless start is just a mirage. The numbers tell us that he hasn't changed as a hitter, and when his traditional June surge kicks off, I expect we will see Holliday start to carry this offense just like he's paid to do.

Stephen Nations is an aspiring sports and Cardinals columnist. He will be contributing his commentary to KSDK.com during the 2014 season. You can follow him on twitter at



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