The St. Louis Cardinals‘ Matt Holliday is a model of professionalism and consistency. If you were designing a computer program and decided you wanted to create a perfect personality for a virtual baseball player, Holliday may be your template. Known for being a mentor to younger players throughout the organization he is a plus on the field and in the locker room. Holliday however, is not immune to aging, and as he enters his mid 30s there is talk of decline. A closer look at early season advanced statistics reveals a more optimistic outlook.
Though Holliday is only batting .235, his fly ball percentage is actually nearly five points higher than last season and not out of his historical norms by any means. Problematically, however, his line drive rate is down nearly 85 percent. This taken together seems to indicate a prolonged power slump, though not necessarily a lack of bat speed. What we see too on closer inspection is an increase in walk rate and strikeout rate, giving off the indication that he may be being too patient at the plate.
Holliday is a hitter with power, at times prodigious, who when he heats up can carry a club to great heights. So far there is little to indicate the typical statistics consistent with a declining player. More likely is that at the beginning of the season he is just looking to find some timing at the plate as he is popping up more and driving the ball less. Pop-ups, however, are not usually a result of a late bat as much as a back shoulder dip. This usually resolves itself as the season wears on. It is still wise to go ahead and pencil him in for his usual .290-300ish BA, 25-30 homers and 90 plus RBI.