Gammons’ Convincing Case for Holliday
ESPN stalwart and baseball god Peter Gammons always has his fair share of opinions, and usually he backs them up with his encyclopedic knowledge of the game and impeccable research skills. And he is usually not hesitant to defend players he believes are underrated or lack sufficient respect from fans and pundits. Oakland’s Matt Holliday is one such case in Gammons’ blog entry from Saturday, in which he boldly claims in the headline that Holliday’s move to Oakland was best for him.
Some might argue he would have been better off with one more year hitting in Coors Field for 81 games in his contract year. His home/road splits, as they are for just about anyone who plays for the Rockies, are tremendously disparate. But Holliday is still close to a .300 hitter away from Coors, and he has had to face a lot of good pitching in recent years from the NL West (Webb, Haren, Lincecum to name a few). Holliday has a nice fluid swing that generates insane opposite-field power when necessary, and he shouldn’t have much of a problem hitting his fair share in Oakland. And don’t forget that he gets to play some games in hitter’s parks like Fenway, Camden Yards, U.S. Cellular and Yankee Stadium, the latter for which his swing is tailor-made. It’s pretty unreasonable to group him with guys like Dante Bichette and Ellis Burks who were pure power hitter that had obvious career spikes when they were in Colorado. Holliday’s ceiling is still as a .300 – 30 – 100 hitter.
Because of the huge jump in foul territory Holliday now has to deal with, his average should definitely drop a bit from where he was in Colorado. But the pitchers he needs to face within his division are significantly worse than the ones he needed to face in Colorado, with John Lackey and Felix Hernandez probably the two best. But overall, the pitching is horrid in the AL West with Texas lacking anyone with an ERA under 4.50 as always and Seattle having little depth beyond Hernandez, Erik Bedard and Brandon Morrow. It’s not quite the same as facing at least three staff aces multiple times.
Gammons and Buster Onley believe the Red Sox, Yankees and Angels to be the top (and possibly only) suitors for Holliday, a Scott Boras client, next fall. The Angels make the most sense with their glaring need of an impact bat after losing Mark Teixeira to New York and possibly losing Vladimir Guerrero after 2009 as well. Whatever the case, Holliday is motivated to prove tons of people wrong. So in conclusion, I agree with Mr. Gammons. If Holliday hits .290 and goes 27 – 105 in Oakland, he’ll get more money than he ever could have hitting .320 – 35 – 125 in the thin Denver air.
Here’s a nice highlight of Holliday, perhaps the highlight of his career, as he scores the game-winning run in the 2007 one-game playoff with San Diego to win the NL Wild Card.
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