By Thom Henninger
Matt Holliday is returning to the National League, as the St. Louis Cardinals have reportedly traded three prospects, including highly regarded third baseman Brett Wallace, for the veteran outfielder.
Early reports are speculating that Holliday will move into the cleanup spot in St. Louis, and one suggested the newest Cardinal will provide Albert Pujols the best lineup protection he’s had since arriving in St. Louis.
Sure, Holliday is a .315 career hitter and delivered more than 30 homers and 100 RBIs in both 2006 and 2007. And yes, he’s hitting .338 and slugging .574 with 14 RBIs in 18 July contests — perhaps a sign of better things to come — but it’s not likely he’ll deliver the kind of numbers he generated in his best years in Denver.
Although Holliday may benefit from a return to the National League, and show some renewed spark by jumping into a pennant race, it’s worth noting that the former Rockie isn’t returning to Denver.
Like many of his former teammates, Holliday was a far more productive hitter at Coors Field than on the road. In light of his road performance in his five seasons with Colorado, Holliday’s performance in Oakland is about what the Cardinals — or any team looking to sign him long-term after the season — can expect.
Matt Holliday, Oakland Numbers vs. 2004-08 Road Numbers
(HR & RBIs are averages per 162 games)
|With Oak 2009||.286/.378/.454||19||94|
|On Road 2004-08||.280/.348/.455||21||84|
That’s not to say Holliday won’t provide run production in St. Louis, but expectations should be realistic. It’s conceivable the right-handed hitter will have a solid second half in his new surroundings, but it’s at least as likely that the Cardinals overpaid for Holliday — and another team will do it again over the winter.