Matt Holliday: Perpetually Underappreciated

Aug 5, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (7) hits a double against the Milwaukee Brewers during the 3rd inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

The other day, I tweeted the following thought: "Matt Holliday is such an insanely/consistently great hitter. Think the most amazing part is that he hits righties just as good as lefties." Almost immediately, a couple of Red Sox bloggers -- @Red_SoxThoughts and @Chip_Buck (both of whom I highly recommend that you follow) -- responded that Holliday's name doesn't come up nearly enough in discussions about the league's best hitters. And I think that's absolutely true. For whatever reason (I have one theory, which I'll delve into in a second), Holliday doesn't get his proper due.

I have one guess as to why that's the case: I think Holliday is unfairly docked by the reverse Coors effect. Because of the way Coors Field used to play before installation of the humidor in 2002, people tend to exaggerate the impact that it has in inflating a given player's numbers. Now, Coors is still a hitter's paradise -- arguably, in fact, the most hitter-friendly park in baseball. But it's definitely not what it was in the pre-humidor era.

Holliday, of course, played the first five seasons of his career in a Rockies uniform, hitting .319/.386/.552 in roughly 3000 plate appearances over that span. There's no question that he benefited from his home park, as his .451 home wOBA over that span was the best mark in the majors. But he wasn't just a Coors Field product: his park-adjusted numbers -- 131 OPS+ and 134 wRC+ -- certainly reflect that.

Following the 2008 season, Holliday was traded to the Oakland A's. And, as if to validate the Coors Field narrative, Holliday hit an unremarkable .286/.378/.454 in 400 plate appearances while playing half his games in the not-so-hitter-friendly confines of the Coliseum.

Holliday would be sent to St. Louis later that season, where he's done nothing but mash since then. In 1900+ plate appearances with the Cardinals over the past three and a half seasons, Holliday has hit .316/.397/.545, good for a 155 wRC+.

A few Holliday figures:

So here's to Holliday, one of the most underappreciated talents in all of baseball. Not only has he mashed over his career, but he's done so with remarkable consistency.

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