Despite not being Albert Pujols or Mike Napoli, Matt Holliday’s fingerprints are all over the 2011 World Series. His crucial throw in Game 3 snuffed out a potential Rangers rally then a blown call on a Holliday fielder’s choice provided the opportunity for the Cardinals to blow the game wide open.
After coming back strong from injury in the League Championship Series, Holliday`s World Series isn’t going as swimmingly. Injuries and an aggressive approach by the Rangers have kept one of the National League’s best players at bay through four games.
Matt Holliday is really good. Did I mention that yet? His 5 fWAR season in only 120 games suggests as much, as does his 40 career WAR in 8 seasons. Not much was made of his very large contract extension because, well, Holliday is so good.
Ordinarily Holliday is a player who fairs as well against right-handed pitching as he does left. The Rangers pitching staff has kept the Cardinals crucial clean up hitter at bay, holding him to a mere two hits and three walks in eighteen plate appearances.
The walks have come against right-handed pitching but both hits came off southpaws. How have the Rangers contained the Cardinals outfielder? By pounding him up with hard stuff and keeping the soft stuff away. Behold a heat map, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info blog, showing Holliday’s World Series contact rates against right-handed pitchers.
The only pitches Holliday managed to put into play are in a spot which prevents him from doing anything with them. Does Holliday’s lingering finger injury prevent him from generating the required batspeed to touch decent fastballs?
When he does put the ball into play, the Rangers pitchers has a whole have done well to keep him on the ground in the World Series. Not many ground balls leave the park and Matt Holliday has burned eight worms so far in the Fall Classic.
Is this predictive of Matt Holliday’s performance for the rest of the series? Of course not! But the Cardinals offense has only posted four runs outside of Saturday’s Pujols-led bloodbath. The Cardinals lineup certainly needs more production from its second-best player if they hope to hold off the Rangers and claim an unexpected World Series title.