St. Louis Cardinals: Five questions ahead of Spring Training
By Josh Brown
2. Can Matt Holliday bounce back?
Last season was a rough one for outfielder Matt Holliday. Plagued by quad injuries, the left fielder played in just 73 games last season for St. Louis.
Still, Holliday has been one of the most durable and reliable players in the MLB. Don’t believe me? Last season was the first in his 12-year career that Holliday played in less than 121 games. With the Cardinals, the 36-year old has averaged right under 135 games played a year. Since coming over to St. Louis in 2009, Holliday has averaged about 20 homers and 83 RBI a season for the Redbirds. Landon Clapp wrote back in January that Holliday is key to revitalizing the Cardinals offense in 2016, and I absolutely agree.
The Cardinals finished 24th in runs scored and 23rd in slugging last season. Holliday holds a career .519 slugging percentage. The Cardinals’ offense needs that kind of stability and production from their left fielder, and I believe he will provide it once again in 2016. But it is a question of health. Holliday has never dealt with injuries that have sidelined him for so long before.
Spring Training should provide a good look at if Holliday truly has returned to health and can provide a bounce back season. I’d imagine he will get a decent amount of at bats this spring to get game-ready and back in the groove. The fact that Holliday has been working out since December has to bode well for the Cardinals, too.
As I wrote last week, Holliday has continued working out at first base, and last season’s injuries could play a role in a decision to move him to a less physically demanding position, at least when it comes to chasing down balls in the outfield. While those first base workouts mean virtually nothing right now, it could provide an interesting plot twist into Holliday’s comeback campaign. We’ll see how it plays out.
If the quad issues don’t resurface in 2016, I believe Holliday will put together a solid season offensively. He has to. The 36-year old, much like teammate Adam Wainwright, is motivated and will be looking to prove critics wrong in 2016. FanGraphs projects Holliday at 17 homers, 77 RBI with a .279 BA and a .448 slugging percentage. I believe Holliday hits 20 plus homers with 95 plus RBI and has a batting average closer to .300 while slugging about .490 in 2016. Who wouldn’t take those numbers?
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