St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Holliday’s Place in the Lineup
Since Matt Holliday began his stint with the St. Louis Cardinals, he’s been the steadfast #3 hitter. It was silly to put him anywhere else; Holliday was a power hitter who could be relied upon to drive the ball out of the park and drive guys in, but is the 3-spot still where he belongs?
Keep in mind that this entire scenario is based in a hypothetical world, in which Mike Matheny stops treating him like the biggest power guy on the team. Since this is unlikely to happen, so too is this situation, but it’s worth discussing all the same.
Whether you blame it on quad injuries or simply the decrease in power that comes with age, Holliday may not be the 20-30 home run and 100 RBI guy he once was. Last season, before going down for the year, he had only 4 dingers in 229 at-bats.
That’s not to say 2015 was a wash for the slugger; despite the decline in power, Holliday was good for a .394 on-base percentage. He was on the bases nearly 40% of the time he came to the plate; if he had kept up at that clip, it would have been good for 6th in the entire Majors.
But what does this have to do with where he hits?
More from St Louis Cardinals News
- Cardinals: Here is Willson Contreras’ first message for St. Louis fans
- How do the St. Louis Cardinals stack up with Willson Contreras?
- Cardinals: The insane asking price the Athletics had for Sean Murphy
- St. Louis Cardinals: Ask me anything with Josh Jacobs – 12/8
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign catcher Willson Contreras
In the past few years, baseball has seen a gradual shift away from speed as the most important trait in top-of-the-lineup hitters, and instead focused on on-base percentage. This is one reason why Matt Carpenter has been viewed as one of the best leadoff guys in the past 3 years – his ability to get on base, whether it be through a walk or a double, has been extraordinarily consistent.
However, after Carpenter’s team-leading 28 home runs last year, it begs the question–how can the team move him to a spot in which he can possibly produce more runs? On a team where offense is a concern, particularly with unclogging the bases, a guy like Carpenter that can consistently drive guys in is invaluable.
Naturally, this is ignoring the argument that he “can’t hit anywhere but leadoff” – it’s a theory that I don’t buy, and shouldn’t be used as evidence to reject a theory that could produce more runs.
When it comes to the top-of-the-lineup discussion for the Cards, the other names that come up are Kolten Wong and Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty has cemented his position as the #2 hitter, which is where he belongs; he gets on base consistently, and has some nice pop at the top of the lineup, and could technically slot into leadoff or even the #3 spot and still be productive.
Wong, however, hasn’t found his stride as a hitter – he’s currently stuck in somewhere in between “power hitter” and “contact hitter”; if he chooses the latter, we could see him towards the top of the lineup.
Call to the Pen
With the groundwork and analysis laid out, let’s create two hypotheticals: one in which Holliday hits leadoff, and one where he hits second.
Holliday hitting leadoff is a long shot, as in, a Stanton-level long shot. But is it completely irrational? A lineup with Holliday leading off would likely look something like:
and so on. With two guys at the top that can hit at a .300 clip followed by a guy that has shown that he’s got power, there’s a possibility for some serious run production. If he were to hit second, a situation with a much-increased chance of actually happening, there’s two possibilities, although one depends on Kolten Wong’s performance.
- Wong (if he begins to make contact consistently)
Next: Stop the Moss/Adams Experiment
These are just two sample lineups; if there was any willingness to bat Holliday anywhere but third, tons of doors open, many of them leading to more run production, in a St. Louis Cardinals team that has a constant thirst for offense. Just something to think about.