Matt Holliday

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Matt Holliday
Mattholiday2013pictureprofile.jpg
Holliday with the Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 7
Left fielder
Born: (1980-01-15) January 15, 1980 (age 34)
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 2004 for the Colorado Rockies
Career statistics
(through 2014 season)
Batting average .308
Hits 1,837
Home runs 271
Runs batted in 1,056
Slugging percentage .523
Runs 1,032
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Matthew Thomas Holliday (born January 15, 1980) is an American professional baseball left fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Colorado Rockies selected him in the seventh round of the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft out of Stillwater High School in Oklahoma.[1] Holliday made his major league debut with the Rockies in 2004, where he played until being traded to the Oakland Athletics after the 2008 season. He played part of the 2009 season for Oakland and was traded to the Cardinals that year. He re-signed with the Cardinals after becoming a free agent and is under contract through 2017.

Holliday is a six-time All-Star selection and a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner who is the owner of numerous accomplishments. In 2006, he became the 19th player ever to reach 195 hits, 30 home runs, 45 doubles, 115 runs and 110 RBI in one season. The next season, he won his first batting title as he became the 13th player since 1962 to collect 200 hits and 50 doubles in a season and finished runner-up in the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player Award (MVP).[2] He won the NL Championship Series MVP while helping lead the Rockies to their first-ever NL pennant and World Series appearance.[3] In his career, Holliday has batted over .300 in seven different seasons.

Early life[edit]

Matt Holliday was born and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma. With easy athletic skill, he showed marked talent in baseball, football and basketball as a youth.[4] He was also physically larger than most of his friends, so when they played games, they often modified the rules to offset his size advantage. In football, Holliday was required to play quarterback for both teams. In baseball, every three of his home runs were credited as one.[5] He spent much of his free time with his father, Tom Holliday, and brother, Josh, at the Oklahoma State University (OSU) baseball field and training complex, where his father was a coach. There, the Holliday boys learned about the fundamentals of the sport, voluntarily trained and practiced, and watched future major leaguers such as Robin Ventura play and develop. In spite of the extensive time spent around the sport of baseball, Tom Holliday abstained from attempting to influence his sons on which sport or sports to concentrate.[4][6]

At Stillwater High School, Holliday played both baseball and football. He was a quarterback while playing football. As a senior, he earned All-American honors in football and baseball and also earned his region's Gatorade Player of the Year award in both sports. He also competed for the 1997 USA Junior National Team. In his next-to-last football game for Stillwater, he helped bring the Pioneers back from a 42–21 deficit against Tulsa Union by throwing three touchdowns (TD) in the final six minutes of the game for a 43–42 score. However, his high school football career ended with a 63–0 loss to Jenks in the state semifinal contest. His career passing totals included 6,211 yards and 68 TD. His 35 TD passes as a junior set a then-11 man state record.[7] He garnered so much attention as a National Football League (NFL) prospect that former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson once forecasted to Tom Holliday that his son "couldn't miss."[6] He was also rated the third-best quarterback prospect in the nation after graduating from Stillwater in 1998.[8]

Numerous connections throughout college and professional baseball span Holliday's family ties. His father, Tom Holliday, is the pitching coach for the Tigers of Auburn University, and former baseball head coach of OSU.[9] Former Colorado Rockies scout, Dave Holliday, is an uncle.[10] His older brother, Josh, is currently the head baseball coach at OSU, and a former minor league player in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.[11] A cousin, Heath Holliday, has also played baseball as a catcher for OSU.[12]

Draft and minor leagues (1998–2004)[edit]

With seemingly ceaseless football recruiting overtures from colleges and universities all over the country – including OSU – Holliday instead chose professional baseball after graduating high school. The Rockies selected him in the seventh round of the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft as a third baseman.[13] Widespread concerns that he would choose football over baseball prevented him from being drafted earlier since he had already committed to OSU on paper to play football. However, his father has stated that he understood that most likely, his son would ultimately choose baseball.[6] Due in part for the attention for his skills as a quarterback, scouting director Pat Daugherty signed him for an above-slot $840,000.[14] That was more money than what was paid to any other player in that round.[1]

In his inaugural professional season, Holliday helped drive the Arizona League Rockies to a 42–14 record and win the league championship. He played 32 games and assembled 40 hits (H) in 117 at bats (AB) for a .342 batting average (AVG). He collected four doubles (2B), a triple (3B), five home runs (HR) and 23 runs batted in (RBI); his HR total placed third in the league.[15] He played 1999 for the Asheville Tourists, batting .264 with 76 runs scored and 16 HR. With the bases loaded, he was 3-for-9 with one grand slam and 11 RBI. At third base, Holliday turned in an .871 fielding percentage and 57 putouts (PO).[16]

Holliday played for Salem in 2000 and 2001. In July, he batted .327 with ten doubles, a triple, a homer and 29 RBI. On July 4, he hit his only grand slam of the season. For the season, he took 510 turns at the plate, successfully collected 126 hits, 28 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, and drove in 72 runs. Overall, he batted .274 with a .335 OBP and .389 OBP. He was at his top performance when batting sixth in the line up, where he collected 28 hits in 71 AB for a .394 AVG with seven doubles, three homers and 19 RBI. In the field, he spent 112 of the 123 games in which he saw action at third base. He was charged with 32 errors in 300 total chances for a fielding percentage of .893. However, he turned 13 double plays.[17]

In 2001, the Rockies moved Holliday to the outfield.[18] He was named the Carolina League Player of the Month for June, batting .324 with seven multi-hit games, three 2B, seven HR, and 22 RBI. His season batting average on the road at .322, was .088 points higher than his home average of .234. While batting with runners in scoring position (RISP), he amassed 29 hits in 85 at-bats for a .341 batting average, driving home 40. He played 30 errorless games as the left fielder and 42 as designated hitter. However, Holliday's season was cut short after 72 games with elbow surgery in July.[19]

The Rockies promoted Holliday to the Carolina Mudcats of the AA Southern League (SL) for 2002. In a five-week stretch from May 30 to July 4, he batted .327 and was named a mid-season All-Star. He was named the league's Hitter of the Week on June 27, after collecting nine hits in 24 AB with one home run and eight RBI. He won the same award on July 18, after scoring seven runs and driving in 10, and a career-best six RBI against Birmingham on July 14. He twice mustered a season-high four hits on against Tennessee, on June 7 and July 21. Holliday ended the season with 128 hits in 463 AB, 10 HR, and 64 RBI. His .276 batting average was his fourth consecutive increase. His 79 runs scored ranked fifth in the SL and 16 steals set a minor league career-high and led the club. In Carolina's playoff series against the Jacksonville Suns, he batted .235 with two RBI. [20] He played for the Mesa Solar Sox of the off-season Arizona Fall League (AFL) in 2002 and 2003, batting .316 with four home runs, 21 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 35 total AFL games.[21]

Holliday remained at the AA level for the 2003 season, this time as the everyday left fielder for the Tulsa Drillers of the Texas League. Beginning June 1, he strung together 19 consecutive games reaching base, including a 13-game hitting streak that lasted from June 6–23. He endured a mid-season power outage where homered just once in 54 games from May 12 to July 10. Holliday finished the season with a .253 AVG, 28 doubles, 72 RBI, 132 hits, 45 extra-base hits and 206 and total bases (206). His 15 outfield assists tied for second in the league. With Mesa in the AFL following the regular season, he batted .333 with three HR and earned a spot on the USA Baseball team in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Panama. They were eliminated from advancing to the 2004 Summer Olympics.[22]

Major league career (2004–present)[edit]

Colorado Rockies (2004–08)[edit]

2004–05[edit]

Holliday was originally scheduled to spend much of 2004 with the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. However, after injuries to outfielders Preston Wilson and Larry Walker, his opportunity in the Major Leagues arrived after just six games with Colorado Springs. He made his major league debut in left field on April 16, 2004, immediately becoming a mainstay at the position.[23] His debut was at Busch Memorial Stadium against one of his future teams, the St. Louis Cardinals, and he went hitless in three at-bats.[24] After starting 0–7, he stroked 12 hits in his next 19 AB for a .632 batting average with three 2B and two HR. He recorded his first career hit (a single) and, then, RBI against the Cardinals' Woody Williams two days after his MLB debut, doubling in Kit Pellow.[25] Holliday's first career home run came against José Lima of the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 22. Five days later, he, Jeromy Burnitz, and Charles Johnson collaborated for back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Florida Marlins, the sixth such occasion in franchise history. Holliday batted a robust .375 for the month of April but slumped to .242 in May.[23]

Holliday's first career multi-HR game came against Cincinnati on May 18. Both home runs came as part of back-to-back HR events with Burnitz, making them the first teammates in franchise history to hit back-to-back HR twice in the same game, and the first teammate duo to do so since Mike Cameron and Bret Boone of Seattle Mariners in 2002. His first MLB grand slam came against Tampa Bay on June 12, immediately tying a game in which the Rockies had a 5–1 deficit. For the month of June, he hit .357.[23] The Rockies traded Walker to the Cardinals in August, clearing more playing opportunities for Holliday and further cementing his status as their left fielder of the future.[26] Holliday's season was cut short on September 12 when he sprained his elbow diving for a ball against San Diego. His final batting line included a .290 AVG in 121 games, with 31 2B, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 48 extra-base hits, 349 OBP, 65 runs scored, .488 SLG and 195 total bases. He finished in the top five among NL rookies in each of those categories. After the season, Holliday was named to both Baseball America's All-Rookie Team and Topps' Major League Rookie All-Star Team. He finished fifth in the Rookie of the Year balloting.[23]

Holliday's batting improve from his rookie season in 2005 and also eclipsed his minor league output. In his first 18 games, he produced 24 hits in 74 AB, with two doubles, three triples, and 13 RBI. Commencing with a four-hit game against Diamondbacks on May 13, he amassed 30 hits in 90 AB, batting .333, along with four HR and nine RBI before being placed on the disabled list. That streak raised his batting average from .255 to .291. After 119 at bats into the season, Holliday hit his first home run against Noah Lowry of the Giants on May 17. He compiled a nine-game hit streak that lasted from May 27 to June 4, in which he batted .441. He knocked his second career multi-homer game – and first of the season – against the Cardinals on June 2, with three hits in three at-bats – two homers and a double. It was the first game of his career with three extra base hits.[27]

A fractured right pinky finger sent Holliday to the disabled list (DL) for the first time in his MLB career from June 9 to July 18. After his return, Holliday began hitting with a fervor. From July 20 through the end of year, he hit .323 by hitting safely 90 times in 279 AB with 15 home runs and 64 RBI. From July 20–30, his stretch of 19 hits in 43 AB (.442) with four HR and 10 RBI raised his batting average from .285 to .313. He homered twice on July 30 against Philadelphia, his second multi-homer game on the season and third career. From July 25 to July 31, he hit .444 with three HR, eight RBI and an .852 slugging percentage. For that performance, Holliday was named the NL Player of the Week for the first time.[27]

In September, he led the NL with 32 RBI, which also set a Rockies record for that month. From September 11–21, he hit in ten straight games, batting .410. On September 20 against the Padres, he hit two home runs and tied a Rockies' single-game record with eight RBI in a 20–1 blowout. It was the second-highest single-game RBI total in the Major Leagues in 2005, topped only by the 10-RBI performance New York Yankees' third baseman Alex Rodriguez on April 26. Holliday ended the season hitting in seven straight games, including 12 hits in 32 AB, to raise his batting average .302 to .307.[27]

After the All-Star break, Holliday hit 14 home runs, which led the Rockies' second half, and drove in 64 runs, second in the NL to Chase Utley's 65. Holliday totaled 125 games in 2005 and improved in nearly all offensive categories from the his rookie year. Overall, he hit .307 with 147 hits, 19 home runs, 87 RBI, 68 runs, 14 stolen bases, 242 total bases, 505 SLG and .361 OBP.[28] His batting average placed eighth in the NL. He batted .391 in 141 AB with runners in scoring position (RISP), including .339 (21 hits in 62 AB) with two outs. He led the team in stolen bases, including two of Colorado's four times stealing third. In the outfield, he ad a .972 (7 e/248 tc) fielding percentage as his 7 errors were T3rd-most among NL outfielders[27]

2006[edit]

Holliday's emergence as one of the premier power hitters in the National League occurred in the 2006 season. Trailing 10–4 in the ninth inning on April 14 against the Phillies, he hit a three-run double off Julio Santana to cut the lead to 10–7. However, the Rockies scored just once more in defeat.[29] The next game, also against Philadelphia, he had a season-high five RBI. His walk-off, two-out RBI single in 11th inning against the Padres on April 18 delivered a 3–2 Rockies win. Despite batting just .255 through May 1, he had 24 RBI in 25 games. In his next 50 games through June 27, Holliday collected 77 hits in 188 at-bats for a .410 average that raised his season mark to .354.[30]

From May 1 until the end of the season – a span of 131 games – he collected 169 hits for a .339 batting average, the fourth-highest in the major leagues. In a span of seven games from May 2–8, Holliday garnered his only multi-homer games of the season. The first came against the Atlanta Braves and the second against the Cardinals. In his first series at the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis from May 8–10, Holliday homered three times while collecting seven hits in 12 at bats. For the month of May, he batted .400 with 38 hits in 95 at bats, nine doubles, eight HR, and 15 RBI.[30]

An All-Star selection for the first time in his career, Holliday was voted to the game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh by fellow players and coaches. His batting numbers at the time included a .339 batting with 16 home runs and 56 RBI on July 9.[31] In the game, Holliday played right field for the first time as a major leaguer and went hitless in three at bats. From June 28 through July 27 as he batted just .219; his only three-game hitless streak occurred between July 19–22. From August 8–22, his 11-game hitting streak established a career high. On August 9 against the Dodgers, he became one of only 11 MLB players to steal home in 2006, part of a double steal. He left the August 14 game against Arizona after a Claudio Vargas pitch hit his wrist, withholding him from the final three games of that series.[30]

On September 19, Holliday hit the longest home run of the year in MLB against Matt Cain of the Giants. While the official distance was 443 feet (135 m), HitTracker estimated it at 496 feet (151 m).[32] His grand slam and triple five days later against the Braves assisted the Rockies' comeback from a 7–0 deficit to a 9–8 final victory.[33]

In 155 total games, Holliday batted .326 with 196 hits, 34 home runs, 114 RBIs, 119 runs, 10 stolen bases and 353 total bases. He became just the 19th player ever to meet or exceed the following totals in one season: 195 hits, 30 home runs, 45 doubles, 115 runs and 110 RBI. His slugging percentage was .586 while his on-base percentage was .387. He finished in the top five of the National League in batting average, hits, runs, extra base hits, total bases and slugging percentage. He led the Rockies in home runs, extra base hits, runs, total bases and multi-hit games. After the season, received his first Silver Slugger Award as an outfielder in recognition of his hitting during the regular season.[30]

2007[edit]

Holliday batting for the Colorado Rockies in 2007.

Continuing to evolve as a hitter, Holliday anchored the Rockies' lineup in 2007. National League players and coaches voted Holliday in to the play All-Star Game for the second straight season – and his second straight overall appearance – at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He received more votes (725) than any other player.[34] Also participating in the Home Run Derby, he took pitches from his brother, Josh.[34] He tied a career-high with four hits and homered against the San Diego Padres on July 25, as the Rockies won, 10–2.[35] Reaching base safely for the 36th consecutive game on September 1 against the Diamondbacks, that feat eclipsed a Rockies record shared by Larry Walker and Todd Helton, both with streaks of 35 games.[36]

Concluding the season in a flourish, Holliday's September totals included a .367 batting average (36 hits in 98 AB), 29 R, six doubles, 12 HR, and 30 RBI. His .796 slugging percentage and runs scored total paced the NL and both the HR and RBI totals ranked second. He also fashioned two multi-home run games, nine multi-RBI contents and ten multi-hit performances. MLB awarded him NL Player of the Month[37] while the Rockies won 13 of their 14 final scheduled games.[38] Further, his overall season performance garnered copious attention for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, along with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.[39]

The Rockies and Padres finished the scheduled portion of their regular seasons with identical 89–73 records, tying them for the NL wild card position. After MLB declared a one-game extension to the regular season to determine the wild-card winner, the Rockies hosted the Padres for the tie-breaker game.[40] Holliday scored the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning, although controversy arose on a close play as to whether he touched home plate while catcher Michael Barrett attempted to block him. The ball and Holliday both arrived at home plate at the same time, but Barrett was unable to hold on to the ball. Thus, the Rockies entered the playoffs for the first time in Holliday's career.[41][42]

After collecting two hits in six at-bats in the tie-breaker game, Holliday won his first batting title with a career-best .340 batting average, ahead of the Braves' Chipper Jones at .337.[43] He played in 158 games and posted career-highs in other categories which also led the NL, including hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137), extra base hits (92) and total bases (386). Additionally, he placed third in runs scored (120, behind Rollins and Hanley Ramírez), slugging percentage (.607, behind Ryan Braun and Fielder) and OPS (1.012, behind Jones and Fielder). He also placed fourth in HR (36) and adjusted OPS (150). He reached a new career-high in walks with 63.[44]

Performing well both at home and on the road, Holliday batted .376 with a .722 slugging percentage and 25 HR at Coors Field. His road numbers included a .301 batting average, a .485 slugging percentage and 11 HR. He became just the fifth National Leaguer in the previous 59 years to lead the NL in both batting average and RBI.[45] He also became only the 13th major league player in the last 45 years to finish a season with at least 200 hits and 50 doubles.[46] Along with his impressive offensive numbers, Holliday established himself as a legitimate defender, as he had the second highest fielding percentage out of all MLB left fielders (.990). He committed only three errors in an MLB-high 306 total chances for left fielders.[47]

In the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Phillies, Holliday homered twice as the Rockies swept.[48][49][50][51] Colorado then advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) to face the Diamondbacks and swept Arizona in four games. Having won 21 of the previous 22 games, the NLCS sweep earned the Rockies their first-ever trip to the World Series.[3][52] After batting .333 with two home runs and four RBI, Holliday was named the NLCS MVP.[3] Between the first two rounds of the postseason, he batted .286 with four home runs and a .714 slugging percentage in seven games.[53]

The Rockies met the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Holliday remained strong offensively, collecting four hits in Game 2.[54] However, he also committed a crucial blunder with the Red Sox leading 2–1. After his fourth hit in the eighth inning off of closer Jonathan Papelbon, he immediately picked Holliday off first base for the third out, leaving Helton at the plate.[54] The Red Sox won by that same score. In spite of his Game 3 home run, the Red Sox went on to sweep the Rockies.[55][56]

Following the season, Holliday placed second in the MVP voting, with 336 points, compared to 363 points for Rollins.[2] It was the closest voting for NL MVP since Atlanta Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton beat out Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds by 15 points in 1991.[57] He was also selected as the Rockies' Player of the Year in 2007.[58]

On December 14, Stillwater High School retired Holliday's high school jersey number 24 in a ceremony. Businesses in Stillwater were asked to honor him that day by posting a "Welcome Home Matt Holliday" message on a marquee or window. The city counsel voted to change the name of the baseball field from Babcock Park to Matt Holliday Field and name the day "Matt Holliday, Stillwater's Major League Baseball Hero Day." Former Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry also declared the day "Matt Holliday Day" throughout the state.[59]

2008[edit]

On January 18, 2008, Holliday signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Rockies, covering his final two years of arbitration.[60] With both the team and player interested in working out an extension, the Rockies offered a four-year, $72 million extension, with a club option for a fifth year at $12 million. The team viewed the contract extension with the two years covering arbitration as a single deal worth approximately $107 million. However, Holliday and his agent, Scott Boras, saw it as an $84-million free agent contract undervalued compared to similar players. Therefore, contract talks stalled in spring training.[61]

On May 25, the Rockies placed Holliday on the 15-day DL due to a strained left hamstring that he suffered in a 9–2 home loss against the New York Mets the previous day.[62] Colorado activated him off the disabled list on June 10.[63] The Rockies posted the largest comeback in team history on July 4 against the Florida Marlins. After finding themselves down 13–4, Holliday provided two home runs, including a grand slam that cut the Marlins' lead to one run at 17–16. The Rockies eventually won, 18–17, finishing off a nine-run comeback.[64]

On July 6, Holliday was named an All-Star reserve for the third consecutive year.[65][66] However, due to an injury to Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who was voted in by fans as a starter, Holliday replaced him as one of the starters in the outfield.[67] During the All-Star Game, he played in right field and hit a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning, which was the first run of the game.[68]

Holliday played in fewer games (139) in 2008 than in his previous two seasons, due in part to spending time on the disabled list. Consequently, his numbers also dropped off, as he finished the season batting .321 with 173 hits, 25 home runs, 88 RBI, 107 runs, and 290 total bases. He did, however, end up winning his third consecutive Silver Slugger Award,[69] and had career highs in stolen bases (28) and on-base percentage (.409). His 28 stolen bases were the third-most among all MLB left fielders.[70] His .409 on-base percentage was the second-highest for MLB left fielders.[71]

Defensively, Holliday was first in zone rating (.900), fourth in fielding percentage (.991), fifth in total chances (252) and fifth in putouts (240) among all MLB left fielders. His total chances and putouts came in about 100 fewer innings than those players ahead of him.[72]

On November 12, 2008, the Rockies traded Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith, and outfielder Carlos González.[73] He began working with former A's and Cardinals player Mark McGwire as his hitting coach during the 2008–09 offseason.[74]

Oakland Athletics (2009)[edit]

After spending most of the off-season on the trading block with the Rockies, Holliday found himself back in the rumor mill during most of his Spring with the Athletics. After the Athletics failed to get off to a strong start, Holliday's name became the topic of trade rumors with several teams,[75] as it was unlikely the Athletics would have been able to re-sign him as a free agent after the 2009 season.

Holliday played in 93 games for the Oakland Athletics, where he hit .286 with 11 HR and 54 RBI. His totals were boosted in his final two weeks in Oakland with a .390 batting average, .422 On-base percentage, and a .756 slugging percentage.[76][77]

St. Louis Cardinals (2009–present)[edit]

DSC06063 Matt Holliday.jpg

2009–10[edit]

On July 24, 2009, the A's traded Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals for prospects Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Peterson.[78] The A's also included $1.5 million.[79] He represented a significant offensive upgrade. Prior to acquiring Holliday, Cardinals left fielders in 2009 hit just .212 with a .294 on-base percentage and a .342 slugging percentage. Upon his arrival in St. Louis, the Cardinals did not grant him his customary number 5 jersey due to it being worn by All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols. Instead, the club gave him the number 15, last worn by Jim Edmonds.[80]

Holliday's debut with the Cardinals included a four-hit game with an RBI and a stolen base, despite having to borrow a glove, batting gloves, bats and shoes from teammates since his equipment had not yet arrived in Philadelphia.

Holliday played in 63 games for St. Louis during 2009; hitting .353, with 13 HR and 55 RBI[77] on a team that won the National League Central and made the playoffs for the first time in three years. After Holliday's arrival in late July, the Cardinals went on a torrid streak. They went 20–6 in August and stretched their National League Central Division lead from one-half game on August 1 to ten games on September 1.[81]

Holliday and the Cardinals did not fare well in the 2009 postseason. He was 2 for 12 overall. However, he dropped a fly ball which would have tied the divisional playoff series 1–1 had he caught it. Instead, the Dodgers swept the Cardinals in the best-of-five series and the Cardinals' season was over.[81] He filed for free agency on November 5.[82]

On January 21, 2010, the Cardinals signed Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million deal. In honor of fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle, he switched his uniform number from 15 to 7. His contract, which ran through 2016 with a player option for an eighth year, automatically vested provided that he placed 10th or better in MVP balloting in 2016. The Cardinals could have otherwise bought out the 2017 option for $5 million if they did not pick it up. The contract also featured a full no-trade clause.[83][84] Further, $2 million was deferred without interest. Incentive awards included $50,000 each time for making the All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award. If he was named the regular season Most Valuable Player, it was worth a $200,000 bonus while he still could have earned $100,000 for second place, or $50,000 for third. Further, a $50,000 bonus was available for being named a Division Series MVP, $100,000 for LCS MVP and $150,000 for World Series MVP. He also provided his own suite on the road.[85] When he appeared nine days later at the St. Louis Cardinals' annual Winter Warm Up, he was bestowed with a new nickname – "The Stillwater Stinger".[86]

On July 4, Holliday was selected to the 2010 All-Star Game as a reserve player, his fourth All-Star Game. He also participated in the Home Run Derby.[87]

2011–13[edit]

Holliday during the 2011 Home Run Derby

Enduring a 2011 season rife with injury, on April 1 – after hitting a home run the day before on Opening Day – Holliday had an emergency appendectomy.[88] Expected to miss 4–6 weeks, he returned just nine days after the procedure was performed.[89] During a June 24 game against the Phillies, he dropped Ryan Howard's shallow pop fly with two runners on. However, Holliday recovered in time to throw out the lead runner, Shane Victorino, at third base, exchanging a much speedier baserunner for a slower one in Howard at first base.[90] Making his fifth MLB All-Star Game appearance, Holliday also participated in his third Home Run Derby and second straight.[91]

Having already been on the disabled list twice that season, a different sort of "injury bug" struck Holliday in a late August game. During the eighth inning against the Dodgers, he left the game due to a moth flying into, and lodging itself deep within, his ear, causing some pain. Cardinals trainers removed the moth without further incident.[92] The Cardinals again made the playoffs, but injury continued to hamper Holliday, this time tendonitis of the right hand in the NLDS against the Phillies.[93] In the World Series against the Texas Rangers, Holliday was injured in Game 6 on a play diving into third base where Mike Napoli and Adrián Beltré had picked him off.[94] That was the game in which the Cardinals twice tied the game on their final strike – the first such occurrence in World Series history – and won in extra innings, 10–9.[95] The Cardinals also won the final game, giving Holliday his first World Series ring.[96]

On July 20, 2012, Holliday hit the longest home run ever recorded at the current Busch Stadium. The ball traveled 469 feet, flying past the 'Big Mac Land' sign into the second deck in left field. It was the fifth-longest in the majors that year. He finished the season with a .295 batting average with 27 home runs and 102 RBI.[97] Holliday got his 1,500th career hit on August 30. On September 18, the Cardinals announced he was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award for charitable services off the field.[98] The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was named the winner.[99] During the NLCS against the Giants in Game 2, he slid into second baseman Marco Scutaro during a routine ground ball double play and ended up on top of him. Scutaro left the game to have x-rays taken. Questions arose and persisted as to whether Holliday intentionally attempted to injure him. The Giants trailed 1–0 at that point, but scored seven runs to win, 7–1.[100][101][102] Eventually, the Giants won the series. The Missouri Athletic Club named him their Sports Personality of the Year for 2012.[18]

Despite a rough start to the 2013 season, Holliday caught fire after the All-Star Break and finished with 22 home runs, 94 RBI, and an even .300 batting average. His grand slam on June 9 highlighted a seven-run 10th inning against the Reds in an 11–4 victory. He also doubled earlier in the game, giving him 91 career games with two or more extra base hits.[103] He left a July 11 game against the Cubs early because of a tight hamstring sustained while running to first base. At that point, he was batting .269 with 13 HR and 47 RBI, much lower than his career averages. However, he had also reached base safely in 42 of his previous 47 games and was third in the NL in runs scored with 69.[104] The Cardinals placed him on the DL and he returned July 27 against the Braves.[105]

In another game against the Reds on August 26, Holliday's three-run HR – his 18th – was the longest at Busch Stadium in 2013 at 442 feet (135 m) and helped the Cardinals to an 8–6 win.[106] During the final road trip of the season, he stroked 13 hits in 26 at bats with one HR and seven RBI. However, back spasms kept him out of the lineup for several games at the end of the regular season.[107] The Cardinals set an all-time MLB team record by batting .330 with runners in scoring position, and Holliday was fourth in MLB in those situations that year at .390.[108]

The Cardinals clinched the best record in the NL at 97–65, giving Holliday his fifth career postseason appearance. He started the NLCS against the Dodgers slowly with an 0–13 slump, but hit a HR off Ricky Nolasco to help St. Louis win Game 3, 4–2. It was his 10th career postseason HR.[109] In the World Series against the Red Sox, he collected six hits in 24 AB with one double, one triple and two home runs for a .625 SLG. However, the Red Sox claimed the title in six games, the second time a team with Holliday on it fell to the Red Sox in a World Series.[110]

2014[edit]

Through June in the 2014 season, Holliday experienced a decrease in power numbers, but still was among the Cardinals' RBI leaders. However, the defensive part of his game radically improved. Advanced defense metrics show he had been receiving some of the highest ratings on defense in his time with St. Louis, due in part to increased aggressiveness. In turn, because he was "feeling good," that enabled him to be more aggressive.[111] He drove in the 1,000th run of his career on June 17 at Busch Stadium against the Washington Nationals, scoring Jon Jay from second base on a single. He was the 277th player in MLB history to reach this milestone.[112]

On June 22, manager Mike Matheny started placing Holliday in the second position in the batting order for the first time since 2010. Although his slugging percentage was a career-worst .388, his .376 OBP tied leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter for highest on the team.[113] Capping a comeback from a six-run deficit on July 11 against the Milwaukee Brewers, Holliday hit the game-winning HR off Francisco Rodríguez in the ninth inning for a 7–6 Cardinals win.[114] Eight days later against the Dodgers, he hit his 400th career double and scored his 1,000th run against Dan Haren. The milestone run scored came on a 435-foot home run.[115]

The Arizona Fall League announced on July 20 that Holliday, along with fellow outfielder Carl Crawford, were selected for their Hall of Fame.[21] Returning to his customary third spot in the lineup after the All-Star Break, Holliday's power bat heated up. He hit two home runs, his ninth and tenth, in a late July series against the Cubs, the second of which ended up being the only run scored in the game.[116][117] It was his one of his Major League-leading 16 game-winning RBI through August 9.[118] He collected four hits in a 6–5 loss to the Marlins on August 11.[119] As of August 17, he was batting .260 with 12 HR and 59 RBI in 119 games. The Cardinals were 66–57 and in second place in the division.[8]

In an August 30 game against the Cubs, Holliday hit two home runs and drive in five runs in a 13–2 win.[120] He drove in four runs, including with a double and home run, the next day against the Cubs, helping propel the Cardinals from a five-run deficit to a 9–6 victory.[121] MLB named Holliday the NL Player of the Week on September 2, following a major league-leading 13 RBI – three of which each won separate contests – while the Cardinals took over first place in the division. He also had an NL-leading four HR, .889 SLG and 24 total bases.[122]

After beginning the season in a long slump, Holliday finished in customary form, batting .341 with six doubles, seven home runs .641 slugging percentage and 21 RBI in a 24-game stretch that spanned from late August to late September.[123] In the final six weeks, he hit .309 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 37 games; the RBI total was third-highest in MLB. In turn, the Cardinals went 24–15, scoring 158 runs, and finished first in the NL Central division. It was the fifth time in six seasons the Cardinals made the postseason since acquiring Holliday.[8] After the All-Star break, he totaled 14 HR, 45 RBI and a .515 slugging percentage.[124]

The Cardinals faced off against the Dodgers in an NLDS for the second time since Holliday became a Cardinal. After finding themselves down 6–1 in Game 1, the Cardinals came back, and Holliday provided a three-run HR off reliever Pedro Báez that were the difference in an epic 10–9 victory.[125] For the National League MVP voting, he placed 14th, marking the eighth time he received votes.[126]

Awards and accomplishments[edit]

Awards
Accomplishments
  • Longest on-base streak in Rockies history, 36 games (2007)[36]
  • ESPN Longest Home Run of 2006 (498 feet (152 m))[32]
  • Longest home run at Busch Stadium (July 20, 2012 – 469 feet (143 m))[97]
Statistical top-ten finishes

Note: Per Baseball-Reference.com[127]

Other honors

Personal life[edit]

Holliday and his wife, Leslee, reside in St. Louis, Missouri, and have three sons, Jackson (born December 4, 2003), Ethan (b. February 23, 2007), and Reed (b. July 24, 2013) and a daughter, Gracyn (b. November 7, 2009). They formerly resided in Austin, Texas, during the offseason until December, 2010, following his signing of the with the Cardinals in January, 2010.[128] During the offseason, Holliday and his family have lived in Stillwater. He also works with his brother, Josh, on his swing while staying in Stillwater.[129] His favorite player growing up was Cal Ripken, Jr. He has stated that if he had a dream car it would be a Bentley Continental GT, rather than a sports car, because he is "too big for small sports cars."[130] He is a Christian and is part of a Bible study group with fellow Christian teammates. He has spoken about his faith saying, "I play for God. It says in the Bible that we are to do all things for Him. ... So I try to do the best that I can for Him. This is my job, not who I am."[131]

Scott Boras has represented Holliday as his agent since he turned professional. Holliday described his relationship with Boras and his staff in that he "enjoy(s) sitting down and talking to them. Scott is as accessible as you want him to be. I could call him right now. He’s got a lot of clients and people say they don’t hear from Scott but he’ll give you as much or as little attention as you want." Holliday further explained that due to the amenities the Boras Corporation provides, including a staff psychologist, research to assist players in prolonging careers, studies into arbitration cases, and statistical performance computation, he felt that Boras' agency gave him the best opportunities to succeed.[132][133]

Known primarily as a reserved figure, Holliday has played for years in the shadows of such franchise icons as Todd Helton and Albert Pujols, which accommodated his demeanor well. However, has emerged as a veteran presence for the Cardinals willing to assist and entertain younger players and top prospects as they attempt to adjust to a lifestyle of playing baseball. In January, 2012, he invited Matt Adams, Ryan Jackson, Charlie Tilson and Kolten Wong for a weeklong stay in St. Louis at the Tony Frontenac hotel. Activities included eating out, hitting, working out and attending a St. Louis Blues game. Holliday also became more active on his Twitter account and more readily availed himself as a guest on talk radio shows. Further, he befriended former teammate David Freese, who, shortly after Holliday's arrival in St. Louis in 2009, was arrested for driving under the influence. However, after becoming daily workout partners and socializing, teammates noted a "positive influence" on Freese.[134]

With intense off-season physical training regimens, Holliday plays squash and likes to incorporate an NFL approach. He has trained with teammates, such as Freese, and pitcher Trevor Rosenthal, in activities such as "sled pushing, tire flipping and some fireman carries," and each player taking turns carrying each other for about 20 metres.[135]

One opponent with long-time ties to the Hollidays is Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell. Farrell pitched for Tom Holliday at OSU, helping propel them to four College World Series appearances. When Matt Holliday was still a toddler, Farrell often babysat the Holliday boys while their parents went out. Years later, when Holliday was a member of the Rockies team that played the Red Sox in the 2007 World Series, Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach. Six years later, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Holliday again played against Farrell. This time, he was the Red Sox manager.[136] In both Series, however, Farrell's teams were victorious over Holliday's.[56][110]

Active in charity work, Holliday has represented his teams around the community. After former teammate Albert Pujols signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2011, the St. Louis-based Pujols Family Foundation remained in St. Louis and partnered with Holliday for coordination of events, such as the Albert Pujols Golf Classic. Pujols and his wife, Deidre, started the foundation to raise funds and awareness of poverty and infirm children in Pujols' native Dominican Republic.[137] With his mother, Kathy Holliday, and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, Holliday raised awareness for colorectal cancer screening. Kathy Holliday had been treated for colorectal cancer while the Cardinals played the Giants in the 2012 NLCS.[138]

Other charitable participation includes "Homers for Health," a pledge-based drive that Holliday endorsed with Freese in 2012 for Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. For each home run the Cardinals hit that season, fans were encouraged to pledge 25 cents.[139] At times, Holliday has maintained a low profile regarding charity work. Others have divulged that he is a frequent visitor to children’s hospitals, including Labor Day of 2011 when he, his wife and two sons, spent more than two hours at Shriners Hospitals for Children attending to a 14-year-old boy recuperating from hip surgery. Although he has not established his own charitable foundation, others who know Holliday have elaborated that he has written "very significant" checks to charities.[134]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Rocco Baldelli
Jody Gerut
Scott Podsednik
Topps All-Star Rookie Outfielder
2004
Succeeded by
Jeff Francoeur
Jonny Gomes
Willy Taveras
Preceded by
Mark Teixeira
National League Player of the Month
September, 2007
Succeeded by
Chase Utley