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Matt Holliday

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Matt Holliday
Mattholiday2013pictureprofile.jpg
Holliday with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 7
Left fielder
Born: (1980-01-15) January 15, 1980 (age 35)
Stillwater, Oklahoma
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 2004 for the Colorado Rockies
Career statistics
(through July 30, 2015)
Batting average .307
Hits 1,897
Home runs 275
Runs batted in 1,087
Slugging percentage .519
Runs 1,055
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). A World Series champion in 2011, Holliday is regarded as a key figure of the Cardinals' success of the 2010s and of the Colorado Rockies' in 2007 for hitting, baserunning and leadership abilities. As of 2014, he has totaled nearly 2,000 hits, more than 250 home runs, 400 doubles, 1,000 runs scored, 1,000 runs batted in, 100 stolen bases, a .300 batting average, .500 slugging percentage and .900 on-base plus slugging percentage. His distinctions include six All-Star selections, four Silver Slugger Awards, a National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award (NLCS MVP), and a Darryl Kile Good Guy Award. Throughout his career, he has generated a significantly higher on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) in the second-half of the season.[1]

The Colorado Rockies selected Holliday in the seventh round of the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft from high school in Oklahoma, where he was also a highly touted NFL quarterback prospect.[2] He debuted in the major leagues in 2004, becoming the Rockies' starting left fielder and a middle of the lineup presence. 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, September National League Player of the Month honors and NLCS MVP[3] as the Rockies won 21 of 22 games at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs en route to their first-ever World Series appearance.[4] Four years later, he batted .435 with a .652 slugging percentage in the NLCS on his way to winning his first World Series ring with the Cardinals. In 2014, he became just the fifth player in MLB history to amass nine consecutive seasons of at least 20 home runs, 30 doubles, 75 RBI and 80 runs scored each season.

Besides the Rockies and Cardinals, Holliday has also played for the Oakland Athletics. With six total postseason appearances, he has played in the NLCS five times, including four straight with the Cardinals from 2011–14. In addition to his presence as a leader on the field, Holliday is active in charity work and assisting his teammates off the field. As a result of his leadership and hitting abilities, he has sometimes been called the "Stillwater Stinger." He is under contract through 2016, with multiple option conditions for 2017.

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[5][7]

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.[8]

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.[8] 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."[7] He was also rated the third-best quarterback prospect in the nation after graduating from Stillwater in 1998.[9]

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.[10] Former Colorado Rockies scout, Dave Holliday, is an uncle.[11] His older brother, Josh, is currently the head baseball coach at OSU, and a former minor league player in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.[12] A cousin, Heath Holliday, has also played baseball as a catcher for OSU.[13]

Professional career[edit]

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.[14] 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.[7] Due in part to the attention given for his skills as a quarterback, scouting director Pat Daugherty signed him for an above-slot $840,000.[15] That was more money than what was paid to any other player in that round.[2]

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.[16] 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).[17]

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.[18]

In 2001, the Rockies moved Holliday to the outfield.[19] 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.[20]

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.[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.[21] 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.[22]

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 total bases. 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.[21]

Colorado Rockies (2004–08)[edit]

2004–05: Beginning career[edit]

The Rockies assigned Holliday to their Triple-A affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, at the outset of the 2004 season, intending for him to spend much of the season there. Injuries to outfielders Preston Wilson and Larry Walker expedited his progress to the Major Leagues after just six games with Colorado Springs. He made his major league debut in left field on April 16[23] at Busch Memorial Stadium against one of his future teams, the St. Louis Cardinals. Holliday 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. Two days after his debut, Holliday recorded his first career hit, a single, and then, RBI against the Cardinals' Woody Williams, 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 the Cincinnati Reds 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 the Seattle Mariners in 2002. His first MLB grand slam came against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 12, immediately tying a game in which the Rockies had faced 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] A sprained elbow while diving for a ball against the San Diego Padres on September 12 ended his season. 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 improved in 2005 from his rookie season and unexpectedly surpassed his minor league output. He became the cleanup hitter behind franchise icon Todd Helton in the middle of the season.[27] In his first 18 games, Holliday produced 24 hits in 74 AB, with two doubles, three triples, and 13 RBI.[28] He then endured a 5-for-40 slump, but an adjustment to his swing led to a four-hit result with two doubles against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 13.[29] Commencing with that game, he amassed 30 hits in 90 AB, batting .333, along with four HR and nine RBI before being placed on the disabled list (DL) with a right fractured pinky. That streak raised his batting average from .255 to .291.[28]

After 119 at bats into the season, Holliday hit his first home run against Noah Lowry of the San Francisco 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.[28] In the first 50 games, the Rockies had won just 15, and Holliday was batting .279.[27]

After returning from the DL on July 18, Holliday's production increased with a fervor. From July 20 through the end of year, he hit safely 90 times in 279 AB for a .323 average with 15 home runs and 64 RBI. From July 20–30, his stretch of 19 hits in 43 AB (.442) raised his batting average from .285 to .313. He also hit four HR and 10 RBI in that span. Holliday homered twice on July 30 against the Philadelphia Phillies, his second multi-homer game on the season and third career.[28] He earned his first NL Player of the Week award for July 25 to July 31, after batting .444 with three HR, eight RBI, an .852 slugging percentage and a league-leading 12 hits and 23 total bases.[30] After manager Clint Hurdle installed Holliday as the cleanup hitter, the challenge to pitch around Helton consequently increased, allowing him to produce a .367 second-half average.[27] The club also played significantly better over the last two-thirds of the season with a 52–60 record in 112 games.[31]

In September, Holliday led the NL with 32 RBI, setting 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 highest in the NL in 2005[32] and second-highest single-game RBI total in the Major Leagues,[28] topped only by the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez' 10-RBI performance on April 26.[33] Holliday's season-ending seven game hitting streak with 12 hits in 32 AB raised his overall batting average from .302 to .307.[28] He reached base in each of the Rockies' final 22 games.[34]

After the All-Star break, Holliday hit 14 home runs, which led the Rockies' second half,[28] and drove in 64 runs,[34] second in the NL to Chase Utley's 65.[27] Holliday totaled 125 games and improved in nearly all offensive categories from the his rookie year, including 147 hits, 19 home runs, 87 RBI, 68 runs, 14 stolen bases, 242 total bases, 505 SLG and .361 OBP. His .307 batting average placed eighth in the NL.[28] Holliday also significant improved against left-handing pitching, raising it from .237 his rookie year to .324 in 2005.[27]

Further, Holliday 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, his .972 fielding percentage was the result of seven errors in 248 total chances; the seven errors were tied for third-most among NL outfielders.[28] The club picked up his option for 2006, which was worth $500,000 USD ($603,765.5 today), or about $100,000 ($120,753.1 today) more than the average for a player with equivalent service time.[27] He was selected as the Rockies Player of the Year.[35]

2006: First 30 home run season[edit]

Holliday was selected to Team USA for the World Baseball Classic before the season.[36] His 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.[37] The next game, also against Philadelphia, he had a season-high five RBI, with three drives that each exceeded 400 feet (120 m) – one double, one triple, and one home run.[38] His walk-off, two-out RBI single in 11th inning against the Padres on April 18 scored Helton to deliver a 3–2 Rockies win.[39] Three days later, Holliday's three-run home run in the third inning against San Francisco provided the platform for a four-run, ninth inning comeback, during which he added an RBI single. Colorado prevailed, 9–8.[40] Despite batting just .255 through May 1, Holliday accumulated 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 to enlarge his season mark to .354.[41] After punching three doubles against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the last game of that period, his 44 extra-base hits led MLB.[42]

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 seven-game span 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.[41] He aggregated 12 hits in 26 at bats (.462) with five home runs in those seven contests.[43] 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.[41] Holliday pasted four hits and four RBI en route to a 14–8 victory over the Washington Nationals on June 14.[44] He continued hitting for a high average for the month, batting .404 from June 1–27, which was second in the NL in that period.[45]

An All-Star selection for the first time in his career, Holliday was voted on July 9 to the game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh by fellow players and coaches. At the time of his selection, he was hitting .339 with 16 home runs and 56 RBI.[46] 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.[41]

On September 19, Holliday hit the longest home run of 2006 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).[47] 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.[48] He garnered his second NL Player of the Week for the week ending September 24, after cranking four homers, three doubles and a triple, helping propel the Rockies to win five of seven games.[49]

In 155 total games, Holliday batted .326 with 196 hits, 45 doubles, 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.[41]

2007: Batting title winner and NLCS MVP[edit]

Holliday batting for the Colorado Rockies in 2007

Continuing to evolve as a hitter, Holliday anchored the Rockies' lineup in 2007 as they made their first playoff push of his major league career, capped by an improbable winning surge to end the regular season and extend into the postseason. He started the season as their number five hitter, but changed to the third slot for the final five months of the season. In the third game of the season (and 404th career), on April 4, he collected four hits with four RBI[50] and a home run.[51] He fashioned a 14-game hitting streak that spanned from April 17 to May 1 in what was short-lived as a career-high. With that streak, he accumulated five three-hit games and four two-hit games, totalling 28 hits in 66 AB for a .424 AVG.[50] His two outfield assists on April 21 against San Diego in the sixth inning tied a club record.[52] In the April 29 contest against the Braves, after rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki turned an unassisted triple play in the seventh inning,[53] Holliday hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th off Bob Wickman to provide a 9–7 victory.[54] His ended his first month by hitting .385 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 19 RBI, and .573 SLG.[50]

The first slump of Holliday's season occurred May 2–23, when he collected 19 hits in 76 AB (.250 average) and his season average declined to .337.[55] He rebounded to amass another hit streak from May 22 to June 7 that became a new career-high. This one spanned 15 games as he collected 26 hits in 61 AB for a .426 AVG.[56] He proceeded to hit seven HR, 24 RBI and a .604 SLG in May, and .355 with three HR, 19 RBI, and 10 doubles in June.[50]

In 87 first half games, he provided 30 doubles, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 122 hits, a .341 average and .573 SLG.[50] 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 725 votes. He also participated in the Home Run Derby, where his brother, Josh, pitched to him. In a period of 27 games from June 22 to July 24, he hit .222 (24 H in 108 AB), dropping his average from .366 to .327, its lowest point after the 15th games of the season.[55] Holliday ended that slump by tying a career-high with four hits and homering against the San Diego Padres on July 25 in the Rockies' 10–2 victory.[57] Beginning with that game, he hit .361 (86-for-238) in the final 60 games of the season.[55]

For the week ending July 29, he earned National League Player of the Week honors. The Rockies won four of the six games while Holliday batted .364 with a .481 OBP and four home runs, two doubles and 10 RBI.[56] From August 10 to 27, he strung together a career-best 17-game hitting streak.[55][58] It was a team-high for the season and longest for a Rockie since Helton also had 17 from June 15–July 2, 2003.[55] Reaching base safely each game from July 22 to August 31 against the Diamondbacks, his feat of 36 consecutive games eclipsed a Rockies record which Helton and Walker shared,[59] and eventually ended at 38.[55]

Holliday on the field in 2007

Concluding the season in a flourish, Holliday gained his second NL Player of the Week selection of the season and fourth of his career on September 16. That week, he hit six home runs, drove in 11, batted .407 with a .500 on-base percentage, and also led the NL with a 1.148 slugging percentage, 11 runs scored and 31 total bases.[60] In a 12-game span from September 9–20, he hit 11 home runs;[61] only Alex Rodríguez matched that feat in 2007. Holliday homered in four straight games from September 9–12 and three straight from September 18–20.[55] One of the home runs was the 100th of his career and his 200th hit of the season, which occurred on September 19 in a 9–8 victory over the Dodgers.[62] His 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-HR games, nine multi-RBI contents and ten multi-hit performances. MLB awarded him NL Player of the Month[63] while the Rockies won 13 of their 14 final scheduled games.[64] He garnered copious attention for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award throughout the season – which increased even more that September – along with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder.[60][65][66]

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 as the result of a coin flip.[67] The game went into extra innings, and the Rockies entered the bottom of the 13th to an adversity of 8–6 opposed by legendary Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. However, Rockies hitters greeted him with three consecutive extra base hits, the third of which was Holliday's triple off the top of the right field wall that scored Tulowitzki to tie the score 8–8.[68] After an intentional base on balls to Helton, Jamey Carroll's sacrifice fly allowed Holliday to score the winning run in a bloody collision. Controversy arose as to whether he touched home plate while catcher Michael Barrett attempted to block him. Holliday arrived at home plate just before the ball arrived from right fielder Brian Giles, but Barrett was unable to hold on to the ball. Thus, the Rockies entered the playoffs for the first time in Holliday's career,[69][70] and the first time since 1995, which, according to Los Angeles Times sportswriter Dylan Hernandez, was made possible "thanks to a comeback ... as improbable as the furious season-ending surge in which they won 14 of their last 15 games."[68]

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.[71] Holliday 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 each of 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 both HR (36) and adjusted OPS+ (150). He reached a new career-high in walks with 63.[72]

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.[73] He also became only the 13th major league player in the previous 45 years to finish a season with at least 200 hits and 50 doubles.[74] 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.[75]

In the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Phillies, Holliday homered twice as the Rockies swept.[76][77][78][79] Colorado then advanced to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) to face the Diamondbacks and swept Arizona in four games. Now having won 21 of 22 games,[80] the Rockies earned their first-ever trip to the World Series.[4][81] After batting .333 with two home runs and four RBI, Holliday was named the NLCS MVP.[4] Between the first two rounds of the postseason, he batted .286 with four home runs and a .714 slugging percentage in seven games.[82]

The Rockies met the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Holliday remained strong offensively, collecting four hits in Game 2.[83] However, he also committed a crucial blunder with the Red Sox leading 2–1. After his fourth hit in the eighth inning off closer Jonathan Papelbon, he immediately picked Holliday off first base for the third out, leaving Helton at the plate.[83] 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.[84][85]

Following the season, Holliday placed second in the MVP voting with 336 points, compared to 363 points for Rollins.[3] It was the closest result for the NL MVP since Atlanta Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton edged Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds by 15 points in 1991.[86] Holliday was selected as the Rockies' Player of the Year for the second time.[35] The Sporting News named him to their All-Star team.[55]

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.[87]

2008: Contract uncertainty[edit]

Holliday batting for the Colorado Rockies in 2008[88]

On January 18, 2008, Holliday signed a two-year, $23 million contract with the Rockies, covering his final two years of arbitration.[89] 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.[90]

Enduring a frigid start to the season, Holliday's fourth game of the season included his third-career four-strikeout game on April 4 against Arizona.[91] He attained just four hits in 22 AB in the first week, but quickly turned his fortunes around.[92] He swatted the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning against the Braves on April 7, giving the Rockies a 2–1 win.[93] The next game marked his first three-hit output of the season.[94] In a three-game sweep of Atlanta, he hit .462 (6-for-13), with a double, triple and home run, and six RBI. He earned the NL Player of the Week award for the period ending April 13. The outfielder more resembling a linebacker led the NL with a .480 batting average (12 H in 25 AB) and 10 RBI, and, further, launched two home runs, posted an .880 slugging percentage and .519 on-base percentage. Meanwhile, the Rockies won four of six games after winning just once in the first week.[92]

Holliday scored his 11th career four-hit game on May 8 against the Cardinals on four singles.[95] He hit a game-tying home run against New York Mets closer Billy Wagner in the bottom of the ninth inning on May 23, then hit the game-winning single off Aaron Heilman in the bottom of the 13th to drive in Jonathan Herrera.[96] Two days later, 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 Mets the previous day.[97] Colorado activated him from the disabled list on June 10.[98] 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.[99] He made it a big series against the Marlins, hitting a three-run HR the next game.[100]

On July 6, Holliday was named an All-Star reserve for the third consecutive year.[101][102] 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.[103] 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.[104]

Reaching base five times against the Dodgers on July 21, Holliday homered and collected three hits in a 16−10 loss. It was his third home run in four games.[105] July was his strongest month in terms of production, as he batted .370 with eight HR and 24 RBI, a .660 SLG, and 24 runs in 27 games.[106] He continued to pile on the offense against the Marlins with a two-HR game on August 2[107] and another home run the following day.[108] In August, he pilfered 11 bases along with scoring 30 runs in 28 games and batted .306 with six home runs, nine doubles and a .392 OBP. His average slumped to .232 in September.[106]

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,[109] and had career highs in stolen bases (28) and on-base percentage (.409). His 28 stolen bases led the club and ranked third-most among all MLB left fielders.[110] His .409 on-base percentage was the second-highest for MLB left fielders.[111] Defensively, Holliday was first in ultimate 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.[112]

Both sides between the club and Holliday were unable to come to an extension agreement. On November 12, 2008, the Rockies traded Holliday to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Huston Street and Greg Smith, and outfielder Carlos González.[113] He began working with former A's and Cardinals player Mark McGwire as a personal hitting coach during the 2008–09 offseason.[114] McGwire became the Cardinals' official hitting coach the following offseason.[115]

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 the spring. The Athletics failed to get off to a strong start, and his name consequently became the topic of trade rumors with several teams,[116] as it was unlikely the Athletics would have been able to re-sign him as a free agent after the 2009 season.[117] He also got off a slow start, but notably improved after the first month of the season. Minor injuries hampered him while playing in Oakland[118] and the club as a whole did not hit well.

Holliday's first home run of the season came on the last day of April against the Texas Rangers. Later in the game, he threw out Michael Young attempting to stretch a double into a triple.[119] After batting .240 in April, Holliday hit .300 with five HR and 15 RBI through his first 20 games in May.[120] Reaching base five times in May 17 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Holliday scored his first four-hit game and stolen base of the season.[121]

In starting pitcher Vin Mazzaro's MLB debut on June 2, Holliday provided a three-run double in a 5–0 win over the Chicago White Sox. That game included a 20-game stretch in which he batted .358 (24-of-67).[122] In his first 10 games in June, Holliday batted .333.[118] From May 11 until the Cardinals acquired him, Holliday batted .316 with a .420 OBP and .489 SLG over 65 games.[123]

The A's defeated the Minnesota Twins 14–13 on July 20 following a 10-run comeback, the largest in team history. Holliday aided the A's offense greatly with two home runs and six RBI, including a seventh-inning grand slam that tied the score at 13. This game marked the second time in Holliday's career he factored significantly – including a grand slam in both games – in his team's record-breaking comeback.[124] The first such comeback occurred the previous year, on July 4, against the Marlins.[99]

Two days later, he added three more hits and three runs scored against the Twins in a 16–1 victory.[125] He continued an offensive surge that boosted his trade value significantly by hitting .390 with a .422 on-base percentage and a .756 slugging percentage in his final two weeks in Oakland. His overall totals with the club included 93 games, batting .286 with 11 HR and 54 RBI.[126] Though somewhat disappointing by Holliday's standards, the A's as a team had hit just .245 through July 20.[127]

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

Holliday with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009

2009–10: Second playoff push and new contract[edit]

On July 24, 2009, the A's traded Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals for prospects Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, Shane Peterson[128] and $1.5 million.[129] He represented an instant offensive upgrade in two key areas. First, prior to his acquisition, Cardinals left fielders had batted just .212 with a .294 on-base percentage and a .342 slugging percentage in 2009.[7] Second, he would hit in the fourth slot in the lineup behind All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols, moving Ryan Ludwick down. Cleanup hitters previously batted .250 with a .325 OBP and .443 SLG.[130] Because Pujols already wore jersey number 5, the team did not grant it to Holliday, even though he had worn it with the Rockies and A's. Instead, he received the number 15, last worn by center fielder Jim Edmonds.[7]

Both trades involving Holliday were later panned as failures for the A's, as two of the players they dealt away became multiple All-Stars.[131][132] The first was González, who also won a batting title, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards with the Rockies. The Rockies rewarded him with a $80 million, seven-year, contract extension in January 2011.[133] Street was the other All-Star, as he continued his success as a closer with the Rockies, Padres, and Angels.[134][135] Jesse Spector of The Sporting News augured that the second deal was a "landslide win" for the Cardinals, even if they had never resigned Holliday the following offseason.[136]

Holliday made an immediate impression in his Cardinals debut, augmenting four hits with an RBI and a stolen base in an 8–1 win, for his 15th career four-hit game.[137] He reprised his debut with 20 hits in 33 AB in his next nine games for a .606 AVG, .659 on-base percentage, 1.061 slugging percentage, six doubles, three homers and 10 RBI.[138] Those nine games each featured a hit from Holliday, the longest such streak to begin a Cardinal career since Charley Smith did so in 1966, and reaching base at least twice, the most to commence a career with the franchise since 1954.[139] His combined totals in 26 July games with Oakland and St. Louis included 40 hits, 20 runs scored, a .412 AVG, .487 OBP, .612 SLG, 13 doubles, four home runs, 22 RBI, 16 walks and four SB.[140]

Albert Pujols (left) congratulating Holliday

Likewise, the Cardinals as a team segued into improved play with a 20–6 record in August to stretch a National League Central division lead from one-half game on August 1 to ten on September 1.[141] Holliday batted .303 with seven home runs, 24 RBI, 19 runs scored, nine walks and a .606 SLG in August.[140] In the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on September 3, he collected his 1,000th MLB hit as one of three hits that game.[142] He batted .336 in September and October with five HR and 23 RBI.[140] The Cardinals won the National League Central division crown to claim a playoff berth for the first time in three years.[141] During the 65 games with him on the roster, they dispatched an NL-best .600 winning percentage, winning 39 games while losing 26.[139]

Holliday participated in 63 games for St. Louis in 2009, hitting .353 with 13 HR and 55 RBI; twelve were game-winning RBI. In 34 games at Busch Stadium, he batted .377 (49 hits in 130 at bats) with nine home runs and 35 RBI. After the All-Star break, he ranked in the top ten in MLB for batting average (.357, sixth), HR (16, tied for ninth) and RBI (66, second).[139] His totals with both the A's and Cardinals included a .313 batting average, 24 homers and 109 RBI, his fifth time batting .300 and third with at least 100 RBI.[130]

In spite of the inspired play after acquiring Holliday, the Cardinals did not fare well in the postseason. They battled the Dodgers in the NLDS. Following their Game 1 defeat, Holliday hit a go-ahead home run off starter Clayton Kershaw in Game 2.[143] With the Cardinals maintaining a 2–1 advantage and two outs in the ninth inning, Holliday dropped a line drive off James Loney's bat. Had he caught the ball, that play would have ended the contest for a Cardinals win and a 1–1 Series tie. Instead, Loney ended up on second base, setting the Dodgers up to eventually score the game-winning run for a 3–2 final margin.[144] Los Angeles won three straight to sweep the best-of-five series, ending the Cardinals' season.[141] Despite an impressive two-month performance following his mid-season acquisition, the Game 2 error left Holliday with a reputation as a "goat" (a player who is labelled as most responsible for the loss of a potential championship or other playoff game),[145] a label that proved difficult to reverse.[130][146]

As expected, Holliday filed for free agency on November 5.[147] He finished 16th in the NL MVP voting – including a fourth-place vote – even after playing nearly 100 games in the American League.[148]

Holliday on the field in 2009[149]

On January 21, 2010, the Cardinals signed Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million deal ($129.8 million today). In honor of fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle, he switched his uniform number from 15 to 7. The contract, which extends through 2016 with a team option for an eighth year, will have automatically vested provided that he places 10th or better in the MVP balloting in 2016. The Cardinals can otherwise buy out the 2017 option for $1 million if they choose not pick it up. The contract also featured a full no-trade clause.[150][151] It was the richest contract in team history,[130] and the largest of the 2009–10 offseason.[152]

Further, of the total amount, $2 million ($2.2 million today) was deferred without interest. Incentives standard in many contracts were included in this one, such as $50,000 each time for making the All-Star team, winning a Rawlings 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 was also provided his own suite on the road.[153] 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".[154]

Another strong offensive season followed, accelerated for the month of June, when Holliday increased his usually-high offensive production. Batting second in a 10-game stretch from June 14–25, he amassed 16 hits in 40 at bats (.400 average) with five HR and 11 RBI. He homered in four consecutive games from June 18 to 22. In a weekend series against Oakland from June 18 to 20, he drove in eight of the Cardinals' 12 runs, including two home runs in the final game of the series. He was named the National League Player of the Week for that week, ending June 20, after batting .435 with four home runs and eight RBI.[155]

Selected to the 2010 All-Star Game on July 4 as a reserve player, it was Holliday's fourth overall selection. He also participated in the Home Run Derby.[156] In the All-Star Game, he singled and scored a run after entering in the fifth inning. Three days later in a matchup against Colorado, he homered twice, his 15th career multi-HR game. Holliday was particularly productive in the 10 games against both his former clubs, stroking 19 hits in 39 AB for a .487 batting average with seven HR, 13 RBI and nine runs scored. His team-best – and second-longest of his career – 16-game hitting streak occurred from September 9–24, when he batted .431 and attained 25 hits in 58 AB with two HR and 12 RBI. His .364 average for September and October ranked second in the NL to the Rockies' Carlos González' .378, one of the players for whom he was traded in the 2008 offseason.[155]

For the season, Holliday played in 158 games, batting .312 with 186 hits, 45 doubles, 28 HR, 103 RBI, 95 runs scored, 69 walks, a .390 OBP and .532 slugging percentage. Among all National League batters, he finished tied for second in doubles, third in hits, fourth with 317 total bases and 52 multi-hit games, sixth in OBP and extra base hits with 74, and seventh in slugging and RBI. His .312 overall average led the club by less than a percentage point, edging Pujols .31208 to .31175. Also leading the club were Holliday's 45 doubles and 12 infield hits.[155]

Further, Holliday initiated 29 go-ahead RBI, tied for seventh in all MLB, and his 17 game-winning RBI was second on the team and tied for third in the league. His 50 RBI while batting with two outs led the National League, as he also batted .318 (third in the NL) with 13 HR (fourth). He also batted .318 on the road (also third) and batted .344 against LHP, ranking second in the league. On defense, Holliday led all NL left fielders with eight outfield assists, the first time a Cardinal left fielder led his position in assists since Bernard Gilkey did so with 19 in 1993. Also among NL left fielders, Holliday was second in putouts (261) and fourth in fielding percentage (.989).[155]

He earned another Louisville Silver Slugger award and finishing fifth in batting. He was named to The Sporting News All-Star Team and placed 12th in the NL MVP voting.[155] The St. Louis chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America recognized his charitable work and role as a team leader with the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award.[157]

2011–13: First World Series championship, three consecutive NLCS appearances[edit]

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.[158] Expected to miss 4–6 weeks, he returned just nine days after the procedure was performed.[159] However, he started with rare form, assaulting National League pitching. He reached base in seven consecutive plate appearances over two games against the Houston Astros on April 26 and 27.[160] He reached base in 10 of 15 plate appearances in that series against the Astros. Through that game, he was batting a MLB-leading .433.[161]

Holliday during the 2011 Home Run Derby

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.[162] He homered twice against Cincinnati in an 8–1 victory on July 5, his 16th career multihomer game.[163] Another home run against Arizona on July 8 marked his fourth in a week.[160] Making his fifth MLB All-Star Game appearance, Holliday also participated in his third Home Run Derby and second straight.[164]

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.[165] Although the Cardinals stayed competitive, they were, at best, on the fringes of making the playoffs through August. As of August 28, with a 70–64 record, they faced a 10 12-game deficit to the Braves for the wild card playoff berth with 28 left to play.[166] In a September 1 contest against the Brewers, he hit his 200th career home run, becoming the 300th player in MLB history to do so, in an 8–4 victory. It was also his 20th home run of the season, giving him six straight with at least that many.[167]

He left the September 13 game early due to an inflamed tendon on his right hand, limiting him to make three more starts the rest of the season.[160] Holliday played in 124 games, his fewest since his rookie year in 2004. He batted .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBI. He also hit 36 doubles, scored 83 runs and had a .388 OBP, .525 SLG, .912 OPS and 151 OPS+. In spite of the number of injuries sustained, he finished sixth in the NL in OBP, seventh in OPS and OPS+ and ninth in doubles.

St. Louis won 20 of 28 games to finish the season, allowing them to tie the Braves for the wild card lead going into the final day.[168] Meanwhile, the Philles defeated the Braves 4–3 in 13 innings, giving the Cardinals the wild card title and eliminating the Braves from the playoffs. The 10 12 games-won deficit marked the largest lead surrendered with 28 left to play in MLB history,[166] consummating what St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Bernie Miklasz termed an "improbable comeback,"[169] and one of the greatest sports history. It was just the first in a series of improbable comebacks for the Cardinals in 2011.

Injury continued to hamper Holliday into the playoffs. In the NLDS against the Phillies, he experienced a reemergence of the tendonitis of the right hand he sustained weeks earlier.[170] He started just two of the five games in the series. He played more and was influential in the NLCS against Milwaukee, batting .435 with 10 hits.[160] He also recapitulated six runs scored and five RBI with a home run.[146] That type of potency typically would have precipitated NLCS MVP honors for the second time in his career; David Freese instead was named MVP with a .545 average, 12 hits and nine RBI.[171]

The Cardinals advanced to the World Series[172] against the Texas Rangers. Holliday's assist to throw out Mike Napoli at home plate in Game 3 was part of an inning-ending double play imperative to a Cardinal win.[146] However, he was injured again in Game 6 on a play diving into third base where Napoli and Adrián Beltré had picked him off.[173] That was the game in which hits by both Freese and Lance Berkman tied the score on the Cardinals' final strike of the game and Series – the first such occurrence in World Series history – and later led to a 10–9 win in extra innings.[174] Although he had just three hits in 19 AB, Holliday walked seven times – the most since Bonds' 13 in the 2002 Fall Classic. As a result, Holliday's OBP was .385 and he scored five runs.[160] Holliday did not participate in Game 7 due to the injury, but the Cardinals won again, giving him his first World Series ring.[175]

In 41 straight starts spanning from June 22 to August 8, 2012, Holliday reached base by either a hit or walk.[176] His 15-game hitting streak from June 27 to July 16 was a season-high for the club; during that streak he batted .390 with 12 RBI.[177] From June 16 to July 6, he batted .500 (34 H in 68 AB) with 10 doubles, 17 runs scored, four home runs, and 21 RBI. In that same span, his batting average, on-base percentage (.549) and slugging percentage (.824) each led MLB. Holliday lead MLB in doubles and the Cardinals in batting average (.318) to that point in the season. Thus, when teammate Yadier Molina was placed on the bereavement list, Holliday replaced him on the NL All-Star team at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.[178]

In the last game of the streak, Holliday's two-run single with bases loaded in the ninth inning on July 16 against Brewers closer John Axford tied the scored at 2. Allen Craig, the next hitter, drove home the game-winning run.[179] Four days later, Holliday hit the longest home run recorded to date at Busch Stadium III. The ball traveled 469 feet (143 m), flying past the 'Big Mac Land' sign into the second deck in left field. It was the fifth-longest in the majors that year.[180] Safely hitting four times in five AB on August 26 against Cincinnati, he also had four RBI and missed hitting for the cycle by a home run. It was his second game of the season with four hits and four RBI.[181]

Holliday singled in the first inning against the Nationals on August 30 for his 1,500th career hit.[182] On September 18, the Cardinals announced his nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award for charitable services off the field;[183] the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was named the winner.[184] Holliday finished the season with a .295 batting average with 27 home runs and 102 RBI.[180] He ranked 15th in the league in batting, fifth in walks (75), eighth in OBP (.379), seventh in runs (95) and RBI, tenth in hits (177), tied for 14th in doubles (36) and HR, and 17th in SLG (.497).[176]

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. Controversy 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.[185][186][187] Eventually, the Giants won the series. The Missouri Athletic Club named him their Sports Personality of the Year for 2012.[19]

Starting 2013 slowly, Holliday's bat heated up later in the season. 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.[188] 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.[189] The Cardinals placed him on the DL and he returned July 27 against the Braves.[190]

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.[191] 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.[192] 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.[193] In all, he finished with 22 home runs, 94 RBI, and a .300 batting average. Dubiously, his MLB-leading 31 double plays grounded into set a new Cardinals' single-season franchise record.[194]

The Cardinals clinched the best record in the NL at 97–65, granting Holliday his fifth career postseason entrance, and fourth with the Cardinals. Faced with a must-win Game 4 situation against the Pirates in the NLDS, his two-run HR accounted for the offense to back up rookie pitching sensation Michael Wacha in a 2–1 victory.[195] The Cardinals also won Game 5, by a 6–1 tally, allowing them to advance to their third-consecutive NLCS. This time, they battled the Dodgers.[196] Both Holliday (0-for-13) and the Cardinals (.141 team batting average) started slowly, but his Game 3 home run off Ricky Nolasco to help St. Louis win, 4–2. It was his 10th career postseason HR.[197][198] The following game, his result included three hits in four at bats, two doubles and an RBI.[199] The Cardinals defeated the Dodgers in six games, securing Holliday's third trip to the Fall Classic.[200] 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.[201] In the 2013 postseason, Holliday swatted four home runs, pasted 10 RBI and slugged .507.[146]

2014: Season of milestones and fifth NLCS[edit]

Holliday with Jon Jay and Oscar Taveras at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 2014

By reaching base in each of his first 30 home games of 2014, Holliday authored the longest such streak to start a season in franchise history since Solly Hemus had 33 straight in 1953. Holliday's beam actually extended to 42 home contests dating back September 6 of the previous year.[202] He experienced an early power outage, but maintained his on-base success and consistency as an RBI leader. Additionally, early defensive metrics suggested significant improvement from years past, due in part to increased aggressiveness and "feeling good."[203] He drove in the 1,000th run of his career on June 17 at Busch Stadium against Washington, scoring Jon Jay from second base on a single. He was the 277th player in MLB history to reach this milestone.[204] Five days later, he temporarily hit second in the batting order for the first time since 2010. His slugging percentage had slipped to a career-low .388, but his .376 OBP tied with leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter for the team lead.[205]

Capping a comeback from a six-run deficit on July 11 against Milwaukee, Holliday hit the game-winning HR off Francisco Rodríguez in the ninth inning for a 7–6 win.[206] Eight days later against Dan Haren of the Dodgers, he agglomerated both his 400th career double and 1,000th run scored; the milestone run scored came on a 435-foot home run.[207] The Arizona Fall League announced on July 20 that Holliday, along with fellow outfielder Carl Crawford, were selected to their Hall of Fame.[22] Soon after returning to his customary third spot, Holliday belted two home runs in a late July series against the Cubs, including one game-winner,[208][209] one of 16 MLB-leading game-winning RBI through August 9.[210] He collected four hits against Miami on August 11.[211]

From August 18 to August 29, Holliday forged a season-high 10-game hitting streak in which he also garnered 10 RBI.[202] In the second contest of an August 30 doubleheader against the Cubs, he hit two home runs and drove in five in a 13–2 win.[212] He drove in four more runs, doubled and homered the next day, powering the Cardinals from a five-run deficit to a 9–6 victory over the Cubs.[213] The next match, on September 1, Holliday enumerated three more RBI, thus giving him three or more RBI each for three games in a row, and becoming the first Cardinal to do so since Scott Rolen from August 11−13, 2002. Holliday scored 23 RBI overall in August, tying him for third in the league.[202] He was the NL Player of the Week on September 2, following a major league-leading 13 RBI – four of which each won separate contests – while the Cardinals took over first place in the division. He also hit an NL-leading four HR, .889 SLG and 24 total bases.[214] On September 12, his 467 feet (142 m) blast against the Rockies helped power a 5–1 win and was the longest home of the season at Busch Stadium and the second-longest in the stadium's history; Holliday also still held the record, which he hit two years earlier against the Cubs.[215]

Holliday's bat heated up late in the year, spawning a .341 average in a 24-game stretch from late August to late September,[216] and eight home runs and 31 RBI in 37 games in the final six weeks; the RBI total in that span was third-highest in MLB.[9] After the All-Star break, he totaled 14 HR, 45 RBI (both tied for fourth in the NL) and a .515 slugging percentage.[146] He batted .538 with RISP from August 30 to the end of the season.[217] He finished the season with a .272 average, 20 HR, 90 RBI (eighth in the NL), 37 doubles, 83 runs scored, 74 BB (eighth), .370 OBP (10th) and .443 SLG. He was also sixth with 247 times on base.[218] Seventeen of Holliday's 20 home runs traveled at least 400 feet (120 m); his home runs averaged a true distance of 417.9 feet (127.4 m), first in all MLB.[219][220]

The first season in Holliday's MLB career in which finished batting below .290,[218] the decline in 2014 corresponded to a .040-point drop in his batting average on balls in play. His defense remained consistent, being rated at "neutral" − an improvement from the negative ratings he had received in the past.[217] His 23 game-winning RBI led MLB; both the 31 go-ahead RBI and .361 average with runners in scoring position (56 hits in 155 at bats) led the NL; his .374 average with RISP for the prior two seasons trailed only Michael Brantley (.375) of the Cleveland Indians for the MLB lead. Holliday attained four hits in eight bases loaded at bats with eight RBI. His .322 OBP with two strikes was tenth in the NL. For the ninth consecutive season, Holliday recorded at least 20 HR, 30 doubles, 75 RBI and 80 runs scored, becoming just the fifth player in MLB history to do so. The others with this exploit were Stan Musial (also a former Cardinal, with 10), Manny Ramirez (10), Pujols (10), and Miguel Cabrera (nine).[202]

The Cardinals finished first in the NL Central division and entered the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons since acquiring Holliday.[9] They faced off against the Dodgers in an NLDS for the second occasion in that span. 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.[221] The Cardinals faced the Giants in an NLCS rematch but were defeated in five games.[222] In Game 4, Holliday collected three hits for his fifth career three-hit game in the postseason.[202] For the National League MVP voting, he placed 14th, marking the eighth time he received votes.[223]

The contract to which Holliday and the Cardinals agreed before the 2010 season was widely viewed as a great success.[224][225][226][227] Over its first five seasons, he averaged 147 games per season, .295 batting average, .383 OBP and .496 SLG for a 141 OPS+; his counting stats average included 24 HR, 93 RBI, and 92 runs scored.[217] He totaled 119 homers and 185 doubles in that span.[226] Since being acquired from Oakland, Holliday ranked fifth in MLB in RBI, doubles, and runs scored, ninth in extra-base hits, and 14th in OPS.[217] He was overall durable, playing in no less than 124 games in any one season. Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement (WAR) formula rated Holliday's production equivalent to nearly $110 million in value while actually being paid just $84 million. In that span, he ranked 11th in all MLB, and fifth among outfielders, with 23.8 WAR.[226][228] In spite of potentially costing the Cardinals the 2009 NLDS with the Game 2 line drive gaffe, Holliday was a key factor in the 2011 championship run with a big NLCS.[136] With RISP, Holliday had hit .315 with a .407 OBP and .486 SLG during his Cardinals years. Since Busch Stadium opened in 2006, he hit .309 with a .403 OBP, .542 SLG; only Pujols had more HR, RBI and a higher OPS.[217] At $17.2 million in total earnings, Forbes magazine ranked Holliday as the 99th-highest paid athlete in the world in 2014.[229]

2015[edit]

Hitting safely in his first 12 games of the 2015 season, Holliday's 12th game included his first four-hit performance of the season.[230] He entered that game batting .367 and added a walk which boosted his OBP to over .500,[231] and maintained an MLB-best .500 OBP through April.[232] On May 12, Holliday hit a home run in his first four-RBI game of the season in an 8–3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.[233]

By reaching base in 45 consecutive game to start the season, Holliday broke Pujols' franchise and National League record of 42 games which he set in 2008. Holliday had also reached base in 47 consecutive games overall dating back to 2014.[234][235] It was the longest such streak since Derek Jeter garnered 53 in 1999.[236] Holliday's streak ended on June 2 against the Brewers after umpire Joe West ejected him for arguing a called third strike, the fourth ejection of his career.[237]

On June 8, Holliday suffered a right quadriceps strain while attempting to catch a fly ball off the bat of the Rockies' Carlos González. The Cardinals placed Holliday on the 15-day DL. At the time, he was batting .303 with three home runs and 26 RBI.[238] He also received strong fan support for the All-Star Game voting to that point, and continued to do so in spite of missing a month. He finished third among NL outfielders, thus assuring a role as a starting outfielder by fan vote in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. As expected, he did not play in the game.[239][240]

After returning from the DL, Holliday's first home run was a grand slam on July 21 against Carlos Rodon of the Chicago White Sox in an 8–5 win,[241] his sixth career grand slam.[242] He reinjured the right quadriceps on July 30, prompting the club to retract him to the DL.[243]

Awards and accomplishments[edit]

Awards
Award/Honor # of Times Dates Refs
All-American, high school baseball 1 1997 [8]
All-American, high school football 1 1997 [8]
Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame inductee 1 2014 [22]
Arizona League champion 1 1998 [16]
Baseball America All-Rookie team 1 2004 [23]
BBWAA St. Louis chapter Darryl Kile Good Guy Award 1 2010 [157]
Carolina League Player of the Month 1 June 2001 [20]
Colorado Rockies Player of the Year 2 2005, 2007 [35]
Gatorade Player of the Year, Regional level, baseball 1 1997 [8]
Gatorade Player of the Year, Regional level, football 1 1997 [8]
Major League Baseball All-Star 7 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 [46][55][164][178][239]
Major League Baseball Home Run Derby participant 3 2007, 2010, 2011 [55][164]
National League batting champion 1 2007 [218]
National League champion 3 2007, 2011, 2013 [4][172][200]
National League Championship Series MVP Award 1 2007 [4]
National League doubles leader 1 2007 [218]
National League extra base hits leader 1 2007 [218]
National League hits leader 1 2007 [218]
National League Player of the Month 1 September 2007 [63]
National League Player of the Week 7 July 31, 2005
September 24, 2006
July 29, 2007
September 16, 2007
April 13, 2008
June 20, 2010
September 2, 2014
[30]
[49]
[56]
[60]
[92]
[155]
[214]
National League RBI leader 1 2007 [218]
National League Silver Slugger at outfield 4 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 [218]
National League total bases leader 1 2007 [218]
Southern League Hitter of the Week 2 June 27 and July 18, 2002 [21]
Southern League Mid-Season All-Star 1 2002 [21]
Sporting News All-Star team 2 2007, 2010 [55][155]
Topps All-Star Rookie team 1 2004 [23]
World Series champion 1 2011 [175]
Records
  • Busch Stadium record for longest home run, 469 feet (143 m) (July 20, 2012)[180])[180]
  • Colorado Rockies record for most RBI in single game, 8 (Tied – September 20, 2005)[32]
  • Colorado Rockies record for most RBI in month of September, 32 (2005)[28]
  • Colorado Rockies record for longest on-base streak, 38 games (2007)[55]
  • National League record for longest on-base streak to start a season, 45 games (2015)[237]
  • St. Louis Cardinals single-season record for most double plays ground into, 31 (2013)[194]
Accomplishments
  • 7× batting average of .300+ (2005–10, 2013)[218]
  • 2× on-base percentage of .400+ (2007, 2008)[218]
  • 7× slugging percentage of .500+ (2005–11)[218]
  • 6× on-base plus slugging of .900+ (2006–11)[218]
  • 10× 30+ doubles (2004, 2006–14)[218]
  • 2× 30+ home runs (2006, 2007)[218]
  • 5× 100+ runs batted in (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012)[218]
  • 4× 100+ runs scored (2006–08, 2013)[218]
  • 4× 70+ bases on balls (2008, 2009, 2012, 2014)[218]
  • ESPN Longest Home Run of 2006 (498 feet (152 m))[47]
  • 19th MLB player with 195 hits, 30 home runs, 45 doubles, 115 runs and 110 RBI in one season (2006)[41]
  • One of two players in MLB in 2007 with 11 HR in 12 games[55]
  • One of 13 players between 1962−2007 with at least 200 hits and 50 doubles in a season (2007)[74]
  • 2× with a grand slam and additional HR in team's record-breaking comeback victory for runs deficit:
    • vs. Marlins, July 4, 2008: 18–17 win after 9-run deficit (Rockies record)[99]
    • vs. Twins, July 20, 2009: 14–13 win after 10-run deficit (A's record)[124]
  • 3× longest home run of season at Busch Stadium (2012−14)[180][191][215]
  • MLB longest home run average true distance in 2014 [417.9 feet (127.4 m)][219]
  • Fifth MLB player with 9+ consecutive seasons of 20 HR, 30 doubles, 75 RBI and 80 runs scored (2006−14)[202]
Statistical top-ten achievements
Category #x Seasons Category #x Seasons
Adjusted on-base plus slugging 7 2006–08, 2010–13 Home runs 1 2007
Bases on balls 2 2012, 2014 On-base percentage 7 2007–08, 2010–14
Batting average 5 2005–08, 2010 On-base plus slugging percentage 7 2006–08, 2010–13
Double plays grounded into 5 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014 Runs batted in 7 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012–14
Doubles 4 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 Runs scored 5 2006–08, 2012, 2013
Extra base hits 4 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012 Slugging percentage 4 2006–08, 2010
Games played 3 2010, 2012, 2014 Stolen bases 1 2008
Hits 4 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012 Times on base 6 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012–14
Total bases 4 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012

Notes: Through 2014 season. Per Baseball-Reference.com. Compared with other players in the National League (NL) – has spent entire MLB career playing in NL except when he played in Oakland in 2009.[218]

Other honors

Player profile[edit]

Holliday's former hitting coach Mark McGwire described Holliday as "a very good on-base guy. He’ll take the walks. He knows how to work the count. He uses the whole field. Once in a while he’ll tap into his strength and hit homers. He’s just really good." Comparing his approach to that of Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez, McGwire also commented that "Matt’s very strong mentally. I can’t emphasize enough how this game is a mental grind. The stronger ones do survive, and the stronger ones you see throughout their career, the numbers are always there.”[244]

Personal life[edit]

Holliday during the 2011 World Series victory parade in St. Louis on Oct 30, 2011

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 contract with the Cardinals in January, 2010.[245] During the offseason, Holliday and his family have also lived in Stillwater, where he also has worked with his brother, Josh, on his swing.[246] In the 2014−15 offseason, Holliday and his family moved to South Florida, allowing him to stay in optimal shape year-round, and his sons to continue to play sports in winter months.[247]

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."[248] 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."[249]

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.[250][251]

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.[252]

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.[253]

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 and Josh were still toddlers, Farrell often babysat them when their parents went out. Years later, when Matt 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 after that, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Holliday again played against Farrell. This time, he was the Red Sox manager.[254] In both Series, however, Farrell's teams were victorious over Holliday's.[85][201]

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.[255] 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.[256]

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.[257] 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.[252]

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