Matt Holliday is really quite good at this thing called "baseball." Attempts to catch meaningful fly balls with his taint aside, the dude can flat out hit. Yes, I am being Captain Obvious, but I feel it's a necessary frame of reference to begin eviscerating myself for a mistake I made. In this post in my other domain, I argue that if the Yankees were to pursue a free agent outfielder, it should be Bay and not Holliday because of roster flexibility down the road. I still maintain that to be true, but in a moment of stupidity, I rather ham-handedly say that Matt Holliday's time in Oakland was "underwhelming" and a poor indicator of his ability to hit in the AL.
I did some digging and was even angrier at myself because his 120 OPS+ in white and green is nothing to sneeze at. If anything, I allowed myself to be blinded by his unusually low BA, and how monstrous his return to the NL was. I am sorry, Matt Holliday.
I mention being blinded by his batting average because, of course, as I am often wont to do when looking at stats, I started considering a lot of the numbers on the page and noticed a larger trend: Holliday's BABIP has been consistently high throughout his career. Save for his brief tenure in Oakland, it has never been below .330. It's no wonder that the dip to .315 on balls in play he saw in Oakland was mirrored by his substantially lower average. After more digging, I noticed something else about Holliday's tenure with the Athletics: his swing percentages were substantially lower than some of his best years, especially on offerings in the zone that a good hitter like him would probably deliver on. As soon as he got back to the NL, he started swinging with a higher frequency and the results were truly impressive. In short, the Matt Holliday we were seeing in Oakland, was not really the same mashing outfielder we thought we knew.
Here's the thing though, a lot of times people will talk about certain BABIP figures as being "unsustainable," partly because of the sheer luck factor that is associated with the number. While Holliday certainly isn't the only one who is "guilty" of consistently boasting a high number in this category, do you think he can sustain this fuel for his impressive numbers, or is his new team, who will have shelled out a fat contract to get him, going to get closer to the .286 hitter instead of the .300+ hitter?