Holliday’s Split Personality

There has been speculation recently that, should the Rockies continue to struggle, they may be looking to part ways with offensive juggernaut Matt Holliday. Holliday, a Scott Boras client, will be a free agent following the 2009 season and will likely enter the market looking for a long-term, big-money contract that either a)the Rockies cannot give or b)the Rockies won’t want to give. Instead of focusing on the fiscal aspects of this situation, though, I wanted to take a look at his home and road splits; last year it became somewhat common knowledge on the East Coast, when discussing Holliday vs. Jimmy Rollins, that much of Matt’s stats came from his home park.

Here are Holliday’s yearly splits, from 2004 until now:

2004 H: .338/.406/.603, 10 HR, 29 K, 229 PA
2004 R: .240/.287/.367, 4 HR, 57 K, 210 PA

2005 H: .357/.409/.593, 12 HR, 45 K, 264 PA
2005 R: .256/.313/.416, 7 HR, 34 K, 262 PA

2006 H: .373/.440/.692, 22 HR, 44 K, 334 PA
2006 R: .280/.333/.485, 12 HR, 66 K, 353 PA

2007 H: .376/.435/.722, 25 HR, 58 K, 363 PA
2007 R: .301/.374/.485, 11 HR, 68 K, 350 PA

2008 H: .356/.440/.671, 4 HR, 13 K, 84 PA
2008 R: .283/.371/.402, 2 HR, 13 K, 105 PA

In case you hadn’t noticed, he has done leagues better at home than on the road. Put together, here are his career splits:

Home: .363/.426/.662, 73 HR, 189 K, 1274 PA
Road: .274/.336/.444, 36 HR, 238 K, 1260 PA

Finding comparisons generally helps to further a message so I probed the BR Play Index for players with career numbers similar to those in each of his splits. I found just one person from 2004-now with overall numbers anywhere near his home production: Albert Pujols.

In looking at his road numbers a plethora of names appeared but the closest match was the .275/.339/.456 line in this 4+ year span of Aubrey Huff.

While there is little doubt Holliday could have won the MVP award last season and little doubt about his talent, prospective teams looking to acquire his services and ink him to a mega-bucks deal might want to take into consideration he has been Albert Pujols at Coors Field and Aubrey Huff everywhere else. Not to say Huff is a bad player, which is the common misconception when looking at drastic statistical differences such as this, but he is not on the same level as Pujols.

Perhaps Holliday likes being at home, in general, regardless of whether said home field is Coors Field, but I would tend to think he is someone that truly benefits from that park.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

8 Responses to “Holliday’s Split Personality”

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  1. mymrbig says:

    While playing at Coors obiously inflates home hitting stats, I have always wondered whether it also slightly deflates road hitting stats. Players spend 1/2 their games seeing breaking balls that don’t bite, sinkers with less sink, cutters with less cut, and changeups with less fade due to the thin air. I always wonder whether this makes it slightly harder for them to hit all these pitches on the road when all of a sudden everything is moving considerably more and considerably harder.

    While I’m not saying Holliday would be a stud on the road, I do wonder whether his road line would look a little better if his home games weren’t played at Coors.

    No idea how to test this though. Maybe look at the road lines of players who were at Coors and then their road lines after they were traded or signed as a FA? Tough comparison and I don’t know if there are enough significant hitters to get any kind of statistical relevance.

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  2. mymrbig says:

    Sorry, quick correction. When I said pitches moves “harder” on the road, I actually meant “sharper”.

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  3. Eric Seidman says:

    Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I said he might just be better in general at a home field, regardless of Coors. Let’s take a look at some Rockies and their career splits:

    Todd Helton Home – .365/.462/.659
    Todd Helton Road – .295/.395/.497

    Larry Walker played there from 1995 to the middle of 2004 and all of his H/R splits were significantly in favor of home except for 1997. His 1999 is my favorite.

    Larry Walker 1999 Home – .461/.531/.879
    Larry Walker 1999 Road – .286/.375/.519

    A look at Brad Hawpe shows this:

    Hawpe Home – .281/.373/.495
    Hawpe Road – .275/.370/.466

    Garrett Atkins:

    Atkins Home – .335/.396/.527
    Atkins Road – .277/.345/.448

    It’s hard to test for what you’re asking because we would need a significant amount of time in Coors to have a large enough sample to notice discrepancies, and by the time these guys change teams they’re supposed lessened splits could be due to their peak passing them by or age factors… or, say, going to Petco.

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  4. fifth of says:

    I think you screwed up the OBP in the career road line.

    Coors has a huge measured home-field advantage, but this is in no small part due to the hangover effect. I think MGL published a study on the Coors hangover, and you can probably find it online. So when you look at a Rockies’ hitter, it is hard to distinguish between multiple phenomena:
    1. The sizable home-field advantage across baseball. I often find references to a player being “better at home” based on splits that are completely in line with the league average.
    2. The hangover effect on Colorado players on the road.
    3. The run environment of Coors.
    4. The run environment of the road PA.
    5. The home-field advantage issues unique to Coors.
    6. The particular elements of the park as they impact individual hitters.

    I haven’t studied Coors in a few years, so with more humidorated data maybe it’s a good time to revisit some of this.

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  5. Eric Seidman says:

    Yeah I just caught that. I think you made a key point just now in that just because a player posts better numbers at home than on the road does not automatically make him an awesome-at-home player. I don’t think this applies to Holliday, overall, but definitely something to consider for future research and discussion.

    If the league average slash line at home is something like .315/.370/.440 (totally made up just for the sake of discussion) and road is .250/.320/.400 (again, made up) and someone has the following splits—

    Home: .325/.380/.432
    Road: .276/.330/.420

    —he is just about average at home and actually above average on the road, yet we would likely be inclined to say that he was a better hitter at home.

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  6. fifth of says:

    The home/road difference league-wide is about 12 points of wOBA, so your example is a little exaggerated.

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  7. Eric Seidman says:

    Yes, Tom, and this was acknowledged in my comment, which was shedding a bit more light on the misconception noted in yours.

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  8. Chris says:

    I am currently reading a paper by David Levine on streakiness; you can find it at retrosheet.org. Anyways, his data show the average player (in 2004) hit .269 at home and .263 on the road. Using those numbers (at least for batting average) Holliday is an above average road hitter.

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