The first rule when searching for underrated or overrated players is not to look at the players themselves, but to look at their teams. Players that play in big markets and for successful teams get a much larger percentage of media exposure then those that don’t. For that reason, merely good players on good teams are viewed as great while great players on bad teams are viewed as merely good or sometimes even worse.
Tonight, I kick off my attempt to give such unfortunate hitters at least a little bit of their due. Matt Holliday made himself a national star last year during the Rockies’ amazing run. Full crowds chanting M-V-P whenever Holliday strode to the plate made for excellent imagery and the amazing run of wins both into and during the playoffs didn’t hurt either. Thus it comes as a bit of a shock to me that just because the Rockies have regressed in 2008 that the hype around Matt Holliday (the hitter at least) has as well because he might be having a better season this year.
For one thing, he’s created more runs than any hitter in the National League not named Albert Pujols or Lance Berkman. While his slugging and overall OPS are down from last years lofty figures, offense across baseball is down and Holliday has upped his on base percentage enough to maintain the .421 wOBA that he posted in 2007.
Really, the only major difference between last year and this year’s incarnations of Matt Holliday is that this year, Holliday is taking more pitches, whether in the zone or not, which is what’s aiding his large jump in walks. And despite watching more strikes go by and missing pitches that he swings at slightly more often as well, he has cut down his strikeouts by a fraction as well.
It’s not Matt Holliday‘s fault that his RBI total has fallen from 137 last year to under 80 this year and that the Rockies win totals have fallen from 89 to under 80, but because they have he’s become under appreciated for the hitter he is. If he truly is on the trading block this winter, with one year left before free agency, expect a large number of suitors.
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