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Free Agent Fantasy Impact: Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday‘s value was a big question mark coming into the year, as fantasy (and real) owners did not know what to expect from Holliday in the American League.

Many owners freaked out early on when Holliday started the year with a .240 average and only one home run in the first month of the season. Then, for some unknown reason, no one paid attention when he got back to his old self in May. He ended his A’s career after 93 games with a .286/.378/.454 line to go along with 11 homers and 54 RBI. After going back to the NL, Holliday exploded in a Cardinals lineup that also featured Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick. Holliday hit 13 home runs and drove in 55 in only 63 games, while posting a line of .353/.419/.604.

Holliday’s swing was a topic of conversation early on, mainly due to his slow start. His numbers tend to back this up, with his line drive rate dropping off from the low 20%’s to the mid teens. He also became more selective at the plate, swinging at less pitches and making contact more often. However, most of the patience at the plate came in Oakland, where they likely lectured him on the value of walking. When he got to St. Louis, he starting hacking again, with his swing% coming in above his career average.

Because of his resurgence as a Cardinal, his value is back where it was before the season began. He will be asking for Mark Teixeira money, and a team or two will likely come close to that in an effort to acquire an impact bat. The big boys in Boston, and both New York teams are going to be heavily involved in this process, with the Mets and Red Sox as the most likely landing points. The Cardinals aren’t just going to let him walk without making an effort, but in the end they may not have the leverage and money to pull it off. If the asking price gets too outrageous, teams will turn their attention to Jason Bay, but Holliday is certainly the first option.

If Holliday ends up in Boston, don’t be afraid of how he will fare in the AL. Fenway is a much better place for him to play than Oakland was, and the talent they can put around him will greatly increase his chances for success in the AL East.

If Holliday leaves St. Louis, Albert Pujols isn’t likely to be too happy, but his numbers probably won’t reflect it. His numbers will still be insane, and he is still a top player going into next year, even without Holliday. Holliday leaving could mean free agent Rick Ankiel could return as the everyday left fielder, but the Cardinals are more likely to look outside for help.