Matt Holliday’s consistency

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Matt Holliday is hitting here, but will he keep that up?

St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday‘s consistency might fly under the radar, but he is one of the best hitters in baseball.

His .300/.389/.490 line and 148 wRC+ put him among the best 10-15 hitters in baseball in 2013. Since 2006 when Holliday played his first full season, he has managed a 145 wRC+, the 8th best in baseball.

It’s not just the excellent production that is remarkable about Matt Holliday, but also his incredible consistency. From 2006-2013, his wRC+ has ranged from 139 to 154. Basically, he’s never had an off-year at the plate. Even among the top hitters in baseball, this is something special. Below are the top ten hitters since 2006, and their wRC+ ranges.

  1. Mike Trout: 166-176. Okay, this one doesn’t really count, Trout only has two years of data in the sample.
  2. Miguel Cabrera: 129-192. Cabrera put up strong counting stats in his first year with the Detroit Tigers (37 HR, 127 RBI), but was pretty average overall (129 wRC+, 2.6 WAR).
  3. Albert Pujols: 111-174. Even before signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pujols was showing signs of decline (17 point drop in wRC+ from 2010 to 2011).
  4. Joey Votto: 124-178. Other than his first full season, where he posted a 124 wRC+, Votto has been consistently great.
  5. Ryan Braun: 129-171. Putting aside Biogenesis, Braun was more solid than spectacular in 2008 and 2010.
  6. Manny Ramirez: 126-165. Ramirez’ 2007 was his weakest year as a regular. He turned to the dark side for some help in 2008.
  7. David Ortiz: 100-175. From 2008-2010, Ortiz posted just a 119 wRC+, and looked to be in severe decline. I guess I was wrong.
  8. Matt Holliday: 139-154.
  9. Prince Fielder: 110-161. The 110 wRC+ came in his first full season, but Fielder experienced a 28 point drop in wRC+ from 2012 to 2013.
  10. Chipper Jones: 116-174. Chipper was sensational in 2008 , then went through a 96 point drop in BABIP, which sent his wRC+ down from 174 to 116.

I could keep going, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone so consistent who is also that good.

One of the reasons why Matt Holliday’s consistency has been so, well, consistent is his very BABIP-friendly approach. His batted ball distribution has been remarkably consistent, and he hits the ball hard to all fields. Look at this spray chart. Line drives all over the place. You can’t put an extreme shift on Holliday. As a consequence, his BABIP has ranged from .322-.377.

Another factor is his ability to make contact at an above-average rate. Despite having one of the most vicious swings in the game, Holliday’s career strikeout rate is below the league average, and he possesses a solid walk rate. He possesses power, (.220 career ISO), but it is more of a line-drive type power. Watch this if you don’t believe me.

Considering how consistent Holliday has been, I tried to determine if he has ever been through a mid-season slump. Using Baseball-Reference I searched his month-to-month splits. I found that Holliday has only gone through three months where he produced an OPS below .700.

In April of 2012, he posted a .215/.277/.376 line. Holliday finished that season with a 142 wRC+. April of 2009 saw Holliday muster a .248/.288/.360 line. He was less than spectacular with Oakland that year, managing just a 114 wRC+ in the first half. He would be traded to the Cardinals eight games into the second half, and had a monster 174 wRC+ in 63 games.

In September of 2008, Holliday stumbled to a .232/.329/.333 line.

That’s remarkable. For example. Ortiz had a .524 OPS in March of 2010, and a .520 OPS in May of 2009. Most hitters, even the best ones, go through protracted slumps and have down years. Matt Holliday doesn’t.

At age 33, Holliday hit at a better rate than his career average, and managed his second-lowest strikeout rate. Four years through a seven year/120 million dollar deal, he’s lived up to his billing, and there is little indication that he’s slowing down.

The 6’4, 250 lb. block of granite is more machine than man.

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