Baseball Reference has trained me to look at OPS+ first so thoroughly that every time I inadvertently at Matt Holliday's actual line (.278/.357/.456 today) before moving to his OPS+ (125) I get a little psychological-experiment-level electric shock.
It just doesn't look like a Matt Holliday line; it's somewhat worse, even, than the half-season in Oakland that got him here. There aren't enough doubles, the batting average is low—all of it's just a little off. It looks like the kind of line you might reasonably expect him to have at 33 years old.
Except that he's having it in a season in which the National League's slugging percentage has fallen under .400 for the third time in four years. Matt Holliday's career has always been a little hard to eyeball; it begins as Coors Field's reputation as a pitching nightmare is in decline, and the transition to St. Louis is so smooth that it's easy to forget there's a park difference at all.
And the year he turned 30, offense across the league continued a decline that's seen it fall from a league line of .266/.334/.423 in his 137-RBI 2007 season to .250/.313/.391 this year. His last season in Colorado, he got an OPS+ of 138 out of a .321/.409/.538 line; last season in St. Louis, he hit 138 on .295/.379/.497.
Matt Holliday is kind of the opposite of Carlos Beltran, in that everything he does seems to take maximum effort. It's not just that, lining a double into the gap, he looks like he's hammer-throwing a small tree; for Holliday even running the bases and playing left field require total concentration, a full sprint, and desperate prayer. That he's somehow pretty good at everything on a baseball field, despite leaving the impression that he's learning most of it as he goes, is what makes Matt Holliday both delightful and kind of fragile-looking.
125 would be Holliday's lowest OPS+ since 2005, so this could well be his decline phase. A late-blooming 33-year-old, almost Pujolsian in the way he seems to always be playing through an injury—it would make sense. But three good weeks in June have turned a slow start into a season that only looks terminal in a baseball-card context; against the National League as a whole, Matt Holliday has pushed his way back into "off-year" territory.