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Post off-day grist: Matt Holliday edition

Brief entry today—time constraints have conspired with the slow September baseball news cycle to keep this one under 600 words, which I guess means I need to compose a sestina for the game thread to make it up.

Matt Holliday is hobbled by a near-injury that even the Cardinals will have trouble misdiagnosing, although upon hearing the news Troy Glaus immediately underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. The brief loss of momentum gives us a chance to remark appreciatively upon the fact that he is now basically having the exact same season he did last year—

139 539 173 38 2 25 88 28 2 .321 .409 .538
136 507 160 3 3 23 96 14 6 .316 .395 .533


You have to account for Coors' effect on stolen base attempts, of course. But it's ridiculous, in the non-Pujolsian sense, to think that at this point a month and a half ago he would have had to hit .379/.432/.702 to replicate his 2008 season—and here we are. Hot streaks like this seem so implausible until they happen, and then again right afterward; it's absurd, to me, that Rick Ankiel hit .358/.409/.765 for a solid month after his triumphant call-up. But in the moment I probably yawned once or twice.

You may ask yourself: when was the last time Matt Holliday did something like this? The impressive part, at this point, is the games played; in 23 games, like Ankiel's stint, it's possible to prop up your usual production level with, say, two rousing two-homer performances. But Holliday's had two separate super-hot streaks—the nine games following the trade where he nearly hit .600, his 1.263 OPS in September—and they've come in the middle of a stretch where he's playing well anyway; having taken away his best eighteen games like that, his Cardinals line is still .284/.343/.537, which Mozeliak and Co. would probably have been happy with anyway. 43 games is a long time to be better than you are.

That sort of sustained brilliance has launched a thousand poorly reasoned MVP campaigns, and it's stil rare enough that sometimes sportswriters need to invent it. Holliday's had great months before; in September 2007, the year every Rock(ie?) had a great second half, he hit .365/.447/.788, and you can pull that back into August to get 35 or 40 games that come out only marginally worse than his current performance. But the way he's split his unbelievable twenty games between his first impression and his stretch run has the subjective side of me completely convinced he's a .380 hitter with... well, with no defensive ability whatsoever. So maybe it evens out.


While St. Louis slept Memphis went up 2-0 on what was apparently an incredible rally. The Redbirds loaded the bases with nobody out, down three runs, at which point Jarrett Hoffpauir grounded out, forcing former so-young-he-must-be-talented prospect Donovan Solano out at home, and David Freese popped out. Then it was the AAA+ bats to the rescue: Mark Hamilton and Allen Craig tied the game with back-to-back singles. Then Brandon Yarbrough, hits-a-little backup catcher to the stars—he's played behind Daric Barton, Bryan Anderson, and now Matt Pagnozzi—hit a booming double to the opposite field to put the Redbirds up for good.

I'm guilty of it probably more than most people—I am, for the most part, following the Memphis season because I know that when it's over the Royce Ring/Matt Pagnozzi floodgates will open for the last two weeks of September. But it's great to see them doing well, especially when the charge is led by future useful types like Jaime Garcia, Tyler Greene, and Allen Craig.