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Matt Holliday appreciation time

Looking back at Holliday's time with the Birds on the Bat

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

So, the Cardinals win, hooray! The Giants also won though, so, well crap. The Cardinals are looking down the barrel of being eliminated from the playoffs. I'm sure that situation will command most of the attention today. But there was also an awesome moment last night, courtesy of Matt Holliday. If you happened to miss it, check out the game recap. With news that the Cardinals most likely will not pick up Holliday's option, let's look at Holliday's production during his contract. That contract of course is the biggest the Cardinals have ever handed out, $120M over seven years.

First off, let's look at his offense over that time frame. We'll also look at where he ranked in each stat over that time frame. Lastly, we'll create a "+" stat for each one that adjusts his performance to league average. A 109 will mean he was 9% higher than average, a 82 will mean he was 18% lower than average, etc. Here's the results:

Holliday was above-average at all four rate stats. Despite some injury troubles the last couple of years, he's ranked 45th in plate appearances taken over that time, an ode to his work horse nature. Matt wasn't other-wordly in any one stat, but his overall game allowed him to be the 14th best hitter by wRC+ and 13th by offensive runs above average (off), despite the fact that he was below average on the base paths.

That means that the average team has not had a hitter as good as Holliday from 2010 to 2016. I wanted to see how rare it was for a hitter to be above-average in all aspects of hitting over those seven years. So I culled the original 435 players down to just those that were above-average in all four core hitting stats. That's a grand total of 31 players, just 7% of the original sample size. Here's the top 10 of those 31:

Holliday has produced the 6th most value on offense of the 31 players who were above-average in all aspects of hitting from 2010 to 2016. Adrian Gonzales is revered in Los Angeles, but he's had 800 PA more than Holliday since 2010 and still hasn't accumulated as much value. David Ortiz is getting a ridiculous send-off this year, but Holliday is right next to him in terms of offensive value and actually plays a position. Ortiz will probably be a first ballot Hall of Famer, and Matt will probably fall off the ballot in the first year. Pretty ridiculous how under-rated Holliday's career has been. Not that I think Matt should end up in the Hall of Fame, it's just that the contrast in public opinion on both is silly compared to the overall numbers.

We're not just talking about Holliday's career though, but just his time with the Cardinals. The team signed him going into his age 30 season. They were likely to be buying decline years, making it a risky move. Holliday played his age 30 to 36 seasons under his contract with the Cardinals. How did his performance rate historically, for other player's age 30-36 seasons?

Let's take a trip to, and look at every player's age 30-36 seasons from 1960 to 2016. And then rank those by offense above-average. Holliday places 51st. That might not sound all that impressive, but keep in mind we're talking about a range of nearly 60 years. The top of leaderboard is just another way of showing how ridiculous Barry Bonds' second peak was. Bonds leads was nearly 100 runs in front of second place Mark McGwire, with nearly 200 runs less. Even more ridiculousness: Bonds' age 37, 38, and 39 seasons were all better than any of his age 30-36 seasons.

Back to Holliday, here's his numbers, as well as the nearest five above and below him on this leaderboard:

Some really good company to be in here. Also, because most these players played during higher offensive environments, Holliday's performance adjusted to environment is probably a few spots better than 51st. Next up naturally is looking at where he ranks among Cardinals. Here is the leaderboard, adjusted only for time with the Cardinals from age 30 to 36:

Not only does Matt rank in the top ten, he's third! Boy did Jim Edmonds have a great run in his 30's. Matt Holliday has been one of the best Cardinals to play his early to mid-30's in St. Louis. When including 2009 when the Cardinals traded for him at the deadline, he played for (at least) six playoff teams in his time as a Cardinal. As far as position players go, Holliday and Yadier Molina are basically tied at the top in WAR, with 24.6 WAR for Molina and 24.2 for Holliday. That's despite Yadi being way more valuable on defense.

Holliday deserves to be counted among the Cardinals' all-time greats. Will he? Only time will tell, but generally I feel like he's under-rated. I thank Matt Holliday for his exceptional performance in his 30's, and wish him the best no matter what his future holds.