Matt Holliday (Rant #1)

Lately, there has been debate on whether or not to go after Matt Holliday or not this coming offseason. I was out of the country till yesterday, so I didnt have the chance to offer my opinion. Beware, heavy stat post after the jump.

Im using to attempt to predict Holliday going forward, and using a win/dollar ratio, put a price tag on him. 

So we all know that Matt Holliday is putting up less than expected numbers with the A's this year. But how bad has he actually been? He started off the season horribly, but over his last 46 games, hes hit .314/.432/.465. His batting average is right at his career average of .315, while his OBP is up, and slugging down. But batting is just half of the story, he has been superb in the field. He is 6th in the majors with a +5.9 UZR for LFers. Over the course of a whole season, thats a +13 mark, meaning that his fielding will be worth 1.3 wins over average over the course of a season. 

But what is wrong with Holliday this year? Taking a quick glance at his peripherals show a decrease in his K% and an increase in his BB%, usually a sign of improvement. Hes also swung at less pitches this year, and improved his contact rate. So what gives? The answer lies in his balls in play. He has lost 6% of his line drives, and added 5% to his fly balls, and 1% to ground balls. This would cause his average to drop significantly, as line drives have the best chance to fall in for hits. A rule of thumb (but extremely crude way) of predicting BABIP is LD% +.120, but Holliday has had a career correlation of LD rate +.150 (yeah I know, really lazy on my part) so Holliday's BABIP should be around .154+.150=.304, very close to his actual .309. Hollidays career BABIP is .351, and his career LD% is 20%. So if Holliday's LD% returns to normal, around 50 points should be added to his BABIP (+60 for LDs, -10 for loss of ground ball and fly ball hits). So as long as Holliday can hit line drives, his batting average should be fine, and as long as he can get walks, his OBP will be fine as well (fine as in near career norms).

Another of the more shocking trends is his complete loss of power. This is even more strange because he is hitting more fly balls, which should result in more HRs, and show more power (at least in Isolated Power (SLG-AVG), which only takes into account extra base hits for slugging). His power is down however because his HR/FB is way down, to 9.3%, down from his 16.7 career percentage. Is this just fluctuation, or is it due to the park switch? Determining RF/CF/LF from the 75 and 105 degree marks and using, last year Holliday hit 3 HRs to RF, 15 to CF, and 7 to LF. In 2007 he hit 7 to RF, 12 to CF, and 17 to LF. In 2006 he hit 12 to RF,  10 to CF, and  to 14 LF. Coors has HR factors (courtesy of hardballtimes, and LF and 1/2 LCF combined, CF and 1/4 of LCF and RCF combined, and RF and 1/2 of RCF combined) of LF at 128, CF at 104, and RF at 127. McAfee's factors are 98 to LF, 76 to CF, and 97 in RF.

Heres adjusting his HRs if he played McAfee instead of Coors

2006(C)-RF-12, CF-10, LF-14: 2006(M)-RF-9.3, CF-7.3, LF-10.7. Holliday loses 9 HRs.

2007(C)-RF-7, CF-12, LF-17: 2007(M)-RF-5.3, CF-8.8, LF-13. Holliday loses another 9 HRs by playing in McAfe-

2008(C)-RF-3, CF-10, LF-14: 2008(M)-RF-2.3, CF-7.3, LF-10.7. This time he loses 5 HRs. 

Now obviously his HRs wouldnt be this depressed because he plays only half his games at McAfee, so he would possibly only lose around half of the numbers I just calculated. Angels Stadium is 100 to LF and 108 to RF, so Holliday would still hit for enough power. This conclusion would be supported by a higher SLG when he plays away, which doesnt appear, although his total line does improve significantly over his home line, but it is still way to small of a sample size to draw conclusions from. While Holiday may not slug .600 again, he should still be over .510 for the rest of his career.

So now that I have dissected his season so far up to this point, how should we value him as a free agent?

Despite all his struggles, Holliday has still put up 2.2 wins above replacement (WAR) so far this year. On his current pace, Holliday will be worth 4.8 WAR over the season, but he will improve, and will likely end up in the around 5.5 WAR range. Assuming such, over the past 4 years, Holliday has been worth 4.4, 7.9, 6.2 and 5.5 WAR. It is safe I think to predict he will be worth around 5.8 WAR over the next 3 seasons. One of his top comps on BB-R is Jason Bay, and the players look very similar, except offset by one year. Holliday's first season was when he was 24, Bays when he was 25. Bay also went through a rough patch, where he OPS+ 93 one year. But he bounced back and is now one of the premier players. (but I digress)

But assuming an average of 5 WAR over 5 seasons, and assuming a 4.3 Million dollar per marginal win added (the economy makes this number lower than the current 4.5, as total monies will likely be less than last offseason), over the course of a 1 year deal, Holliday would likely be worth something like 21.5 Million dollars per season. But when signing a longer deal, the player gives up around 10% due to the security of the deal, also because there is risk of injury/ineffectiveness. Taking off about 2 Million extra (per season) to compensate likely less effective defense and base-running to aging, we arrive at about 5 years, 85 Million, which is probably still a tad bit high for him. If Holliday wants to see those numbers, he is really going to have to rebound during the second half. If he doesnt rebound, teams will likely project him around 4-4.5 WAR per season, and drop up to 4 Million a season off of his price, and his market price would probably be around 5/70. 


From all accounts, Holliday loves SoCal, and Boras listens to his clients. If Holliday wants a deal done with the Angels, Boras will make it happen. If he asks for the most money, Boras will also make that happen. Also, Holliday is very close to Garret Atkins, who grew up in Irvine (in the house next to mine), and Atkins likely speaks favorably of SoCal.

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