Thursday, December 3, 2009

Matt Holliday can hit on the road

With the new rumor circulating that Jason Bay is being courted by the Seattle Mariners, it makes sense to take a look at the other high-profile left fielder on the market. Matt Holliday is younger than Bay and a better outfielder than Bay, but his inability to hit in his four months in the American League, not to mention his history with Coors Field, makes one wary of how he might do in Boston.

It doesn't take much investigating, though, to discover that Holliday might be just the type of well-rounded hitter the Red Sox need.

Holliday was a beneficiary of Coors Field for years. He put up an OPS at home of 1.000 or better in four straight years with the Rockies and never OPS'ed less than .982 in his six seasons in Colorado. What's remarkable about his numbers on the road, though, is the obvious trend:

Matt Holliday's year-by-year OPS on the road
2004: .654
2005: .729
2006: .819
2007: .860
2008: .892
2009: .830

As Holliday has matured as a hitter, his numbers on the road have climbed northward year after year. He can be considered a hitter who will put up an OPS of close to .850 on the road every year -- a mark that would have ranked him fourth on the Red Sox last season:

* Kevin Youkilis, .933
* Victor Martinez, .925
* Jason Bay, .904
* J.D. Drew, .844
* Jacoby Ellsbury, .742
* Dustin Pedroia, .736
* Mike Lowell, .713
* David Ortiz, .703

The Red Sox don't need another hitter who will tattoo the Green Monster. They already score runs in bunches at home. The Red Sox need a hitter with power to all fields, a hitter who can take advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium just as easily as he can take advantage of the short porch in left field at Fenway Park.

Check out the home runs Holliday hit in 2009:

And in 2008:

Holliday has gotten better and better on the road every year -- and he has the power-to-all-fields swing that's indicative of strong road hitters.

He's probably never going to replicate the 1.012 OPS he put up three seasons ago with the help of Coors Field. But there's little reason to believe he can't replicate the .921 OPS Jason Bay put up last season -- and he'd probably play better defense, too.

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