Matt Holliday Looks to Rebound from 2011 World Series Performance

Baseball fans, the day has finally come.

The 2013 World Series commences tonight at 7:07 PM CST for Game 1 against the Boston Red Sox in the historic Fenway Park. If the Cardinals want to bring home their 12th World Series title, they better hope for a better World Series performance from Matt Holliday–who struggled mightily at the plate against the Texas Rangers in 2011.

In six games played in the 2011 Fall Classic, Holliday had just three hits in 19 at-bats for a .158 batting average. Though he had a solid .385 on-base percentage, he had just one extra base hit–a double–and had zero RBI. He also grounded into three rally-killing double plays.

Luckily for Holliday and the Cardinals, the slugging left-fielder has relatively decent numbers against the majority of Red Sox pitchers–excluding John Lackey who has gotten him out in all seven at-bats in his career. Holliday is also much healthier this year compared to 2011–a postseason in which he fought through a finger injury that eventually made him unavailable for Game 7 of the World Series.

Matchups for Games 1 and 2:

While playing for the Oakland Athletics, Holliday had two hits in three at-bats with one RBI against Game 1 Starter, Jon Lester. However, while with the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series, Holliday was held hitless in four at-bats against Lester in Game 4 and failed to get the ball out of the infield.

Surprisingly, much of Holliday’s production came against right-handed pitchers this season, not lefties. His .279 batting average against left-handed starters was 28 points lower than his average against right-handed starters. He also had only two of his 22 home runs against left-handers this season. Thus, look for Holliday to shoot the ball the other way against Lester to get on-base and let the other bats in the lineup drive him in. Also, unlike his hitless Game 4 in 2007, the stakes are much different for Game 1 in 2013. The Cardinals are evenly matched with the Red Sox, while the Rockies were simply over-matched and were just trying to stave off a sweep.

In Game 2, Holliday will face right-hander John Lackey. Like I said earlier, Holliday has zero hits in seven at-bats against Lackey in his career. However, only one of those seven was a strikeout, and Holliday is too good of a hitter to remain hitless for much longer against a pitcher like Lackey. Lackey no longer over-powers hitters and has turned to his slider more and more–throwing it just over 30% of the time in 2013. His fastball comes in just over 92 MPH–so this combined with the possibility of hanging a slider could result in a monster home run like this one in the Game 4 of the NLCS.

That’s all I have for individual pitcher matchups for Holliday–largely because I do not really believe in matchups at this point in the season. Why? Well, there are certain players that just live for the “October Moment” regardless of who they are facing on the mound. Is Holliday ready to add another yet another achievement to his already illustrious career? I sure hope so.

Concluding Thoughts:

Given how close this series could be, I strongly believe that Holliday’s bat will play a key role in outcome of the World Series. Everyone, including the Red Sox, knows how good Carlos Beltran is in the playoffs, and Boston pitchers will plan accordingly. This plan may even involve walking Beltran to get to Holliday in key situations throughout the series. This is not necessarily recommended, but it will definitely be an option that they explore.

If Boston pitchers do choose to pitch to Beltran, they will have to bear down and apply complete focus to the matchup in order to get him out. By doing this, there may be a slight chance that they “ease up” just enough against Holliday for him to make them pay. This is not likely considering Holliday is a daunting hitter himself, but all it takes is one poorly-located pitch for Holliday to deposit a homer over the Green Monster in left.

Go Cards!

Until next time…

Joe

For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe

This was a guest post for The Cards Conclave, make sure to follow them on Twitter: @CardsConclave

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