Thursday, September 17, 2009

Holliday Blues

Well it's been an ugly homestand so far, no?

Dropping 5 of 6 to Atlanta/Florida will cause most to reflect a little bit on what went wrong. St Louis certainly should have won 1 more game (Saturday's 7-6 loss), but Franklin had some issues. They could have taken two more (Friday's 1-0 and Tuesday's 2-1 decision) with a bit more timely hitting.

Let's focus on the hitting for a bit.

Cardinal hitters haven't been lighting up the scoreboard this homestand. Here are some numbers for you to chew on (BA/OPS):

Holliday - .231/.567
Pujols - .381/.921
Schumaker - .455/.975
Ryan - .333/.762
DeRosa - .136/.356
Rasmus - .273/.727
Ludwick - .222/.556
Lugo - .250/.724
Ankiel - .273/.545
Molina - .313/.764

Lots of guys struggling on the homestand.

Ankiel's been in essentially a season-long funk, so no new news there. Ludwick's OPS peaked on 25 July (.850) and he's been in a gentle, but steady, decline since (.689 OPS with 11 XBH since).The DeRosa struggles aren't a surprise, because of the wrist issue he's been fighting through since coming over from Cleveland.

Holliday's struggles, however, are a bit of a eye-catcher. There is some anecdotal evidence Holliday's pressing, given the way he's reacting after chasing bad balls, and some non-clutchiness in key situations (his bases loaded at bats in the 6th on Tuesday and 9th yesterday stand out).

He's not being patient on this homestand: 0 walks in 27 PA. Since coming to the Cardinals, he's walked in about 11% of his plate appearances (17 + 4 intentional in 212 PA), which would place him 30th in the league or in the top 10% of NL hitters. Why has he abandoned that part of his game this homestand? He's struck out 34 times in those PA, or just over 16% of the time (which, if he kept it up over a full season, would make him the second toughest guy in the NL to strike out behind AP), but it's ticked up on this homestand to 26%; and the 7 strikeouts represent 20% of his half-season total with St Louis.

Why the lack of patience? True the Cardinals have faced better pitching in the last 6 games than they have for a while, but that shouldn't cause Holliday to throw pitch selection to the winds. He could be pressing with Ludwick hitting behind him, due to Ryan's own slump; he's struck out 3 times in the 3 games Ludwick's hit 5th, but 4 times with Rasmus behind him, so that doesn't seem to be the reason either. What is true is in the 3 games Ludwick's hit 5th, the Cardinals have scored 3 runs total, and 2 of those runs came well after the game was decided.

His XBH have dried up - 2 (both doubles) on the homestand. There are, to my mind, two possible causes for this. Again the good pitching argument. The other could be his knees. I know, I know - small sample size blah blah blah. But he hasn't hit the ball with authority since tripping over the bag in Milwaukee, so you wonder what he actually did to the knee, and if he's having trouble pivoting around it. If I had access to game tapes for the last two weeks, state of the art video analysys equipment, and no need to work I would examine his swings and make a definitive assessment, but out here in the real world that's not possible.

I don't have a solution - I point it out as something to watch.

No comments: