Since Matt Holliday signed his Cardinals’ record-setting contract back in 2010, he has been one of the most cost-effective position players in all of baseball. Over the past four seasons, here are Holliday’s season averages:
.301 batting average
.386 on-base percentage
Cardinals’ owner, Bill Dewitt, has paid Holliday a total of $67 million over the past four seasons. During this time, Holliday has collected 651 hits, 148 doubles, 99 home runs, and 374 RBI. According to Fangraphs’ calculation of WAR, Holliday has accounted for 20.4 wins above replacement since 2010.
In my opinion, I feel that the numbers I just listed should be enough to show Holliday’s value to the Cardinals, but I realize that he has some really tough critics out there. I figured that these critics probably needed some more convincing, so I took it a few steps further.
I compared Holliday to some other “big money,” high-profile players around the league. I fully realize that there are other players like Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen who have been better than many on this list. However, since they have not yet been given “big money” contracts, I decided to not include them in the discussion. Rather, I decided to compare Holliday against 12 other position players who have also made at least $53 million over the past four seasons. The results of my findings are as follows:
Before we break down the numbers, let me point out that Holliday is the 9th highest paid player on this list of 13. Now, let me explain the most integral part of the table above–a measure that I will call “$ / WAR“–super creative title I know. The main point of this measure is to see how much a team is paying a player for the wins above replacement that he provides. (If there is already a statistic out there just like this, my bad!)
Well, as you can see, the Cardinals are paying Holliday $3.27 million per one win above replacement. Of the 13 players included in the discussion, only two have been better–Miguel Cabrera (duh!) at $2.99 million per WAR and Adrian Gonzalez at $3.13 per WAR. Some notable names below Holliday on the list are Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, and Prince Fielder. Also, if you look again, Holliday has the second most wins above replacement on the entire list–behind reigning AL MVP, Cabrera.
Another thing to note is that Holliday is 6th on the list when it comes to percentage of games played (89.51%) and is the 3rd most durable outfielder behind freakishly healthy Ichiro and Alfonso Soriano. Considering how violent of a swing Holliday takes and the fact that he plays a position that requires a lot of running, it is pretty unbelievable that a big guy like him has been able to play in almost 90% of his team’s games since 2010.
A Quick WAR Mini-Digression:
I realize that there are many people out there that are not big fans of WAR, and I completely understand your opinion. However, to me, it is our best way of calculating a player’s overall value right now. Sure, you can look up the standard numbers like batting average, on-base percentage, home runs, etc, but once you start comparing a player’s rank among numerous different categories, you are basically creating your own way of calculating a player’s value compared to others in the league.
If that did not make sense, I realize that it was kind of wordy, let’s look at it another way. In my opinion, Miguel Cabrera is one of the best players in Major League Baseball, if not the best. However, I will not say that Miguel Cabrera is the best player in baseball just because he has the highest batting average. Rather, I will see that he also leads the majors in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and is in the top five of a slew of other offensive categories. Thus, by creating an argument for Cabrera by combining all of his individual numbers together and comparing them to others–I would basically be creating my own make-shift definition of a player’s value.
Back to the Point of this Article:
Holliday-haters, I really hope you were able to read this article. Holliday has not only been one of the most valuable players for the Cardinals over the past four seasons, but he has been one of the most valuable in the entire major leagues as well. The only players ahead of him in “$ / WAR” are perennial All-Stars, Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez.
If you still do not like WAR even after my two paragraph mini-digression, then just look back at his standard season averages–.301 BA, .386 OBP, 37 2B, 25 HR, and 94 RBI. For $17 million per season in today’s market, that is an incredible deal for the Cardinals.
Until next time…
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