A cardinal ‘Holliday’ for St. Louis
It’s funny how one player can make all the difference between winning a World Series and finishing just out of the running. Well, this summer, I think one trade (barring whatever happens with Roy Halladay) has that sort of impact.
The other “Holiday,” new St. Louis Cardinal Matt Holliday, is the key, I think, to the Cardinals making a push to the National League pennant. The Oakland A’s, in typical Billy Beane fashion, traded away a veteran hitter in exchange for coveted prospects. They also happen to have helped an offensively struggling team in the Cardinals become top dogs in the NL Central.
Granted, 60 games remain in the regular season and the Cardinals are just a half a game back on the Chicago Cubs, but I’m serious when I say that the addition of Holliday is going to make the Cards a very scary team to play.
Think about it like this. Before Holliday arrived three games ago, Albert Pujols was single-handedly keeping St. Louis afloat offensively. He is batting .325 with 34 home runs and 91 RBIs. There’s only one other guy on the team batting over .300 and the next closest person to Pujols in home runs has 17.
With the addition of Holliday, who batted .286 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs through his first 93 games with the A’s, the Cardinals get a certified cleanup hitter to hit behind Pujols. Those stats may not sound amazing, but he’s a career .300 hitter and he hit .321 a year ago with the Colorado Rockies.
Getting back to the importance of Holliday hitting behind Pujols in the lineup, it makes Pujols harder to pitch to. Many managers and TV analysts even wonder why teams still pitch to him, considering he’s the most feared hitter in the game. Teams have started just walking him and letting other Cardinals beat them. However, with Holliday behind him, pitchers have to think twice before just walking Pujols. If they do they still have to face Holliday, who went 4-for-5 in his first game with the Cardinals against the Phillies over the weekend.
We’re going to see this help the Cardinals come out on top in the NL Central. With the addition of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, it will be an interesting playoff run. I still hold that it will be the Phillies and Cardinals in the NLCS, but baseball is a fickle game where teams can get hot at any time and upend even the most carefully planned out arguments.
In the American League, the West Division is all but locked up with the Los Angeles Angels 3.5 games up on the Texas Rangers. They’re playing great baseball like they always do, it will just be a matter if they can sustain a playoff run this year.
Same goes in the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers, but the American League East race is unfortunately turning into a two-man race between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees are 2.5 up on the Red Sox.
Unfortunately this is not how I would like to see it go, and maybe it won’t, but those two teams are very strong right now. But with the “Dog Days of Summer” i.e. August still before us, it could be any one of several teams who emerge in September as the postseason favorites.
Here’s to hoping there’s another Mariners comeback.
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