As the Colorado Rockies make the final push for the playoffs, the front office has called upon Matt Holliday, one of the best players in team history, to add another dimension to its lineup. For Matt Holliday and the Rockies, the story has fittingly come full circle, as one of the franchise’s most memorable players, who created one of its most memorable moments, tries to cast some late-season magic once again.
An important figure in franchise history
From 2004 to 2008, Holliday was a mainstay in Colorado’s lineup. Paired with Todd Helton, the Rockies had one of most terrifyingly destructive lineups in all of baseball, regardless of location. As a Rockie, he proved that he was one of the best, most complete hitters around. Over those five seasons, Holliday recorded a .319/.386/.552 slash line with 128 home runs with 66 stolen bases. And in his prime, it did not matter where he played. In 2007 and 2008, he recorded .301/.374/.485 and .308/.405/.486 slash lines, 22 and 37 percent above league average by wRC+.
On top of all of his overall performance, he (maybe…) touched home plate in game 163 against the San Diego Padres to propel Colorado into the postseason. In the Rockies’ greatest season that included winning 14 of the last 15 games and sweeping the postseason for Colorado’s first postseason birth. As he makes his second Rockies debut, ironically against the Padres, and playing under the opposing manager from that transcendent October night in 2007, Holliday will try to emulate his performance that thrilled the entire city of Denver over a decade ago.
A much-needed boost to the lineup
Even though the Rockies have been one of baseball’s hottest teams since the start of July, the lineup still has two massive holes in left field and first base. Even below average performance would be an upgrade for the Rockies. Ian Desmond, who has cooled back down from April levels of incompetence, and Gerardo Parra, whose lack of power, plate discipline, and outfield range is just bad, cannot occupy two valuable spots in the lineup. And while David Dahl and Ryan McMahon have shown promise, the Rockies need to make an upgrade.
The Washington Nationals allowed both Matt Adams and David Murphy to leave through the waiver wire, and both could have sizably improved the Rockies lineup. Besides providing more overall value than Desmond and Parra, both Adams and Murphy hit left-handed and mash right-handed pitching. The Rockies lineup, meanwhile, has a 77 wRC+ against right-handers, the worst in MLB. And the Rockies claimed neither one.
While Rockies ownership might not want to pay the rest of Murphy or Adams’ salaries, the organization might believe Holliday could help the Rockies more than Murphy or Adams. Holliday, after all, has overall better discipline numbers over the past few seasons. But the Rockies have taken a risk with Holliday, as the team needs him to perform during the 2018 stretch run, preferably like he did in 2007. And although those are lofty needs, Holliday is more than capable of surprising us all. To the Rockies, Holiday might be more than a nice story; he might be the player the Rockies need.