Clean up in order: The case for Holliday in the fourth spot

Clean up in order: The case for Holliday in the fourth spot

Clean up in order: The case for Holliday in the fourth spot

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 17 at 4:29 PM

(BaseballStL) – When I was a kid, I would receive my allowance and immediately begin making a list of all the new things I was going to have by the end of the day.

Before I would leave the house, one of my parents would unfailingly offer up the time-honored cautionary advice, “Now, don’t spend it all at once.” Sometimes I would listen, but too often I would end the day with little to no cash left and a growing depression as I remembered all the things I still needed money for.

It seems like the Cardinal offense could use some of the budgeting discipline I lacked as a youth, as their run totals seem to swing more wildly than a 10-year-old's bank account.

At first glance, the last seven days look pretty good. The Cards are averaging 4.1 runs a game and have four wins.

Take out the 12 runs against the Mariners, and that average plummets to 2.8. Without RBI leader Allen Craig, the Cards have blown up for three big games in the last 11. They’ve totaled 57 runs in his absence.

Unfortunately, 58 percent of those runs have come in those three big games. If run totals are the bank account, those three games are paydays. 

I’m not suggesting the team could stop scoring and save some runs for the next contest, but they could do with some side income. Eruptions are nice, but the starting pitching has had to work extremely hard to keep them in recent games. A little consistency would ease the pain.  

One possible solution would be to move Matt “The Bat” Holliday down a slot into the cleanup role. As we mentioned earlier, Holliday’s brief stint in the fourth spot in the order this season resulted in roaring success.

He went 22-49 (.449), with an OPS of 1.175. He slugged .633. The big left fielder also rove in 11 RBIs. Those 11 RBIs are 13 percent of his total (84) and they came in nine percent of his at-bats.

For his career, Holliday has a better batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage when batting fourth instead of third. While the at-bats are close, (2,272 when batting fourth, 2,287 when batting third), all three components of his slash line are up by double digits as a cleanup hitter.

Carlos Beltran, batting fourth in Craig’s absence, has had considerably less success in the cleanup slot in 2013.

In his 74 at-bats there, he has hit .230, slugged .333 and driven in only two RBIs. His OBP is also lower than when he started a game at any other slot in the order.

For his career, his totals are higher, but still well below his production in the two slot. Add the fact Beltran’s second half production- especially power- has taken a tumble in recent years (he also plays fewer games as he rests for the postseason) and one could make the case that Holliday is a far more ideal candidate to fill in for the injured Craig.

Matheny and his staff have access to the same numbers I do, so I’m sure they have their reasons for keeping Holliday hitting third. What they could be, I don't have a guess; but I hope the coaches are willing to experiment.

Unlike my allowance, the Cardinals can't borrow any extra runs to get through the stretch.  

JJ Bailey covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL app. Follow him on twitter@jungborednbroke and on @baseballstl_app for updates. 

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