COMMENTARY | When St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak sent first base prospect Brett Wallace, outfielder Shane Peterson and pitcher Clayton Mortensen to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for perennial All-Star Matt Holliday, many felt that Mozeliak had pulled off quite a heist.
The numbers prove that indeed Mozeliak did. Holliday has hit at least 22 home runs in eight consecutive seasons. In four full seasons in St. Louis, Holliday has never finished with a batting average lower than .295 and an OPS lower than .877.
That kind of production and reliability is invaluable and irreplaceable.
So while Holliday clearly is an integral part of the Cardinals' potent lineup as their No. 3 hitter, does Holliday figure to be in the conversation for the National League MVP Award in 2014?
Holliday has finished second in the voting before, when he posted his career year of 36 home runs, 137 RBIs and an outstanding OPS of 1.012 in 2007 with the Colorado Rockies. But there are several reasons to consider when evaluating Holliday's MVP prospects for 2014 and why he is not likely to be a MVP candidate next season.
1. At this point in his career, Holliday is unlikely to breakout from his norm. Sure, Holliday's consistency is commendable. But for a MVP discussion that focuses on one single outstanding season versus a string of several great years, Holliday's candidacy is unlikely, especially considering Holliday will be 34 in January.
The Cardinals can count on Holliday for 22 home runs or more each year, but he has not posted more than 28 bombs and 103 RBIs since putting on a Cardinals uniform and is unlikely to do so as he continues to age.
2. Busch Stadium does not provide Holliday any favors. According to ESPN's MLB park factor ratings, Busch Stadium is the No. 7 most difficult place to hit home runs in all of baseball.
While many felt that the stadium has played pretty fair over the years, the truth is that the ball simply does not carry as well at the new Busch compared to other stadiums across the league, tacking on yet another obstacle for Holliday in trying to put together a monster season.
3. There likely will be a better candidate on Holliday's own team. Holliday not only will face fierce competition from other National League stars, such as the reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, but the most serious candidate for the award in 2014 may be on his own team.
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina finished third in the voting last season and with his emergence as one of the game's top hitting catchers to go along with his premium defense, it is hard to deny Molina's value and likely involvement in the MVP discussion.
4. The city of St. Louis still does not adore Holliday. Fans do not get vote for the MVP Award, but they do stir momentum and help mold the discussion through vocal support in stadiums and through social media.
Even with a huge season, it would be hard to imagine St. Louis fans pledging support to Holliday versus other fan-favorites, namely Molina, who will be likely contenders for the award as well.
5. Sabermetrics will not let Holliday enter the discussion. MVP voters and writers are focusing more and more on statistics such as WAR and less and less on the more traditional stats.
And that is OK. But it does put Holliday at a disadvantage.
According to Baseball-Reference, Holliday's highest WAR since joining the Cardinals came in 2010 at 5.9. In 2013, Holliday's 2.7 WAR placed him at No. 45 in the National League, which will not get him on the ballot of anybody who follows or believes in advanced metrics.
Holliday is a great player that is certainly under-appreciated in St. Louis. Finding a player that is as consistently productive as Holliday is extremely difficult. Thus far, the contract extension Mozeliak gave him has paid dividends.
Holliday has been extremely valuable to the Cardinals, but just not valuable enough to get in the MVP discussion yet and will be unlikely to do so in 2014.
Corey Rudd is owner/editor of StlSportsMinute.com and writes about the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Missouri Tigers football team as a contributor for Yahoo Sports. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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