Thursday, June 5, 2008

Matt Holliday Update

A few weeks ago I posted about the Colorado Rockies and Pitch f/x. The conclusion of that post was that Rockies pitchers react to pitching at altitude differently than visiting team pitchers. In essence, visiting team pitchers throw fewer breaking balls and more fastballs, while Rockies pitchers throw fewer breaking balls, but more changeups.

That differetial was exemplified in Matt Holliday's pitch f/x data showing that last season over 70% of the pitches he faced were fastballs, compared to a league average of just over 60%. Holliday's differential is the biggest on the Rockies, but all of their hitters (besides Yorvit Torrealba) had higher than average rates.

This season there has been a lot of talk about the Rockies considering a trade of Holliday while his value is high and before he hits free agency. The problem that is often mentioned is Holliday's home/away splits, which are drastic. This puts Holliday's value in question - it likely means that he is far more valuable to Colorado than he is to anyone else.

As usual, the explanation for Hollidays splits is that the ball carries farther at altitude making it easier to hit there. While this is certainly a measure of the reason for his splits, I again turn to his pitch f/x numbers and point out that, once again, Holliday is seeing far more fastballs than the rest of the league. This season he is seeing fastballs, sinkers and splitters at a rate of 68.13%, while the rest of the league averages 59.75%.

I would not be willing to give up a package of prospects worthy of an MVP candidate for Holliday. Away from Coors Field, where he won't see quite so many fastballs, he is a solid, but unspectacular player.

BallHype: hype it up!

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