Thus far in 2016, the Cardinals offense has been explosive, ranking atop the National league. Now, as Matt Holliday seems to be hitting his stride, how much better can the Cardinals become?
For years, the Cardinals have been known for their pitching with a complementary offense. Through the first third of 2016, the Cardinals have assumed a completely opposite identity, scoring runs at an impressive, consistent pace.
Interestingly, such explosive offense has been anchored by a new face, as Stephen Piscotty has emerged as the Cardinals most consistent hitter. While Piscotty has thrived thus far in 2016, other stars on the Cardinals haven’t had such luck. Notably, both Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter have slumped through the first third, performing well beneath their career precedents.
With the current state of the Cardinals, it becomes simple to criticize pitching, stating that the current rotation is inadequate due to inconsistency. With the hitting, it appears there is nowhere to improve, simply no possible way to improve a run count that tops the entire National League. After yesterday’s win in Milwaukee, however, fans and coaches got a glimpse of what could make the Cardinal’s offense truly great.
The difference was Holliday and Carpenter. On Monday, both were firing on all cylinders, racking up a combined 7 hits, while scoring five of the team’s six runs. In Piscotty’s absence (illness), the offense operated as one would have predicted prior to the season. Both Holliday and Carpenter, played to their potential in unison, showing a glimpse of the profound impact they have to offer. Combined with the consistent success of other Cardinals starters, the squad could build upon their already dominant offensive performance.
Matt Holliday has now reached base 9 of his last 13 plate appearances with 1 BB, 6 1B, and 2 HR, including his 9th HR on the year there.
— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) May 30, 2016
For Holliday, these past seven games should excite fans everywhere, as the left fielder began to show signs of his true potential. Specifically, Holliday had nine hits over the past week, going yard three times and knocking in eight RBIs. Hitting the ball hard in seemingly every at-bat, Holliday dazzled throughout the week, performing like the superstar he has proved to be throughout his successful career.
Perhaps most exciting is Holliday’s consistent demonstrations of power over the past week. Most notably, Holliday smashed a 456 foot home run in Monday’s match up with the Brewers, nearly exiting the entire stadium with a solo-shot to left field. After a slow start, Monday’s blast provides a reminder of the sheer strength of Matt Holliday, and his consequent to immediately blow a game wide open. Should Holliday continue onwards from his 7-game tear (in which he hit .391), the Cardinals offense would have an opportunity to improve upon their already impressive offensive output.
While the pure spectacle of Holliday’s power is impressive, one must also pause to recognize the other effects that such muscle can create. First, fear of Holliday’s impact will protect hitters preceding Holliday, as pitchers will directly attack such batters to avoid facing number 7. Furthermore, Holliday power could also create confidence with Cardinals pitching, as pitchers will be more aggressive knowing they have the ability to tack on runs quickly and efficiently.
While Matt Holliday is hitting moon-shots and consistently powering the middle of the Cardinals line-up, he simultaneously affects the dynamic of the entire squad, giving a sense of peace and comfort due to clutch muscle. Recent success is encouraging and entertaining, as all related to Cardinals baseball are happy to be reminded of the immense presence of Matt Holliday.
Photo captured by Benny Sieu- USA Today Sports