With a Stacked Outfield, the Cardinals Will Have a Choice to Make at Left Field
There’s no doubting that Matt Holliday had a rough 2015 season. The 36 year-old dealt with a torn quad muscle that sidelined him for more than half of the season, making him hungrier than ever to get back and help this Cardinals team in 2016. But, with Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty also holding down the outfield, Holliday’s best way to help the team might be from first base.
Even in a season in which he only played 73 games, Holliday still hit .279 in 2015 with 35 RBIs and 39 walks in 2015. The veteran slugger finished with a respectable 1.2 WAR and provided key at-bats for the Cardinals late in the season. If Holliday can hit around 20 home runs like he has in the past, he will help the Cardinals make up for the loss of Jason Heyward this offseason.
— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) March 18, 2016
So far this Spring Training, Holliday has dealt with his share of struggles. He’s hitting .208 with 0 home runs, 1 double, and only five hits in 24 at-bats. I never take Spring Training stats seriously for veteran players, but with Holliday coming off an injury, I would hope that he would prove more doubters wrong. I’ll also cut him some slack, as he has been dealing with a position change, from left field to first base.
Speaking of first base, Holliday has shown to be a candidate for that spot in the Opening Day lineup. The Cardinals do not have a definitive successor there, and they could always put Tommy Pham in left field to replace Holliday. Pham definitely has more range as an outfielder, giving the Cardinals a complete outfield built with speed when you add Grichuk and Piscotty.
Cardinals fans should be excited about Pham, as he has been very productive thus far down in the Grapefruit League. The 28 year-old outfielder is hitting .270 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 1 double, 3 stolen bases, and 4 RBIs. Pham obviously does not have has much power as Holliday, but the Cardinals are not much of a power-hitting team anyway.
Pham and Holliday definitely leave Mike Matheny with an interesting choice to make at left field for the 2016 season. Holliday has been anchoring left field for a while now, but if he is better served as a first baseman now, maybe it’s time to make the switch. If not, Pham will always provide a spark off the bench, probably becoming the best 4th outfielder in the league.
I expect Holliday to have a great season in 2016. If he can stay healthy, he will feed off his hunger to show the Cardinals that he can still hang with the young guns and extend his contract past this season. It will be interesting to see how Matheny plays this out, but he definitely has two great options for the left field spot on Opening Day.