Boras blames Mark McGwire for Holliday’s slow start
In April, Matt Holliday hit .240/.288/.360 while with the Oakland A’s.
Many Yankees fans, and specifically those who are Matt Holliday detractors (for whatever reason), often cite Holliday’s poor start to the season as an indication of his true baseball persona, claiming that he’s unable to be a productive offensive player in the American League. The National League, then, along with Coors Field, serves as Holliday’s security blanket.
Of course, these same naysayers forget to mention that Holliday finished his time in Oakland with a .286/.378/.454 line, as he went on to produce a 134, 123 and 206 OPS+ in May, June and July. Outside of a miserable April, which could easily be characterized as a slump (and hardly an abnormal occurrence in baseball), the league switch barely seemed to affect the talented left fielder. An unlucky stretch of ineffectiveness appears to be the main culprit behind Holliday’s slow American League start (and nothing more).
However, at the GM meetings a week ago, Holliday’s agent, Scott Boras, went one step further and actually blamed the poor April on minor batting stance alterations which were suggested to Holliday over the spring by Mark McGwire. McGwire, at the request of Matt Holliday and other players, had worked with the A’s and the Cardinals as a guest hitting instructor prior to the regular season. This is an interesting development as McGwire is now the Cardinals’ new hitting coach and the Cards are interested in resigning Holliday.
Some in St. Louis believe Holliday’s relationship with new Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire will convince him to re-sign. But Boras threw a wet blanket on that, in so many words blaming Holliday’s slow start for the A’s last spring (.226, four homers in 28 games) on swing changes McGwire had made during their offseason coaching sessions.
“After five weeks [Holliday] went back to his old stance,” Boras said. “From that point on, he was the same player he always has been.”
If Boras is, indeed, telling the truth, then this specific explanation, one that involves batting stance alterations (why an annual All-Star would alter his batting stance going into a contract year is beyond me), serves as a tangible, rather than abstract, reason as to why Holliday struggled early on (it also explains his subsequent improvement). It’s certainly more substantive than saying, “It was just a one-month slump.” Ultimately, regardless of the veracity of Boras’ claims, the story could appease those Yankees fans who are hesitant to put their trust in the young left fielder.
So, for New York fans eager to see Matt Holliday in pinstripes, when your friend, who disagrees with you and thinks Johnny Damon would be more than adequate in left field in 2010, criticizes your viewpoint and cites Holliday’s miserable month of April as a reason why he shouldn’t be considered an option (“He’s an NL guy!”), feel free to recite this overly long piece back to them and challenge their critique with Scott Boras’ McGwire-dependent explanation. My guess is, they’ll respond with the question, “Okay, but, can you really believe Scott Boras,” and, at that point, I’m sorry to say, you’re on your own.
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