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I'll See Your Ship and Raise You a Moth

In late August of 2011, a moth flew into Matt Holliday's ear during a game against the Dodgers. Cardinals trainers escorted Holliday off the field and into a dark room, hoping that the moth would seek light and exit the premises. The moth, likely considerably more uncomfortable than Holliday, couldn't budge, and the trainers finally extracted the moth with tweezers. Carefully. 

Impressively, they were able to remove the moth without killing it. Holliday kept the moth, sort of like a reverse ship in a bottle. Only alive. 

This winter, I've read pundits claiming that Holliday is in a "none too slow" decline, citing that he stole just two bases last year and only managed 22 HR. For your sake and mine, let us hope these pundits continue to push Holliday down draft boards in 2012. 

He only appeared in 122 games in 2011. Things began bizzarely for Holliday, with an appendectomy costing him the first nine days of April. In May, Holliday sustained a quadriceps injury, which the Cardinals tried to be aggressive with. Holliday went on the DL in the beginning of June for two weeks.

In August, the moth, and then Holliday rounded out the year by spraining a finger in the middle of September, missing the season's final two weeks. 

Does this rich array of bizarre injuries portend Holliday's decline?

I say, frankly, no. Holliday is not Paul Konerko; he's just turning 32. In a keeper league, yes, his stock is falling. But in a redraft league, Holliday is still in his prime and warrants your attention in 2012. In Holliday's first few seasons in Colorado, his stolen base totals were in the low teens (14, 10, 11 in 2005-07). Only in 2008 did his SB total jump to 28. In 2009, it was back to 14; in 2010, 9. Given the problems first with his core and then his quadricep, it is understandable that Holliday did not go hogwild on the basepaths in 2011. He stole a base in each of the season's final two months, and in 2012, Holliday can be counted on for 5-10 SB, in line with his career totals. 

As for the considerably more salient issue, Holliday's bat, everything was just fine in 2011. Despite playing through a host of maladies, Holliday posted his highest HR/FB% and ISO since 2007. All of his other peripherals matched career norms. Sure, Albert Pujols is gone, but Holliday hit behind Pujols all of last year. In 2012, Holliday will almost certainly hit third, boosting his counting stats. If Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman can remain healthy, Holliday is in line for a monster year. None of the injuries Holliday sustained were chronic in nature. He is 100% healthy, whooping up on David Freese in squash.

As offensive production declines across the board, what better bets are there than Holliday to post a .300/25/100/100/5 season? Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, and that's about it. Holliday will give you Votto-like production at a position that is arguably thinner than 1B in a 5 OF league. With an ADP of 37.99 at MDC, Holliday is falling to the fourth round in 12-team drafts. Target him in the third round and be thankful. I know I hope he falls to me in RotoAuthority.com's mock draft on Thursday. Listen, don't hate on the lepidopterist. Nabokov had his butterflies; Holliday has his moths.


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