If you had the distinct un-pleasure of being down at Citizens Bank Park for the only two Phillies home playoff games in the last 14 years, then you got to witness the superb play of perhaps the quietest MVP candidate of all time. Matt Holliday.As regular season baseball reached its stretch run in 2007, many things appeared certain for October. The Yankees and Red Sox would be playing baseball, the Phillies would look back to a dismal April to find where their season was barely lost, and the Colorado Rockies would once again begin their search for some pitching. Yes, both the Yankees and Red Sox joined 6 other teams in the MLB playoffs, but two men jolted their respective teams to a place that neither team had been in over a decade… The NL playoffs.
I’m talking of course about the two most popular NL MVP Candidates, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies and Matt Holliday of the Rockies. The team who overcame the more difficult task can be argued far more than the player who was more valuable during this stretch time. The Phillies were the first team in MLB history to win their division after being 7 back with 17 games to play. While the Rockies had to (and did) win 14 of their last 15 games to join October baseball as the NL Wildcard team. Surely the MVP of the National League would come from one of these two teams that overcame the odds to meet in the Divisional Round of the NL Playoffs.
A few days before the series, television viewers watching the parade in downtown Philadelphia heard before they saw that Jimmy Rollins was about to take the microphone. The Chants of M-V-P from screaming fans in City Hall, drowned out the announcement that Rollins was to speak. These M-V-P chants were very heartfelt but I’d have to say quite inaccurate. Nothing to be taken away from Jimmy Rollins, he had a career year and his numbers speak to that. Jimmy hit .296, with 28 Doubles, 20 Triples, 30 Homeruns, 94 RBIs, 139 Runs, with 212 hits in 716 AB. He also flashed an incredible glove at Shortstop, stole 41 bases and didn’t miss a single start. Of those statistics Jimmy led the League in Runs and Triples and was in the top 3 in hits. It would be very easy to hand over the National Leagues Most Valuable Player award to Mr. Rollins, except that Matt Holliday also played in the National League.
Unlike Jimmy Rollins who spoke the famous phrase "We are the team to beat in the NL East" to reporters at the beginning of the season, Holliday and his Colorado Rockies didn’t have much expected from them and were not willing to offer bulletin board material. Instead they were going to let their play show fans all across America that they were a legitimate contender. America however, would have had a hard time seeing the season unfold the way it did had someone told them what was to occur. The Rockies hadn’t been to the playoffs 12 years and hadn’t made many significant changes from the previous years team that went 76-86.
The key to their miraculous 90 win turnaround was the quiet leader, Matt Holliday.
Holliday also had a career year but as you can imagine, Philadelphia is a little bit bigger of a baseball town than Colorado and he didn’t get nearly the national recognition he deserved until the final week of the season. While the press declared Alex Rodriquez the MVP in the American League as early as July, the three favorite names being kicked around in the NL were Fielder, Wright, and Rollins. Two whom would not see October baseball and one (Rollins) who would see his team get ousted by Holliday’s Rockies. If you haven’t seen them Holliday’s numbers will shock you; he hit .340, with 50 Doubles, 6 Triples, 36 Homeruns, 137 RBIs, 120 Runs, with 216 hits in 636 AB. Granted he plays an average Left Field and he doesn’t have the blazing speed Rollins has, but he did start a career high 158 games. His Batting Average, RBIs, Hits, and Doubles all lead the National League. While his Homeruns, Runs, Slugging, and OPS were all in the NL’s top five. His numbers clearly justify this award and his teams performance does as well. Are there any other NL MVP candidates still playing post-season baseball? Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t think Holliday was a real MVP candidate, just don’t be surprised when he wins the award deservingly.