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Matthew Thomas Holliday was born 01/15/1980 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. His father is former Oklahoma State and current North Carolina State associate head coach Tom Holliday, and his brother Josh is the associate hitting coach at Georgia Tech. Matt attended Stillwater High School where he played football and baseball, earning All-American honors in both, and he was such a highly regarded quarterback prospect that he was begged to choose the former sport over the latter. However, he ended up choosing baseball and signed with the Colorado Rockies. He has burst onto the scene as one of the top young hitters in Major League Baseball, earning his first selection to the All-Star Game in 2006, and continues to improve in 2007, winning the 2007 NLCS MVP award.
Holliday is a true power hitter with excellent strike zone awareness. He is a noted first-pitch swinger, however, and will sometimes reach for wasted pitches too far out of the zone. He's one of the best breaking-ball hitters in the game, and can take a straight fastball almost out of the yard entirely. In addition, he has a very good eye and can often point out to umpires on disputed strike calls exactly where the pitch was. His patience is oftentimes lacking, but it is offset by his ability to hit for average and power, and he has a knack for accumulating RBI> In his third full season, Holliday has put up MVP-caliber numbers of a .340 AVG, 36 HR (4th in NL), and 137 RBI—Holliday also amassed 50 doubles and 6 triples. He reached at a rate good enough for a .405 OBP (6TH in NL), slugged .607 (2nd in NL), and OPSed 1.012(3rd in NL). He has a tendency to sometimes press in crucial situations, leading to 126 strikeouts against 63 walks, but he is one of the best pure hitters in the game. Holliday credits his success to Mark McGwire advising him to incorporate what is now his signature leg-kick into his swing. Holliday's numbers are, of course, partially inflated by playing in Coors Field, one of the best hitter's parks in all of baseball - in 2007, his slugging percentage was 230 points higher at home, and he hit 25 of his 36 homers at Colorado - but he is clearly a superstar-caliber hitter regardless of where he plays. He won the NL batting title in 2007, and was the top run producer with 137. In 2006, Holliday was a National League Silver Slugger award winner.
Baserunning & Defense
At 6'4 and 230 lbs, Holliday is a large player and clearly not Kazuo Matsui or Willy Taveras on the basepaths—his Colorado teammates have racked up over 60 stolen bases between them—but he's not Bengie Molina, either. Holliday swiped 10 bags in 15 tries in 2006, and 11 in 15 tries in 2007, so he does have the ability to do so if needed. That isn't a part of his game, as the Rockies offense prefers to let Matsui and Taveras reach, use their speed to discomfit the opposition, and then have the Murderer's Row of Troy Tulowitzki(.291/24/99), Holliday (.340/36/137) Todd Helton (.320/17/91) Garrett Atkins (.301/25/111) and Brad Hawpe (.290/29/116) drive them in. But it does show he is developing into a more well-rounded player in all facets of the game.
That development includes defensively. Holliday has drastically improved his defense this year, making only 3 errors in 306 total chances for a fielding percentage of .990. His zone rating (measuring the number of balls a fielder is able to reach) qualifies him as one of the best left fielders in baseball—this is even more noteworthy because Holliday is a converted infielder. This is a big step forward for a throw-in prospect pick out of Stillwater High, regarded as an all-hit, no-glove proposition, a useful MLB filler player at some point, but certainly not an MVP candidate. Holliday's Colorado teammates were campaigning for him to win the Gold Glove in recognition of his newfound fielding prowess, but it hasn't come without a few missteps. In the crucial NL Wild Card tiebreaker against the San Diego Padres, Holliday got a bad jump on and misread Brian Giles' lazy fly ball, allowing it to go over his head for a game-tying double. Fortunately, this error was erased by his own game-tying triple in the bottom of the thirteenth, and subsequent face-first slide home for the game-winner, to catapult the Rockies into the playoffs for the first time since 1995. The tying run was controversial, as many contest that Padres catcher Michael Barrett successfully blocked the plate with his left foot and made the late tag for the out.
Holliday hit a homerun in his first playoff game 10/3/07 against the Phillies in the 2007 NLDS.
- Selected by Colorado Rockies in the 7th round of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1998 - signed July 24, 1998).
- Holliday was recruited out of Stillwater High School in Oklahoma to play quarterback at Oklahoma State University.
- On December 14, 2007, Holliday had his #24 high school jersey retired in a ceremony at Stillwater High School.
- Matt's brother, Josh, an assistant hitting coach at Georgia Tech, pitched to him during the 2007 All-Star Game Home Run Derby in San Francisco, California. He is the son of former OSU coach Tom Holliday.
- Matt and his wife, Leslee, have two sons, Jackson (12/04/03) and Ethan (02/23/07). They reside in Denver, Colorado during the offseason. His closest friend on the team is third baseman Garrett Atkins, and Atkins has lived with the family during spring training for the past four years, even serving as babysitter to the young Holliday boys.