St. Louis Cardinals: Why Matt Holliday Has More Pressure Than Anyone in 2012

Dylan MaddenContributor IIJanuary 19, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after injuring his finger during Game Six of the MLB World Series against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

John Mozeliak may have had a moment of premonition when he locked Matt Holliday into a long-term contract two years ago. In the aftermath of the dramatic departure of Albert Pujols, all eyes fell onto Matt Holliday, and even after the signing Carlos Beltran, there is more pressure than ever on Matt Holliday to produce. 

There is no doubt that when Mozeliak and the Cardinals signed Holliday there was an underlying thought that one day soon, Pujols may not be wearing a St. Louis Cardinals uniform. Now, this vision has been proven true. Holliday will undoubtedly move to the No. 3 spot in the batting order and will be expected, by many, to produce Pujols-type numbers.

Fans over the past two years have looked at Holliday as an overall positive signing for the Cardinals, however, many have seen Holliday's production compared to his payroll as unsatisfactory. They may have a point too. Over the past two years Holliday's numbers have decreased across the board, and some crucial fielding errors in playoff games have negatively polarized the perception of his play even more. Cardinals fans cringe at the memory of Holliday taking a routine line drive to a very sensitive area, and the more recent collision in the outfield on a shallow pop up in the World Series. 

Holliday got some help when the Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran; this move solidified the middle of the order and provided Holliday and Berkman with some protection. But, Holliday will, nonetheless, still be solely expected to fill the hole of Pujols. To do so he will need to produce to the level of his days in Colorado, specifically 2007.  If he starts the season slowly, the pressure could reach a boiling point. A below average season, or another year of declining statistics, could have Cardinals fans mumbling about trade prospects.

For the time being, Cardinals fans continue to do what they do best, support their players, and in this case Matt Holliday. So it is the hope of Cardinals Nation that Matt Holliday will regain his form and be a force in the lineup for the remainder of his contract.