The 2011 World Series has come down to a best-of-three scenario, as Game 5 is about to begin with the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals tied as two games apiece. It has been a well-matched series, with the momentum pendulum swaying back and forth, both sides having had different heroes stepping up to produce valuable performances.
In Game 1, the Cardinals’ Allen Craig delivered a pinch-hit game-winning run batted in. But in the next game, Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler returned the favor, igniting a two-run, game-winning rally in the ninth inning. When the Series shifted to Arlington, it was the Cardinals turn again, with Albert Pujols’s historic three homers and six RBI leading the way. And last night, the Rangers evened things up behind lefty Derek Holland’s shimmering gem—8.2 innings, two hits, no runs.
Needless to say, this World Series has so far seen a slew of players who could be considered for the Most Valuable Player award. Each team offers several worthy candidates. St. Louis has seen the aforementioned Pujols; first baseman Lance Berkman hit .467; and left-hander Jaime Garcia give up only three hits and no runs in seven innings pitched in Game 2. Meanwhile, Texas has catcher Mike Napoli’s astonishing 1.429 OPS; Holland’s masterful Game 4 pitching performance; and Kinsler’s all-around greatness both at the plate and in the field.
There are many great players to choose from when deciding who has been the most valuable for either team.
On the other hand, conversely, which players have not stepped up during this World Series? Who might be eligible for, if there were such a designation, the World Series Least Valuable Player?
Certainly, Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday is making a case for himself in terms of worseness.
After his Game 4 showing in which he went 0-for-4, Holliday is now batting .133 in the Series, with .478 OPS and no runs batted in. Atrocious numbers for anybody; unacceptable for a cleanup hitter. Unfortunately for St. Louis, Holliday has not only been unable to provide protection batting behind Pujols, he hasn’t gotten on base, which means that Berkman’s .467 batting average is going to waste, unable to drive anybody home.
Worst of all, Holliday, is only 1-for-11 against left-handed pitching in the Series. With runs being so hard to come by against this Texas staff—Game 3 aside—the Cardinals need more production from their All-Star.
It’s not as though Holliday is unfamiliar to this spotlight. When he was with the Colorado Rockies, his team reached the 2007 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. During those four games, he batted .294 with a home run. So it’s not as though Holliday is shy when it comes to this big stage. Additionally, isn’t fearful of American League, hitting a superb .308 against Junior Circuit pitchers for his career—that includes a half-year stint with the Oakland Athletics.
So what gives? Why does it appear that Holliday is taking time off during the worst possible portion of the year?
True, the Cardinals are indeed in the World Series; and they are an exciting team in otherwise. But in order for them to win it all, they need to receive contributions from Holliday’s bat, as he is one of the premier hitters in the National League. Against Texas’ stifling pitching, it’s imperative to have the Cardinals’ sluggers at their best.
Yet, so far, Holliday has been the Cards’ least valuable player, as he has taken an October vacation that could wind up costing St. Louis another World Series title.