The Almost Greats
Matt Holliday hit his 300th career home run, solidifying himself as an almost great. As much as I love marveling at the legendary accomplishments of special athletes, there is room for the not great but very good players. To me, Hall of Fames tell the story of a sport. You include certain players, because it would be impossible to explain the history without them. They are a necessary character to understand the arc. The almost great players aren’t 100 percent vital, but hey it’s still fun to bring them up. They add a little flavor to the whole thing. The Tim Hudsons, the Torii Hunters, the Victor Martinez’s. These are all guys who had stints where you put them in the discussion, but true greats do it for a period of time where you start thinking, “They’re not normal.”
Holliday’s best year was that ’07 season, where he finished second in the MVP race, and first in “best forearms”. He led his team to a pennant, and won a batting title with a .340 average, which to me is always more impressive for a power hitter. There’s that feeling that there were no cheapies, no duck farts, or dribblers down the third base line. Just an entire season of frozen ropes. He really had a solid 5 year period where he was a regular .315 guy who was gonna put up 30 jacks at least. I remember it well, as he would consistently torch my Giants. By the way, fuck you. This was before the 3 rings, and they hadn’t won since they moved to San Francisco. So, I know it’s good to be a fan now, but Holliday represents the tough years for me. Alright, I’m done being defensive.
With that 300th home run, Holliday became just the 93rd player to have 300 big flies and 2000 hits. I say “just” because baseball has a history that goes back to slavery. So it’s significant, just not extraordinary. After Matt Holliday’s retired, a few might include him in a discussion as a borderline Hall of Famer, but nothing significant enough to get real votes. He’s a guy you’ll look back at and say, “Man, he was productive for a long time.” Then over the years your memory will fade, and he’ll just be a name. Not a great name, but a very good name.