Beef the Series: NL Central Outfielders

Why you using this pic MDS? I look up to nobody. I’m Bruce Almighty!
Photo Credit: Mevins31

We’re going to make this a short and sweet. To be honest with you, that 1 Night in China link has mysteriously made my forearms tired (both of them). I’ll never look at the Bronco Buster the same. Tonight we’re settling beef between two NL Central Heavyweight Outfielders; Matt Holliday and Jay Bruce. In one corner we have a reliable, aging vet and in the other corner we have a young, potential packed slugger. Two top eight Outfielders enter the proverbial cage, but only one will leave. It’s showtime.

Background During draft season I made the proclamation that Jay Bruce is better than Matt Holliday. This upset some people. I stuck to my guns and entered the season with Bruce ranked ahead of Holliday. I sided with potential over reliability. However, after a semi-slow start from Bruce and a BABIP-fueled romp by Holliday, the two reversed ranks when the first update the Top 100 Fantasy Baseballers was released. The next update may see another reversal. Let’s take a closer look at the two and officially settle this meaty dispute.

Matt Holliday The old man. The oligarch. Holliday was once a proud Outfielder who had the potential to hit 35 HR. Then Colorado traded him to Oakland, the power output hasn’t been the same. Despite the drop in home runs, Holliday was able to produce at high standards with a great batting average and double digit steals. Holliday, now 31-years old, has seen a downward trend in stolen bases since his total peaked in 2008 (28 steals). He stole only nine bases last season, this season he’s 0 for 1 in SB attempts. He’s slowing down. His bat hasn’t slowed down though. He’s lacing line drives at a high rate (22%, nearly 3% higher than his career aveage). His BABIP has responded well (.400, 50 points higher than his career average). Holiday is hitting .349 with 6 HR through 40 games. The 25 HR pace is nothing special, but the batting average is great and he hits between Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman. He’s safe, he’s reliable, he’s Matt Holliday.

Jay Bruce The young buck. The usurper. Bruce has had an up and down start to his MLB career. His batting average has been as high as .281, but we’ve also seen a low of .223. Somewhere in between he broke his wrist. The expectations have always been high so Bruce does have his fair share of haters. While Bruce strikes out more often than Holliday (23.5% to 18.8%), he does possess the potential to hit more home runs. Holliday’s downward trending SB totals may give Bruce the edge in steals too. Bruce is already up 4 to 0 in said statistic. While Bruce hasn’t hit many line drives through the first seven weeks (11.5% is very poor), he has shown the ability to produce high line drive rates. You couldn’t stop him from hitting line drives in the minors. Bruce is hitting .282 with 12 HR and 4 SB. Bruce may not hit behind Albert Pujols, but he is slotted behind the reigning NL MVP in Joey Votto. He’s young, he’s improving, he’s Jay Bruce.

Both Outfielders have 31 Runs, Holliday has one more RBI (31 to 30). The run production is essentially locked, the ranks at Yahoo! are locked (13 to 21) and their horns are locked. Let’s ring the bell, separate the two and raise the hand of the winner. Which OF should be ranked higher in the next update of the Top 100 Fantasy Baseballers. Who would you rather have? Matt Holliday and Jay Bruce?