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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Holliday trade impact

Matt Holliday is the Steve Nash of fantasy baseball.

Yes, it's a stretch, but let's break this down Bill James style.

After Holliday was traded from the Athletics to the Cardinals on Friday, I tried to come up with a comparison for the outfielder's once-inflated value, courtesy Coors Field.

The Mike D'Antoni-coached Nash seems about right. In four seasons with D'Antoni as the coach in Phoenix, Nash ran at will, played no defense, won two MVP awards and averaged at least 15.5 points and 10.5 assists per game, while shooting 50.2 percent or better from the field and 43.1 percent or better from the 3-point line.

You don't need me to tell you his fantasy value during that period was significantly higher than in 2003-04, his last season in Dallas, and 2008-09, when Terry Porter and Alvin Gentry were his head coaches. Still, Nash was pretty darn effective in 2003-04 (14.5 points, 8.8 assists, 47.0 percent from the field, 40.5 percent from 3-point range) and 2008-09 (15.7, 9.7, 50.3, 43.9).

He just wasn't D'Antoni-coached effective.

Same goes for Holliday during his post-Coors Field career.

In five seasons with the Rockies, Holliday was a .319 hitter. From 2006-08, he had 908 at-bats at Coors Field. In that span, he batted .361 with 62 homers, 219 RBI, 199 runs scored and 19 steals. He also totaled 75 doubles and had an OPS of 1.099.

In those three seasons, Holliday had 869 at-bats on the road. His batting average dropped 65 points and his homers were nearly cut in half, but he still hit .296 with 33 homers, 120 RBI, 58 doubles, 147 runs and 30 steals.

First-round fantasy numbers? No. Solid No. 2 outfielder statistics? Certainly.

When Holliday struggled with Oakland to start the season, some fantasy owners were puzzled, but the stat geeks certainly were not. A few months later, Holliday's statistics seem about right -- 355 at-bats, .296, 54 runs, 26 doubles, 11 homers, 56 RBI, .385 on-base percentage and .853 OPS.

He's no Albert Pujols. But he's a productive No. 2 outfielder, which is what we should have expected all along.

And you thought I couldn't work Mike D'Antoni and Coors Field into the same comparison.

In two games with the Cards through Saturday, Holliday is 6-for-9 with two runs scored, two doubles, two RBI and a steal. This month, he's batting .370 with three homers, 15 RBI, eight doubles and a 1.038 OPS.

The trade to St. Louis should make him more valuable the next couple months. Just not Colorado valuable.

More trade tidbits

-- Not that Pujols could get much better, but having Holliday hitting behind him can't hurt. Fantasy's best player has been rather ordinary the last seven games (6-for-27 with two RBI), but we know that won't last.

-- The Cardinals also acquired shortstop Julio Lugo in a trade with Boston on Wednesday. In two games with St. Louis, the 33-year-old is batting .667 (6-for-9) with three runs scored, a double, two triples, a homer, two RBI and a steal.

Lugo is owned in only 1.5 percent of the leagues on, which doesn't mean you should make a mad dash to the mouse pad. He's a career .271 hitter who was a free-agent bust in Boston and won't provide much pop (two homers in 375 at-bats since 2008). But if your middle infield is a mess and you are desperate for steals, Lugo, who has five seasons with 21 or more stolen bases, is worth monitoring.

-- The arrivals of Holliday and Lugo should mean fewer at-bats for the Cardinals' Colby Rasmus, Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan.

Rasmus (.260, 11 homers, 34 RBI), an outfielder who is owned in 10 percent of the ESPN leagues, didn't start Friday and Saturday. Ryan (.274, one homer, 15 RBI), a shortstop who should be owned in NL-only leagues at best, likely won't start more than a few times per week, even if Lugo slides over to play second base in place of Schumaker.

Schumaker (.305, three homers, 24 RBI), owned in 14.6 percent of the ESPN leagues, is the best asset of the three and should have his playing time impacted the least because of his ability to play the outfield.

-- In two games since the Holliday trade, Ryan Ludwick, who follows Pujols and Holliday in the batting order, is 4-for-9 with two runs, a homer and two RBI. After an injury-plagued May and awful June, the former Indian is batting .392 with five homers, 24 RBI and a 1.108 OPS in July.

-- Another Cardinals outfielder, Rick Ankiel, has been even better the last two games. The former pitcher is 6-for-9 with a home run and four RBI since the Holliday deal. If you're looking for outfield help, Ankiel is available in almost half of the ESPN leagues. He's batting only .236, but he does have power (25 homers in 413 at-bats last season), and he's driven in a run in three straight games and is 10-for-21 (.476) since July 20.

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