Will the Detroit Tigers third catcher find himself a spot on the everyday roster?
Bryan Holaday is working hard to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. If he keeps up these numbers, Toledo may no longer be his regular home. After four RBIs in Saturday’s game against the Nationals and four RBIs against the New York Yankees earlier in the week, Holaday has to be earning a serious look from Brad Ausmus and the other Detroit Tigers decision makers.
There is something magical about watching a baseball player on the cusp fight for his career. Holaday current is sitting with a .750 batting average and an unbelievable 2.875 OPS (any OPS over 0.900 is considered outstanding). Since it is early, the numbers are bound to balance out, but for now, they are making him the talk of the town.
In 2015, Holaday’s stats were so-so and his spring training stats were, too. In the regular season, he had only 64 at-bats and hit .281 with 2 home runs. His spring training career stats include 5 home runs and a batting average of .243. With the Toledo Mud Hens, Holaday only hit two home runs with a .224 batting average. So far, in this spring training, he has hit 3 home runs – one was a grand slam and the other two were two-run shots.
You might be thinking, it’s easy to hit home runs in spring training because there are so many young, inexperienced pitchers. But, Saturday’s first home run was hit off of Stephen Strasburg, one of the top rotational pitchers with the Washington Nationals. His second home run was off of A.J. Cole – a prospect who has pitched in a total of three games in the Majors allowing only one home run.
In the game on Wednesday, March 2 Holaday’s grand slam was hit in the second inning off of Luis Severino, a New York Yankees prospect who started in 11 games with the Yankees in 2015. The 22-year-old Severino earned a 2.89 ERA and a 1.203 WHIP. He did allow nine home runs in 2015.
Holaday’s battle for a spot is what spring training is all about. This guy obviously wants to play baseball and hopefully he can stay with the team that signed him back in 2010. Of course, the starters like Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and J.D. Martinez are a joy to watch in the low-stress games, but for guys like Holaday, Kyle Ryan, and Steven Moya, this is their time to shine. Holaday has been putting on a spring training performance clinic – out-hitting the big guns like Victor Martinez, Miggy, and J.D.
What makes his plate performance even better is the fact that the 28-year-old Holaday is such a likeable guy. In his previous seasons with the Tigers, he always looked like he was absolutely amazed that he got to play baseball for a living. He has participated in mini-clinics for kids and he is always willing to sign autographs for his young fans. He appeared in the unforgettable video with Cabrera and Anibal Sanchez and the Zubaz pants. Cabrera introduced him as “the Back-up Catcher.” He also showed off his attractive physique with Verlander’s girlfriend, Kate Upton.
Whether Holaday becomes the backup catcher or he earns a spot as a utility player, it sure would be nice to see a nice guy finish on top.