|Holliday makes MVP, playoff push with homer steak thanks to assist from Big Mac|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 September 2007 07:59|
``I'm very humbled by that and honored,'' said Holliday, whose latest moon shot Thursday helped Colorado complete a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers and allowed the Rockies to stay in the NL wild-card hunt heading into a weekend series at San Diego.
The left fielder who hit his 100th career homer this week and who credits batting tips from former St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire for helping transform him into an MVP candidate has to be among the most modest mashers in the game.
Asked if he thought his power surge on the Rockies' 5-1 homestand - .464 batting average with six homers, two doubles, nine runs and 12 RBIs - helped cement him as the favorite for NL MVP, Holliday took a pass.
``It's not for me to decide and it's not former me to have an opinion,'' he said. ``If it turns out that way great. If not, that's fine, too. I just try to go out and do the best that I can and help this team win. We've got nine games left and if things fall right we have a chance to make the playoffs.''
The Rockies entered their weekend series at San Diego nine games over .500 for the first time since 2000 yet still trailing the even hotter Padres by 4 1/2 games in the wild-card race, leading Holliday to suggest a three-game sweep was necessary.
Heading into the final week and a-half of the season, Holliday had set career highs with 36 home runs and a league-leading 131 RBIs. He also led the NL in hits (205) and doubles (48) and his .339 batting average trailed only Atlanta's Chipper Jones at .342.
Only one other hitter has had this hot of a home run streak in the last four years. Alex Rodriguez also homered 11 times in 12 games for the Yankees back in April. The last one to do it before that was Atlanta's Javy Lopez in early 2003.
That Holliday's surge has come in September games that matter makes it all the more meaningful to the Rockies.
Maybe it's ultimately too little, too late, but Holliday's power surge sure has teammates and opponents in awe.r
``It's unbelievable,'' teammate Garrett Atkins said. ``I'm surprised when he hits a single now, it seems like when he puts his good swing on right now, he hits a homer. They are no doubters. It's fun to watch. It's been huge, whenever he his a home run it seems like we win.''
Indeed, the Rockies are 28-5 in games Holliday has homered.
``He's getting balls that are up in the zone and he's pounding them,'' Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. ``He's not missing pitches that are in his coverage. He's driving us from line to line. It's just so gratifying to see. He doesn't get a lot of publicity. Everybody in the National League knows who he is. I don't know what more a man would have to do to make more of a statement trying to put a foot down and make a run for the MVP.''
Dodgers manager Grady Little said he's hitting pitches out that aren't anywhere near the strike zone.
``Derek Lowe wanted to put a pitch to him into the dirt and he went down and got it. He hit it all the way into the flowers in center field,'' Little marveled. ``The guy is strong as a horse. You don't want to make a mistake to him ever and especially when he's as hot as he is now.''
Holliday has never been so locked in for so long.
``It's kind of funny, I've never really been in one like this where I've had so many home runs in so many games,'' he said. ``It's hard to describe. Everything feels right, you're not really thinking about anything other than getting a good pitch to hit and hitting it hard. You're laying off the tough pitches and you're swinging at the good pitches to it and not missing them.''
Holliday credits much of his power surge to former single-season home run champion McGwire, who visited Coors Field last August and broke down Holliday's swing on video and then suggested Holliday add a leg kick.
``I had done it a little bit, I would mess with it sometimes and when it went bad, I'd just can it and go back to just stride,'' Holliday said. ``He talked to me about how still my head was when I would do it. He figured that if I stuck with it, I could get used to it.''
Holliday said he was thrilled to get advice from McGwire, who's been a bit of a recluse in recent years after his memorable sidestepping of steroid questions before Congress and a failure to make the Hall of Fame last winter.
Holliday said the two keep up through text messages.
``It's been really cool. I was a big fan of his,'' Holliday said. ``We sort of hit it off the first time that we met and he's taken an interest in me. He's always checking on me. Every time I get a chance to pick a guy like that's brain, I'm going to take advantage of it.''