The signing of Matt Holliday was widely accepted prior to the 2017 season. It appeared the Yankees were acquiring a reliable veteran bat whose health would be preserved in a steady DH role. Many of Holliday’s injuries were suffered in the field, so Brian Cashman was investing in Holliday to put up his usual 20+ home runs to help lengthen the lineup.
For the first two and a half months of the season, it appeared Cashman had pulled the right string in acquiring Holliday. The 37-year-old slugged 11 home runs in the first two months of the season, while saving his most memorable moment of the year for the end of April in what may be the greatest game of the regular season for the Yanks.
Things were going great for Holliday. His offensive production was among the best in the league at the DH position, and taking every half inning off kept him healthy. It was a brilliant addition by Cashman.
Of course, you can DH a player to minimize injury risk, but you can’t prevent freak illness by keeping your player in the dugout.
Holliday was smacked with fatigue and body aches in late June, which kept him out until mid-July. After a short stint back in July, Holliday was sidelined again and appeared in just three games in August. It was finally concluded that the Epstein-Barr virus had robbed Holliday of his physical energy and unfortunately derailed what had been shaping up to be a successful season.
Holliday played on and off in September, but struggled to get back into a rhythm at the plate. Meanwhile, Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury began to heat up and Greg Bird stormed back from his own mysterious ailment, which was finally addressed properly. As the Yankee offense began to click again heading into the postseason, Holliday seemed like the odd man out, especially after slugging just .300 in the second half of the season.
He still made the postseason roster, but didn’t make an appearance until Game 1 of the ALCS, where he went 0-for-3. That’s where Holliday’s season ended, while the Yankees’ season went on for a few more days.
Holliday finished the 2017 season with 19 home runs and a .748 OPS in 105 games, finishing under the 20 home run mark for just the second time in the last 12 seasons. Had he remained healthy, continuing that remarkable trend seemed like a guarantee.
Given how promising his season started, Holliday’s physical downfall was hard to watch. His offensive production helped the Yankees storm out to a fantastic start in 2017, but he wouldn’t factor into their crucial October moments.