St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday has worked with several hitting coaches he respects. But throughout his career, his No. 1 hitting confidant has been his brother, Josh, Oklahoma State's first-year baseball coach.
“He's the one I trust the most with my swing,” Holliday said. “He's who I go to. He's seen me since I was a kid. He watches all my games. If something doesn't feel right, something is off, or I'm trying to make an adjustment, he's the one I call or fly him in.”
Holliday has spent the past month working with Josh. Matt purchased a small house in Stillwater where he and his wife, Leslee, and their three children have lived.
“I took this opportunity with him being back in Oklahoma,” Holliday said. “My wife's family is from here. This was a great chance to work with Josh and spend some time with family. Josh has great expertise in both the mechanical and mental side.”
Josh said Matt's mindset and work ethic helped him develop into a six-time All-Star more than any coaching.
Still, the year Holliday had a breakthrough in his final minor league season before he broke in with the Colorado Rockies was the year he worked extensively with Josh.
“Those are things he's held on to,” Josh said. “His first four or five years in the majors, he really came into his own. Pro athletes have people they trust that were part of helping them get where they're at. They know your heart is in the right place and you want nothing from them other than to be successful.”
Matt, 33, takes pride in his consistency. A lifetime .313 hitter, Holliday has batted .290 or better all of his nine major league seasons. He's averaged more than 100 RBIs the past eight seasons.
This offseason, one subtle change was slightly lowering his hands to get his bat through the zone quicker.
“Josh and I are always bouncing things off each other,” Matt said. “We go back and forth. It helps having him watch.”
The plan is that the intricate offseason habits developed with his brother over the past month will be beneficial during a 162-game grind where slumps are inevitable.
“From time to time everybody goes back to the basics,” Josh said. “Sometimes you go back to your roots where you established things. That's where Matt and I have developed that trust. I watch every game that he plays.
“We speak often during the season. You can sometimes see on TV he's not as comfortable as he can be. You point out good things so he doesn't dwell on the negative and maybe point out something on the physical or mental side. But when we talk sometimes it's, ‘How are the wife and kids.'”
The past month they didn't have to phone one another.