Jackson Holliday's Debut Has Been a Nightmare So Far

Holliday is hitting .037 though eight games.
Apr 16, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jackson Holliday (7) warms
Apr 16, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jackson Holliday (7) warms / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Jackson Holliday is the consensus top prospect in baseball, and his arrival in Baltimore was highly anticipated. When the Orioles finally called him up to the big leagues on April 10, the baseball world was paying attention. The dream debut many expected has yet to arrive. The 20-year-old's first week-plus in the majors has been more like a nightmare.

Holliday went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in Baltimore's 9-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals Friday night. That dropped his batting average to .037. That's not a typo. He is struggling mightily at the plate.

Through eight games, Holliday's on-base percentage is now .071 and he's slugging .037. That's an OPS of .108. He currently has one hit (a single) in 27 at-bats. He has scored four runs, has an RBI and one walk. To make matters worse, he has struck out in 15 of his 27 at-bats. Things have gotten so bad that on Friday night the Orioles pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no outs. To add insult to injury, Ramon Urias, who is hitting .192 with a dismal OPS of .415, was the man chosen to take his place. Urias fouled out harmlessly to the catcher.

One positive: Holliday has yet to commit an error in the field at second base. That said, his dWAR is -0.1.

Holliday is incredibly young to be on an MLB roster, so an adjustment period probably should have been expected. Given how he has performed in the minor leagues and in spring training, this complete flop so far is still a bit sobering.

In 15 spring training games this year, Holliday slashed .311/.354/.600 while belting two home runs and driving in six runs. He struck out 15 times in 45 at-bats, but his .954 OPS made the swing-and-miss that exists in his game worth it.

In 2023, the former No. 1 overall pick traversed four levels of the minors, reaching Triple-A by the end of the season. He finished the campaign with a combined OPS of .941, slashing .323/.442/.499 with 12 home runs, 75 RBIs, 30 doubles and nine triples in 125 games. He worked 101 walks while striking out 118 times, which is a fantastic ratio and a far cry from what we've seen during his MLB at-bats.

Holliday opened the season back at Triple-A Norfolk and, once again, looked fantastic. In 10 games he posted an OPS of 1.077 while slashing .333/.482/.595. He walked 12 times and struck out eight. He was on a roll and it is surprising he couldn't carry that momentum into the majors.

It's worth nothing that current Orioles stars Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman struggled upon arriving in the big leagues. As R.J. Anderson pointed out, Rutschman slashed .210/.296/.389 through his first 176 plate appearances, while Henderson hit .224/.339/.394 through his first 289. Now both look like future MVP contenders.

While this slump is brutal, a breakout is almost certainly coming for Holliday. He's far too talented to stay down for long. There's no reason to believe he won't wake up from this nightmarish start soon.


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Ryan Phillips

RYAN PHILLIPS

Ryan Phillips is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. Ryan has worked in digital media since 2009, spending eight years at The Big Lead before joining the SI team in 2024. He also co-hosts The Assembly Call Podcast about Indiana Hoosiers basketball and previously worked at Bleacher Report. Ryan is a proud San Diego native and a graduate of Indiana University’s journalism school.