Orioles leaving Jackson Holliday off Opening Day roster is brutal, but also correct

Baltimore fans may not like it, but there is wisdom in giving Jackson Holliday more time to season in the minors.
Jul 27, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles number one draft pick Jackson Holliday
Jul 27, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles number one draft pick Jackson Holliday / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

When the Baltimore Orioles decided to not include Jackson Holliday on their Opening Day roster, the decision received a wide range of shock and anger. Many were under the impression that Holliday's inclusion was all but a lock, while others simply thought he had won the job outright and that any other decision but to carry him from day one had to just be wrong.

In some ways, it is hard to argue with that point of view. The 20-year-old phenom slashed .311/.354/.600 in 15 games this spring and showcased his well-rounded skillset against any and all comers. No one is denying the kid can play, and if the Orioles had added him to the big league roster, Holliday would have likely done just fine.

However, in this particular case, Baltimore may have made the right call.

Orioles prospect Jackson Holliday's numbers have been insane, but more time and reps isn't going to hurt

What Holliday has done and continues to do at his age and experience level is objectively insane. Prep bats right just don't move this quickly up the minor league ladder, but Holliday has somehow managed to make it all the way to Triple-A after just 145 games in the minor leagues and has excelled at every stop, including at big league spring training this year. In terms of pure talent, you won't find many better than him.

Talent can only get one so far and rushing him to the big leagues could come with a very real cost, though. When Orioles general manager Mike Elias was explaining the decision made on Holliday, he pointed out two very important points. One, Holliday still has a lack of experience, both at second base and against quality left-handed pitching.

This definitely tracks, as Holliday has a grand total of 25 games at second base in the minors thus far in his career, in addition to the work he did this spring. As for his experience against lefties, he has just 136 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, with the bulk of that being in the low minors.

As much as we may hate to admit it, experience does matter when it comes to playing in the big leagues. Opposing teams are going to throw the kitchen sink at a high-profile guy like Holliday at the plate, and they'll be very aggressive on the bases to test him at second base. Everyone thinks Holliday is more than capable of rising to the challenge, but there is no substitute for giving him actual reps that he just hasn't had time to accrue just yet. If the team rushed him, there is a very real possibility that his first taste of the big leagues would have been very disappointing and could have set his development back.

The only thing that would be completely indefensible was if the primary consideration was getting another year of service time out of him. Service time manipulation is a plague upon the game of baseball, and if the Orioles think that he is ready and are just trying to game the system, then they deserve all the scorn they are getting right now. However, there are real baseball reasons to hold Holliday down just a bit longer, especially since the big league roster doesn't NEED him right now, as good as it is heading into the season.

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