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Though I would not complain if the Orioles suddenly jumped up and signed Matt Holliday to a rich contract, I'm not on board with the notion that he's the cornerstone player that would take the team to the next level a year or two quicker than Andy MacPhail apparently has in mind.

Holliday is a very good player and run-producer, but he's getting the most buzz this year because he's one of the best offensive players in a thin free agent market. If agent Scott Boras has his way, Holliday will get almost as much per season as Mark Teixeira, and I don't think they are comparable players.

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I obviously don't think Garrett Atkins is even close to being a comparable player with either one of them, but you can twist statistics every which way and make it seem so if you were so inclined. I'll give you an example:

Holliday has averaged one RBI for every 6.15 plate appearances in his career. Atkins has averaged an RBI for every 6.52 plate appearances. That's a fairly large statistical difference, but if you are gambling that Atkins' 2009 season was an anomaly -- which is what the Orioles are doing -- than you throw that year out and he is averaging one RBI for every 6.31 plate appearances, which is a more marginal difference at a huge discount in price.

Atkins generally batted fifth for the Rockies and Holliday batted third, so a better comparison might be somebody like Hideki Matsui, whose career ratio is almost identical to Atkins if you eliminate Atkins' down season.

Of course, you can't really eliminate a season, but the O's are gambling on a bounce-back year, and it isn't a bad gamble at the price they paid.

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