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Friday, June 13, 2008

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While the win is on Moyer, this is worth noting: Manuel had Feliz playing at normal depth in the 9th inning and he ranged to his right perfectly to make an out with a runner on first.*

* clout, before you get too bent out of shape, this is what the Brits would call taking the piss.

Clout: If I told you in the offseason that on June 13, you could make a decent argument that Feliz was as valuable to the team this year as Ryan Howard so far, your head would have exploded.

And yet, there's a plausible argument to be made. Feliz has given you an 83 OPS+ with very good defense at 3rd base. Howard has given you an 89 OPS+ with bad defense at first base. Right now they are both making outs 70 % of the time, but one is batting in the 4th spot after one of the best #2 guys and the best #3 hitter in the national league, and one is batting in the 7th spot. Fair to say, that the one in the 4th spot is missing more opportunities to produce runs.

I love Ryan Howard, and of course he is a MUCH better hitter than Pedro Feliz. He's in an extended slump, it happens, while Feliz is actually hitting well compared to his usual self. No one in their right mind would argue Feliz is better. I just find it funny that you can make an argument that Feliz has been just as valuable SO FAR, because it must drive you crazy.

Hey, at least we're in first place, right? Can't complain about that.

So, when do we move to re-sign Moyer? And do we give him 1 year or 2?

Jack, Wes and the others who sleep with a photo of Feliz under their pillows:
Howard, Feliz and Ruiz are all terrible in terms of outs per PA, but my point to curt was that Howard isn't the worst or even the second worst in the lineup in terms of "automatic outs." And no team with 3 "automatic outs" in the lineup could be in first place.

Howard may well be throwing us a career-worst season the way Burrell did in 2003. But the fact these declarations are coming from the same knuckleheads who last season declared Burrell "washed up" and said we should trade him for nothing suggests to me that Howard is just as likely to get back on track.

Finally, Jack you really should look things up to save yourself from looking like a fool with your statement that Feliz is coming through in RBI chances better than Howard: "Fair to say, that the one in the 4th spot is missing more opportunities to produce runs."

Howard with RISP: .299 BA, .987 OPS
Feliz with RISP: .242 BA, .648 OPS

I'm tempted to say that if facing three righties in front of the home crowd in st. louis doesn't break Howard out of it nothing will. That being said, I will not be surprised at all when he pulls a Burrell and goes on a second half rampage.

"Howard may well be throwing us a career-worst season the way Burrell did in 2003. But the fact these declarations are coming from the same knuckleheads who last season declared Burrell "washed up" and said we should trade him for nothing suggests to me that Howard is just as likely to get back on track."

Oh I agree that Howard will eventually get back on track. I do have some doubts if he will ever return to the heights of his MVP season, but if he gets back to .280, 40-45 HR and 120 RBIs, thats just fine.

But you have to admit that he has been BAD so far. And Feliz and Ruiz don't hurt this team quite as bad as one would think if they just read BeerLeaguer. Just imagine if Feliz continues to hit just as he has, Ruiz gets his average up to .250 and starts driving the ball a bit more...AND Howard gets his act together and hits .280 from today till the end of the season. That will be a very potent offense, one that few teams could match (Red Sox, Cubs?)

MPN: Why would I have a beef with that? It's perfectly accurate. And had Feliz been guarding the line, as he would've been had the Phils not led by 3 runs, the ball would've been a single. I'm not a big fan of guarding the line.

I have no doubt that Howard will get back on track and that of course he will be a much more valuable player than Feliz. I just found it interesting that the player you hate the most has actually been at least close to as valuable as the 2006 NL MVP. Again, if I had told you that before the season, you would have declared me mentally insane (of course, I never would have declared that...)

But you think Howard is due to get back on track because some people on a message board say he's bad? Really? I think he's due to get back on track because he has a track record of being a very good major league hitter. I didn't know that message board commenters affected play. But its good to know that you think we do.

At least if the Phils collapse we'll be able to blame it on Randy Miller. Silver lining.

clout: Well, I bascially copied your entire post from the other night, but the outcomes were different, of course.

Guarding the line is a tactical decision. I still think that Charlie made the right call on Tuesday night with a Ramirez on 1B in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. A ball down the line more easily allows the Marlins to win in those circumstances than does a single to LF.

MPN: Ooops I misread your post. You were talking about the Cantu liner. Yes Feliz did have to move to his right a step or two to snag that one. That's why I'm usually against guarding the line. Very few balls go out of reach between the bag and where a thirdbaseman normally plays, while quite a few balls go the other way.

clout

I do not sleep with a photo of Feliz under my pillow.

I went to that kiosk at the mall that will print a photograph on anything and had a pitcure of Feliz printed onto my pillowcase.

Moyer is on pace to win 17 games. Can he win 18 and No. 250 this year? Why not. He has not missed a start as a Phil.

Jack: No, it's just that some commenters on here have been excellent contrary indicators. Like you on how terrible Kuroda and Kendrick would be this year, for example. Akthough to your credit you didn't go as far as kdon and dcelare that JD Durbin was a good as Kendrick.

Wes: And on your jammies too, I bet.

I just wish Howard would snap out of it and just us all up. I'm tired of bitching about his craptacular defense and .200ish average. I like him, I root for him, I don't want to bash him any longer. However, I will continue bashing him because he is pitiful this season.

You are god damn right I have him on my jammies too!

That was supposed to say "just shut us all up".

Howard's slump is moving into a new territory where expectations are now lowered and anything resembling the productivity of previous seasons could be considered a nice surprise. It's getting way late for Howard to get it started. I agree with Ribbies' point about St. Louis, right-handers and playing in front of his home crowd. Good point.

I'll admit to not watching much baseball outside the Phils, but how bad is the starting pitching in the NL this year?

The Phils Starters lead the league in innings pitched, yet there are 3 starters (Moyer, Kendrick, Eaton) who define a successful evening as going more than 5 innings. As a staff they average just 6 innings per start.

Even the 2000 staff including such immortals as Robert Person, Bruce Chen, and Andy AShby averaged 6.1 per start.

Clout: Yeah, so far it looks like you are winning our bet about Kuroda and Myers, but I'd bet it'll be close by the end of the year. I'll still take Myers.

Kendrick I will admit has been better than I thought he would be. I'm happy about it, because I want the Phils to win. You seem to want Feliz to do badly so you will be "right".

A 1.100 OPS for Ryno at Busch Stadium from 2005-2007, hopefully, bodes well for the series...

JT- not sure if it's the NL having bad starting pitching or the evolution of the bullpen. The role of the bullpen continues to become more and more important. All the match-ups, the high salaries, drafting relievers in the 1st round, it's apparent that the bullpen is no longer an afterthought or a group of guys that can't hack it in the rotation.

JT: Well, the fact that Hamels has pitched like 8 innings in every start helps.

Is anyone else at all concerned with the amount of innings and pitches Hamels has been throwing, considering his injury history? It's a tough call because obviously we have our best chance to win the more Hamels is out there. But the more he's out there, the more I worry about him going out for an extended period of time.

Jack- chillax (chill and relax combo), Cole has a chiropractor this year and we all know they cure everything.

I am not concerned about all the innings Hamels is pitching. He is so mechanically sound, pitches with his whole body, not just his arm and he keeps himself in great shape. He does not put a lot of stress on his arm with the way he pitches. Of course he did come down with that sore elbow last August. I'm hoping that really was due to a lack of chiroprator on the road, which isn't a problem this year.

This idea that Feliz has been as good as Howard this year is just wrong. Howard is having an off-year so far, no doubt, but his OPS with RISP is over .300 points higher than Feliz.

Howard's OPS+ with RISP is in the 160s (in over 100 PA.) Feliz' is in the 80s.

----

I'll be attending the games in STL this weekend. Looks like we'll be getting some heavy storms this afternoon into the evening. Not sure if the game will be delayed or even PP.

The problem I'm seeing with Howard is that he's become, in the words of "BS" Wagner (talk about a double entendre), someone with a 'one-path swing'. In other words, he's only hitting balls with authority which are thrown in a very narrowed zone. That definitely wasn't the case in his first two seasons, when he had far better plate coverage and could easily handle balls down and away. Now he misses them up, down, and away. Put it out over the middle of the plate, give or take a few inches in or away, he can handle it. Anywhere else, he pretty much *is* an automatic out. He either can't or won't adjust - like the game's become a Home Run Derby for him and anyone who won't feed him like Ramon Henderson is an overwhelming challenge. Really, he's a piece of cake for pitchers who know what they're doing and don't make many mistakes. There's really no reason why he can't revert and make the necessary adjustments, but I don't even sense a recognition from him of what's happened to him and that any need to be made.

Wes: You think Howard is going to hit .280 with 40 to 45 homeruns? On this date last year, he was hitting nearly .40 points higher than he is now, and he hit only .268.

We are 68 games into the season. He is averaging 3.7 ABs per game so far. Assuming the same No. of PAs for the rest of the season, and assuming no lost time due to injury, he'd have to hit .336 the rest of the way to get to .280.

Realistically, I think we'd all be ecastatic if he hit .260 for the year. To get there, he has to hit .302 for the rest of the season. In actuality, these estimates are probably on the low side because they assme the same 3.7 ABs per game over the rest of the year. In the event he DOES heat up, those ABs per game are likely to go down, because he will start drawing more walks.

I'm glad everyone here is so confident that Howard is going to eventually come around. Is it possible that he could do what Pat Burrell did last year & bring his stat line back to normal? Yes, it's possible. Would I bet on it? Absolutely not.

An addendum to my analysis of Howard: if he could at least lay off some of those pitches he can't handle out of the zone, it would make him a far more effective hitter, and he would get more pitches near the middle of the plate. But he can't/won't even learn to do that much.

b-a-p:
It's kinda funny. We keep hoping, on one hand that the statisticians are correct and Howard will "revert to career norms." At the same time, we hope that Feliz, Moyer, Eaton and Durbin will all exceed career norms.

Funny things these statistics...

Right now, I'd be happy if Howard finished the season with a .240-.250 avg. He'd actually have to have a pretty strong finish to even achieve that.

On Moyer, the Phillies might want to consider a Tim Wakefield esque deal with him. Wake has a neverending team option in his contract where they can keep renewing him for 1 year deals as long as they want and he doesn't retire. Its worked very well for the Sox so far and the situations are fairly similar. Moyer is almost a knuckleballer with his Stuff anyway: I.E. he doesnt depend on anything other than outstanding control, not power.

****Jack: But you think Howard is due to get back on track because some people on a message board say he's bad? Really?****

You dare doubt the power of the BL reverse jinx?

Sophist

So you find the one stat where Howard is better than Feliz and then proclaim Howard has been better than Feliz (and I'm not really arguing that Feliz is better, just that he doesn't hurt the team as much as most think he does)?

Granted, it is a very important stat and Howard is driving in runs when he has the opportunity which helps you win, afterall the team with the most runs at the end of 9 is the winner, regarless of all other stats.

However, due to his horrible hitting when there are no RISP, that provides less opportunities for Burrel, Werth/Jenkins, and Feliz to drive in runs. Feliz not getting on base provides less opportunity for Ruiz/Coste, pitcher, Rollins to drive in runs. Which group is more likely to drive in those runs?

Your use of particular stats also ignores position in line up and defense. These things have to be taken into account when looking at who is helping/hurting the team.

I know you and everyone else on here know this, but baseball is more than OPS+ and what one is hitting w/ RISP.

I said this earlier, but I'll say it again. If Howard starts to hit like he can, Feliz hits exactly like he is hitting and Ruiz improves just a little, this offense becomes nearly unstoppable.

If Howard continues to hit jsut like he is and Feliz hits lets say .290 with 35 HRs, and Ruiz improves a little, the offense would be very good, but still has a fairly big hole in the middle.

So who really is the bigger problem here?

Oh...the best part of my day yesterday: I left work around 4pm and got into my car just as the 9th inning was starting in the Mets game on XM. On the ride home, I got to listen to the Mets announcers as Wagner blew his 3rd straight save. It was wonderful to listen to to say the least.

So here's a question: Will Randolph be the Mets manager this time next week? I'm hoping he is as he's the worse manager in history and they suck with him there.

I'm pretty sure Sophist was being pretty tongue-in-cheek with his post, Wes.

BAP

No, I meant if Howard hit .280, 40-45HR and 120 RBI in future years I would be happy with that. As for this year I would be happy if he hit .280 from today to the end of the season, which I realize would put him at a much lower BA than .280 for this year. Sorry if I wasn't so clear on that.

However, I would be ok if Howard did end this year hitting .280!

Howard hit a couple of opposite field doubles just the other day. That is a good sign. He doesn't have to hit all of his HR's or hits to the opposite field. Great power hitters always pull the ball, what made Howard unique was his ability to hit with power the other way. Recently he has been doing more of that. I think he is doing fine, but much like Utley and Rollins got very unlucky in the Marlins series. He went 0-5 with a K last night. One K in 5 PA, when considered in light of what he did with the contact, was not bad at all. All of his contact was hit hard. If he K'd 5 times last night, then I would have been annoyed and frustrated, but he didn't, and I'm not.

Thank goodness we won that "must win" game last night or I would have just given up on the season ;-)

And how did I know the Feliz-love would be in full effect after his masterful 2 for 3 game. Imagine what might happen if he ever cracks .750 OPS!!!!!

We're really grasping at straws if we're trying to find positive signs in the fact that Howard only struck out once in a game where he went 0 for 5 and left 7 men on base.

For the series, he went 0 for 12 with 4 strikeouts. He has also gone 12 straight games without a homer -- his longest homerless stretch since early in his rookie year, when he once went 13 straight.

Wes: "and Feliz hits lets say .290 with 35 HRs,"


Sorry, missed the rest of your post. I was laughing so hard I couldn't see straight.

At this point, I'm worried that Howard is having his equivalent to Burrell's 2003 season, with a 70 point decline in BA and 15 or so fewer homers than the year before.

I realize players tend to regress to the mean, but it doesn't always happen--Burrell's season-long slump that year is the perfect example.

CJ

Hey, that was purely hypothetical. I don't in anyway beleive that could happen, I was just using that example to make my point.

CJ: As I said yesterday, by definition, there's no such thing as a must-win game when you've got a 2-game lead in the division. And it's doubtful there could ever be a must-win game in early June, under any circumstances. It was, however, an uncommonly important game. If the Marlins had swept the series, it would have given them a huge psychological boost -- like when the Phillies swept those 3 games from the Mets in late August of last year. In MG's words, this was a "Statement Game," and the statement the Phillies made was that it's still their division to win.

bap: Well, other's declared it a must-win. And, frankly, I don't buy into this "psychological boost" either. It's just one of 162 games. A game that would have been long forgotten come August, let alone September. It's hard to compare a series in early June to a series the Phils won from the Mets in late August.

Also as to Howard's superior production to Feliz with RISP, think about this. Howard batting with RISP, has Rollins, Victorino and/or Utley on base. Fast runners who can steal, take two bases on a single, force the infielders to hold them on, opening holes, making the pitcher more concerned with the runners. And Burrel behind him to keep a pitcher honest.

Feliz has Howard, Burrel, Werth/Jenkins. Slow, base to base runners, no steals, infielders can cheat off the base when holding them on. Ruiz/Coste then pitcher behind him giving a pitcher some room to breathe.

So who has an easier time when batting with RISP?

If you swapped Feliz and Howard I am pretty sure you would see a shift in their OPS w/ RISP. I'm not saying Feliz would be as productive as Howard, that's crazy. I'm just want to show how one must take into account where one hits in the lineup when making comparisons.

it may be forgotten come August, but that doesn't mean that it can't be a psychological boost for the remainder of the difficult stretch that the Phils are facing now.

CJ: So you would have been ok with losing?

"I'm glad everyone here is so confident that Howard is going to eventually come around."

bap: not everyone.

Back before Memorial Day I predicted that Howard would be hitting around .220 by the All Star break. I see no reason to revise that prediction.

In other news, I am sorry to see that Tadahito Iguchi hurt himself last week and is expected to be out for 4 to 6 weeks. We could not have made the postseason without him last year, and I will always like him for that.

Wes: You keep missing the point. Jack decalred that Feliz had been better than Howard converting run opportunities. The RISP stat shows it's not even close. sophist was responding to a very specific point made by Jack, which happened to be way off the mark.

Wes: How does having better base runners on in front of you change whether or not you hit safely? You're REALLY stretching to suggest his OPS would be higher simply because the guy on base in front of him is faster. Perhaps that helps more runners score when you do get a hit... but it doesn't make that ground ball find a hole.

bap: I'm never ok with losing. But a loss last night would have been no more or less important than a loss any other time during the season. The goal is to win enough games during the season to win the division. It doesn't matter who those wins come against.

With last night's win, the Phils must play .532 ball the rest of the way to win 90 games (50-44) and .638 the rest of the way to hit J-Roll's magic 100 win mark.

For the Mets to win 90 games this year, they'll have to play .608 ball (59-38) and the Braves will have to play .610 ball (58-37).

It's a pretty good spot to be in right now. I'm not sure any of us truly beleived we'd have a 7 game lead over both the Mets and Braves on June 13th.

A game in September does not count more than a game in June. By winning last night's game, we increase the odds that we won't have to be playing important or must-win games in September. There is a big difference between a 1-game lead and a 3-game lead. Whether you think they're for real or not, the Marlins are our closest pursuer -- and by a considerable margin.

Moreover, I reject the notion that these games are played in some sort of laboratory setting, where there's no such thing as emotion, momentum, mental toughness, etc. If you get swept by your nearest pursuers, it's hugely deflating to the losers, and a huge emotional boost to the team doing the sweeping. You need only look at the Mets' 2007 collapse as an example.

I'm not "missing the point", I am just broadening the argument. If we just left things at one very specific, narrow topic on here, then this site would very quickly see a decline in readers.

Jack's point was Feliz has been almost as good as Howard SO FAR this year. Sophist pointed out that Jack was wrong in one area, that Howard is better w/ RISP. That's fine, Jack was wrong about that one point, but his MAIN argument was Feliz has been nearly as good as Howard this year. Not Feliz has been as good as Howard w/ RISP.

I have been carrying on Jack's main argument, that Feliz has been as good as Howard SO FAR this year. I also pointed out how it is not fair to compare them in a vaccuum because they face different realities when batting w/ RISP. Howard has an easier time hitting w/ RISP based on the runners on base when he hits compared to Feliz. Can you honestly disagree with that?

CJ: It sounds like we're mostly on the same page and just disagreeing over semantics.

I am afraid that Howard is "done". He will never again be the player of 2005 and 2006. Yes, that was great, but it's over. The reality is he is a guy that will hit 230-40 and strike out 35-40 percent of the time. Still hit about 30 homers a year, though. He'll hang around 5-7 years until he gets fat and injured, then he'll be gone. Only the dreamers believe he will "revert to norms" and be mvp in 2011.

CJ

Actually having faster runners on base does open bigger holes in the infield, therefore making it easier for a ground ball to find a hole.

With fast runners on, the fielders have to hold them on base, opening up a hole. The fielders also have to cheat in slightly to throw out a fast runner, giving them a bit less range on a groundball.

Also, pitchers pitch differently when fast runners are on. They have to alter their wind up to get the ball to the plate quicker, throw less off-speed pitches, and weaker minded pitchers, can jsut generally get rattled.

All that might not amount to a huge advantage, but it does make it a bit easier.

This might be the dumbest thing ever written on Beerleaguer:

"Howard batting with RISP, has Rollins, Victorino and/or Utley on base. Fast runners who can steal, take two bases on a single, force the infielders to hold them on, opening holes, making the pitcher more concerned with the runners. And Burrel behind him to keep a pitcher honest.

Feliz has Howard, Burrel, Werth/Jenkins. Slow, base to base runners, no steals, infielders can cheat off the base when holding them on. Ruiz/Coste then pitcher behind him giving a pitcher some room to breathe.

So who has an easier time when batting with RISP?"

Wes: Some of your points are valid. I agree that Feliz and Howard must be held to different standards, not just because of where they hit in the batting order but because the expectations attached to the 2 are wildly different. Feliz is playing to expectations; Howard isn't.

However, one argumet that makes no sense whatsoever is your contention that the runners who are on base affect a hitter's batting average with RISP. We are not talking about RBIs. We are talking about BATTING AVERAGE. How does having a fast runner on base increase the odds of the batter getting a hit? If anything, it might actually DECREASE the odds, because a base-stealing threat slows down the game and creates a significant distraction for the hitter.

Wes: You are making absolutely no sense at all. It doesn't matter if the runner is faster or not... the defense still holds them at first. Even Pat Burrell gets held at first. And when you talk about runners in scoring position, you're rarely talking about situations in which the pitcher is worried about someone stealing a base to the point that their delivery is affected.

You are REALLY, REALLY stretching here.

bap: Yes, semantics.

I absolutely agree that momentum and emotion matter in this game. However, one of the reasons I think the Mets collapsed is because they forced themselves into an unreasonable cycle of "must-win" games. That kind of pressure often isn't healthy.

I doubt many players in the Phils locker room last night looked at the game as a must-win. Judging by their treatment of Jayson Werth the "starting catcher," there is a very positive atmosphere there.

That's not to say, however, that the right intensity isn't necessary! The Mets never found that balance. They went from having no intensity to too much overnight and couldn't handle it.

Feliz has delievered about what I would expect and that is ok. Figured he would hit in around .250-.260 with moderate power (still don't think he is going to hit more than 20 HRs thsi season).

Howard though is really becoming an issue. If not for his hitting with RISP, his year would be a complete dud. Delgado is getting booed mightly every time he touches a bat in NY and Howard really isn't having that much better of a season. Yeah, Howard's power numbers are impressive but that is only area where is outperforming Delgado.

Not suggesting that the Phils' fans should boo Howard everytime up but he has to realize that fans are going to boo him on nights like last night where he goes 0-5 with a couple of Ks and leaves a ton of guys on base.

CJ makes a great point about emotion and intensity. It does exist and of course make a huge difference, but often not in the way you might think. I think he's absolutely right that the looseness the Phils play with and the lack of pressure they put on themselves (i.e. considering any game a "must-win") was a key to our success last year and so far this year.

I personally agree that judging any game in June as way more significant than any other one is kind of stupid, but its fine if fans do it. I like that the players don't. This team definitely has a great balance between intensity and looseness. It's one of our biggest strengths (having a lineup that mashes doesn't hurt). Credit Charlie and the leaders in the clubhouse for that.

Just had to post something positive about Jamie Moyer. In some ways, I think we take him for granted, in the fact that we accept him as our solid #4 man in the rotation. He (knock on wood) almost never goes less than 5 innings, never misses a start, and in a case like last night, brings a great deal to this club when they need a solid performance to right their listing ship. He is truly one of the most well conditioned, well prepared athletes our city has had in quite some time. We are so conditioned to worrying about how hard a guy is throwing, that we don't always appreciate a guy who has pitching down to an art form. It's like the difference between a boxer and a puncher. While the knockout specialist gets all of the headlines, the boxer just makes you miss and look foolish on his way to another win. That's why I am not in any hurry to unload Kendrick any time soon. I think he can learn much fom the Zen-Master before he retires.

At this point, I would take a season of .240 with 35-40 HRs from Howard with an increased OBP if he can get the walk rate up a bit. Wouldn't be great but acceptable. A season where he hits .210-.220 with 30 HRs though would have to be considered a disappointment though.

MG: A season where he hits .210-.220 with 30 HRs though would have to be considered a disappointment though.


That's perhaps the understatement of the year.

Mr.Mack:

I'm with you on that.

Can you imagine this team without Jamie Moyer?

The Phils came up just short in 2006... but wouldn't have been in the race in the last week if not for Moyer and his 5-2 record. Moyer won 14 games last year including the division clincher going 5.1 innings and giving up just one run. Over his last 4 September starts, he had a 3.42 ERA.

I mean, you look at Moyer and see an ERA somewhere between 4 and 5. You know he'll never hit 85 on the gun. And yet, there's a certain sense of relief knowing he'll be on the mound in just about any situation.

Ok, I am coming clean. I started my argument with the thought that it was easier for Howard to drive in runs due to faster runners. Then I some how morphed that into BA w/ RISP and then started forcing my argument. So I admit I went a bit out there. Although some of what I said I do stand by. True even Burrell gets held on first but a 1st baseman can cheat off a bit and when he is on second the SS/2nd doesn't really have to be too concerned with him. And when basestealers are on, pitchers do the slide-step, which is an alteration of their windup.

So fast RISP doesn't affect your BA that much, but it can affect your RBI total.

Yes, sadly enough, Ryan Howard is only on pace for 36 HR and 117 RBI.

When can we start dumping on Chase Utley? He's hitting .226 over his last 8 games with no HR and a .656 OPS.

Not to mention Moyer was our best pitcher in the post season last year...he tends to come through when we really need him to. Would be great to have him on the Phils' staff someday as pitching coach.

CJ - Yeah the power numbers are decent but that has to be taken into consideration with the other things (very low average and OBP). Plus, 36 HRs isn't that great from what is really one of the few positions on the field where it is pretty average to get about 25 HRs from.

MG: I'm by no means arguing that Howard is having anything close to a complete season. But it's real hard to suggest that 36 HRs isn't that great considering only 5 players in all of baseball (Howard being one of them) hit more than 36 HRs last year. Not to mention HRs are down this year from last year.

Earlier in this thread, someone posted that Ryan Howard has a worse "one track swing" (using Billy Wagner terminology) than Pat Burrell. I decided to look into this a bit using the 2008 PitchF/X tool.

Go here: http://baseball.bornbybits.com/php/2008_tool.php

Select Ryan Howard as the batter, and set "Result of Pitch" to "Hit".

You can see all of his hits for power come in a narrow band. You can almost overlay in your mind his swing and you can see how the band and his swing go right together.

If you set "Result of Pitch" to "Strike Swinging", you see that he swings through pitches off of that band, and that he's swinging at a significant amount of pitches outside the strike zone.

If you run the same graphs using Pat Burrell, he hits almost all of his power on mistake pitches down the middle. However, he hits pitches in other parts of the zone with some regularity as well.

Run the graphs for Chase Utley and you see he hits almost everything for hit. Meaning, he is much more capable of adjusting his swing to the pitched ball.

MG: Not to mention... only 10 first basemen had more than 25 HR last year. I'm not sure the position averages that number.

I think if this much hot air is being wasted comparing Feliz and Howard, is obviously something wrong with what Howard is doing (or not doing for that matter). Whether or not this is a long term issue is up for debate, but when Howard is 4th from the bottom in OBP for qualifying 1b, only bettering Sexson, LaRoche and Mike Lamb that is bad. We are fighting over his batting average but the bigger problem is that he isn't drawing walks anymore and no one is pitching around him.

Oh, and declaring the race in the NL East over on June 13th is absolutely ridiculous. I wouldn't declare it over until Sept. 13.

Shame because I actually like reading Randy Miller usually because he is not bombastic.

CJ - Phils got 47 HRs last year from their 1B compared to the NL average of 27 HRs. Expecting about 25 HRs out of 1B isn't alot.

MG: Which the Phillies will far exceed for the 4th season in a row.

Hydrant: Thanks for that link...that is an awesome tool to use.

CJ - Probably but right now the Phils have 15 HRs out of 1B compared to the NL average of 12. Take out the numbers from the punchless hitters who play 1B for the Giants and the monumental struggles of LaRoche in Pittsburgh and it would be damn close to 15.

MG - then you would also have to take out the 1B at the top of the spectrum as well.

MG: Well, I'd be happy to make a wager on whether the Phils 1B position exceeds the league average in HRs this season.

And I'm not sure why when we have these discussions we have to eliminate those struggling but leave in Berkman and Gonzalez!

SI.com is reporting that Willie Randolph is close to being fired along with a couple of coaches. Bench coach Jerry Manuel would take over for the season setting a record for the number of Manuels managing in the NL east at the same time.

hydrant: Excellent post. Those stats support what several of us have mentioned on here (including RSB just today): Howard cannot recognize the difference between a strike and ball on the outside part of the plate. Solving this strike-recognition failure is the key to Howard salvaging his season.

Please please please don't fire Randolph...he's the best thing the Phillies have going with the Mets.

"Yes, sadly enough, Ryan Howard is only on pace for 36 HR and 117 RBI."

Currently, Ryan Howard has an OPS+ of 89.

From 1901 through 2007, there have only been 4 times that a player has hit 35 or more home runs while still having an OPS+ of less than 100.

Tony Armas (36 HR, 85 OPS+) did it in 1983.
Sammy Sosa (36 HR, 99 OPS+) did it in 1997.
Dave Kingman did it in 1982 (37 HR, 99 OPS+) and in 1986 (35 HR, 90 OPS+).

Not saying that the Phils won't finish will above average power numbers at 1B. Just that 30 HRs out of Howard (and the Phils total at 1B) really isn't that much better than average. You can live with a slightly lower average (say .240) if the power if there. So far it just hasn't been.

stjoehawk: Makes Ryan a pretty "special" player then, doesn't it?

i think a contract would solve his problems...he's pressing to prove his worth on every swing. Scouts are reminded of his draft-year hyperintension that caused his stock to plummet from the 1st to 5th round.

i'd be trying to sign him long-term, or at least for 3-5 years right now. he might settle for significantly less than he wanted during the offseason. he doesn't seem like he's lazy or doesn't care, i think its just the opposite. if his future were secure, i think he'd relax and start hitting.

My bet is Howard ends up with between 35-40 HRs. Adequate yeah but certainly not going to get him any kind of raise next year either.

Have to wait and see though because always possible that Howard could get hot for a month from a power perspective and hit 10+ HRs too.

Baxter, I forget where it was but during the offseason there was plenty of talk of how Howard should be signed long term. I think an Utley-like contract was rejected in favor of going to arbitration and eventually getting A-Rod money.

Thanks for props!

Another interesting thing you can do with the tool is look a little deeper into Brett Myers.

This link is the same tool with 2007 data:
http://baseball.bornbybits.com/php/combined_tool.php

Set your graphs to stun... err, I mean Brett Myers. Open another window with this year's link and compare...

His fastball velocity his dropped over 2 mph ON AVERAGE. Keep in mind, the 2007 data only has about 300 or so pitches in there for Myers, but still, I would see that as significant. You might think that being in the pen has something to do with that... It very well may. However, I don't know when Josh Kalk imported his data for 2007. Those 300 pitches may be from earlier in the season in his time as a starter. I went back and looked at his fastballs from the final inning of the 9/30/07 NL East clinching game against the Nationals on MLB Gamecast. If you dig it up, his fastball sits between 94-96 mph. If you compare that with this week's start against the Fish, you see it barely hitting 89mph, sitting mostly 85-88mph. That's just terrible for a power, strikeout-oriented starting pitcher.

Also, looking over his 2008 data, you see he's throwing a cutter a good bit of the time. Now, look at the velocity seperation of his cutter, slider, and fastball. It's basically like 86-87 cutter, 83-85 slider, and if lucky, high 80s fastball. I don't think there's enough velocity seperation to fool hitters with those offerings.

Finally, look at the drop from 2007 and 2008 in the percentage of curveballs. In 2007, he was about 38% curveball. In 2008, it's like 18%. That is brutal, considering he gets most of his swing throughs on curveballs and it is one of his best offerings. Don't know why he went away from it this year. Arm/shoulder problems? Likes the cutter too much?

0-5 with a K and 7 LOB is misleading. If Carlos Ruiz puts up that same line and all of his contact consists of weak dribblers to second, I consider that much worse than 3 smoked balls and one hit well from Howard. The difference is, eventually the smoked balls go where the defense is not, but the dribblers, absent substantial defensive misfortune, are sure outs almost all of the time.

Ryan Howard=Dave Kingman

~shudders~

Great links Hydrant!

Randy Miller, what were you thinking.... Quick, what's the baseball blog equivalent of sacrificing a chicken?

If Howard hits 40 HR, he will be in the top 5 in MLB this year. HR are way down, and showing no sign of picking up life anytime soon.

I blame steroids (Not with Howard, but the general lack of HR).

I'd love to keep Moyer around after he retires too, but his family is well-entrenched in Seattle, and at some point he's got to pitch in to help his wife raise those 20 kids.

Perhaps Howard is showing just how hollow HR totals can be in certain cases...much like Dave Kingman did in his career.

MG: I'm not sure the issue is whether the power is there. Howard is still in the top 10 in HRs right now.

The issue with Howard is that his BA and especially OBP are way down for a couple of reasons.

1) His strikeouts are up and walks are down. His strike zone recognition clearly isn't as good this year. I hope this is something he can get a handle on.

2) His BABIP is remarkably low. 2005: .354, 2006: .356, 2007: .328, 2008: .245. I can't imagine this number remaining that low. There has to be at least a little bad luck involved in that.

Howard's pitches per plate appearance is right on his career average. His line drive percentage is down from last year, but comparable to 2006. His ground ball percentage is up from last year, but comparable to 2005 and 2006. His home run per fly ball number is way down, which is a big concern.

Yeah, the Howard/Kingman comparison might not be too far off. Add onto that if any team ever locked him up long term, they'd have to be seriously concerned that he may at any time eat himself out of the MLB. I'm sorry for saying that, it's a bit mean, but I just don't think anyone who objectively looks at baseball can call his body type "projectable".

The infield shift is starting to really bite into Howard, and Utley too for that matter, but Howard it really kills. I can't precisely remember when teams started shifting on him. I memory says it was sometime during his 2006 NL MVP campaign. Look at his BABIP and LD%/GB%/FB% from 2006 through 2008:

2006: .363 (21.9 / 41.9 / 36.2)
2007: .336 (24.3 / 31.5 / 44.2)
2008: .250 (21.0 / 43.8 / 35.2)

So, his GB% is almost about the same as it was in 2006, but I think the key difference is he didn't get shifted on as much in 2006, so his BABIP stayed up. Some combination of bad luck ("at-em balls") and the shift is killing his BABIP this year. Add in his 91 Ks in the ABs that he doesn't put the ball in play, and you got a seriously unproductive offensive player.

Just in this last series, how many times did Jorge Cantu eat him up playing shifted to the right side of the infield?

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