The Phillies visit Ryan Howard’s home turf, St. Louis, for a three-game series. After a hitless set in Florida, the 2006 MVP can turn it around in his own back yard, as long as he adjusts to balls out of the zone.
Howard's slump is slipping into unfamiliar territory where expectations are getting so low that anything resembling the productivity of previous seasons could be considered a nice surprise. It's getting very, very late for Howard to get it started. Fortunately, winning baseball has shielded him from further scrutiny. If Howard is to get things started, now’s a good time to do so in front of friends and family instead of the home boos. He’s a .333/.489/.611 hitter in St. Louis. He draws three right-handers this series.
Conditions are perfect, but he must adjust to pitches out of the zone. Helpful reader, Hydrant, shows us just how bad Howard’s eye has been using the PITCHf/x tool by Josh Kalk:
“You can see all of his hits for power come in a narrow band,” Hydrant explains. “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.” [PITCHf/x Link]