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Friday, June 13, 2008

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They showed the graph for all of Chase's HRs the other day and the only one of the nine hitting zones that he did not hit a home run from is up and away. When you think about it, it is probably the hardest of the nine to hit out the park since you have to get underneath it enough to lift it out while at the same time have enough power to hit it out to the opposite field.

Great post by Hydrant...I've been playing around with that tool made by Josh Kalk for about 2 hours now and still having fun.

Honestly, I'd be ecstatic if Howard finishes the season with an average over .250. How's that for expectations?

can't believe posters are insisting on comparing Howard to Kingman. I thought that trend died back when everyone was trying to tag Burrell as Kingman II.

so once more, for people who weren't paying attention: Kingman averaged 51 walks per 162 games. Howard averages 97 walks per 162. even this season he's on pace for 88 walks - 26 more than Kingman's career high. Kingman's career OBP was .302. Howard's career OBP is .384.

Howard's OBP is low this season because his batting average is low, not because he's an impatient hitter like Kingman was. he's on pace for 69 unintentional walks in 2008; for comparison, he drew 72 and 71 unintentional walks in 2007 and 2006, respectively.

not to say that there aren't legitimate reasons to be concerned about Howard's performance this year. but comparing him to a radically different type of hitter like Kingman is just unhelpful.

ae: Quit being reasonable.

Howard would have to hit .284 for the rest of the season to finish with a .250 average. hardly impossible, considering he hit .283 over the 115 games after he came off the DL last year.

obviously it would take some serious work on his part to fix his approach at the plate right now; it's not just going to happen. but he's still only 29 and in his third full season in the majors. I can't really see why everyone's so anxious to write off his career.

ae: Because we're Phillies fans, and we require something to bitch about. Burrell is playing too well. The bullpen has been close to spectacular. We spend a day beating down Ruiz, but he didn't quite deserve the venom either. I would imagine we'll be back on Brett Myers again in a few days.

CJ: quit being reasonable...

;)

ae: I think you would agree, though, that Dave Kingman and Rob Deer really aren't the index against whom we want to be measuring our supposedly star first baseman.

If Howard ends up hitting .220 with 35 homers, the relevant question that will have to be asked is: Do you think it's a one-year fluke, like Burrell's 2003 season, or do you think Howard has turned into a homerun-or-bust (or walk) type of hitter? If you think it's the latter, then you have to ask if this is someone you want playing first base for you next year. If you're simply not sure what to expect from Howard next year, then you have to ask whether, in light of his price tag, the team's other needs, and his potential value in a trade, the upside potential of Ryan Howard outweighs the risk of another .220 season.

Maybe CJ thinks that a guy who hits .220 with 35 homers is productive, but I sure don't. Not to mention that Howard ain't hitting .220 or anything close to it.

Why is Howard no longer doing the exaggerated crouch, his "sit to hit" thing?
Way too upright. Too heavy to bend, too stiff? Maybe the Phils should give him two weeks off around the All Star break, get him into intensive, supervised workouts and have him lose l0 pounds. That crouch looked weird but it sure seemed to work

bap: Maybe I'm the kind of guy who doesn't give up on a player who had an historic three year stretch because he's had a bad first three months of the season.

Unlike some, I prefer to look at a larger sample size than a smaller sample size.

I know... I'm crazy like that.

Get back to me at the end of the year.

CJ: I'm fine with not giving up. The Phillies CAN'T give up on Howard because his upside is too great.

However, it's one thing to not give up. It's another to live in alternate reality. Howard has been absolutely horrendous this year, but every time someone says so, you write posts saying how great he's doing.

bap: "Not to mention that Howard ain't hitting .220 or anything close to it."

Actually... if just 4 of his 199 outs this season had been hits, he would be hitting .220. So he is hitting awfully close to it. :-D

ae: but he's still only 29 and in his third full season in the majors. I can't really see why everyone's so anxious to write off his career.

And he very easily could have already peaked as a ballplayer. His bodytype and PECOTA comparables don't exactly scream long career. He could be out of baseball at 34 if these trends keep up. So far his career arcs has his peak season at 27 (reasonable) which is right about where most players peak...he's been slowly dropping off since that MVP campaign. At what point do the Phillies determine that it would not be a good idea to lock him up long-term?

The Kingman comparison is strictly for this season and so far Howard is pulling it off admirably.

CJ: Actually... if just 4 of his 199 outs this season had been hits, he would be hitting .220. So he is hitting awfully close to it.

I hate "stats" like that. The key is that he DIDN'T get those 4 hits and his average is where it is. Its the same as saying "If he got just 1 more single per week he'd have hit 40 points higher for the season" He still didn't and that's the problem.

bap: "every time someone says so, you write posts saying how great he's doing."

You really seem to be big on exaggeration this year. Let's review... hmmm... just about an hour ago, I wrote, "His strike zone recognition clearly isn't as good this year." An hour before that, I wrote, "I'm by no means arguing that Howard is having anything close to a complete season."

What I do take issue with is comparisons to Dave Kingman, etc.

Many of the people here have such a warped sense of what Ryan Howard actually brings to the table that even a mild defense sounds like I'm nominating him to the Hall of Fame.

NEP: Actually, my point was very valid since the premise is that "Ryan Howard isn't hitting anywhere close to .220." As I so clearly pointed out, he is actually close to hitting .220.

CJ's right, pointing at something like batting average as the one number to look at just isn't helpful. (for instance, by that criteria, Rob Deer and Dave Kingman look like similar players.)

if you want to find something legitimately alarming about Howard, I recommend this:

.282 / .279 / .346 / .316 / .232

that's Howards isolated power numbers from his cup of coffee in 2004 up to today. to me, that's a much bigger deal than what his batting average is sitting at right now. (although I have to note that his ISO is still better than Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holliday, and Prince Fielder, to name a few.)

What the hell is isolated power?

what, is that a serious question? do you know how to use the internet?

ae: Right. And I had pointed something else out earlier. His BABIP is down, which could be a bit of luck, but his HR/FB rate is way down which suggests he's not making near the same contact he made the last few years. His GB%, LD% and FB% aren't significantly out of whack which means he's just not consistently making the same kind of contact.

CJ: I AM given to hyperbole from time to time, but I don't think this is one of those times.

Just this morning you were trying to make the case that Howard was having one of the best seasons of any first baseman in baseball. And, even now, your criticisms are extremely measured -- i.e., "He's not having a complete season;" "His strike zone recognition isn't as good this year." You can't bring yourself to say that he's just flat-out stinking up the joint.

I'm not trying to come down on you, as you are one of the board's strongest posters. But I do think you have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to Howard.

I played baseball all through high school, little league, and 4 years of college and never heard of that before.

Isolated power is SLG minus BA. It measures a player's ability to hit extra base hits.

I honestly think his BABIP is down because of the Shift more than bad luck. He's just hitting it right into shift despite a few opposite field 2Bs he had last week.

bap: You're way off base. Point to where I was making a case that he's having one of the best seasons in baseball.

I was merely pointing out that despite all of the other problems he's having, he's still hitting home runs. 15 HRs is nothing to sneeze at. It's 10th in the league. He's on pace for 36 HR. He's sixth in the league in RBI.

Ryan Howard is having lots of problems this year. Nonetheless, he still has 15 HRs.

CJ: I agree that Howard hasn't been as bad as people suggest. However, being 6th in the league in RBIs is a stat that is kind of skewed. He bats behind 3 very good offensive players in Jimmy, Shane and Chase. As a power hitter, he ought to have a lot of RBIs. Using OPS+, which in a rare case Clout and I have agreed is probably the best "simple" measure of offensive production, Howard has been a below-average offensive player. Simple as that.

The problem with saying that even in his down year Howard is giving us "average" production from the first base position, is that we are a team that is built on offense and needs above-average production. With our pitching staff, we need to be above average in a lot of places offensively in order to be a top-level team. Howard was a huge part of our offense being so good the last couple years.

Yes, he's still hitting homeruns, he's still driving in runs, he's still drawing walks (though not at last year's pace) and, though it's a statistical fluke, he happens to have a high batting average with RISP. But there's no putting a rosy spin on .204 with 214 strikeouts -- which is what he's on pace to finish at. It's not the strikeouts PER SE that bother me. It's that they're a reflection of his terrible plate approach in general -- which is also showing up in the fact that, when he does make contact, it's usually bad contact.

That's also 214 (ESPN has it at 217) times where he fails to advance a runner, hit a sac fly, etc etc. While Ks aren't as bad as some people make them out to be, its still a very troubling stat.

BAP: The high BA with RISP may not just be a statistical fluke. I think it has a lot to do with the shift. If you have a runner on 2nd or 3rd, the defense is much less likely to shift, and Howard's screaming groundballs and liners get through.

I seriously think the shift has lost Howard about 100 points on his BABIP. What's his BABIP with RISP? I can't dig that up anywhere, maybe one of you guys can.

Hydrant - Over his career, his BABIP with RISP is .326.

2004 - .429 (11 AB)
2005 - .300 (87 AB)
2006 - .294 (164 AB)
2007 - .345 (170 AB)
2008 - .365 (77 AB)

This can be found by going to Ryan Howard's page on baseball-reference.com, clicking on SPLITS & scrolling down to "Bases Occupied" & clicking on RISP to get the year-by-year breakdown.

Anyone else amused that Val Pascucci seems to be the elixir to all the Mets problems according to many on Metsbog?

stjoehawk:

Thanks, and he tells me how to get it too! "Teach a man to fish...". Awesome!

Well, that seals it for me: it's definitely the shift. .365 BABIP with RISP and a .250 BABIP overall. He is getting KILLED with no runners on base or a runner on 1st. KILLLED!!!

Nobody on: .167 BABIP (131 AB)
Runner on First: .217 BABIP (42 AB)

In all other situations, his BABIP comes up over .300. To me, this just is the nail in the coffin to the discussion that Howard should be hitting 4th in front of Burrell. You not only avoid the late inning situational lefty... you not only get Utley better pitches hitting in front of Burrell... but you raise Howard's ability to get a hit by hopefully having somebody on 2nd or 3rd when he comes up.

Where's Cholly? Cholly, me and you needs to have a little talk...

Let me stop this Kingman/Howard comparison before it goes overboard.

While the low BA/high HR comparison works (in terms of Howard's stats this season) there is a gigantic difference in their games. Howard walks and Kingman didn't.

Kingman's career K/BB ratio is 3/1. Howard's is less than 2/1. In 16 years in the bigs, the most walks Kingman every got in a season was 62, right near the end of his career. Howard has walked 100+ times in every season where he's had more than 500 PAs and is near the pace to do it again this year despite his slow start. Kingman's career OB: .302. Howard's: .384. That is a HUGE difference.

Is it me, or can you only get this thing to show you the pitches he misses? No matter what I put in, all I see are magenta circles.

Tray: Sometimes Internet Explorer caches the graphs. So, when you try to do a new one, it shows you the last one you did. Try hitting Shift+Refresh (Shift-F5).

I am not claiming to be a batting coach, but Howard moving closer to the plate might make him less susceptible to the outside stuff he is flailing away at. According to the Pitchfx Link, he has no shot at connecting with any of those balls, yet he is constantly chasing them at an alarming rate. My other thought is a lighter bat. Maybe not permanently, but only until his stroke is where he wants it to be. Video of his MVP swing compared to video of his current swing, have to be drastically different. This whole Howard dilemma reminds me of the Burrell debate from a few years back that we all had, when The Bat was ready for a mental overhaul. Hell, I’d set up an appointment with a hypnotist. “Your eyes are beginning to feel heavy now. Repeat after me Ryan…I am an MVP, I am an MVP, I am an MVP…”

I've said it before, but back to back lefty's in the Batting Order allows opposing managers to have to manage less. Maybe it is not applicable every game, but at least show us that the line up card can be filled out with a little more creativity than if a caveman could do it. Maybe that's the next Gieco commercial. Cholly having the Caveman filling out the Phillies lineup card! Classic.

I forget who said this, but one good baseball player once said, "You shouldn't call this game 'Baseball'. You should call it 'Adjustments'". Obviously, the rest of the league (both pitching and defensively) has adjusted to Ryan Howard since his 2005 NL RoY and 2006 NL MVP seasons. Now comes his turn.

I think Cholly already told Ryno to move closer, but Ryan was not receptive to it. Sooner or later, he's going to have to try something... move closer, lighter bat, hypnotism, statue of Jobu... anything.

Its hard not to feel for Howard--he's clearly out of it mentally, and that really might have something to do with the ugliness surrounding arbitration (I know I know, $10 million makes it a little harder to feel sorry for him).

But the shift is no longer an excuse. Got to adjust. And the strikeouts have to come down. Its understandable that big sluggers K alot, but setting (and probably re-setting) the all-time record for Ks is not acceptable.

As I said before, I think this is Howard's Burrell 2003 year--he's not going to break out of this funk, and he better hope the Phils keep winning or its going to get UGLY at CBP.

PECOTA's comparables for Utley and Hamels were pretty pathetic too.

Howard's just not getting any air under the ball. It might have to do with swinging at balls or borderline-low pitches, I'm not sure. But whatever the reason, he's hitting killing more worms -- and rallies -- than ever before. His big breakout year he hardly ever hit a grounder. He hit through the shift with screaming topsin liners, too.

It isn't just the shift causing the reduced BABIP. He's hitting a lower % of his FBs out of the park than he normally does, and a higher % of his FBs are infield flies. A fly ball that isn't a HR is generally going to be an out, and infield flies are probably only better than GIDPs. Both of those outcomes count as "in play" but are almost certain outs. In his MVP season he hit about the same amount of GB/LD/FB as he has this year, but he hit a higher % of his FBs out. Last year, he hit more fly balls but less of them out of the park, so his power numbers were similar. This year, he's hitting less FBs and isn't hitting them out of the park like he did in '06.

I think the comparison to Kingman is not the far off. Take away the intentional walks that has increased in baseball since the time Kingman retired and his walk total is on par with Kingman.

Tray: "No matter what I put in, all I see are magenta circles."

Dude, I'm smoking the same sh-t. Awesome!

"I think the comparison to Kingman is not the far off. Take away the intentional walks that has increased in baseball since the time Kingman retired and his walk total is on par with Kingman."

This is second stupidest post I've ever seen on here.

Sec. of Def.: Nice try, but take away the IBB's and Dave Kingman's career year in walks is still less than Ryan Howard does in an average year. And that's assuming that none of his 30 IBBs would be walks otherwise.

Hydrant: It's not that complicated. He simply needs to recognize which outside pitches are strikes and which are balls. If I were Cholly I'd put him in the tunnel and have someone throw him nothing but breaking stuff on the outside part of the plate for an hour before every game.

Clout: "If I were Cholly I'd put him in the tunnel and have someone throw him nothing but breaking stuff on the outside part of the plate for an hour before every game."

My only answer to that is...Please! One Cholly is enough!!

If you eliminate IBBs...

Ryan Howard walks once every 9.7 PAs in his career (and is walking once every 9.8 PAs this season).

Dave Kingman walked once every 13.7 PAs in his career.

So even if you eliminate IBBs, Dave Kingman and Ryan Howard are not even close to "on par" when it comes to walks.

On the Phillies home page today, they have a picture of So Taguchi, mentioning that he is returning to where he played his first 6 years in the league. Any shot at having him go back to St. Louis for 6 more years there? Also of note, he wears #99, but bears very little resemblance to Wayne Gretzky.

I hope Kendrick can take a little something from last nights Moyer outing to the mound in St. Louis tonight. It would be nice if when JMoyer hangs 'em up, that KK is 'able to snatch the pebble from his hand', and master the same artful style of pitching. At least that is how I would like to envision it happening.

This is all way too much math for happy hour...

Funny thread on Metsblog:

If I was Pascucci, I am really regretting signing with the Mets right now.

Comment by The Stache
2008-06-13 16:55:40
If I am Pascucci*


Comment by ags412
2008-06-13 17:01:54
It should actually be “if I were Pascucci”… subjunctive tense.


Comment by trippingac
2008-06-13 17:36:04
The subjunctive is a mood, not a tense.

After a long day at work, it's time to go home grab a beverage and watch the game.

Great post by Hydrant.

Here's hoping Howard get's fat in St. Louie!!!


On another note, I've been busy all week so I didn't get a chance to comment on the Golson thread, or more specifically, regarding his interview with the Reading Eagle.

If you recall, it was the one where he was "hissed off" at the blogs and posters thereon, for commenting on his - so far- unspectacular minor leagur career.

My only observation is this:

If Greg Golson is even remotely worried about what bloggers say, and gets upset by it, he may not have the mental makeup to succeed in MLB.

Regarding Howard as Kingman, you guys are taking almost 20 years of Kingman's stats and comparing them to 3 years of Howard stats. And of those 3 years, he was rol and mvp. Drop out those aberrations and add a few more years of the recent futility, then compare to Kingman. (Assuming Howard makes it even to 10 years in the bigs.)

And you guys wonder why I have to defend Ryan Howard on this list.

"Drop out those aberrations and add a few more years of the recent futility, then compare to Kingman."

In what bizzarro world does that make sense? What you are suggesting is that the last 2 1/2 months (68 games) are more indicative of the kind of player Ryan Howard will be than the previous three years (410 games).

I mean... am I allowed to use the word stupid?

Since you asked, you are only allowed to use the word stupid when speaking of yourself.

I am suggesting that Howard won't be MVP this year, or next, or next, etc. That stuff's over and done with. To compare Howard and Kingman, or anyone, you need to compare apples to apples. Otherwise, you just say that any given Kingman year was not as good as the year Howard had when he was MVP.

Do you understand now, or should I type more slowly?

The whole comparison with Kingman is simply to make a point of how bad Howard is doing in our eyes. Nothing you can say to defend howard can excuse a .204 avg and record breaking strikeout totals.

If the Phillies weren't in 1st place right now, Howard would be getting booed every AB at CBP.

squatter: No, I don't understand. Please type more slowly. This is what I think you are saying.

His ROY season was an aberration.
His MVP season was an aberration.

Was last season an aberration?

The 68 games this season are who Ryan Howard is today and will be going foward.

NEP: So you endorse squatter's opinion?

I wouldn't go that far CJ, but it does appear that Howard peaked at 26 winning the MVP and he is in a slow decline right now...which would put him on track for a Mo Vaughn/Cecil Fielder finale to his career.

CJ: No I do not go as far as squatter but I'm still pissed at Howard's abysmal performance so far this season.

NEP: Considering the historic nature of his first two seasons, I think everyone would agree he's not likely to replicate those seasons. But that's not the discussion. Are you saying that his first 68 games this year are the kind of player Ryan Howard will be going forward? That his three years of success were an aberration? That Ryan Howard is no better than Dave Kingman now?

I think you, and others, confuse my "defense" of Ryan Howard. I'm not saying he's playing like one of the top 1B in baseball. I'm not arguing he's having a successful season at the plate (especially not to his standards).

I'm arguing against these absolutely stupid notions that we know Ryan Howard is done because he's had a bad 68 games... and that Ryan Howard = Dave Kingman.

Forgive me for not holding my tongue (er... fingers) when I read that.

No...I think that Howard is likely a .270-.280 hitter. I don't think he's ever gonna approach .300 again for a season. He's probably good for .270/.280, around 40 HRs/120 RBIS (in this lineup) and 200 Ks along with much below average defense. What exactly that's worth long term is beyond me. I also dont see his career going much further than 34/35 years old.

cj: My original post was about comparing Kingman and Howard correctly.You have seized on the bit about Howard not putting up MVP numbers anymore. Well, okay. He is not, and will not be, doing that anymore. Sorry about that, but move on, okay.

Unless you believe he will hit over 250 in a season again?

Unless you believe he will ever strike out less than 35% of the time again?

Unless you believe he will ever hit more than 30 hrs again?

Please let us all know if you believe these things. I, for one, will stop arguing with you immediately if you are a "believer". It would be too cruel.

And yes, that's right NE, unless you believe he'll still be in the bigs in 5-7 years.

squatter: I have to say your posts are more ignorant by far than most here. That doesn't happen without practice.

squatter: I think Howard will likely pass 40 this year even with his poor start. He'll most like bat more than .250 too. Pitchers have adjusted to him so far this season and likely he'll make adjustments to counter that. I can't imagine that he'll keep batting .204 all season.

On the .250 average...I mean that for a future season...it will be a decent sized mountain for him to do it even this season...I believe someone said he'd have to bat .283 the rest of the way to make it above .250 by the end of the season. Its possible but it'll be tough.

NE, maybe, maybe not, who knows? I think someone on a previous thread worked out what his average needs to be from here out to get to 250, but I forget what it was. He could do it, anything is possible, but it is probably not likely.

Damn...an 815pm start..I hate Central time.

NE, No, I tend to disagree with you about later years. He has shot his load, he is not going to get better with age, on the contrary he will get progressively worse as time goes by. Factors to look at are an even larger decline in the hand-eye, weight related issues, and injuries.

I dont buy it. He'll rebound next season and put up respectable numbers even if he doesnt approach last seasons marks. He's too good to be done at 28. I can see him posting .270/40/120 seasons for at least the next couple seasons after 2008.

He has already lost the adjustment battle with the pitchers and the fielding liability battle. Two little white flags down, one (hand-eye) halfway there, and two to go. He is done when he waves all five.

Ne, I guess only time will tell.

I kinda doubt its that grim. He had a pretty good May (.240 avg, 10 HRs, around .350 OBP) and he one of those guys that can catch fire and suddenly get 12 HRs in a month. Burrell had a brutal 2003 and then bounced back with 4.5 strong years now.

howard is a great power hitter... everybody needs to relax.

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