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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


"Bowser" Bowker replacing "Bust" Brown?

From the last thread:

I'm sure teams like the A's, Dodgers and Cards are just itching to just give up a useful piece like Berkman or Matsui to the Phils for absolutely nothing.

I understand that Rube's success in bringing players in has raised the expectation level for every acquisition, but the Phils don't need someone like Matsui or Berkman at this point. It would just be a ridiculous luxury. There's no need to give up anything more than pennies, and my guess is they would ask for a bit more than that for any useful player.

Iceman, who suggested that these teams are looking to give up a big name for nothing?

This move pretty clearly signals that Gload is plan A in 2011 but, the Phils are not certain he'll be the guy 30 days from now. Small question whether the Phils considered an outright replacement for Gload but, in my mind, they've probably already identified their bench power from teh left side and his name is Raul Ibanez.

I don't know if Matsui would have been a "ridiculous luxury". Although, I didn't really expect a move like that, it would have fit the pattern for 2011. Phils are pretty blatantly going all in this year with the acquisition of Lee in the offseason and Pence at the deadline. Neither was "necessary" to compete this year. Of course, in true Amaro fashion, both moves bolstered the team for multiple seasons. Bowker has that potential, too, albeit on a much more marginal scale.

Great news for Bowker. Indianapolis and obscurity to Philadelphia and sell-out crowds. Welcome to the playoff race and if you impress us, the postseason.

Well, we're always saying that anybody would be an upgrade over Gload, so I guess we should be happy with this minor move.

My guess is the Phils saw plenty of Bowker in the Grapefruit League and thought he had the body of a star slugger. They love this type of guy.

Hugh- in the last few days people are tossing around these names like RAJ should have been able to just go trick or treating on these teams' doorsteps and picked up a big name to stash on the bench. I wish it were that easy but I highly doubt that these GMs are going to be generous with the best team in the league.

Agreed, Weitzel. Bowker looks like a ballplayer on the field. Of course, at his age, and with his AAA and MLB numbers, he looks like a AAAA guy on paper. Curious to see what they swapped for him.

I'd give Bowker to Beane for Hideki.

Great article about technology changing the game, especially defense and pitching - a lot of Howard mentions here.

The interesting thing is to wonder if Howard came up 20 years ago, it's quite likely he'd be hitting .300 with 40HRs a year, but in these days, it's just not that easy...

Here's one quote:
"Let's go back to Ryan Howard. Five years ago, he batted .313 AVG/.425 OBP/.656 SLG, for a 1.084 OPS. But as the data has flooded in -- showing which pitches he hits, which pitches he scuffles against and where he repeatedly hits the ball -- what has happened?

He now sees fewer fastballs than any hitter in the game. He also sees fewer fastballs in "fastball counts" than any hitter in the game. And only a half-dozen players in the sport are forced to hit against as many shifts as he sees.

So what effect has all that had on him? His current numbers: .251/.341/.481, with an .822 OPS. That in itself tells a big part of the story. But there's more. His batting average on ground balls and short line drives over the last two years is just .197 against The Shift, but .278 when he sees no shift. And one year, when the Phillies kept track for a whole season, they computed that he lost 35 to 40 legitimate hits because of The Shift.

So what's the evidence this information doesn't work again?"

To sum up: Howard is severly punished through the technology, and has been discussed on this board before, the shift alone hurts him quite a bit. The reason he has so many RBI isn't just because he is "clutch" but also when men are on base it limits the options of the defense: not only can they not use the shift as well, but they have to throw more fastballs since they can't walk him as easily.

Howard's true ability shines when men are on base. Call it "clutch" if you want, or the result of sabermetrics, or whatever, but he's much more special than many seem to realize.

I guess that when Howard bats, we can refer to our opponents as shifty b@$t@rd$.

I'd hate to repeat this and give bap even more credit than he deserves, but i remember this post as soon as the ball left Ryno's bat for his 1st HR, and then his 2nd made me actually go find it:

BAP, yesterday at 2:45pm:

"The good news is that Howard invariably has his best games on the days that Beerleaguer discussion is devoted to bashing him. The next day, the topic du jour on Beerleaguer is whether we've just seen the start of Howard's inevitable 2nd half hot streak. Then he proceeds to go 0 for his next 12 with 11 strikeouts. Wash, rinse, and repeat."

To which I'll reply:

inevitable to streak in September, here we come!

I'm in the "Howard is over-rated camp", but that first homerun was pure strength. Not many major leaguer players can do that.

I just heard from the Delaware River Port Authority and they said that if I want to reserve my spot on a Ben Franklin Bridge tower for the playoffs, I have to notify them within the next week.

I'd hate to go ahead and reserve for the playoffs and then have the Phils collapse in the regular season and not even get into the playoffs (they want a $50 deposit) - so I'd thought I'd ask the Negative Nancies at Beerleaguer if I should still be panicked and thinking about a repeat of '64?

Should I just assume that the Phils will get into the playoffs and make that reservation so I can jump after the regular season, or should I still be panicked that they won't even get into the playoffs?

Iceman - I missed you last night. Were you on tower #4 or tower #5?

Will the Iron Pigs playoff opportunity impact the timing/ number of the September call ups?

Will they delay calling up Brown,Moss, etc... until the Pigs season is over?

Phlipper, you're going to jump off the bridge if the Phillies make the playoffs???

I'll pay the $50 and you can go ahead and jump as soon as you'd like.

I like this move. A guy with a little experience, who is inexpensive, and they probably won't have to give up much.

The name is Bowker and I am here to rock your faces off!

Great article, DIP.

Speaking of bridges, the Giants are 10-21 since the series win in Philadelphia.


Thanks, this makes a lot of sense. The Shift "split" has gone into play vs a number of hitters now. On the top of my head I can think of Carlos Pena as a guy who is severely affected by the shift as well, since they each have a long loopy lefty uppercut swing. He has, though, bunted a couple times to beat the shift, its mildly amusing.

If Howard is seeing fewer fastballs than anybody else in the game, shouldn't he be one of the league leaders in walk percentage because throwing off-speed pitches in hitter counts should mean less chance of a pitch in the k-zone.

Let's see the other leaders in "fewer FB's in 'fastball counts:'

Hitter Hitter's Count FB %
Ryan Howard 55.0
Prince Fielder 55.1
Matt Kemp 56.2
Alfonso Soriano 57.7
Jose Bautista 58.2
Laynce Nix 59.4
Brian McCann 59.4
David Ortiz 59.8

Same players, BB% (ranking):
Howard: 11.0% (34th)
Prince Fielder 15.2 (7th)
Matt Kemp 11.1 (33th)
Alfonso Soriano 4.7 (141st)
Jose Bautista 20.0 (1st)
Laynce Nix 6.1 (120th)
Brian McCann 10.2 (44th)
David Ortiz 12.2 (21st)

Hmm...not sure what to make of this...

I knew that Howard doesn't get many fastballs, but I didn't realize that it was quite a extreme as explained in that article.

One logical conclusion would be that Howard really needs to be more selective and take more off-speed pitches and walk more.

The problem there is two fold. The first is that it seems that Howard really has a problem with pitch recognition - so it's easy to say what he "should" do, but the fact is that he's probably incapable of doing it.

The second problem is that you'd be asking him to change his entire approach to the game - to be less aggressive. If he did that, he'd be detracting from his strength (knocking in runs) in order to address his weaknesses - which is probably doubly stupid give my first point.

The bottom line is that people should accept his weaknesses for what they are and appreciate his strength - one of the best cleanup hitters in the history of baseball.

Wishful thinking that Howard could become a perfect hitter or a Pujols is just that - wishful thinking. I'll take the reality of a top notch cleanup hitter on the team I root for.

TSN scouting report on Bowker

Assets: Swings with impressive lefty power and has a knack for driving in runs. Doesn't strike out as much as many sluggers. An underrated athlete who hustles, he has the ability to play first base as well as the outfield.

Flaws: Must prove he can hit lefties with consistency at the major-league level. Doesn't draw enough walks. Needs to keep polishing his defensive and base-running fundamentals. Lacks consistency.

Career potential: Backup outfielder.

TNA - I think that what to make of it is that different players have different strengths and weaknesses.

One of Howard's weaknesses is pitch recognition. The problem is when people expect all hitters to be the same: highly selective so they can have a high OBP, or at least force pitchers to throw fastballs in fastball counts. The problem with that logic is that you just can't expect all players to have the same skill set. Expecting Howard to be a player he isn't creates a blind spot the prevents some people from seeing the positive elements of what he is.

if Ryan Howard was to draw a walk or slap a single to left on every single at bat for the rest of the year, would that make him a better player? Would the Phillies be a better team?

If you gave opposing teams the option of giving Howard 4 22 bounce singles to left field over the course of a game, or 4 honest at bats, what would they choose?

I'll take the 4 honest at bats. Most of the time 1 homer and 3 strikeouts will do more to help you win than 4 walks.

Bowker is just filler. Better year at AAA than Moss but really no better. More about the complete lack of hitting that Gload has shown the last 2 months. If not they with plan B (Bowler/Moss).

Again not going to be a bench that they can count on to do much in the postseason regardless of whether it is Bowker or Gload. One capable option off the bench in Mayberry if he doesn't start and that's it.

3rd straight year in a row they go into the playoffs with a generally subpar bench that won't likely be capable of contributing. Came back to hurt them both years especially in '09 during the World Series.

JT in NC, if Howard got on base every time he came to bat, he'd be the best player in baseball, even if they were all singles and walks.

Phlipper, there's nothing wrong with a fan seeing holes in a players game and hoping he can adjust to the opponetn and become a better player. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but what's wrong with reveling in a player's strenghts, while also hoping that he improves on some of his weaknesses.

We do it all the time with every pitcher. Hamels, for example, was ou race in 2008, one of the best 15 pitchers in baseball, and led us to a WFC. People appreciated that, yet still hoped that he'd develop a third pitch to become a more dominant starter. And he did.

Likewise with Howard, he's shown the propensity in the past to take lots of walks and not swing at as much stuff out of the zone as he has the last two years. I would love to see him return to that level of plate discipline that he's displayed before, and I'm confident that it wouldn't sap, but instead, increase his power.

MG: DOM makes bench better, he'll be there.

MG, if Mayberry's starting, Raul would be your lefty off the bench. While he's not a great optino, he can hit the ball out of the park (seems to be the only thing he can really do anymore). He'd be a huge upgrade over Gload.

Dtrain has a 1.190 OPS in his 23 PA this year with 4 XBH.

Pirates to decide between player to be named or Cash Considerations. Here's the scouting report on Cash Considerations:

I'm a real sucker for these kinds of moves but not realy on the day before September. Would have rather seen him sooner than now. But hey, good luck to the guy. If he's better than Gload, which shouldn't be hard, it's a good find.

a PTBNL huh, so another top 10 prospect?

Howard's K numbers are in line with his career numbers. Yet his numbers are "down." What does this mean?

Howard's infield fly numbers are higher than normal at 7% and his HR/FB% is relatively down in conjunction with hitting less line drives. The best combination would be high line drive rate + high HR/FB%. Howard is hitting more groundballs than air outs, less line drives, and when he does get the ball in the air, the ball isn't going out of the park like it used to.

In terms of pitch selection, he just needs to lay off more pitches fastball or not. Perhaps for a little while, just sit on off-speed stuff that comes into the zone like Vic did with Bailey's 1st pitch curve the other night.


That's fair enough. But IMO, the problem is with Howard's pitch recognition. I suspect that's an inherent skill. He seems to get fooled a lot. Having him approach the plate with the intent to take pitches gets him "thinking too much" when he's at the plate.

For Sept, if Phils call up guys like Kratz and Moss, and activate Blanton, they'd have to make a corresponding move to open a 40-man roster spot.
There is still some dead weight currently on the 40-man (e.g. DCarp), but it will be interesting to see how its handled.
Moving Contreras to the 60-day DL would open a spot.

"Likewise with Howard, he's shown the propensity in the past to take lots of walks and not swing at as much stuff out of the zone as he has the last two years."

And the point there is that he took more pitches and got more walks when he was getting more fastballs.

Phlipper, good points, but the fact is, without being in Howard's head and knowing his thought process when he goes to the plate, we're both speculating as to what effect making changes at the plate would have on his game.

I think he can be more selective and maintain or increase his power. You think he's at a good balance now.

We'll have to agree to disagree, and neither of us is "right".

I saw Considerations play for Reading against the Nomar powered Thunder in 95. Totally outshined Nomar in the field and at the plate. Dave Doster was just too good to unseat.

I mean, if this isn't Cole Hamels, it has to be his brother fire surfing.

One of the points of the article is that, on the whole, the increase in data has been benefiting the pitchers far more than the hitters, which is a primary reason offense has been trending down. Howard is held up as an extreme example of this trend, but it is all over.

If Howard changed his approach, the pitchers/defense would adjust to it very fast, far faster than it would take for him to change it in the first place. After a while, as a hitter you just accept that the approach you have is likely to be the best one over time for you, and accept the weaknesses and strengths it brings.

If Howard took more pitches, I strongly suspect that he would be a less effective hitter. At this point, he is what he is and it's unlikely he'll improve through any effort of his own. On the other hand, it's quite likely that over the next 5 years, he'll hit a lot of HRs and get a lot of RBI, so if it' any consolation, he's really, really good. He's not the best hitter in baseball, but I for one can accept that.

Hugh: From some of the comments after Bowker was announced I think Iceman is correct in that people were thinking the Phillies were going to be able to get whomever they wanted.

Someone said, "Lance Berkman has cleared waivers. Let me ask you? Gload, Bowker or Berkman?"

Another person said they can't see how this was an upgrade over Jack Cust.

Others specifically said they wanted Matsui. I don't think Iceman is pulling the conclusion he comes to out of thin air.

Clearly Matsui and Berkman would've been better upgrades over Bowker but that is not how those things work because the other team has to be willing to deal them as well. On Cust- he struggled in Triple A when the Phillies brought him in and he looks cooked. With Bowker they are getting a guy who is not a splashy pick-up but is cheap, is only 27, and may be in the running for a bench spot next season.

Dan: nonsense, its steriods. Altho Howard and Utley dont do steriods and are just having down years. But everyone else? Steriods.

"If Howard took more pitches, I strongly suspect that he would be a less effective hitter."

I strongly disagree. Howard has no chance against a low outside breaking pitch. Maybe half of those he flails at are out of the strike zone. He has a lot of experience seeing those pitches and he must see them coming. He can choose to lay off those pitches. He can choose to take balls and walks. He's got a good hitter behind him now. I don't see that as a change in approach that the pitchers could adjust to, other than to throw him strikes. Pitchers especially lefties that can consistently hit the corner with their breaking pitches will have the advantage, but not every team has Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.

DIP, only 38% of the pitches that Howard sees this year have been inside the strike zone.

On the other hand, he has swung at 32% of pitches outside the strike zone. Between 2005-2009, he only swung at 25-27% of pitches outside the strike zone.

His swing percentage of 47 is right in line with his career mark, so he's not swinging more or less, but he's seeing fewer strikes than ever in his career.

I speculate that if he made the adjustment and swung at less pitches outside the zone, he'd walk a lot more, and teams would be forced to throw him more strikes. Getting more strikes to hit would likely put him back in the range of 45-46% of pitches he sees in the zone, and I'd imagine that his numbers would increase, as I would guess that pitches in the zone are easier to hit for power than pitches outside the zone.

On a more general point, the game of baseball is predicated around making adjustments. If the pitchers sees that you swing at stuff outside the zone, he'll start throwing stuff more often outside the zone. It is then up to you to adjust your game and stop swinging at stuff outside the zone, forcing him to attack you more inside the zone, at which point he'll find some other facet of your game to exploit, at which point you'll have to adjust.

Using the argument that if Howard adjusts, they'll just adjust to him, is fatalistic. That's the nature of the game. Players adjust, and it is incumbent upon every player to adjust to the adjustments. It's not easy, mind you, but these are the best baseball players in the world, and they get paid a lot of money to work hard at their craft and try to continuously get better. THey should never settle with one approach and just figure it's the best they can do, and I guarantee you that's not how Howard thinks. He makes adjustments all the time, and I applaud him for that. He just can't lay off the offspeed stuff outside the zone, but I'm still going to hope he figures it out, because he'll be a better player for it, in my opinion.

"Howard has no chance against a low outside breaking pitch. Maybe half of those he flails at are out of the strike zone."

That's right. And yet he swings. Which is why I think the problem is pitch recognition.

I would still keep Bowker on the road with Mr. More Considerations North on Interstate 71 to Cleveland for Godzilla.

The only thing Bowker does better than Moss is hit HRs.

Either is an upgrade over Gload, but I'd pick Moss first.

I was thinking Howard's 2 HRs might silence the daily drumbeats on the Big Man's weaknesses and problems by Fatalotti & Jack.

I see I am wrong.

Fat: "I speculate that if he made the adjustment and swung at less pitches outside the zone, he'd walk a lot more, and teams would be forced to throw him more strikes"

You are no doubt correct in all that you said. However you assume, I think quite incorrectly, that if he did that he would still be able to do everything else exactly as he does now. I think Howard experimented with taking more pitches and found that when he did, he hit will less power when he did make contact. Said another way, Howard has to start his swing before being able to totally recognize the pitch in order to hit for the power that he does.

I strongly suspect that if Howard took more pitches, he would sacrifice power. If he sacrificed his power, he would sacrifice the one thing which makes him a special player, and he would hit for better average maybe, but the loss of SLG would start a whole new set of weaknesses that pitchers could then exploit.

Howard has found the approach which he can consistently bring and gives the most consistent results over time. Talk about changing all you want, but as I said above the faster pace of information sharing means that pitchers can adjust to any changes before a hitter has the chance to fully get used to it, and when you are as experienced a hitter as Howard, you are not likely to have anything you have not already tried and determined doesn't work as well as what you do best.

"On a more general point, the game of baseball is predicated around making adjustments."

Adjustments you're capable of making. On the other hand, if you change your game in a futile attempt to make changes you can't make, then all you're likely to do is reduce the positive benefits of your current approach.

Consider the possibility that Howard is just bad a pitch recognition. (There's plenty of evidence for that - as he seems to be "fooled" a lot at the plate - swinging at pitches that he obviously can't hit.)

We certainly have evidence of some batters that are particularly good at pitch recognition - why not consider the possibility that for some players that's a weakness (within a range - if he was just flat out terrible, he wouldn't be in the majors).

If he is just bad at pitch recognition, going to the plate with the intent to take walks will not improve his outcomes, as his adjustment will not attack the root of his weakness - pitch recognition.

The point is that if he can address the root of his weakness head on - improve his ability to recognize pitches - I'm all for it. I suspect that is an inherent skill, however. Try to address that problem by adopting a strategy that does not address that problem, IMO, would not bring improved results. He got more walks and took more pitches when he got more fastballs, because he could more easily recognize fastballs that are out of the strike zone than he can with off speed pitches.

The Phils need to do like the Blue Jays and have someone standing out in Ashburn Alley signaling pitches.

I wonder how much cash the Pirates got for Bowker? $20k? $25k? Case of selected beer from Victory or one of the other local breweries?

Vanilla envelope with several crisp one hundred bills enclosed?

Phlipper, I agree with your argument at 11:09, with one addendum as I mentioned above: Howard's approach means he probably has to start his swing before he's able to totally recognize the pitch in order to acheive the power he does when he makes contact. Thus, it's not a flaw in his eyesight or reflexes, but fundamental to his very approach which gives rise to the weakness that pitchers exploit. I strongly doubt that he can improve upon the one without sacrificing the other.

"He just can't lay off the offspeed stuff outside the zone..."

Because he's bad at recognizing off speed pitches that will wind up outside the zone.

There's a reason why some hitters swing at a lot of pitches outside the zone. It isn't because they think to themselves, "I'm going to swing at pitches outside the zone." So, saying that they should have an approach of "I'm not going to swing at pitches outside the zone." will not change the outcome.

This is what gets me when fans get upset about players swinging at bad pitches - and say that the player should just "lay off bad pitches."

Take teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees. Do they take more pitches because as a team they have that philosophy? Or, do they fill their rosters with batters that have good pitch recognition skills?

Chicken? Or egg?

you guys are going to LOVE this:

Why the Phillies will fall off a cliff-

pretty obvious stuff

Agree, completely, with your 11:13, DIP.

Why am I not seeing the love here? Last year you guys were virtually s8cking Sweeney off, what about the Bowk? Give it up. Throw a parade

Came back to hurt them both years especially in '09 during the World Series.

Posted by: MG | Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Unless Michael Jack and Whitey were on the bench, they were losing that series because of pitching. Look back at the scores. Other than Lee, the Phils couldn't stop the Yankees from scoring.

Phlipper/DIP, I agree with everything you guys are saying. If Howard's weakness is simply pitch recognition (I suspect it is as well), then it's going to be hard, if not nigh impossible to overcome that.

I just see that in the last two years, when he's been swinging at more pitches outside the zone than ever before in his career, his ISO has been in .230-.240 range, whereas in the past, when he was swinging at less stuff outside the zone, his ISO was in the .290-.340 range.

Who knows what he can or can't do. I'm not him, but like I said, I'm hopeful that he will improve at "pitch-taking" if you will, and I'm confident that this will help him regain his power stroke of old (not that is power stroke of today is fact, it's quite good, it was just historically good a couple years ago).

As in all things, we shall see.

As I've said before, and for the benefit of equity and those who think I'm just engaging in "Howard bashing", these are the same things that have contributed ot Utley's power/production decline. Swinging at more stuff outside the zone, AND making more contact with stuff outside the zone. I'd imagine pitches outside the zone are hard to drive and hard to turn into hits. Contributes to less BA and less power, which have dropped in both Utley's and Howard's game.

It may just be a factor of aging and normal decline, but as a fan, I hope they both can improve on their pitch recognition and swing at more strikes and less balls.

If that makes me a bad fan (don't know why it would, but some people seem to think it does), than that's too bad.

It's always nice to have guys come off the bench and produce, but if you're counting on it you have big problems.

Maybe Howard should get some tips from Hunter Pence. He swings at everything in the zone or outside the zone and it seems to work pretty well for him.

Fatalotti: Not a bad fan. Just a guy who cites Howard's weaknesses on a daily basis while mentioning the weaknesses of other players on the team once in awhile.

In other words, your bias is showing.

TTI - I think you and Iceman are reading more into those posts than is there. I know I specifically expressed a preference for Matsui. My comment wasn't intended to express anything more than wishful thinking.

Pitch recognition has always been an issue for Howard. He's not a guy who can sit back and let a lot of pitches pass. While no body's as good with 2 strikes on them as they are in a hitter's count (hence the name), Howard has to be just about the worst hitter in baseball with two strikes on him.

clout, I'll try to criticize everyone in equal doses from now on.

Thanks for you contribution to the conversation.

Old Phan - Generally would agree with that especially in the postseason where bench guys are used sparingly even in the NL.

TTI: Not that it really matters at this point, but Cust played a grand total of 6 games at LV and put up an .848 OPS. Is he a better bet than John Bowker going forward? I really have no idea. I'm a sucker for guys with good minor league numbers (which he has), and the fact that he's oldish (28) doesn't deter me as much as it deters some. But he has gotten repeated opportunities over the last 3 seasons & he hasn't exactly lit it up.

So we'll see. My initial instinct, however, is to ask: why would you sign a guy with a career .813 major league OPS, only to waive him after 6 AAA games in which he does everything that's asked of him, and then replace him with a guy who has failed at the major league level in every opportunity? It doesn't make a lot of sense to me on the surface, but maybe the Phillies think they know something about John Bowker that isn't readily apparent from his major league stat line.

I never realized it was "biased" to criticize one player more than another. In the future, I'll make sure to dole out one criticism of Roy Halladay for every criticism I direct at Michael Martinez.

Hugh - Numbers of any hitter are pretty anemic but Howard has been pretty poor with 2 strikes this year compared to his career norms:

.149/.229/.234 with 4 HRs in 261 ABs

Career numbers with 2 strike count:

.170/.253/.334 with 86 HRS in 2022 ABs

BAP: I found the rest of the sentence you left off here:

Is he a better bet than John Bowker going forward? I really have no idea, but I'll still voice my displeasure about it because I have a quota of things to be negative about before noon.

"And one year, when the Phillies kept track for a whole season, they computed that he lost 35 to 40 legitimate hits because of The Shift."

"Howard is severly punished through the technology, and has been discussed on this board before, the shift alone hurts him quite a bit."(DIP)

Actually Dan, I just worked it out. Using the number above (35 to 40 hits per season), and I'll use 35 because it's a lower number, this is what Howard's BA and OBP would have looked like from 2007 through 2010, ass-u-ming he got another 35 base hits per season because he didn't face the shift. Also, I am assuming they would all have been singles, so I haven't bothered with his SLG:

2007: .335/.446
2008: .308/.389
2009: .336/.410
2010: .340/.410

This is admittedly very unscientific, but if Howard loses 35 hits a year, the shift really hurts him, because the above are HOF level numbers.

Assuming only 20 more hits a year because of no shift does this:

2007: .306/.423
2008: .284/.367
2009: .312/.388
2010: .313/.385

Hey, maybe the Howard bashers can convince MLB to ban the shift so they won't have to go negative on Howie?

Diaz to the Braves...but yeah, Bowker is much better.

DIP, to expand, Howard is a career .286/.396/.595 with men on base, and .264/.337/.528 with no one on.

Are his RISP numbers more indicative of his ability?

If the shift were outlawed, Howard would become the hitter everyone on here thinks he is.

Truth: I thought it clear from the tone of my post that I wasn't voicing displeasure. I have no basis for expressing displeasure, because I have no idea what the reasoning was for cutting Jack Cust loose after 6 games, or for targeting John Bowker. I merely observed that, "on the surface," Cust would appear to have more upside than Bowker. Can one wonder about the logic of a particular move, or set of moves, without being accused of negativity?

Whether it is Gload/Bowler, LH bats will get 5-6 ABs if the Phils go to the NLCS and 7-8 if they play in the World Series.

The real value of getting a guy like Matsui or a Thome would be if they reach the WS when they would need a DH. That's a lot of assumptions though.

"Iceman - I missed you last night. Were you on tower #4 or tower #5?"

Phlipper, I think I saw Iceman on the Walt Whitman.

If Stargell or McCovey had to deal with the shift, they'd be screwed too.

Meant PH ABs. It really isn't that big of a deal.

The middle relief is really the much bigger issue. Going to be interesting to see how the Phils approach this in Sept. and what they do end actually doing for the playoffs.

My favorite argument on the subject of Ryan Howard was the one which popped up a week or two ago: he's actually better than Pujols and Votto and Adrian Gonzalez because, if those guys had to face the shift every time they hit, their numbers would be worse than Howard's.

NEPP: Stargell did face the shift.

You guys gotta use the Talcony, it's cheaper.

Don't say that Walt Whitman chose that lifestyle.

Howard: 24/7

Sorry, not the shift, I meant bullpen specialization. Howard simply sees far more LHP than Stargell.

The Bowk don't sweat the shift. The Bowk is ready to play 37 games in 20 days if need be.

The point re: Howard and the shift, as I see it, is this.

Any player has to beat the team in front of them, and overcome what they're trying to do to beat said player. I'm sure if Mayberry saw nothing but fastballs, he'd be an All Star. If teams removed their second baseman when Ibanez came to bat, he'd be an All Star, too. If teams didn't swing at Michael Stutes hanging sliders, he'd be a closer.

Fact is, teams do whatever they can to beat you, and you have to try and overcome what they're doing. If Howard is a decidedly worse hitters when he has to face the shift, then so be it. We should admire his ability to hit with runners in scoring position when he's facing the standard defense, but also note the poor quality of his hitting when he has to face the shift.

It's not like it's impossible to beat the shift, and there are reasons why many great power hitters don't face the shift, like Pujols. They have the ability to hit it to all fields, at a nearly equal level, or at least at a level that makes playing the shift less advantageous for the defense. Howard, unfortunately, has not overcome this part of the other team's approach.

If the shift were outlawed, some people naively wish that he was, because they pray to the god of OBP every morning when they wake up.

There. Fixed that for you, Jack.

BAP: You once criticized Mini-Mart? I guess I missed that.

A question for those who can't recognize what Howard is because they wish he was someone else.

How does Howard's OPS+ with runners on and RISP stack up against HOFers?

Apparently, Howard has a weakness in his game.

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EST. 2005

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