You Want Ryan Howard to do WHAT?

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, April 21, 2010 09:00 AM | Comments: 70
Analysis, Opinion, Posts

Before we start, I have to say that after spending last night’s gameday post bashing Kendrick…the phrase “egg on my face” comes to mind. I apologize, and only hope that KK continues to pitch like he did last night. But moving on.

There’s a scene in Little Big League (my third-favorite baseball movie of all time), where Billy Heywood, the 12-year-old soon-to-be manager of the Twins, proves his strategic prowess to the Twins brass by playing out a scenario. He suggests that Lou Collins, the team’s star first baseman, swing away in a late-inning situation with runners on. The pitching coach disagrees, suggesting that Lou bunt to move the runners over. I don’t remember the exact scenario, and I can’t find the exact quote, but Billy responds by saying that Lou bunting would set in motion a chain of events that would take the bat out of the hands of the entire heart of the Twins’ lineup.

That said, I think it would be a good idea to teach Ryan Howard to drag bunt.

Here’s the problem. In 2006, his MVP year, Ryan Howard hit .313, with an absurd .356 BABIP. This makes sense, because when Howard hits a ball in play, it’s usually a warning track fly ball or a guided missile somewhere in between the first and second basemen that falls for a hit. In order to combat this, teams started pulling the Ted Williams Shift on him, moving the third baseman to shortstop, the shortstop to second base, and the second baseman to short right field. Within 2 years, Howard’s BABIP dropped to .285 and his average fell to .251 with roughly the same strikeout ratio.

How do we combat this? Well, Howard can continue banging his head against the wall and hammering screaming liners into the right side of the infield for easy outs, or we can get proactive about it. This is where drag bunts come in.

I got the idea when I remembered a situation where Jason Varitek, seeing the infield playing back on him, bunted for a hit in the second inning of Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS. If Varitek, quite possibly the slowest non-Molina in baseball, can drop a bunt for a hit, I’m sure Howard, who’s like a train (takes a long time to accelerate but can book it when he’s up to speed) can do the same from the left side of the plate.

The obvious question: why would you take the bat out of the hands of your most dangerous hitter? Well, let’s say Howard learns to lay that slow roller down the third base line with some consistency. If he gets two bunt hits a month, that’s 30 points of batting average, what Billy Williams called the difference between a good hitter and a great hitter. Once that happens, teams can do one of two things: on the one hand, they could eat those two hits and continue shifting, at which point, Howard gets on base for free more or less whenever he feels like it. On the other hand, they could stop shifting so drastically, and Howard can continue spraying liners through the hole as he pleases.

Before we go any further, I should stipulate that Howard shouldn’t go up there looking to bunt in the late innings of a close game with two runners on. But if he’s leading off the second inning of a 0-0 game, why not try it? After all, getting on base is half the battle, and once Jimmy Rollins comes back, Howard will have three all-stars hitting behind him to drive him in. I’m not saying that he needs to go up there looking to bunt every time, but it’s worth trying every once in a while if you’re trying to get the inning started.

So can this work? Believe it or not (and thanks to Corey Seidman for bringing this to my attention), someone’s trying this already. Down in Tampa, Carlos Pena faces a similar shift, and has started bunting for hits. I emailed R.J. Anderson, a really nice dude who writes for FanGraphs and Maddon’s Mission (a truly unique and insightful blog in a world of copycats) to get the take of a Rays fan, particularly one who knows a lot more than I do. Since the start of 2009, Pena has attempted to reach base by way of the bunt 9 times and has been successful 6 times. So he’s trading a 10% chance of hitting a homer for doubling his OBP. Not a bad trade. Quoth Anderson:

In the case of almost any batter, dropping a bunt works best when the defense seems entirely unprepared for it. Say Ben Zobrist is up, and he’s batting right-handed, and the third baseman is playing back, why not drop one if there’s a reasonable chance he beats it out? Worst case, he’s out, and the third baseman has to adjust next time up. Carl Crawford has never been good at bunting and he’s been showing A LOT this year, defenses respond to the threat. And if they don’t? Make them.

The defense knows that if Pena puts the ball in play, it’s usually going to right field. They also seem willing to trade OBP for SLG, that’s a worthhwile trade for the Rays, since they have good hitters coming up still. Maybe you can make the case Los hasn’t bunted enough, since the defense isn’t really adjusting for it yet.

As much as the Ted Williams Shift has become de rigeur for stopping lefty power hitters, it has its weaknesses (Paging Pedro Feliz!), and guys like Howard are going to keep slamming liner after liner into the shift until they start exploiting those weaknesses. As of right now, Ryan Howard’s swinging the bat pretty well, so there’s no real incentive for him to do things differently, but there will come a time this year when that bat cools off, and he’s looking for a way to get on base. I know it sounds crazy, but what’s the worst that could happen?

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    I have NO problem with Ryan, and Chase for that matter, doing this whatsoever. In fact, I recommend it. I think that in games where the Phils are way down in a game or where these guys are leading off innings that a drag bunt is absolutely fine. This is opposed to trying to hit it to the left hand side which may cause them to alter their swing which I don’t think you want to do. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a drag bunt. The shift on Ryan is so drastic that he could even square up if he wanted to. There is also the slug bunt. Fact is, doing it every once in a while might be a good idea because it would almost always result in a hit AND it may make the defense play these guys a bit more honestly. Great idea.

    P.S. It doesn’t sound crazy at all.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 RMikes

    I love the idea, if he can capably execute to get it past the pitcher. Especially v. lefties, early innings, no one on base.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I think he did this (maybe out of luck?) a few times late last year… and I loved every second of it. BEAT THE SHIFT, RHYNO.

  • Posts: 0 jim

    Great idea!

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    Great argument, and Dipsy – you hit it right on. The drag bunt would have much less impact on Howard’s swing than trying to go the opposite way (see David Wright last year). Certainly only employ it in the right situation, but even if he doesn’t get it down each time, it would lessen the shift for the next at bat.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Of all the guys in baseball.. Howard is probably the MOST LIKELY to take the ball deep on any one swing . .

    there are hardly enough times where it would make sense for him to bunt.

    Im guessing the odds of him reaching base on a bunt attempt are probably equal to the odds of him hitting a HR … so why not let him swing away

  • Posts: 0 Richie

    I think the most important part of the whole thing is that once he does it once, the pitcher is the one that will be fielding it, and if it is in the pitcher’s mind for even a second while throwing a pitch that is a good thing because most of the ttime the big guy will be swinging away and eat up those simple memory lapses by pitchers.

  • Posts: 0 mikemike

    damm I knew the braves would win only chance for phillies is today. 2-7 road trip so far one lost.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Not feeling this post…

    So you want the guy that has averaged 143 RBI to drag bunt to move the runners forward… maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t see the logic in that but please understand that Carlos Pena is no Ryan Howard. Pena averages 99 RBI per season. He’s a career .248 hitter… there really is no comparison. I understand that some guys want him to be a more complete player (they want that career .280 batting average to be a few points higher) and for the sake of argument, I’ll act like I get it… but even then, asking him to drag bunt wouldn’t make sense. Why? Because he’s not going to be able to drag bunt a breaking ball low and away… which is how every pitcher with any scouting report is going to pitch him. You think anyone is going to throw him a fastball middle-in? If they are pitching him middle-in, I would hope that he’s trying to do more than bunt.

    He can improve his chances of being successful against that shift but it won’t be by bunting. He’s gotta be patient and not try to do too much. He has already hit a few balls on the ground the other way this year… if they pitch him low and away, that’s the best way for him to put the ball in play; go with the pitch drive it through the hole on the left side of the infield. But most of all, he’s gotta be patient.

  • Posts: 0 bfo_33

    Don M, I usually agree with you, but not on this one. At best, Howard is going to hit 1 hr every 10 – 12 at bats. With the shift on, he’d be at least .400. I wouldn’t recommend doing it with two outs, two on in the ninth, but if he’s leading off an early inning (2-4), a close game, I think it will add up to more runs. It will also put a little extra stress on the pitcher each ensuing at bat.

    For Vic, I’d teach him how to bunt then have him do it every time except when the bases are loaded or two outs (esp against Atl). For Howard, in the right situation, just enough to open up the shift a bit (maybe once a series or so).

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    My feeling is that EVERY major league baseball player should know how to effectively bunt the baseball. It’s a fundamental thing.

    BUT….only if the situation absolutely warrants it…..and 99.9999% of the time, Howard should be swinging away. Because, yeah, 143 rbis is a good reason.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    I get the everyone should be a threat to do the little things but where does this come from? Isn’t the mood of Howard nothing but love right now because he’s started taking what the defense has been giving him and becoming a complete hitter…? Does the mood have to change so much in 3 games?

  • Posts: 95 Paul Boye

    Avatar of Paul Boye

    Bear in mind that a good portion of RBI depends on hitters being on base ahead of the hitter, something you just can’t assume or take for granted.

    Rollins, Victorino and Utley are just as responsible for Howard’s huge RBI totals as Howard himself is.

  • Posts: 95 Paul Boye

    Avatar of Paul Boye

    Except, of course, the RBI Howard has of himself from homering.

  • Posts: 0 beaglicious

    I like the idea but I have another question for the statistics junkies. I believe teams adjust their overshift when there is a man on second to limit the baserunner from simply walking to third. In these situations, the third baseman “stays home” a bit more than if no one is on second. I am assuming that if Ryan starts bunting to keep the infield honest the overshift would simply be adjusted like when a baserunner is on second. Do we know if Ryan’s BABIP is higher when the overshift is adjusted for baserunners?

    My thought is that if Ryan’s BABIP is not increased considerably in this situation then the bunt is simply a way to get on base. And, in that case, I would rather not take the AB away from Ryan in most instances.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    Perhaps he should try to do this when he goes into one of his cold streaks…

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Paul, that sort of like saying…”Well, my Dad got me into this college…but it’s up to me to get the necessary grades to stay here.”

    Same thing with Howard. Utley, Rollins, Vic, Polanco can create all the opportunities they want…but it’s up to Howard to drive them in. And, with men on base, esp with risp, you don’t want Howard bunting.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    good call beaglicious.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    I’m not really inherently opposed to this at all, because, in the long term, dissolving that shift strategy will be an enormous boon to Howard. The only problem is, I’m not sure you can teach him to do it effectively enough to actually conquer the shift — i.e., he’ll be bad enough at it that teams will want him to do it. That’s entirely a hunch though, I have no evidence to support it. I don’t ever recall him bunting, and, as far as I can tell, there is no evidence on B-R that he ever even has in his major league career.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Chuck, getting on base is the name of the game. When you’re not doing that, you’re making outs. This strategy is clearly not designed for runners in scoring position, because teams don’t usually employ the shift against Howard when that’s the case. But if they did, it would still be valuable — nobody would be covering third, half the infield would converge on the bunt, and Howard would reach base. With Werth hitting behind him, he’s always increasing the run expectancy just by getting on base, and not making costly outs.

    Howard has shown some early ability this year to hit opposite field line drives, so if that keeps up it may be moot, but it’s far too small a sample to know at this point.

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Getting on base IS the name of the game. Ryan can’t hit a three run homer when there’s no one on base. In that shift, you don’t even have to lay down a good bunt. It could totally suck as long as it goes to the left side past the pitcher because there is no third baseman there. When Ryan leads off an inning I see nothing wrong with it. I would cheer him. You also have Werth and Vic to knock him in (and maybe Ibanez again one day). And against lefties its an ever better idea. Do you make it a big part of his game? No. Just to the point where you could hear the play by play guy go; “Howard has been known to lay a bunt down there every now and then”.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 mikemike

    Where do I get all star ballots for ibanez? hahahahahahahahah. can I write in werth too????

  • Posts: 0 Leo Sac

    I believe asking him to bunt has as much a chance of being accepted as Shaq shooting free throws underhanded.

    You may remember, back in the day when Shaq was “IT” ,the only way to stop him was to foul him. He sucks at free throw shooting and the suggestion was that he would have much more success underhanded, ala Rick Barry. Shaq bristled at the suggestion insiuating that it was somehow beneath him to try such a stunt. I think Howard would feel the same way.

    I’d just be happy to see him try and take the ball the other way as he did in week one of the season. He had 4 strikeouts during the first 8 games. Now he is back to pulling everything, rolling over on outside pitches and striking out at a much higher rate than earlier in the season. I guess Barry Bonds talk only had a one week shelf life.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I just can’t see Charlie Manuel, Milt Thompson, or Ryan Howard . . . EVER thinking that it makes more sense for him to attempt to bunt to get on base

    instead of attempting to score with one swing …

    There are times when – yada, yada, yada..

    I would like to see him HIT the ball the other way more often to keep defenses more honest.. but even with a shift-on the majority of his career …

    he’s a career .280 hitter… with a .374 career on base percentage

    i’m 99% sure that since his arrival in the Major Leagues.. he leads all baseball in both HomeRuns and RBI ???

    His job is to bring runs home (baserunners, or himself)..

    I dont ever want Howard to be known for “laying down a bunt every now and then” .. . . he is, and should be known for “KNOCKING THE COVER OFF THE BALL AT A RECORD SETTING PACE IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY” That is what scares pitchers.. every pitcher in baseball would LOVE if Howard layed a bunt down instead of trying to hit a HomeRun

    Don M

    President of the Anti-Cleanup-Hitters Bunting Campaign

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    I like Howard but he is just to up and down. Yes he can carry your team for a month but in big games he does not show up. He was nowhere to be found in the World Series. The problem with this team. The bullpen is horrible. Outside of Doc you never know what your going to get from the starters. If our offense is not producing were in trouble. Last night was a heart stopper. We had that win in our back pocket. I hate seeing chipper smile. Hate it. Now everyone is excited about Lidge coming back. REALLY????

  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Damn Don. You are a irritable SOB, arent ya? You Tea Partier, you. Always rebelling against new ideas. Not even willing to give it a try. If you ask me, if you have absolutely no one on the left side of the infield and nobody on you should ALWAYS bunt. Except if you’re Howard, when its a tie game and its late. Don, no one will ever mistake you for being an innovator. Are you one of those guys that cursed passing the ball as a way to advance the ball in the NFL? Love ya babe.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Lidge.. the guy who gave us a perfect season two years ago …

    Yea, really.. I’m excited. He won’t be perfect again.. but he’s an experienced Closer, that every team in baseball would love to have in their bullpen.

    You don’t know what you’re getting from Hamels and Blanton?

    The months that Howard usually shows up to carry the team are August and September.. when games are more intense, aka BIG GAMES .. so you’re wrong on that one

    in the 2008 World Series.. Howard hit .286 , with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs

    he struggled in the 2009 World Series.. but was among the biggest reasons we got there in the first place

    in the NLDS, he hit .375, driving in 6 runs in 4 games
    in the NLCS, he hit .333, driving in 8 runs, in 5 games

    If you’re going to make bold statements.. you should at least know what you’re talking about first

    We started the season 8-5 so far.. with our #3 pitcher, our Closer, and our primary LHP in the bullpen all on the DL. I’d say that’s pretty damn good…

    Maybe if people didn’t expect them to clinch the NL EAST crown by April 21st…. they would worry less ?

  • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

    Ryan Howard shouldn’t change anything. Just keep doing what he’s doing. 50 bombs and 150 RBI a year. don’t change a damn thing.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    You think that taking the bat out of Ryan Howard’s hands… is an INNOVATION?

    Howard is the greatest Power Hitter of this generation, and people are actually suggesting on here, that he lays down bunts, instead of swinging for the fences..

    Tell me if Im following this correctly?…
    The reason people would want him to bunt is to try to get on base… ?
    The reason want him to get on base is so that he can eventually score a run..?

    ..But, more than any other player in the game today..
    Howard has a great chance of scoring HIMSELF with one swing.. hitting the ball out of the yard

    That is basically asking Howard if he wants to take an Intentional Walk.. which the opposing team would be fine with, instead of having him hurt them and put a run on the board.

    This is just another case of overthinking.. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    I forgot that games in August and September counted for two wins or two losses apiece. Shucks.

    There’s no more weight on a game in April than there is in September. The games may seem like they mean more because the season is running out, but in reality there is no difference in weight or value when you win a game now or in the late stages of the season.

    The playoffs are different, but the belief that a September game really means more is just one of those intangible notions that really isn’t true if you think about it.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    Also Albert Pujols is the greatest power hitter of this generation. That’s not really debatable.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    @Don M

    Howard, even in his best season (2006), hit a home run in 8.2% of his plate appearances. He’s certainly good for around 50 a year, but this is about long term gain more than any fundamental change in batting approach. If Howard thwarts the shift, and teams stop doing it, his BABIP will rise, his AVG will rise, his OBP will rise, and all of those hard hit line drives to the right side that you see, which he produces regularly and with ease, will be hits, often extra base hits, instead of loud outs. Trust me, laying down a drag bunt when it is advantageous is not going to hurt his home run totals, but it will increase his overall production in the long term.

    And Paul beat me to it, but Pujols is undeniably the greatest power hitter of this generation.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Can I be Vice President of that campaign??

    Look, Howard is not without his flaws but producing runs is not one of them… taking the bat out of his hand with men on base is just nonsense. If you could poll every manager today and ask, “If you could trade a $5 foot long in return for a guarantee that Ryan Howard will sac bunt with men on first and second” every one of them would say yes. You sac bunt with Howard, you’re playing into their hands.

    I hate when this team loses… yes, I am excited about Lidge coming back, really. Why aren’t you? He was injured last season… he tried to play through something he shouldn’t have been playing through. The year before that, he was pretty good (need a reminder, “Brad Lidge does it again and stays perfect for the 2008 season.”). Even if he’s not perfect, he’s going to help this team… we’re better with him than we are without him.

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Who is talking about men on base? The shift is usually not on when there are men on base. Do you people even read things?

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    We’re not talking about bunting with men on base, Chuck. A quote from Mike’s piece:

    “Before we go any further, I should stipulate that Howard shouldn’t go up there looking to bunt in the late innings of a close game with two runners on. But if he’s leading off the second inning of a 0-0 game, why not try it?”

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    If you think about the increased pressure.. the intensity of the games

    Nobody ever says a team or player CHOKES if he/they have a bad month of April or May …. But do that in September, when everything is magnified… ala NY METS

    … so yea I’d say those are BIGGER GAMES… they count the same in the standings of course.. but they are played under brighter, hotter lights.

    Albert Pujols is the greatest PURE HITTER of this generation

    Ryan Howard is the greatest POWER HITTER of this generation… when it comes to purely hitting the ball out of the park.. Howard does it more

    Obviously Pujols is WAY better all-around, for average, contact, even SLG%… but Howard hits HR’s more frequently (probably the reason he K’s more too)

    Pujols since the 2006 season: 171 HRs, 507 RBIs
    Howard since the 2006 season: 201 HRs, 587 RBIs

    Exactly 30 more HRs.. 80 more RBI’s from 2006 until today

    Please.. please.. please… no more bunt talk

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    It does make us feel better when our stuff is actually read and thought about for longer than the time it takes to write a comment, Phylan, that’s for sure.

  • Posts: 0 Paul Boye

    Ok, and since the 2006 season, here are the number of men on base that each player had when they came to the plate in those seasons:

    2006: 509
    2007: 501
    2008: 483
    2009: 500

    2006: 427
    2007: 440
    2008: 436
    2009: 475

    Howard has averaged, over those 4 seasons, more than 50 additional runners on base per year (215 total) during his ABs. And you wonder why he gets more RBI? Sure, he hits like he always does, but guys are on base ahead of him, something that’s almost completely context-dependent.

    You give Pujols those extra opportunities and this whole RBI disparity isn’t even a question.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Let me be clear… Pujols is the greatest hitter and player by far and it’s not even close


    in 9 full seasons, Albert has hit 40+HR 5 times (never hit 50)… Howard has hit 40+ HR 4 times in 4 full seasons (hit 50 once). If the purest measure of power is hitting home runs, Howard has the edge based on raw home run numbers.


    Howard plays in a hitters park… surely helps his case (although most of his homeruns are of the “no doubt about it” variety) and Pujols has wayyy more extra base hits (which means he’s hitting the ball hard when it’s not leaving the park).

    Conclusion: I wouldn’t say either of them is “undeniably” the greatest power hitter without a clear definition of power. They both average 23 intentional walks per season…

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’d rather Howard swing than bunt …in the 2nd inning of a 0-0 game.. because with one swing, he could make it 1-0 Phillies..

    I like the IDEA.. and that people are thinking of ways to fix flaws. . .

    I just think the word “BUNT” should not be mentioned with the name RYAN HOWARD.

    I’m fine with him trying to HIT the ball to that side.. and make teams play more honest defense. but you dont have Power Hitters bunt because you are in effect, taking the bat out of their hands.

    I never WONDERED why Howard got more RBIs.. our offense is clearly better than the Cardinals. My point is.. that Howard has been terrific in his cleanup role the past few years. … he’s a POWER HITTER. And if he switched his focus to learning how to bunt . you are taking away his tool.. his bat.. and the chance for him to create a run with one swing

    If Howard hits a HR every 10 plate appearances or so..

    How often would he successfully bunt, and succesfully score.. would it be greater than once every 10 times?

    Its not an experiment that I’d ever like to test..

    Its NOT like he’s a terrible contact hitter.. a .280 career average (and yes I realize that if he lays down a few bunts.. even unsuccesfully.. that there is the chance that defenses play more honest.. and a chance his average then goes up higher against non-shifts.. etc…… but its just too complicated, and not something I ever see the coaching staff trying to get him to do)

    Let the man do his thing

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Which illustrates my point from before. It’s one thing for Utley, Rollins and Vic and now Polanco to get on base. Great. But Howard’s job is to drive them in. Which he does.

    Howard…and everybody else should know how to bunt…..but again…99.9999% of the time he just should not do it. It’s just NOT his game. Period. So does that qualify me to be Sec’y of State of that campaign?



    I’m MORE than ready for his return. Seriously.

    Last night, with two outs….even if Lidge gives up two runs….there is NO WAY Troy Glaus hits a slider in the dirt. Game would be over.

    Will Lidge blow some saves. Yeah, probably. But his presence is sorely needed in this pen right now.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Yea im def not trying to compare Howard to Pujols in any real sense…

    PUJOLS is better in EVERY single aspect of baseball.. (except for fashion, with that stupid clunky chain around his neck)

    If Albert swung for the fences more.. Im sure he could hit 60 Hrs.. but he would rather rock the .334 Career Batting Average !!!

    I guess question to the stats guys.. . .

    How often would you TRULY want to see Howard ever attempt a bunt? … It would only really make sense with either NOBODY on.. or just a Runner on 1st

    but a chance to drive in 1-2 runs… is more important than just a chance to get on base.

    Maybe if the Phillies are UP a lot, against opponents they see alot.. any team from the NL EAST…. It would make sense for him to drop a bunt down the 3rd base side.. Try it a few times and word would spread quickly.

    but I just dont think its something that other teams would care about because if Howard wants to get a bunt-single . . . instead of try to hit a HomeRun, I really think that other teams would 100% fine with that. Which maybe illustrates why WE shouldn’t be fine with it

  • Posts: 0 Philly Texan

    I’m with Don.

    Howard should never be bunting. Yes, he might get on base to lead off an inning, but then what? He’s not going to steal second. And he’s just as likely to hit a solo home run or a double, which I’ll take every time.

    Also: it will take a lot more than a drag bunt or two to get teams out of the shift. It just won’t have an impact except to put a slow guy on first base at the expense of an extra base hit. (Remember it’s not just home runs. Howard hit 37 doubles last year. Don’t know about you guys, but I really like lead off doubles.)

    I’m all for bunting and for getting on base when it’s warranted.

    But 40-home-run, 140-rbi guys don’t bunt. Ever.

  • Posts: 0 Amazinsux

    God, forgive me for this, but I agree with Don.

    Howard bunting…. is kookie-talk!

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Please read this carefully before responding.

    He isn’t “just as likely” to hit a home run or a double, that’s the whole point. Howard’s on base percentage last year was .360. He, like every other hitter, makes outs more often than not. But you can dramatically reduce the amount of outs he is making with this strategy.

    Why? Last year, 68% of the line drives that Howard hit became hits. 19.4% of the ground balls he hit became hits. The league average for line drives becoming hits was 72.4%, and for ground balls becoming hits it was 23.6%. Why were Howard’s lower? Because an inordinate amount of his grounders and liners are going right into the shift. The defense, with that simple strategy, are actively increasing the amount of outs he makes. Those percentages are over 700 or so plate appearances, so we’re not talking about just a few hits he’s being robbed of here. This is a much greater loss of value than a simple solo home run can make up for.

    Howard will not have to succeed at the drag bunt many times, and teams will stop shifting. When that happens, those percentages I listed earlier will go up to the league averages. That’s a lot more hits — he’ll see a rise in his average, on-base percentage, and yes, even his slugging percentage, since some of them are liable to be for extra-bases. You have sacrificed nothing here, and made a tremendous gain. Explain to me again why this is such a bad idea?

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Boye, based on those numbers, Howard knocks in 29.45% of those men on base. Pujols knocks in 28.52% of those men…

  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    By the way, re: the ridiculous Pujols/Howard comparisons, Pujols has consistently bested Howard in slugging percentage and isolated power. There is more to power hitting than just home runs.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Which hits that would be OUTS in the SHIFT … would be EXTRA BASE HITS without the SHIFT??

    If you are making an out on the ball to shallow RF …. without that guy there.. it becomes a SINGLE to RF .. right?

    I guess my best arguement would/should have been about the numbers with PENA, while they are very good numbers… How many times does he have to do it before teams react to it and change their defensive strategy for his at-bats?

    Like it was stated above.. Im sure the opposing team would MUCH rather have him with a higher OBP% due to him bunting.. than have a higher SLG% due to him swinging ?

    This is the great part of baseball debates, is that you guys have me thinking WAY DEEPER into the thought of why a bunt from him might be a good idea every once in a while

    I just think that to open up the defense.. he would have to bunt so frequently.. that the bat coming out of his hands so often, would be a Negative, not a Positive to the Phillies lineup

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    OK… so no men on base…. you poll managers around the league and they’d rather see Howard bunting than swinging away in that situation.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how Howard is going to drag bunt a breaking ball low and away…

    He’s not the fastest guy out of the box… it’s going to have to be a pretty good bunt to get him to first. It might not have to be perfect but if it’s playable by the pitcher or catcher, he’s out. How many failed attempts would people stomach before we gave up on that experiment?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    right.. I had already said that Albert has a higher SLG% ….

    Not sure what “Isolated Power” is.. but I know that Howard hits more HR’s than Pujols does…

    and while you can argue that Howard plays in a more HR friendly home ballpark … I would then say that isn’t that all the more reason Howard should try to hit a HomeRun ?

    This seriously is a GREAT topic for today.. .. there really isn’t a “right” answer

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