Dear Philadelphia, We Need to Talk
Ryan Howard cannot hit left-handed pitching. Don’t close your browser yet, I have a reason for mentioning this for the umpteenth time.
As Craig Calcaterra (@CraigCalcaterra) pointed out on Twitter earlier, Howard’s ability to hit lefties isn’t a matter of opinion; it is a bona fide fact that Howard has not been able to hit lefties anywhere near the league average in three out of the last four seasons. Even his BB/K ratio dropped from 0.3 in 2009 to 0.28, 0.22, and 0.11 in 2010-12, respectively. Opposing managers stack fielders on the right side. Lefties know to throw him slop low and away:
I understand disagreement with and the need for debate surrounding Domonic Brown‘s future, or Darin Ruf‘s potential as a Major Leaguer, but there is simply no debate on this subject. I know it’s dumb to use a Philly.com poll as a jumping-off point for anything, but that more than half of 400-plus respondents (at the time I captured the screenshot) think Howard can still “hit” left-handers boggles the mind, and being aware of sampling error does little to ease the mind. Although perhaps I should give them the benefit of the doubt, assuming they collectively defined “hit” as “stand in the batter’s box and attempt to swing”.
Calcaterra also beat me to the punch in responding to the poll, so check out his take at Hardball Talk.