Ryan Howard's last 10 games (with pictures)

Ryan Howard's last 10 games (with pictures)

Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:49 am

But really only detailed analysis of his strikeouts, because that's been an interesting topic of discussion. We all know the big man is going to strike out a ton, but he's looked pretty bad at the plate recently. Is that a perception, or is it reality? Is he swinging at bad pitches, or getting bad calls? Are pitchers developing a pattern against him? Well, let's try and find out. I could have posted the screencap of every AB, but that would be very consuming, so instead, I'll just look at the strikeouts, one by one, to see if we can pick up some valuable info.

First, the numbers, from 7/25 to 8/3

49 PA, 38 AB, 9 BB, 21 K, 2 HR, 8 H (.211)

His last HR came on July 26th, and he's gone 8 games now without a HR, his longest drought of the season. He's struck out at least once in 10 straight games, his previous long streak on the season was 7 straight with a strikeout.

So, here are Howard's strikeouts, 1 by 1, from the 25th till the 3rd, with "analysis" of each AB. The pitch results are listed to the left. In games played in CBP and parks that aren't properly set up for the Gameday data, no speeds and break are given. Because of the 10 picture limit per post, this will come in 3 parts.

Part 1

7/25

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Howard watched a sweet strike on the first pitch and fouled off another strike to fall behind 0-2. He took 2 close pitches for balls, a clear ball 3, and swung at a pitch out of the zone (but reasonably close) for the strikeout.


7/26

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Here Howard again took strike one, at the knees and on the inner half, which should be his theoretical happy zone. He took a ball, took a borderline call for strike 2, fouled off a pitch right in the middle of the plate and swung through a strike right in the fat part of the plate.


7/27

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Howard was up here to get his hacks. He swung at the first two pitches, missing both, and both were strikes. Takes ball 1 clearly out of the zone, and then swings and misses at a pitch right down the middle.


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Howard's first multi K game of this streak. The first pitch looked like a strike, but called a ball. The second pitch was called a strike, and he fouled off a very similar pitch to fall behind 1-2. He took a close pitch on ball 2, then swung and missed out a pitch out of the zone away. Armas broke the trend here and was able to get him to chase pitches up in the zone, whereas before he was swinging and missing at pitches down in the zone or in the dirt.


7/28

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Howard takes the first pitch, a low ball, then proceeds to swing right through 3 pitches, two of which were close to center cut and down. He's not chasing bad pitches, he's just not hitting clear strikes, which is kind of concerning.


7/29

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Howard runs up against lefty killer Damaso Marte here. Howard takes the first pitch high and in and then a strike on the outer half. He fouls off a pitch that is still tough for him, the high and inside strike, and then takes ball 2 higher up and in. Marte sets him up perfectly and gets him to swing weakly at a low and away pitch out of the zone for the strikeout. This isn't one to really complain about, as Marte owns lefties this season.


7/30

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Ryan's first of 3 strikeouts, up against Ted Lilly, and we can see the speeds here, as Wrigley has the Gameday hardware/software installed. Fastball high and in for a ball, and he takes a changeup/slider for a strike, center cut and near the knees. He fouls off a fastball on the outer part of the plate, and lays off a pitch down and away that Gamecast thinks was strike 3. He swings at a fastball high and away, out of the zone, for strike 4. Lilly didn't throw Howard any curveballs, and only threw him one offspeed pitch.


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Howard facing Wuertz here, and taking strike one, right down the pike. He takes a fastball low and away for ball 2, then swings through a fastball at the knees for strike 2, and swings at a really low pitch out of the zone for the strikeout. Not a particularly good AB, as he let the best pitch of the sequence go for strike one.


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Howard against Mr Automatic in the 9th. He goes up hacking and swings at a high strike, then fouls off another fastball that was well outside to fall behind 0-2. He fouled off the third pitch, a borderline strike but probably outside, to remain at 0-2. The Cubs pitch out on back to back pitches, running it to 2-2 and Howard watches an awful pitch go low to run the count full. On the 7th pitch of the AB, Dempster throws him a slider low and out of the zone, but Howard chases for the strikeout. The two pitchouts make the AB look better from Howard's perspective, as he did see 7 pitches, but he swung at 3 pitches out of the zone, including the one to end the AB.


7/31


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Howard v Marquis, and it starts off on the wrong foot, as Marquis gets a very generous strike one. Howard takes ball one well inside, then swings through a pitch low a fastball low and inside. He lays off a high fastball and a low slider to run the count full before swinging at the worst pitch of the AB, a very low and inside fastball.
Last edited by FTN on Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:50 am

Part 2

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Howard takes a quality strike on the outside corner at the knees and then fouls off a strike on the inner half before swinging and missing on a borderline fastball at the top of the zone. Howry pretty much just blew gas right by him on 3 straight pitches.


8/1

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Howard v Hill, and this AB wasn't pretty. Howard takes a pitcher's pitch on the outside corner, swings and misses on a ball right on the inner edge, and then flails at an 80 mph slider way outside for a 3 pitch strikeout. He was clearly guessing here, and Hill worked him well.



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Howard v Hill, the rematch. Howard gets a generous ball 1 call, but the umpire plays makeup on the second pitch, which looked outside. He takes a fastball for ball 2 that looks like a clear strike, then fouls off a slider on the outer half. He takes another slider for ball 3 which looks like strike 5, he fouled off a high strike, and then struck out swinging on a borderline pitch on the outside corner. Hill worked him in and out in the first AB, but pretty much stayed away in the second AB and Howard couldn't adjust, and frankly, should have been out after the 5th pitch.


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Howard v Eyre, and he takes a fastball well outside for ball 1. He takes strike one, a pretty good looking pitch, then fouls off a low slider that looks like a ball. He takes a Rick Vaughn-esque fastball in the dirt to even the count at 2-2, then swings through a slider right in the happy zone. Not a good AB, missing two very hittable sliders that Eyre left up for him.


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Howard against Mr Automatic for the 2nd straight game. Howard swings at a slider out of the zone for strike 1. They pitch out on the 2nd pitch, then Dempster misses way outside for ball 2, making it a 2-1 count. Howard waives through a slider well low to even the count before taking another wayward pitch for ball 3. He swings at a pitch nowhere near the zone on the full count for the Golden Sombrero. Ouch babe...


8/2

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A classic duel, Ryan Howard v Rocky Cherry. Howard takes a borderline pitch for strike 1, then fouls off a pitch on the inner half to fall behind 0-2 before watching ball 1 sail well high. Cherry came back with a slider in a good spot, but Howard spoiled it to stay alive. He watched a slider float in for strike 3 on what looks like a legit call. Those hanging sliders should be deposited 415 feet away, but he's just not seeing the ball at this point.


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Howard and Eyre again. Eyre starts him with a low and away fastball for a ball, then gets him to foul off a fastball in a decent location. Howard swings at a slider nowhere near the zone and falls behind 1-2, and then Eyre just runs the ladder and gets him to swing and miss a high fastball. Something real interesting to take note of here. Howard faced Eyre on back to back days. On Wednesday, Eyre topped out at 84 and didn't show Howard anything fast. On Thursday, he blew his fastball right by him. Was Eyre just not feeling it Wednesday, or was he saving his best fastball in case he had to face Howard again the next day in a key spot? Eyre has been around the block, so it wouldn't shock me. In any event, Howard didn't seem to have an idea what was coming, as he swung right through the fastball.


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Howard gets to face Wuertz again. Weurtz jumps ahead with a fastball down the pike, and Howard goes fishing at something not even close to the strike zone to get behind 0-2. He takes a pitch that almost hits him for a ball, then swings right through a strike to end the AB and the inning. Weurtz didn't do anything tricky, he just went up, down down, then up to finish him off. When you're not seeing the ball well, the eye level change seems like the easiest way to get swings and misses.


8/3

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Howard v The Rook, round 1. Howard goes up looking to swing and fouls off the fastball. Gallardo goes upstairs and misses, then comes right back over the middle with the third straight fastball, which Howard fouls off to go to 1-2. Gallardo throws 2 straight curves, both missing high and wide to run the count full. He comes back with a fastball which was ball 4, but Howard fouled it off. He threw another high fastball, again this one ball 5, but Howard went after it and swung right through it.


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Howard v The Rook, round 2, let's see who adjusts. Gallardo starts him with a curve this time, a beauty, for a strike. Howard goes swinging at the changeup for strike 2. Gallardo goes up the ladder to make it 1-2, and then comes back with a floating changeup/slider and freezes Howard. He protested and was correct, the pitch was a ball. This is one of the few times over the streak that Howard took a called third strike.
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:50 am

Part 3

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Howard v Coco Cordero, trying to avoid the hat trick. Cordero throws a beauty of a strike, right on the outside corner at the belt. He comes back with a tight spinning slider, which Howard swings over to jump ahead 0-2. He throws the same pitch, this one even further out of the zone, and Howard kisses it goodbye. Not a good way to end the game and one of the worst AB's of the strikeout run.


---------------------

Conclusions;

Looking at the snapshots of Howard's AB's, I see a guy who had some good AB's early in this "streak", but then a guy who began to just guess at the plate and wasn't really seeing the ball. Some of the AB's deep into this run he just looks like he has no clue what's coming, even though the sequence is obvious at the time. High-Low-High-Low, or High-High-Low-Low. There isn't a whole lot of trickery here, except for Eyre coming up with a completely different gear the second time he faced Howard in relief. Howard chased a lot of pitches out of the zone, and in some AB's, the best pitch of the AB was the first pitch, which he more times than not just let go for a strike. It seems like he's pressing, that's probably obvious, and he hasn't been the same since Utley went down. When he presses, he gets over anxious and tries to do too much with pitches he can't pull, especially pitches on the outside corner, and he's vulnerable to the high and inside pitch.

I think at this point, he's still very conscious of that high and inside hole in his swing, and he's been setting up very open to try and pull that pitch and not get tied up. As a result of this, his stance is wide open, and when he does his toe tap/load up, he's still too far open and pointing toward 1B. This forces him to not see the outside pitch, and even if he picks it up, he's trying to pull it instead of just dumping it into left field. Tonight, I noticed his stance more square, and I will head back to the mlb.tv archive version of the game to try and align his toe tap and see if he's more square. His first AB against Gallardo was a little better, he worked him and made him throw a bunch of pitches, but he chased two clear balls that would have resulted in a walk. His second AB, he saw the ball fine, but he didn't get the close call on strike 3. At 2-2, that AB might be a lot different. He drew a walk in his third AB, and then had the terrible AB against Coco to end the game.

I don't think he's there yet, obviously, but his two AB's that ended in strikeouts against Yo, I see positive signs. As I mentioned in the prelude, he's on his longest homerless drought of the season, so you know he's going to snap out of it soon. It probably wouldn't hurt to get him a day off, he's clearly pressing, but our team is so thin at this point, you know Charlie won't do it. It would be real nice to jump out to a 10 or 11 run lead in tomorrow's game, and Manuel can give him the last 7 innings off, because he sure could use it.
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Postby Monkeyboy » Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:47 am

I don't have time to check it out now because I have to get to bed for a double shift tomorrow, but going on my impression from "watching the games," I think he's been getting a lot of bad calls lately. But I also think he's been swinging at a lot of bad pitches. He looks like he did during his slump at the beginning of the year, getting tied up inside and feeling (reaching but not going out to get them) for balls outside. He says he's not seeing the ball well and that's what it looks like. By the time he recognizes the pitch, he can't get around on the inside pitches and he can't drive for the outside ones. And I don't care what he says, he's also pressing, IMO.

Oh, and by the way, you're a maniac (in a good way, of course). I look forward to chacking this out tomorrow night.
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Postby Philssj » Sat Aug 04, 2007 6:28 am

Ever since Utley went down he seems to be really pressing up there. The rate of strikeouts is very disturbing.
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Postby drsmooth » Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:13 am

I can only draw one conclusion:


he needs a fatter bat

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Yes, but in a double utley you can put your utley on top they other guy's utley, and you're the winner. (Swish)
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Postby TenuredVulture » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:08 am

I'm impressed, Floppy. I'm wondering if anyone on the Phillies has put in half the time this must have taken to trying to analyze Howard's slump.
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Postby BigEd76 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:19 pm

“I’m swinging at bad pitches. I’m just not seeing the ball. It happens. It’s not fun. You won’t see me throwing any parties about it. It really sucks. Right now, I’m not giving myself a chance.”
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:24 pm

As Kosmo Kramer once said, let's go to the videotape. Here's some amateur video analysis on my part. This from September 8th 2006 against Florida. Howard was 3/4 with a double and 2 home runs, bringing his season three slash numbers to .311/.406/.679. The pitcher is our old friend, Scott Redass Olsen. These caps are from Howard's 2nd home run

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At setup, notice how upright his stance is. His back arm is almost parallel to the ground. Notice how little flex there is in his knees, this will come up later.

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At release, notice how his back knee is almost covered by his front knee, a sign that he's striding toward the plate. His foot is still in the air at release, and his front shoulder is leading into the plate, not pulled away toward first base.

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Here we're at 2/3 of the way to the plate, maybe closer. I used two lines to illustrate his positioning, and put a yellow dot on the baseball in case it's tough to pick up. Using the straight line down from his backside, you can see his foot hasn't pulled off toward 1B, and if anything, he's stepped closer to the plate, which is illustrated by the second line, as his feet are close to center, pointed more toward the 2B than the 1B.

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We have impact. Howard has cleared his entire front side, having recognized the pitch, and delivered the ball over the scoreboard in left center field. His head is down, his hips clear, and he's using his raw power to drive a pitch at the belt out to deep left center....something we've seen little of this season.

Now we have the comparison at bat. I chose the AB against John Lannan of the Nats from 7/26. I wanted to use an AB against Rich Hill, but the cameras at Wrigley for their telecast block Howard's setup, so it wouldn't have been a good illustration. You can reference the first post of the thread for the pitch by pitch illustration of the AB.


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Here we are at setup. Notice the sharp knee bend. His back arm is on a very similar angle, nothing wrong there.

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Release. Howard doesn't lift his foot off the ground, instead he just raises his heel off the ground and taps the dirt with his toe. The sharp angle in his knee bend is still there, but he appears balanced and his arms are in a very similar position as the 2006 version of Howard.

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Two potential problems with Howard's position here. First, you notice that his hip has flown open, and if you draw a straight line down, the line falls behind his foot. Howard's entire body is flying open at this point and the ball is still about 5-10 feet from the hitting zone.

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Impact, or lack there of. Howard swings right over the offspeed pitch, his body way out in front of the pitch.

Now, we need to look at the four shots, side by side, to pick up noticeable differences. That's coming in the next post.
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:24 pm

Ok, here are the side by sides. If the pictures are too large, simply right click and hit "view image", it will load in it's own window.

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The biggest thing here is, as I mentioned above, his setup. In the left frame, he's very upright.

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The foot lift/toe tap is pretty easy to see here. The position of his upper body and head seem identical.

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This is the most telling comparison, and in my opinion, the big problem. In the left frame, Howard keeps himself very quiet, his hips are still square, and it even looks like he's striding into the plate. In the shot to the right, Howard's hips have flown wide open and his hands have dropped down. Also notice how his head has moved as well, compared to the steady position in the left frame.

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On the home run swing on the left, Howard's body is still square to the pitcher, his hips still clear, but he waited properly on the pitch. On the right side, his hips were already way out in front in the third shot, the ball sinks, and he can't compensate because his weight is out in front. Notice on the right that his head has dropped, while his head barely moved in the sequence on the left.

Conclusions;

Looking at these two swings, I see two real big problems.

1. His stance is way too crouched right now. When you're bent in that manner, you have to raise yourself back up to make contact, which creates more movement in the swing. His head position is key, as his head remains very steady on the left frame, but moves quite a bit to the right. When trying to pick up spin on a baseball, if you move your head, your eyes obviously are going to move, and it will make it more difficult to pick up spin.

2. He's very conscious of the inside pitch. In the pitch by pitch sequences above, pitchers are starting to throw him inside more, and he isn't handling the pitches well. Last year, pitches kept pitching him away and rarely exploited the high/inside quadrant, but that has changed this year. The compensate, Howard is cheating and opening up quicker, trying to pull around on that inside pitch. When he's doing this, he's losing his balance, his head is moving, and he's not seeing the ball.

This really isn't groundbreaking, it's stuff you can see with the naked eye, and I'm sure it's something that Milt Thompson has seen.

A disclaimer here. The camera angles are clearly different. It's tough to get exact distances or angles because the FLA camera on the left was more direct behind the pitcher, while the Phillies camera is more off to the 3B side. Still, it's fairly easy to see the difference in his crouch, and it's easy to see his body flying open.

I hope this is interesting to some of you.
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Postby philliesphhan » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:33 pm

my only problem is if in one shot, he's hittinga HR and the other he is fooled by a pitch and missing it, wouldn't it have to look different?

i also noticed this year (as someone had mentioned in a recent game thread) that he was bending his knees that much
earlier when he had been doing very well this year, he was bending his knees a lot and recently he's gone back to the standing almost straight up approach
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:38 pm

philliesphhan wrote:my only problem is if in one shot, he's hittinga HR and the other he is fooled by a pitch and missing it, wouldn't it have to look different?

i also noticed this year (as someone had mentioned in a recent game thread) that he was bending his knees that much
earlier when he had been doing very well this year, he was bending his knees a lot and recently he's gone back to the standing almost straight up approach


I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Yes the end result looks different, because his swing is different. He swung right over the slider from Hannan, he stayed in on the Olsen pitch and hit it out. The end result is almost inconsequential, it could have easily been a double in the second frame. The point of this exercise is to observe differences in his setup and swing. His body is flying open much sooner and his stance is much more bent than it was 11 months ago.
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Postby ek » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:38 pm

I think it all goes back to this quad injury. I think he is still hampered by it and it is effecting his swing and stance
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Postby philliesphhan » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:41 pm

FTN wrote:
philliesphhan wrote:my only problem is if in one shot, he's hittinga HR and the other he is fooled by a pitch and missing it, wouldn't it have to look different?

i also noticed this year (as someone had mentioned in a recent game thread) that he was bending his knees that much
earlier when he had been doing very well this year, he was bending his knees a lot and recently he's gone back to the standing almost straight up approach


I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Yes the end result looks different, because his swing is different. He swung right over the slider from Hannan, he stayed in on the Olsen pitch and hit it out. The end result is almost inconsequential, it could have easily been a double in the second frame. The point of this exercise is to observe differences in his setup and swing. His body is flying open much sooner and his stance is much more bent than it was 11 months ago.


my question is how did he look last year when he didnt hit the ball
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:41 pm

ekravitz wrote:I think it all goes back to this quad injury. I think he is still hampered by it and it is effecting his swing and stance


I passed it along to Radano and asked if he thought Howard was still injured or favoring the quad. I'm not a doctor, so this is part of it I don't understand.

The question is, is he crouching more because it hurts more for him to stand upright, ie, the muscle stretching and extending.
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Postby ek » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:47 pm

I think he is having trouble balancing on his back leg because of the injury. just an opinion, I am not a doctor either
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:52 pm

philliesphhan wrote:
FTN wrote:
philliesphhan wrote:my only problem is if in one shot, he's hittinga HR and the other he is fooled by a pitch and missing it, wouldn't it have to look different?

i also noticed this year (as someone had mentioned in a recent game thread) that he was bending his knees that much
earlier when he had been doing very well this year, he was bending his knees a lot and recently he's gone back to the standing almost straight up approach


I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Yes the end result looks different, because his swing is different. He swung right over the slider from Hannan, he stayed in on the Olsen pitch and hit it out. The end result is almost inconsequential, it could have easily been a double in the second frame. The point of this exercise is to observe differences in his setup and swing. His body is flying open much sooner and his stance is much more bent than it was 11 months ago.


my question is how did he look last year when he didnt hit the ball


Ok. The only pitch he swung and missed on in the game I have on my hard drive was a pitch way up and in. His setup is the exact same, he opens a bit early, but not as exaggerated as the 2007 clip, and the pitch almost hit him, so I don't know that comparing that to a pitch right down the middle that he swung and missed on will tell us what we need. I'll have to download another game to find a better swing.

The point remains though. Swing mechanics are supposed to be the same on every swing, and the result will just be different. Howard's mechanics this year are different. He obviously is still crushing mistakes, but he isn't seeing the ball well, and because of it, he's pulling off the ball and flying open. If you think I'm making that up, I don't know what to tell you, you're certainly allowed to have your own opinion on it.
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Postby ek » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:55 pm

I see the same thing as FTN
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Postby FTN » Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:55 pm

Monkeyboy wrote:I don't have time to check it out now because I have to get to bed for a double shift tomorrow, but going on my impression from "watching the games," I think he's been getting a lot of bad calls lately. But I also think he's been swinging at a lot of bad pitches. He looks like he did during his slump at the beginning of the year, getting tied up inside and feeling (reaching but not going out to get them) for balls outside. He says he's not seeing the ball well and that's what it looks like. By the time he recognizes the pitch, he can't get around on the inside pitches and he can't drive for the outside ones. And I don't care what he says, he's also pressing, IMO.

Oh, and by the way, you're a maniac (in a good way, of course). I look forward to chacking this out tomorrow night.


Forgot to address this earlier. From the Gameday data, it doesn't look like he's been the victim of a disproportionate number of bad calls...in fact, he's getting quite a few generous calls as well, sometimes multiple calls per AB.
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Postby bleh » Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:46 pm

Howard has said he's just not seeing the ball. Which means he thinks he's getting a fastball but he's not, which is why he strikes out a lot. I think that explains it better than anything that has to do with his mechanics.
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