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I'll admit, coming out of spring training, I thought Ryan Howard was primed for a huge season.
So far this season, that prediction couldn't look worse, and neither could Howard's approach at the plate.
Howard is batting .148 with four RBI and no home runs. To repeat—the Phillies' clean-up hitter, who is supposed to be their main power source, has zero home runs.
Well, he must have at least a few extra-base hits, right?
No. He has none. Howard has just four measly singles accompanied by 10 strikeouts.
The problem seems to be his approach.
In his best days, Howard was driving the ball to all fields, especially left and left-center. When he hits balls where they are pitched, like a ball on the outside-corner of the plate to left field, he is extremely dangerous.
Thus far this season, Howard wants to pull everything. Teams understand this and shift three fielders to the right side of second base, usually with the second baseman playing in shallow right field.
It is extremely frustrating for fans, and I'm sure for Howard, to constantly see him rip the ball low to the right side and have nothing to show for it.
A couple solid hits to the opposite field may start to change opposing managers' minds about their defensive alignment.
Howard has always been a streaky hitter so one bomb may be the beginning of a power surge, and the Phillies could definitely use that.