An Achilles Heel: Ryan Howard and Left-Handed Pitching

Benjamin upchurchContributor IIFebruary 3, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 04:  (L-R) Chase Utley #26 and Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies look on late in the game against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on November 4, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Since 2005 Ryan Howard has been a top-five power hitter in the NL. Through the end of the 2009 regular season he seemed like an unstoppable power house.

A funny thing happened though in the 2009 World Series. He couldn't hit anything.  After winning the 2009 NLCS MVP award, he had one of the worse batting performances in WS history. It was shocking for many of us.

After analyzing the stats, you can begin to see what the Yankees saw last year. Ryan Howard cannot hit a Left Handed Pitcher. His career average is only a little above the Mendoza line against lefties.

Since 2006, his season BA against LHP has plummeted from .271 to .207. If you keep looking at it continues to get worse. Against LHP he has 371 K's in 1060 PA. The touted sluggers SLG drops to .444 with a .310 OBP.

2010 could be a bad year for Howard if he doesn't fix this fast. Late inning production from him could drop to nil. The opposing team could neutralize the Phillies most dangerous bat by simply platooning a left handed reliever.

On a smaller note, Howard also has a weakness against power pitchers. His career BA/OBP/SLG dropped to  .226/.326/.502. That's a drop of over 100 points in every stat when compared to finesse pitchers. In 2010, expect him to face a lot of power lefty relievers.

The Phillies will have to make some tough choices this year in regards to Howard. Probably the biggest is if they should start him against a Left handed starter?