No Wonder Howard Hates the Shift

Got an interesting e-mail yesterday from Stat of the Week.

It carried the headline: Is the Ted Williams Shift Effective?


It ought to make Ryan Howard a little nauseous, actuall. Baseball Info Solutions looked at groundballs and short liners (balls infielders can handle while playing the shift) over the previous two seasons. Ryan Howard hit .174 when hitting against the shift. He hit .273 hitting without the shift.

Holy shift!

Read more about the shift here.


Looking for a holiday gift? I will be signing my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” on Friday night at the Barnes & Noble at the Oxford Valley Mall. A bunch of other local sportswriters and sports personalities will be there as well. Come one, come all!


.174 is half-way to hitting .350

Thanks for visiting the blog Big Guy!…. ;o)

If he hits liners to the gaps (like he used to) and puts balls in the seats, the shift is irrelevant. I think it just gets inside his head more than anything.

He just needs to freaking learn how to beat the shift…..

If he would drag bunt down the 3rd base line a few times – that would be the end of the shift. Is there a reason he has not tried that?

First off, learn what a drag bunt is. What you are suggesting is not a drag bunt.

Second, how would a bunt stop the other team from putting a shift on him? They are shifting on him to try and take away hits from him to the right side where he hits the ball hard, or to take him out of his element and have him settle on a single instead of trying to hit for power.

If anything, bunting will only cause the team to leave the 3B at home while continuing to shift the rest of the infield.

To whoever you are … why the attitude? Life is too damn short. Chill out. I know what a drag bunt is. I played American Legion for 3 years. A few successful bunts down the third base line past the pitcher will result in the third baseman in staying put. That would require the shortstop to move from short right field to around the second base. It will give Ryan more area to get hits into. I will take 5 less home runs in return for a .280 – .285 batting average.

i say that every single game dave. every single game. great point

Maybe when the shift is on, all those hitters try to hard hitting the ball the other way and consequently get out more often. I think they should look at the location of the outs in the ABs with the shift on. Also, are those AVGs based on balls put in play? Do they include strikeouts? I know it’s impossible to know for sure if certain balls hit to players in the shift would have been hits if the position players were in their normal positions, but I think that would tell me more than just saying it’s 100% because of hitting with the shift on , as WE have defined it.

Daves,….. Have you seen any power hitter, except Ortiz once this year, try to “drag bunt” for a hit????? Hitting is hard enough without messing with your swing in ways that are NOT going to work. Ryan CAN’T bunt and he should never have to. Do you want him to spend hours in the hitting cage working on his bunt just to get one hit with the hopes of the other team taking the shift off??! They’ll still put the shift on, and Ryan will never be a good bunter, making it more likely that he’ll rupture another achilles tendon than stop teams from putting a shift on him…

Erich, I am not suggesting Ryan routinely bunts for a hit. All I am suggesting he do it 3 – 4 times. With all of the scouts, it would reduce the shift. I am not a Ryan Howard critic. Baseball is a game of adjustments. A little chess here, IMHO, would go a long way in opening up the shift some.

I wonder if simply changing where he stands in the batter’s box can make him hit more balls to the opposite field. If he moves up a tad, he’s less likely to pull the ball as much as he would if he were further back in the box. I guess Charlie has been telling him to move closer to the plate for years without much success.

Now that Jim Thome is back on team, I hope Ryan can listen and learn from a guy who listened and learned from Charlie and who has a good chance of being a Hall of Famer someday (if any DH does).

Mike Schmidt bunted for a few base hits duirng his career, I recall seeing it. I’m certain someone with better access to resources than I can demonstrate that fact.

Mike Schmidt was a different kind of athlete. He had some speed and was a good baserunner.

Phan52, with the 3rd base player at SS or over the 2nd base, a bunt down the 3rd base line would be a single even if Charlie were running!

doesn’t need to lay down a good bunt. WIth teh 3b playing at SS all he needs to do is keep it fair and waltz into 2nd with a infield double lol. The point isn’t getting on, it’s making the other team stop giving up the entire side of the infield

Opposing teams would PAY Howard to bunt. Don’t you think they’d rather see him on first base than rounding the bases?
Honestly, the things that get posted on here just amaze me sometimes. Cluelessness.

Exactly muleman. The percentage of times guys like Howard, Fielder and Ortiz score after getting on first base is minescule. MLB managers will applaud when those guys start bunting against the shift.

Muleman, I am not saying Howard should routinely bunt for hits. I am only saying do it a dew times to get the shift opened up. Then let him swing away with more opportunities to smash the screaming line drives to right field that is not caught by the short right fielder for an out or an out at 1st. This would also open up the right field gap more.

Dave, don’t apologize to the idiot savants of this site, muleman and phan52. Howard scored 81 runs in 2011. Only 33 came off of his homeruns. The remaining 48 came from him getting on base one way or another. Chances are he is going to score more runs if he gets on base more often. Howard’s bunting to get on base serves the dual purpose of getting on base more often to score more runs and the other teams altering their tactics which might lead to his getting on base more often. It is a win-win for the Phillies and Howard no matter how you look at it.

Mule: given Howard’s salary, we could use some of the other teams to help offset his monthly checks. IF they pay for him to get on base, better yet

Dave and pherris: Don’t patronize me. If you think bunting would open up the shift, you’re clueless. They’d still shift him because he isn’t going to bunt EVERY TIME. In fact, they’d hope he bunted. You need to start watching baseball.

Patronize? One shouldn’t attempt to use words without knowing their meaning.

So now, Laynce Nix? Great. Another lackluster .250 hitter to add to the club. I’m not excited so far. I don’t think they’re any better than last year.

pherris, you just can’t help showing how little you know about baseball, can you?. No surprse there.

Bunting a pitch may be easier than swining away at it, but controlling where it goes after you bunt it is hard. If we know for a fact that Ryan can’t even make contact with a nasty slider, what makes all you Ryan-should-bunt-more phans think he can aim that same pitch down the left side of the infield? PLUS, as I posted before, yo would be messin’ with his mechanics, which are messed up enough without giving him something else he has to think about at the plate…..

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