After Ryan Howard’s blistering spring training, it was easy to expect the Philadelphia Phillies’ first baseman to just continue hitting that way this April. Alas, as this new season has begun, we must be reminded that spring is over and the real season is here.
So far, Howard has been unable to find his stroke. He had a .972 OPS this spring, displaying power to all fields and hitting seven home runs along the way.
Howard has three hits in his first 19 at-bats this year with five strikeouts and a pair of walks. His approach at the plate has been decent, but the results just have not been there yet.
To be fair to Howard, he has hit some balls hard. He has had a couple of balls eaten up in the shifts played against him as well.
He hasn’t been a scalding-hot type of guy at the beginning of the season. Career-wise, Howard is a .255/.346/.458 hitter in March and April games.
That said, after last year, the Phillies are just happy to have Howard in the lineup. They did not break camp with Howard in the lineup last year and it showed. They struggled at times to push runs across the plate, with guys like Ty Wigginton playing first base.
Suffice to say, Wigginton has been a bench player in his career for a reason. Right now, Howard just needs to focus on putting good at-bats together. The shift can be frustrating for all parties involved, from Howard himself to fans, to the coaching staff and everyone in between.
Howard just needs to stick to his gameplan and the hits will start coming.