Breaking down Howard’s 13-pitch at-bat

Ryan Howard pulled off a fantastic at-bat that I come to expect from every hitter with two strikes earlier today.

Fouling off eight pitches, Howard sent Pirates reliever Chris Resop’s 13th pitch to the deepest part of the park without going out, driving in a run on the sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2 in the 5th inning of the Phils 7-3 win over Pittsburgh.

But why is this such an important post? Well I’ll show you…

The 12 pitches Ryan Howard saw before his game-tying sacrifice fly. Screen grab from MLB.com Gameday.

See the chart? Howard fouled off all those pitches on the outside part of the plate. Every pitch after the third pitch was a fastball between 93-95 MPH. Each and every one of those could have been a called third strike if he had laid off.

Howard has struck out 14 times this year with the bat on his shoulder, half of his season total from last season. But his worst came with two outs in the Game 6 of the NLCS when he held onto the bat as Brian Wilson and San Francisco Giants celebrated a World Series berth.

What Howard did is what I expect from every professional hitter to do, especially with runners in scoring position. He didn’t like the pitch so he fouled it off. Unlike men’s league softball, if you foul off a pitch with two strikes, you get another cut.

And Howard kept cutting, tossing aside pitches he didn’t like as a your wife would do with clothes when finding something to wear.

It’s the number one reason why I track called third strikes and issue an imaginary fine to players who do so on the “Awards” page. It irks me to no end and I’m glad to see, for once, Howard have himself an excellent at-bat.

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