Pitch to Howard

A rumbling from our old friend Jayson Stark:

One NL executive says he can’t figure out why teams keep intentionally walking Ryan Howard when the Phillies player they should be walking is Chase Utley — to pitch to Howard: "At least Howard has holes — a lot of holes — especially this year. In a big spot, Utley fights you. He fights off tough pitches. He’s hard to strike out. He’ll take your heart out to win a game. Give me enough players like that, and I’ll win a championship. I guarantee you."

He’s right about that – a team full of Chase Utleys would coast to a championship.  I just can’t see intentionally walking Chase Utley to get to Ryan Howard, especially now while Howard is beginning to revive his swing of last season.  Howard’s hot bat has improved the entire team, including Utley as Todd Zolecki notes today.  Chase Utley hit .300/.375/.560 with Howard on the DL.  He has hit .366/.434 /.581 since.

Chase and Ryan’s offensive numbers notwithstanding, the stat I think this argument hinges on is Ryan Howard’s 33 walks in 103 AB with runners on base.  If opposing pitchers are willing to walk Chase Utley, they’ll just as easily walk Ryan Howard too.  Maybe they fail to realize Pat Burrell is batting .300/.517/.700 this season with runners on first and second. 

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