Ryan Howard's five-strikeout, 0-for-7 night was pretty rare

2 Comments

Lost in Roy Oswalt playing left field in a 16-inning game after Ryan Howard was ejected by an out of line umpire Tuesday night is that Howard went 0-for-7 with five strikeouts before getting tossed in the 14th frame.
With the help of Baseball-Reference.com I looked up how many players in baseball history have gone hitless in at least seven at-bats while striking out at least five times.
Here’s the complete list: Howard, Jim Thome, Geoff Jenkins, Richie Sexson, Ryan Thompson, Cecil Cooper, George Foster, Bobby Darwin, Billy Cowan, Tony Conigliaro, Pete Rose, Ron Swoboda, Byron Browne, Rick Reichardt.
Interestingly, the last guy to do it was Jim Thome when he went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in a 16-inning loss to the Orioles on July 2, 2004. Thome was starting at first base for the Phillies at the time, while a 24-year-old prospect named Ryan Howard smacked 46 homers and drove in 131 runs in the minors.
The next season Thome got hurt, Howard took over as the Phillies’ first baseman … and five years later he joined Thome on the above list.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉