Unfortunately for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, defensive shifts were essentially designed for guys like him. He has a big, left-handed swing with power to the right side of the field and he rarely pokes a single to left. Put a shift on him, and you're bound to run into some outs.
That's what happened on Wednesday night when the St. Louis Cardinals put a shift on Howard and saw him hit right into it three times. Afterwards Howard was asked about shifts and did not hold back in sharing his frustration.
"No, I don't like it at all... it's nothing that I'm doing wrong, I'm hitting the ball hard. It's just right at guys playing shifts. So, all you can do is continue to swing."
Howard had a solo homer in the Phillies' 5-2 loss to St. Louis, but was retired on three balls hit to Kolten Wong who was shifted towards the first base line. Wong himself says he can reason with Howard, given how well the shift worked.
"At some point, you kind of feel bad because he hits two line drives and a ground ball right at me," Wong said.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred floated the idea of banning shifts before this season and was criticized by many for doing so. Given the negative reaction, one has to wonder if he will continue to push for the change. Many disagreed when he first proposed it, though, we now know he would at least have Howard in his corner.