Howard’s Season

Ryan Howard‘s numbers through 66 games: .247, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 13 home runs, 53 RBIs, .336 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage. He is tied for eighth in the league in home runs and is third in RBIs. He also leads the league in go-ahead RBIs (18) and game-winning RBIs (10). But his batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage are the lowest marks of his career.

Projected home runs and RBIs: 32 and 130.

“To me it’s all about going out and winning games,” Howard said yesterday after driving in the winning run in the seventh inning against the Cubs. “Batting average, it is what it is. Some people will look at it and glorify it. For me, I’m trying to go out there and put up runs.”

Asked what he thinks of his year, Howard said, “I think it’s been good. The only real down thing is probably that, batting average. I think batting average is what a lot of people will look at and say, ‘Oh, he’s having a bad year.’ But I feel good in other ways. Just continue to grind it out.”

I asked Ruben Amaro Jr. the same question yesterday. He said he looks at Howard’s run production. Howard is driving in runs, so he is happy. But I’m sure both would agree Howard could be even better. We’ve seen him better. We’ve seen him win the MVP in 2006 and finish in the top five in MVP voting in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Howard’s .809 OPS is 26th out of 75 qualifying players in the National League. He ranked 17th in 2010, ninth in 2009, 14th in 2008, sixth in 2007 and second in 2006. Of course, Howard is seeing fewer fastballs than earlier in his career — he gets a fastball just 46.6 percent of the time this season, compared to more than 50 percent from 2004-08 — but we’ve seen him dominate the league before. Can he do it again? The Phillies certainly hope so as his five-year, $125 million contract extension kicks in next season. What do you think?

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From Elias Sports Bureau: Roy Oswalt snapped a four-game losing streak yesterday despite allowing three runs in the top of the first inning. Oswalt was 2-8 in 11 previous starts in which he allowed three or more first-inning runs. Oswalt (154-87) has the third-most decisions among active pitchers who have never lost five in a row, behind Roy Halladay (178-89) and Tim Hudson (170-92).

Halladay has never lost more than three straight decisions.

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21 Comments

More RBI would be great, but that 5 year extension is just horrible – way too much money.

The way I look at it Howard is paid for RBI and Home Runs. 130 and 32 is pretty damn good, I’d like to see hi get of the 40 HR mark, but without a legit bat behind him that might be tough. Also the fact that he’s 3rd in RBI on a team that has really struggled to score runs is pretty amazing, imo.

Howard’s 5 year extension will prove to be a bargain. Howard is a unique talent who is probably a sabremetricians nightmare. There have been many players in baseball history who have hit for a low average with a lot of homeruns. Dave Kingman comes to mind, as does Frank Howard, Jim Gentile to name a few. But unlike all of these guys Howard has proven to be an RBI machine. He has led the league in RBIs three of the four seasons prior to last year. Okay he was tied with Fielder one year. But he at least tied for the lead in 2007 with Matt Holliday except the Rockies placed one more game in a playoff for the division lead. And the rules state that statistics in such games count for the regular season thus Holliday beat Howard by one RBI 137 to 136.

His numbers would be better if he was more selective and actually set his mind to going the other way when they put on the shift.

He’s definitely a valuable bat. Not 5yrs/$125M valuable, but producing 130 runs is never a bad thing.
I don’t care too much about the batting average, but I would like to see his OBP climb a little higher. Ryan’s RBI totals look good, but having him on base more regularly would provide more RBI chances to the guys behind him and, in turn, provide a more consistent offense.

Isn’t BA by far the main component of OBP.?

I think he is suggesting Howard should take a few more walks. If Howard can trade in chasing that slider off the plate for a strikeout and instead just take the walk in that situation… it will drastically improve him as a player. Either he will be constantly on base or teams will be forced to give him better pitches to hit.

He’ll see more fastballs as well if he can re-learn how to take a walk as well. no point in giving a person a fastball if they’ll swing at anything

Howard is hardly the worse problem the Phillies have. The whole lineup is pretty much in a funk and has been since the 3rd week in the season. They can win the East, no way they are going farther unless the lineup starts getting some clutch hits.

As far as the actual BA, RBI, etc of Howard this year: I am pretty sure almost every hitter in baseball is down compared to 3-5 years ago, so under the new reality, Howard is doing fine. But someone else on the lineup needs to get going too, and they desperately need to get more walks and get hits when people are on base. That is how they won it all in 08, and how they won the pennant in 09 too.

Steve, here is the amazing thing. Howard’s homeruns may be down but there is no indication that his RBIs are down. And as far as the home runs are concerned, we haven’t even gotten into Howard’s hittin’ season yet. Lastly, I can’t see how Howard is any problem at all so I do not know what you mean when you say that “Howard is hardly the worse problem the Phillies have”. There are probably 31 other teams who wish they had such “problems”.

Chewy, I wish that Howard would lay down a bunt once and again. I wish that Howard would go to the plate and show hitting right-handed periodically. I wish that Howard would do something different from time to time. To me it almost seems as if it has evolved into this macho bullshit situation. All of this begs the question, what the hell is Charlies job?

Howard batting right: more ridiculous than him laying down a bunt. Teams will forever play the shift on him, regardless. Howard isn’t on an MLB roster to bunt and no one in management wants him to, either. Not every player can switch-hit, it’s why only about 2-3% do it. For most, it may be comparable to writing left-handed after writing with your right hand for your entire life. If someone isn’t switch-hitting now in the majors, they probably won’t ever and probably never have in their life. Howard heats up every year July through September, he’ll be fine.

Thank you, chris, I was really worried about Howard. But now that you have weighed in with your two cents and obvious vast well of baseball knowledge I can sleep easy tonight.

As to your two cents worth of opinion, how can I get your change back to you?

I agree 100% with chris… highly likely that coaching staffs all over the NL in particular the NL East are sighing in despair that the Phillies are “strugling” with a 2-3 game lead in first place with Howard’s (and other teammates’ too) hottest time of year still ahead of them–with the pitching staff promising to wilt most opposing bats the remainder of the year. Last year this time, the Phillies were sinking on the way to being 7 games out–firing their hitting coach, looking desparately for answers, and in the end they had the best season in the Majors. Howard’s only shortcoming numbers-wise is his HRs or perhaps more the more diluted standard of slugging %… We paid for and are expecting him to be downright fearsome as a slugger given what we have seen in his career so far. Last year he had what would appear to be a down year for HRs, looking the same again this year–If he had more jacks, everything else would fall into place: people would be walking him more (OBP would go up), he’s score more runs (less offensive woes for the team), his OPS would go up, his already titan-lvel RBIs would go up, etc. Think of all the great pitches that Chase would see in the 3-hole if Howard was more fearsome as a homerun threat.

I just did some research on Howard’s 2011 numbers earlier today. The interesting thing is that he is nearly hitting .300, .298 or something, with runners on base. Whereas, he is hitting like .220 with the bases empty. His average plummets when he gets behind. His average also gets progressively lower with pretty much every pitch after the 3rd of an at bat.

I infer that he sees more fastballs with runners on, especially with Chooch and Raul consistently hitting lately.

He still struggles with breaking balls, but the good news is that he is hitting with men on and that seems to be an adjustment from past seasons.

while Howard batting Righty or bunting is NOT going to happen, he should just make contact down the 3rd base line every now and then. The teams will have to stop the shift if he does it 1-20 ABs. The way they play him now, a ground ball to third is a stand up double. Its the same logic that would have JRoll bunt every now and then.

AS for Howard’s year, I’m sorry to say, but 32 HRs is not enough from him. In order to justify his sub .280 ave and near 200 K’s he needs to hit at least 40 HR and drive in 140 every year.

Howard’s at-bats lately against lefties have been very good. He appears to see the ball better and is just getting the bat on tha ball instead of taking that big swing, especially with runners on base. It’s something I’ve been waiting to see for a long time and I hope it sticks.
I don’t care about the number of K’s. He’s always going to strike out. As long as he gets production when he puts the ball in play. He always gets hot in the second half, so I’m guessing 37 and 142.

I use to not care about Howard’s strikeouts either. But, you know what? You strike out, it is an out. You put the ball in play, anything can happen. It is akin to a batter who comes up with the bases loaded who hacks at the first pitch for a weak pop-up or ground out. The opposition is never given the opportunity to screw up. But beyond that, Howard is on a pace to match the performance of Ralph Kiner. Why is this important? Kiner had fantastic numbers but he only played for 10 years because of a chronic back problem. But in his 10 years he was better than Mike Schmidt offensively in Schmidt’s first ten years.. Howard has a legacy he ought to start thinking about. The only three players I could find who drove in more runs than Howard did in the five years from 2006 through 2010 in any five year period are named Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx with Ruth doing it twice.

No I agree. Howard is not really a problem – I think I phrased that wrong. My point was the rest of the lineup needs to get it going and not worry about Ryan Howard is or is not doing. His numbers may be a bit low, but so is most everyone’s in baseball. Other than Polanco, no one else seems to be in a groove. Ibanez is either great or awful, but other than those 2, the rest of the lineup just seems off. it is more about getting hits that matter (i.e., when people are on base or in scoring position) and less about the box score. Like I said, winning the east is no problem- they have no serious contenders but Atlanta, and the Phillies have proved time and time again that they can beat them when it matters. But we saw last year what happens when a talented team stumbles into the postseason and runs into teams that are clicking on all cylinders. There’s a lot of baseball left, but 2 months of pretty mediocre batting from this very talented lineup has me worried….

I’ll take Ryan’s 200 Ks and .270 AVG with 140+ RBIs and 40+ HRs any season. Tinkering with Ryan’s swing mechanics so he can have a higher AVG will simply result in lower RBIs. If he can offset that with more runs scored than it would be okay. Nevertheless, I’ll never advocate Ryan changing anything that will result in lower RUN and RBI productivity.

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