Replacing Ryan Howard At First Base

The news for Philadephia Phillies fans on Friday night was grim. By Saturday, the news was grimmer.

The Phillies were ousted from the playoffs after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the Division Series. Ryan Howard made the last out of the game, grounding out to the right side. Howard barely made it out of the batter’s box on the play. He ruptured the Achilles tendon in his left leg while starting his run to first base and collapsed in a heap on the first base line as the Cardinals celebrated their NLDS victory.

Howard will undergo surgery to repair the Achilles tendon after the swelling subsides. Estimates on Howard’s recovery time range from six to eight months following surgery, meaning Howard could be ready for Opening Day 2012 or not until June. That’s a fair bit of uncertainty for the Phillies, who face a number of roster decisions this winter.

What should the Phillies do at first base while Howard recuperates?

Nothing

Not literally nothing, but more like a wait-and-see nothing. If Howard’s swelling subsides quickly, the sooner he can have surgery to repair the torn Achilles. Assuming the surgery is successful, the Phillies may be able to pencil Howard in at first base by early April. If so, it’s expected the Phillies would use John Mayberry Jr. at first base until Howard returns.

Mayberry logged 100 innings at first base for the Phillies in 2011 in addition to nearly 475 innings among the three outfield positions. UZR rates Mayberry highest in left field and right field but still prefers Mayberry over Howard at first. Defensively, then, the Phillies likely would be fine with Mayberry at first base as the 2012 season gets underway.

At the plate, the Phillies would be delighted if they got the Mayberry of the second half of 2011. After returning from AAA on July 5, Mayberry posted a wOBA of .408 and a wRC+ of 160 with 12 home runs in 163 at-bats. Over the same period, Howard hit 16 home runs in 258 at-bats, but his wOBA was .353 and his wRC+ was 122.

Mayberry has not shown that he can sustain that kind of offensive output over the long term. But if all goes well with Howard’s surgery and rehabilitation, the Phillies won’t need Mayberry at first base over the long term.

A big question, though, is how much Mayberry figures into the Phillies’ outfield plans for 2012. The Phillies are not expected to re-sign 39-year old left fielder Raul Ibanez but center fielder Shane Victorino and left fielder Hunter Pence will return. Many Phillies fans are hoping to see uber-prospect Dominic Brown as the Opening Day left fielder. If the Phillies go that route, Mayberry can fill in for Howard at first base and then become the fourth outfielder when Howard returns.

Sign a Free Agent

There will be plenty of free agents on the market not named Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and some of them can even play first base, among other positions. Two interesting possibilities for the Phillies are Michael Cuddyer and Juan Rivera.

Michael Cuddyer

Cuddyer has played his entire professional career with the Minnesota Twins, breaking into the majors in 2001. He didn’t play consistently until 2004 (115 games) but has been a steady presence for the Twins ever since. In his time with the Twins, Cuddyer’s played all three outfield positions, third base, second base and first base. In 2011, he was used primarily in right field and first base with some time at second. Cuddyer has negative career UZR ratings at every position but center and left where he’s logged the fewest innings. He did post a 2.1 UZR at first this season, so perhaps he trending in the right direction.

Cuddyer has a career wOBA of .345 and he’s been consistently in and around that number since 2004. His best season for power hitting was 2009 when he slugged .520 with an ISO of .245. After a down power year in 2010, he bounced back this season to slug .459 with an ISO of .176. Cuddyer’s wRC+ was 124 this season, the same as in 2009.

Cuddyer reportedly turned down a 2-year/$16 million offer from the Twins during the season. With his consistently good offensive numbers and his versatility in the field, Cuddyer will have several suitors this winter, including the Twins. If Cuddyer wants a three-year deal, he’ll likely get it, but not from the Phillies. A long-term deal for a first baseman/right fielder makes little sense for the Phillies, given Howard’s 5-year/$125 million contract extension and team control of Pence through the 2013 season. A one-year deal in the $10 million range would make more sense for the Phillies.

Juan Rivera

Rivera broke into the majors with the New York Yankees in 2002 but played a majority of his career (2006-2010) with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Before the 2011 season, the Angels traded Rivera and Mike Napoli to the Toronto Blue Jays for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded Rivera back to the west coast this summer, sending him to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 12.

Rivera is primarily an outfielder, garnering the most time in left field over his career. But in the last two seasons, Rivera’s played 400-plus innings at first base. UZR rates Rivera as slightly above average in left field and just about average at first base. Rivera’s defense at first place as compared to Howard’s is close to wash.

Offensively, Rivera doesn’t approach Howard, much less Cuddyer or Mayberry. His final slash for 2011 was .258/.319/.382 with a wOBA of .308 and a wRC+ of 96. Rivera’s greatest attribute this winter may be his availability and willingness to sign an incentive-driven short-term deal. If the Phillies decide to go with Mayberry subbing for Howard at first and with Dominic Brown in left, having Rivera off the bench to play both positions may make sense, at the right price.

The Phillies have options for replacing Howard at first base, internally and on the free agent market. The timing for his surgery and the early recuperation period may determine which of those options the Phillies pursue in earnest.




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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


105 Responses to “Replacing Ryan Howard At First Base”

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  1. yawwwn says:

    I don’t think it will be hard to replace a 1B who provides only 1.6 WAR over 152 games..

    +36 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bill says:

      Where are they going to get Howard’s RBI’s? Not everyone can perform at basically their career averages when they come to bat with runners in scoring position.

      +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Telo says:

        “Not everyone can perform at basically their career averages when they come to bat with runners in scoring position.”

        L
        o
        L

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      • jake says:

        Anyone know the RBI to WAR conversion rate?

        +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Telo says:

        /\
        This could be the best comment on FG ever.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Compare these two players:

        [1] Ryan Howard non-RISP
        [2] Ryan Howard RISP

        Post the results.

        His career average encompasses his RISP data, thus making his career average a lot better. We’re not comparing Howard to his career average, we’re comparing his non-RISP self to his RISP self, and to those situations of other players, to see if in fact they would all get the same RBI.

        They would not, due to Howard’s [1] increased opportunities with RSIP, and [2] his elevated performance in RISP situations.

        I’m not defneding Howard, only calling for accuracy.

        +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • aladou says:

        CircleChange11, that’s not as funny though.

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      • adohaj says:

        Ryan Howard wRC+

        Career bases empty 123
        Career men on base 145

        Looks hard to replace to me

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    • Brad Johnson says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Howard also posted a 5.14 WPA which I believe was 9th best in baseball. He consistently does this. The Phillies will be hard pressed to find an offensive player who can do this.

      Part of the reason Howard looks good by WPA standards is that it doesn’t consider defense/baserunning where he earns seriously negative points.

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      • DD says:

        It also doesn’t consider that he comes to bat with more runners on base than anyone in baseball since 2006. Quantity over quality.

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      • NS says:

        “He consistently does this.”

        You mean every other year, i.e. randomly?

        2011 – 5.14
        2010 – 1.78
        2009 – 6.03
        2008 – 2.39
        2007 – 3.08
        2006 – 8.04

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It also doesn’t consider that he comes to bat with more runners on base than anyone in baseball since 2006. Quantity over quality.

        Do the people that say this stuff know that Ryan Howard is among the league’s best in terms of performance with men on base?

        It’s NOT just quantity, it’s BOTH quantity and quality.

        Again, I’m not a Howard defender, but if people are going to continue to point out aspects of the situation s and make statements that are incorrect, they should be aware that the Ryan Howard RBI situation has been studied and the data shows something.

        Hint; It’s not all opportunities and luck, even that diminishes some of our insults at Ryan Howard.

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      • aladou says:

        I believe Howard also has the 4th highest OBI% in MLB since 2007, 3rd highest since 2008.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Sure it won’t, just grab a ROY level 1B (i.e., check Hsomer and Freeman’s WAR).

      There are 8 1B’s that had more batting runs that Howard in 2011.

      He loses value in baserunning (-1 WAR) and fielding (-0.5 WAR).

      Looking at the power/offense numbers of the guys above him, I don;t think it’s as easy as you think you find a 1B that is slightly lower than league average.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        You’re trying to make him look good by focusing on the one thing he’s good at (hitting).

        If you disregard the skill set, he’s eminently replaceable. Here’s a select list of 1Bmen who produced a better WAR than Howard in 2010/2011 on a rate basis: Aubrey Huff, Jason Giambi, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Pena, Michael Cuddyer, Derrek Lee, Russell Branyan, Eric Hinske, James Loney, Todd Helton.

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      • Telo says:

        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable
        eminently replaceable

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        When James Loney could replace, something’s wrong.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        No I was saying that he’s not easily replacable.

        I don;t give two poops about whether Ryan howard is good. He’s not on my team and he’s not my kid.

        But, we gotta stop acting like you can justgrab a Ryan howard out of any minor league system.

        That’s making us look stupid.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        You’re trying to make him look good by focusing on the one thing he’s good at (hitting).

        By comparing him to two highly touted rookies that are below average fielders and below average baserunners?

        What I AM saying is that there’s not many organizations that have a Hosmer or Freeman … so NO, he’s not easily replaceable.

        Wishging something to be true does not make it reality. I’m dealing directly in facts, not trying to skew the data or conlcusion one way or another. I’m not trying to be funny or sound smart ripping or praising Ryan Howard.

        I’m looking at the numbers and seeing what they say.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        And, CircleChange, my response to your assertion that he’s not easily-replaceable is that he could be easily replaced by guys like Aubrey Huff, Jason Giambi, Gaby Sanchez, Carlos Pena, Michael Cuddyer, Derrek Lee, Russell Branyan, Eric Hinske, James Loney, Todd Helton.

        Are you saying that the Phillies couldn’t easily grab one of those guys, or someone like them?

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      • Jake says:

        Eric friggin’ Hinkse?!

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Aubrey Huff is no replacement. Seriously, he’s been below replacement level 2 out of the last 3 years. You could use his 6 WAR 2010 to show that he’s a cpaable rpelacement for a whole host of All-Star 1Bs.

        With some of the guys you mention, you’re looking at their platoon splits and extrapolating that out to a full season. Could Giambi and Branyan even play a full season?

        Lee, Helton, and Pena could all likely put up a league average season at 1B.

        You could have also mentioned Casey Kotchman.

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    • Strider says:

      This was actually posted by someone below regarding Ryan Howard. “You’re trying to make him look good by focusing on the one thing he’s good at (hitting).” Um. Yeah. He’s paid to hit. Specifically, he’s paid to drive in runs. You can quote all of the made up statistics you want, like WAR. He strikes out a lot. He’s slow, and mediocre defensively, but he drives in runs. In fact, he’s one of the best in the history of baseball at the thing he was hired to do. His at-bats per RBI numbers are in the top 10 of all-time! Ahead of a guy you may have heard of named Joe DiMaggio. Ahead of a guy I know you yahoos have heard of, Albert Pujols. Somebody below said he was “a below average player the last two seasons.” Really? More RBI’s over that span than precious Pujols. More than Votto. In fact, the only two in all of baseball I can find that beat him in RBI’s over that span are Cabrera and Cano, and both by 7 RBI or less over two seasons. If you add in the three years before that, Howard crushes everyone in baseball. Not just some. EVERYONE. Bottom line: criticize him all you like for not being the perfect all-around player, but don’t claim he’s not valuable. If I’m putting together a lineup and looking for a cleanup hitter to get guys across the plate, there’s nobody better.

      -17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DD says:

        nobody better….unless a LH reliever is on the mound. Or any LH pitcher.

        See my comment above from 1:15 PM – Quantity over Quality.

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      • NS says:

        The dogma is strong with this one.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Just because you pay someone a great deal of money to do a particular thing, doesn’t mean a) that thing is useful; b) that thing is worth what was paid; or c) that thing is a skill that actually exists.

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      • Strider says:

        So, how does saying Howard gets to hit with Runners on base make a valid argument against my point that he is a great RBI guy? Isn’t that what he’s supposed to do? Hit with guys on base? Sacrifice flies? I don’t deny he’s not the perfect player; he has many flaws. But I think each player has a role on a team, from the utility infielder to the quick center fielder, from the pinch hitter to the cleanup. Howard’s job is to get those runners you mentioned (and himself, when possible) across the plate; and he’s pretty good at it.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        What other metrics look at it how much his below average fielding and well below average baserunning take away from his above average bat.

        The elite power hitting Ryan Howard that puts up 50+ batting runs is extinct, and along with it is the Ryan Howard that knocks in 140+ runs in a season.

        He’s now a 20-30 batting run player that loses 15 runs to baserunning and fielding. In other words, he’s paid like a 50 HR 140 RBI player, but he’s only a 30 HR 110 RBI guy. There are other 30-100 players that are extremelly valuable because they walk a lot, play good d, etc. Howard is essentially a power only player, whose power is almost half of what it was.

        However, detractors can no longer just refer to the default “well anyone could get those RBIs with his opportunities” because the data shows that not only does he get a lot of opportunities but hits very well in those chances, better than most others.

        Ryan Howard is valuable and the people that say he isn’t do not likely realize the value of an average MLB 1B … quite a hitter. Howard gets overly criticized because he’s now paid like a 5 WAR player but is only a 2 WAR player.

        If baseball was hitting only, he’d be more valuable than he is. baseball is not hitting only. Not in the NL.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Yirmiyahu says:

        I believe, if you convert $$$ to WAR to RBI’s, he’s paid like a guy who should hit 200 RBI’s a season. I did the math and everything, I promise.

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      • Luke M says:

        Not sure if serious.

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      • jim says:

        lol, this post is funny

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  2. Hurtlocker says:

    Achilles tendon inuries are tough to come back from, the surgery is intensive and the physical therapy is very tough. I would think Mayberry in the outfield full time instead of Ibenez and a “cheap” fill in a first may be the way to go.

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    • Brad Johnson says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Howard has also been somewhat slow to come back from past injuries.

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      • Choo says:

        That was the old Ryan Howard. The new Ryan Howard eats Subway three times a day. Thanks to his steady diet of enriched wheat, processed deli meat and condiments, I bet Howard is 100% by Thanksgiving.

        +19 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        Obviously Subway kills isolated power and effectiveness against lefties.

        +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Evan says:

    Not that I think it’s likely but the Phillies have a decent 1B prospect in the minors in Matt Rizzotti. He’s probably not a likely candidate since he’s only seen a fully year in AA, but he’s not getting any younger and he’ll probably never play any position besides 1B. If the Phillies opt to do nothing and Domonic Brown struggles in left field, it could be an option to try Rizzotti at first and use Mayberry in the outfield.

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  4. Talk about the nightmare scenario for Amaro. On the last play before being vindicated for signing Howard so early, Howard’s ankle explodes. It’s very sad as a Phillies fan that all of the contract naysayers had to be proven right in such horrific fashion.

    Ugh. How long until pitchers and catchers report?

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    • Bubba says:

      What would have vindicated signing Howard so early?

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        This is a metaphysical question.

        Because the only think that would have vindicated that signing is if the Phillies had not given him that contract.

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      • LTG says:

        Metaphysics (at least the philosophical discipline and not the bookshelf in Bord…errr Barnes and Noble) still obeys the law of non-contradiction. Of course, questions about the existence of answers to counter-factual questions is approaching metaphysical territory.

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      • gehmane12 says:
        FanGraphs Supporting Member

        Actually, it depends on what kind of metaphysics we’re talking about. There are whole branches of metaphysics devoted to possible worlds where alternative realities play out, in which case, the law of the excluded middle does not hold across universes. So it is possible, if you subscribe to certain possible world theories, that we could speak sensibly about this issue as one of metaphysics.

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    • marcello says:

      Bad news sport, the contract naysayers have been proven right from the moment that contract was signed. If anything, the opposite of what you said is true: Now all the people who only want to focus on one thing when evaluating a player can claim the injury derailed him, oblivious to the fact that he’s been a below average player the past two seasons. Never mind that injury risk was also an important reason the unnecessary contract extension was terrible in first place.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The bad news is they didn;t even get any type of “discount” for giving him an extension while he was still under team control years.

        He got what would essentially be a MAX money MAX years deal while under team control and for his aging seasons.

        Realistically, there is simply no way Howard ever had a chance of “earning” the money is this deal. The team has all the risk with very little chance of reward.

        It wasn’t like howard was going to “get better” … as if he was going to start hitting 68 HR and driving in 165 RBI (go with on the RBI). His performance was only going to go down … annually.

        COL did the same thing … only with a better, younger player. But that deal may bite them in the ass is injuries force Tulo out or off SS.

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  5. TK says:

    The worst extension in baseball history now looks even worse. Every time a team thinks about extending a guy to avoid a free agency bidding war, it should be reminded of this $125 million disaster. How many fortuitous extensions would the Phillies need to make up for this one?

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    • Brad Johnson says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      If you want to take that perspective, they’re already gambling on house money. Howard, Rollins, Utley, Hamels, Halladay, Victorino, and Werth have all provided WAY more value to the franchise than they have been paid for thus far. Howard will soon drop from the list, but the others will remain.

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      • Jon says:

        What does the past with other players have anything to do with a current contract?

        its ok the yankees gave arod 300 billion because garder has provided more value than he costs?

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        Not only does that have nothing to do with Howard’s extension, your premise is wrong. You’re assuming that it’s fine if a team balances its overpays with surplus value contracts. I.e., that it all evens out.

        But the Phillies as a team produced 51.6 WAR this year. At $5M/WAR, that would be a $258 million payroll. The Rangers produced 60.6 WAR, which would equal a $303 million payroll.

        In other words, teams can’t afford to pay fair value. They need surplus value in order to contend.

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      • DD says:

        Right Yirmiyahu, and Victorino, Hamels, Utley, Howard, and Werth all provided surplus value before hitting FA years, which is exactly what keeps teams like Tampa from contracting.

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      • TK says:

        With a little research, it seems as though the Phillies only signed early extensions for Howard, Rollins, Halladay and Victorino. I’ll admit that the extensions given to those other players may have saved the Phillies some dollars over a FA bidding war, but that savings does not come close to covering the losses they took on Howard. Even had he not been injured, what would he have gotten? I’d guess he’d somehow get a little better than Adam Dunn, though probably not deserved. Maybe 4/64? With the injury he is a 2/20 guy with some incentives and we’ll see how he does. The Phillies lost tens of millions of dollars by signing that extension. The savings they got from those other guys is not even close.

        In a WAR per $$$ argument, you could have a point; but this is a $$$ spent for an extension verses $$$ spent in a FA bidding war point that I’m making. That certain Phillies have outplayed their contracts is irrelevant. They would have outplayed their contracts if they were signed in a FA bidding war, too. You don’t really think the Phillies have saved money overall by handing out early extensions, do you?

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  6. xeifrank says:

    I probably wouldn’t use 100 innings of UZR at first base to compare Mayberry and Howard on defense. And if you use the UZR/150 number Howard’s UZR is better. But like I said, you can’t use UZR here for Mayberry. You have to go with the scouting reports (eye ball test). And even with that you have a large margin for error.

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    • Hason Jeyward says:

      I constantly see Fangraphs writers doing this. Do they not understand their own stats? C’mon, you guys are the face of the current popular sabermetric world. When you go throwing around tiny UZR sample data, you encourage others to do the same.

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  7. Dave says:

    Why not try to get a veteran left handed hitting 1b to spell Mayberry against difficult righties?

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  8. D4P says:

    The list of first basemen who were more valuable than Ryan Howard in 2011 includes (but is not limited to):

    James Loney

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  9. filihok says:

    James Loney! Do it Ned

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  10. Paul says:

    In all seriousness, the Royals are just itching to add a mediocre veteran starter (aren’t they always?) and Clint Robinson is blocked by Hosmer and Butler. He’s an older prospect who has done nothing but light up AA and AAA two years in a row. Robinson for a pretty cheap Blanton who is throwing more sinkers? Perhaps even a really expensive Oswalt if the Phils pick up his option and pay part of the freight.

    I guarantee we will see some local writers jump on this one due to their George Costanza-esque daydreaming about the Royals acquiring an ace. Something like Robinson-Christian Colon-Vin Mazzaro for Hamels will be showing up very soon.

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  11. Barkey Walker says:

    Help with WAR:

    Can someone explain this to me: his batting runs is 19.2, but the replacement is 20, then he has negative positional adjustment, base running, and fielding. How is he a positive WAR player?

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    • Jon says:

      WAR add and subtracts value based on your position

      1b is a very easy position so its expected that a 1b will hit the ball

      CF and SS are harder positions, so they get a positive adjustment

      if you had 2 players both avg defense both hitting 300/350/400 of course the short stop is going to be more valuable than the first baseman

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Replacement + Batting + Baserunning + Fielding + positional.

      21 + 19 – 9 – 5 – 11 = 15 = 1.5 WAR

      The replacement level is the number of runs a replacement level 1B would put up (total). Howard would put up those 20 runs, plus the 19 batting runs.

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      • Justin says:

        No, replacement level is the number of runs below average a replacement player is worth.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Isn’t it just 20% below average or something like that estimate?

        The % is measured in runs, so it basically means the same.

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      • Yirmiyahu says:

        The definition of replacement that fangraphs uses is 20 runs below league average per 600 PA’s. The batting/fielding/baserunning/positional numbers listed in the value leaderboards are all above/below league average. The “replacement” column is just the 20 runs to convert Runs-Above-Average to Runs-Above-Replacement.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      Okay, I got it. The “tool tip” for the “replacement” is counter intuitive. It reads, “Replacement Runs set at 20 runs per 600 plate apperances” Which is not only misspelled, but also misleading unless you know what it is talking about (why would you read the help if you know the answer?). It might read, “Adjust for replacement player performing 20 runs below average per 600 plate appearances.”

      So while one might think “replacement” is how a replacement player would perform, it is actually the negative of that.

      The use of plate appearances is also a bit odd because it suggests that fielding might be per plate appearance rather than per… I don’t know, inning fielded. It matters if you bat lead off for the Yankees vs 9th for the Mariners.

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  12. Sean says:

    Why does this article suggest only righty bats to replace Howard?

    How about a platoon?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      [1] It’s easier to find one guy than 2.

      [2] When he returns, the RHB retains value as a platoon at 1B or elsewhere.

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  13. Sean says:

    Also, slightly off topic, but I think Cuddyer is a good fit as a super utility guy for the Phils. He could easily compile a season’s worth of at-bats by getting run at LF,3B,2B, and 1B, pinch hitting, interleague play, etc.

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  14. Neuter Your Dogma says:

    Trade for Votto to play first and pray the NL goes designated hitter.

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  15. Dave S says:

    Get Howard to retire on a medical… get insurance to cover it… now you have an “extra” 25 mill/year to go sign Pujols! Problems solved! LOL

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    • zimmer says:

      i assume the phillies have insurance on the howard contract. don’t they re-coup part of the money anyway?

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  16. Paul says:

    I think that at some point a multiple year well above average production with runners on and RISP needs to come into play. If WAR is supposed to tell us the true value, either it should take this skill into account, or we should look elsewhere.

    How is it a skill? Howard saw fewer fastballs last year than any player in baseball. You can correlate the decline in power numbers directly with the decrease in fastballs seen in his career. Since a lot of pitchers hesitate to throw a ton of offspeed, especially out of the strike zone, with RISP, those are clearly the situations that favor this well above average skill. Note that he’s not a total disaster against offspeed. Maybe it’s not worth a ton, but it seems to me that a guy who has a batting skill that stands out as much as his fastball hitting deserves a little more respect.

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  17. Kyle says:

    Find a hitman to kill Howard. Contract problem solved.

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  18. Robbie G. says:

    Goes without saying, but: if Philly had NOT given Ryan Howard that absurd extension, and allowed him to hit free agency, then Philly could let the injured Howard walk and attempt to give that $25 mil/year to either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, either of whom would be a massive upgrade over Howard, particularly an injured Howard. Even folks who irrationally believe that Howard’s RBI totals are tough to replace could not argue with a straight face that either Pujols or Fielder would be able to replicate these RBI totals.

    Given Philly’s budget constraints, I would expect the team to play John Mayberry at 1B, Domonic Brown in LF, and sign a low-cost 1B/OF-type to provide the team with a backup 1B/fourth OF. Another option would be to sign a replacement backup 1B (i.e., Ross Gload’s replacement) and a replacement fourth OF (i.e., Raul Ibanez’s replacement), again, at presumably a low cost.

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  19. CircleChange11 says:

    An In-Depth Look at Ryan Howard’s RBI Opportunities
    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/9/11/2417728/an-in-depth-look-at-ryan-howards-rbi-opportunities

    I’m unable to read this BTB article at work, but I thought the comprehensive work on the subject was done at THT.

    Ryan Howard Has made The Most of His RBI Opportunities

    From 2007-2011 Howard is 4th in OBI (Runner on base that are driven in), if you look at 2008-2011, he’s 3rd.

    2011 has not been a good year, as he’s #1 in opportunities, #28 in % driven in.

    It’s interesting because the names of guys that have similar RBI% as Howard are hitters that we would consider far superior in talent.

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    • jim says:

      howard excels in those marks because opposing defenses cease playing with a heavy shift once runners are on base. again, does not make him a good hitter.

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      • Phrozen says:

        So why do defenses bother to shift against Howard if he’s such a crappy hitter?

        Against a normal defense, he *is* a good hitter. A very good one. Explaining his RBI totals.

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      • jim says:

        it’s a bad idea to put the shift on when there’s runners on base. if you can’t see how that might be true, then you’re just hopeless.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It’s one thing to say Ryan Howard is overpaid.
        It’s another thing to say that he is no longer an elite hitter.
        It’s yet another thing to say that he may no longer be an elite power hitter.

        But to extend that to say that Ryan Howard is no longer a good hitter is going way too far.

        We’re starting to like the smell of our poop, as my grandpa says. In other words we believe our own BS and enjoy repeating it over and over, much to the stimulation of our peers.

        Poor fielder
        Below average baserunner
        Good hitter
        average player

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  20. Hunter says:

    Defenses don’t shift because someone is good or bad, defenses shift because they know where the batter is most/more likely to hit the ball. What a terrible comment…

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  21. Schwever says:

    If the lack of shift with runners on or RISP means he hits better in those situations- then that is in effect a repeatable skill that he hits better with RISP. But even then looking at recent years that takes him from an 0.850 OPS hitter to a 0.900 OPS hitter (in a good ballpark too). But it does mean he’s worth slightly more- still not even close to $25m/yr in his decline years.
    Other options- if Howard would take a long time to come back- maybe a trade for Adam LaRoche(Was have Morse- would be happy to trade).
    Also maybe Willingham if you think he could man 1st base adequately. Then when Howard comes back- could platoon with Brown (or Brown defensive replacemnt for him). Willingham had a decent year esp. when considering he played in Oakland(ptichers park).

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  22. David says:

    Two words. Carlos. Lee. But seriously, I bet Houston would eat a big chunk of that contract, and Lee put up 3.2 WAR last year.

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  23. Rory says:

    The best fit is Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs. The team holds a $16 million dollar option on him for next season, and given their low chance of contending, they don’t have much reason to keep him. He produced better results with the bat this year than Howard has in either of the last two seasons, and doesn’t have the massive problems against lefties that Howard has, so would provide better consistency and wouldn’t be vulnerable to late inning bullpen maneuvers.

    The Phillies should get on the phone with Theo as soon as his deal is official and talk to them about picking up Ramirez’s option and trading him to Philly. Ramirez isn’t a great defender at 3rd anyway, so shift him to 1st until Howard comes back midseason.

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  24. City News says:

    Hi i am seher,
    i want to ask one question why stop there? sign Pujols, too..

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