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The Allure of Club Control

Ryan Howard is overrated by the general public and media, one only has to look at the 2008 Most Valuable Player Award voting compared against his actual value and performance this past season to see that.

Much ruckus was raised last winter when Ryan Howard went from a club dictated salary of less than $1 million to an arbitration-awarded $10 million. There were calls that this was an insane leap and would do much to upset the balance of the market for future and current players.

Ryan Howard has a down year in 2008. He lost about ten runs off his offensive totals from 2007, which was down a little less than 30 runs from his peak in 2006. That would seem to be a recipe for an under performance on the whole.

If you buy the park adjustments and UZR as adequate measures, than Ryan Howard put forth about $15 million in value during the 2008 season, for which he was paid $10 million. In other words, Ryan Howard was the prototypical player to be over rated (heavy on power offense and short on position and defense), he was coming off a record arbitration award and he had a down season. All that and he was still only paid at about two-third of his worth.

This is not to say that a long-term contract for Howard would be a good idea; the Phillies have an incredible opportunity thanks to Howard’s advanced age at premier to squeeze most, if not all, of his fruitful years out while under team control and then let him become some poorly-run team’s mistake during his mid 30s. This is, however, to provide yet another illustration of just how valuable getting team-controlled players is.

Ryan Howard is about to embark on his second arbitration experience and buoyed not by performance, but by hype this time, he might engineer another extraordinary raise. But with his performance projected to return back to 2007 levels, there’s still a good chance that Howard will remain a net asset for the Phillies.