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11/19/1979 (37 y, 3 m, 4 d)
2001 June Amateur Draft - Round: 5, Pick: 4, Overall: 140, Team: Philadelphia Phillies
$138M / 5 Years (2012 - 2016) + 1 Option Years
The Phillies announced Thursday that they have declined the 2017 team option on Howard's contract, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports, and he is now a free agent. (11/3/2016)
Sunday Notes: Edgar's Worthiness, Phillips' Folly,»
David Laurila (FanGraphs)
Let's Talk About Ryan Howard
Corinne Landrey (FanGraphs)
Joseph and Musgrove - Deep(ish) League Waiver Wire
Rylan Edwards (RotoGraphs)
The Phillies Are Going to Be Fun
Paul Swydan (FanGraphs)
Howard and Zimmerman Sue for Defamation, Unlikely »
Nathaniel Grow (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
We should all know by now what to expect from Howard. The slugging first baseman has provided 45+ homers in each of the past four seasons and he's been extremely durable. He's also driven in 135+ runs in each of those seasons. Despite his large build, Howard has also scored 100 runs in three of the four past seasons. Typically a fastball killer, Howard's success rate against the heater has been dropping for four straight seasons. However, he improved immensely against sliders in '09 (-6.6 in '08 to 16.3 wSL in '09). Perhaps frustrated with being pitched around, Howard's swing rates (both inside and outside the zone) have increased during the four-year span.
The Year Ahead:
His '06 MVP season aside, Howard is not a .300 hitter. His 30+% strikeout rate will probably always keep his batting average down around .250-.270 unless he has another fluky season where his BABIP creeps up around .360-.370. In traditional fantasy formats, Howard is a beast that does everything but hit for average. With a perennially below-average contact rate, Howard is always going to rack up strikeouts, so you have to be conscious of them if you're playing in a league that penalizes you for it. However, most fantasy players can remain oblivious to his K rates, while enjoying the massive offensive benefits that come from his prodigious power and run-producing skills. (Marc Hulet)
Ryan Howard had a good year last year, but it wasn't up to his standards. He went on the DL for the first time since 2007. After playing in all but two games in 2008 and 2009, he missed 19 games in 2010, and after averaging 50 homers and 143 RBI a year from 2006 to 2009, he hit just 31 and 108 last year. The aging Phillies lineup is not as potent as it was on the 2008 world champions, as Rollins and Howard have both taken serious steps backward, Werth has departed, and Utley turned 32 in the offseason. So it's likely that some of those runs and RBIs are simply gone for good. Not all the signs are bad: as Jack Moore has pointed out, Ryan Howard cut his strikeouts significantly, which could be a very good trend for the future if the change is real. But his walk rate has fallen a bit, and the improved strikeout rate is moot if he can’t get his power stroke back. At least in 2011, as long as he stays healthy, his homers will go up again, but he may never again hit 50. (Alex Remington)
The Quick Opinion:
As long as he stays healthy, his homers will go back up, but he may never again hit 50.
The benefactor of one of the worst contracts handed out in recent memory, Ryan Howard left 2011 with a fair amount of uncertainty. Nevermind the fact that his .354 wOBA was a career worst. You can even forget that he was a sub-two-win player for a second straight season. Indeed, the rupturing of Howard's Achilles tendon has to be especially worrisome for a player that was never particularly mobile over at first base, doesn't have a designated hitter spot to hide in while he gets his legs back under him, and is owed at least $125 million more entering his age-32 season. And this is in a contract that doesn't START until this upcoming 2012 season. Step aside Joe Mauer and Vernon Wells, Mr. Howard wants a piece of that action. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
Though 5x5ers probably experienced little drop-off for Howard last season, as only his average tailed off in those leagues. His BABIP could rebound, or it could flat-line if his mobility becomes even worse with his injury. If he falls into your lap late, though, then go for it.
Howard was limited to just 260 at-bats after a slow recovery from Achilles surgery, but his home run power never lost a beat. However, too few fly balls and too many strikeouts kept his 550 at-bat home run pace at just 30, despite a home run per fly ball ratio that was at its highest since 2008. The strikeouts are a problem and his wOBA versus lefties has finished below .300 for the past two seasons. With no defensive value, he could start losing at-bats to southpaws in the late innings of games. Potentially just a two-category contributor now, Howard's name value likely trumps his fantasy value at this point. (
The Quick Opinion:
After missing about three months recovering from Achilles surgery, Howard finally returned to show his trademark power. Unfortunately, that came along with an astronomical strikeout rate, which could render him just a two-category contributor this season.
For fantasy owners who like to manage platoons to get the most out of low cost investments, Howard may be the best platoon hitter in baseball (in the low cost category). Even in a down year, he posted a .301/.357/.522 batting line against right-handed pitching with eight of his 11 home runs. That slash line is buoyed by a .370 batting average on balls in play, but his career BABIP against righties is a robust .334, If he can stay on the field for a full season, Howard could get 300-400 plate appearances against righties and bash around 20 home runs all while batting clean-up. He probably won't cost more than a few dollars in a draft, which makes that kind of upside exciting. Alas, his owners will need to roster a platoon mate like Adam Lind if they want to avoid his dreadful numbers against lefties. Seriously, do not start Howard against lefties -- not even somebody hittable like Joe Saunders. (Brad Johnson)
The Quick Opinion:
Howard enters 2014 as a high-upside platoon bat. There will be leagues where an owner overpays for his past home run totals, so don't fall in love with him. View a Howard platoon as a reasonable Plan D at first base.
No one wants Ryan Howard. Who can blame them? He’s not been even a one-win player since 2011 thanks to health issues and his whiff-heavy ways. He launched 23 homers in 2014 but struck out 29.3% of the time, batted .223, posted a .156 isolated slugging (easily the worst of his career), has a poor body type, and is a major liability on defense. He was better than league-average against southpaws, but his track record suggests that he’s hardly reliable against them. Are those things going to get better in his age-35 season and beyond? Not bloody likely. Think about it, though: No one wants Howard in fantasy baseball, either. There’ll be so much badmouthing that he’ll probably cost virtually zilch. He’s worse in real life than he is in the hobby. He’s consistently driven in runs in his career, and despite those ill 2014 numbers, he wasn’t far from being a $10-type player in mixed leagues. News reports confirm that he’s going through normal offseason workouts for the first time since 2010 because he’s healthy and he’s finally put some ugly off-the-field family business behind him. The effects of those kinds of things on performance are difficult to measure, but they can be noteworthy. A change of scenery -- to go somewhere he’s wanted -- wouldn’t hurt. Strange things happen every year, and stranger things than some semblance of a Howard rebound have happened. If the crowd is all bear, then, at least, it has created a potentially profitable opportunity. (Nicholas Minnix)
The Quick Opinion:
Howard has basically been a replacement-level player for the past few years thanks to injuries and his myriad flaws. He’s been a bit more valuable in fantasy baseball than real life, though, and a bounce-back isn’t impossible, so don’t dismiss him if he’s cheap.
There's not a lot to say about Ryan Howard at this point. You know what he used to do, and you know what he does now. Unless you're really desperate, you won't draft him. His plate discipline actually changed dramatically in 2015. Hard to say if it's age-related decline or a legitimate change in approach (the latter would probably happen in reaction to the former anyway), but Howard essentially set career-highs -- not to be mistaken with career-bests -- in almost every peripheral plate discipline statistic. He swung far more than ever before, and those swings made more contact than ever before, both inside and outside the zone. It's a monumental feat for a guy who makes his living off not making contact. Unfortunately, his walk rate tanked, his strikeout rate barely budged, and the extra contact didn't do anything for his batting average on balls in play. All of it left Howard with the same Mendozian batting average alongside an especially woeful on-base percentage -- third-worst in the league among qualified hitters in 2015. At 36 years old, there's few universes in which this gets better. Cherish his 25-homer power while it lasts, but no need in wasting a bench spot, let alone a starting lineup spot, on sentiment. Howard's one-category production amid a mostly gutted Phillies lineup is -- like a box of donuts left in my care overnight -- as empty as it comes. (Alex Chamberlain)
The Quick Opinion:
The rather large changes Ryan Howard made to his plate discipline last year didn't do him a lot of good. A perennial threat to hit 25 homers and tank your batting average (or on-base percentage, your choice), Howard is hardly worth a lineup spot in most formats.
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Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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