September 19, 2012
Ryan Howard Laughs Last
Buzz Hannahan was inserted as a pinch runner for Wooten. The Bisons brought in ace lefty Cliff Bartosh to face cleanup hitter Ryan Howard. The Red Barons' first baseman delivered a clutch hit - a towering ground rule double that bounced over the center field fence. —August 6th, 2004
Things could be going better for Ryan Howard. Since he returned to the Phillies' lineup, on July 6, he has played 62 games. Eleven Phillies with at least 100 plate appearances have a better OPS than Howard does this year, and 18 National League first basemen—Lyle Overbay, Travis Ishikawa, Jeff Baker, etc.—do, too. He has struck out in a third of his plate appearances—not at-bats, but plate appearances—which, even for him, is outlandish. On the road he’s even less useful; against lefties he’s hilarious; in September he’s been worst of all. It’s the first year of his $125 million contract.
But there’s one thing. With Ryan Howard, there’s always one thing, which makes you wonder about that one thing:
He has 46 RBIs, in 62 games. Over a full season, that would be 120 RBIs. Over 150 games, it would be 111 RBIs. I know it’s probably been a while since you spent much time with RBIs, but there’s some chance 111 RBIs would lead the NL this year. Only two NL players have driven in more runs per game than Howard, even though he's terrible and the lineup around him is nothing special. I can’t believe I’m spending this much time on RBIs. RBIs!
But RBIs are such a part of the Ryan Howard story, who has the same career WARP as Aaron Hill, and who has still finished in the top 10 in MVP voting each full season he has played. I, personally, find this annoying. Ryan Howard probably finds me annoying. And, somehow, Ryan Howard is going to end up winning this argument, at least to a point.