Ryan Howard Sitting on Career-Lows

Ryan Howard went 0-for-4 last night in the series opener against the Chicago Cubs, just a small part of the Phillies’ collective inability to push runs across the board against Rodrigo Lopez. The 3-4-5 in the lineup collectively went hitless in 11 at-bats while John Mayberry Jr. was the only one to have more than one hit. As the Phillies had been on a roll offensively (55 runs in the eight games prior), and were much improved after getting Chase Utley back (average 4.6 runs per game since May 23), we can’t really complain about this one bad game.

However, it is getting increasingly more difficult to ignore Howard’s precipitous decline. I’ve become known as a Howard-hater (I’m not really), so I will just present the facts and leave the conclusions up to you, the reader. The following is a large selection of Howard’s current offensive stats, accurate prior to last night’s game against the Cubs. If you don’t understand any of the stats or would like to learn more about them, click here.

  • Isolated Power (ISO): .209. Previous career-low: .229 in 2010. Career average: .285. Howard’s ISO has been in decline since 2006, actually. To put this in context, Matt Kemp has a .275 ISO, Michael Morse is at .230, and Jhonny Peralta is at .211.

  • Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP): .292. Career-low: .285 in 2008. Career average: .324. Likely due to a decline in line drives (19 percent) but it may not be meaningful. He has become more of a pull hitter. Given the shift, this may have an adverse effect on his BABIP.
  • Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA): .345. Previous career-low: .366 in 2008. Career average: .387. To put this in context, Kevin Youkilis is at .396, Adam Lind is at .367, and Michael Bourn is at .345.
  • His OPS (.803) tells a similar story. Previous career-low: .859 in 2010. Career average: .931.
  • OPS+, which adjusts for park and league factors, has Howard just over 120, still a career-low.
  • Platoon Splits: Howard was known for being average to slightly above-average against left-handed pitching, but extremely good against right-handed pitching.
    • 2011 vs. LHP: .291 wOBA. Career-low: .290 in 2009. Career average: .326.
    • 2011 ISO vs. LHP: .080. Previous career-low: .149 in 2009. Career average: .207.
  • 2011 vs. RHP: .368 wOBA. Previous career-low: .372 in 2010. Career average: .419.
    • 2011 ISO vs. RHP: .270. Previous career low: .274 in 2010. Career average: .327.

    Howard is on pace for 31 home runs and 124 RBI. While not as good as his 2006-09 numbers, it is roughly equivalent to last year’s production. Given what appears to be the dawning of a new era of pitching and defense, those numbers appear quite good. However, the Sabermetric stats paint a different and much more pessimistic picture. Howard has become known for his ridiculously productive second-halves; here’s hoping he has another one up his sleeve.

    Leave a Reply



    1. Jim Z.

      July 19, 2011 09:12 AM

      $125m, 5 years. It’s downright scary projecting how this team will look 2+ years down the road.

      Especially if Ruben gets suckered into giving Rollins a Jeter-esque “pay for past performance” contract.

    2. Jeffy T

      July 19, 2011 09:42 AM

      This graph and article makes me physically ill. I just keep repeating (25,000,000) to myself.

    3. jauer

      July 19, 2011 03:52 PM

      At least when you overpay Rollins youll be locking up the most difficult non-battery position, whereas Howard gets to drop waist-high throws for the next 5 years.

    4. Jadeq

      July 19, 2011 04:05 PM

      No we can’t critique Howard! We’re being bad, ungrateful fans who don’t know what we have! 73 RBI! sorry just had to get that off my chest…….Those are the resposes I usually get when I recite those numbers

    5. Jay

      July 19, 2011 06:44 PM

      Worth. Every. Penny. Did you not see him on Entourage and Always Sunny? He is having an awful season, but has been the one constant for an injury riddled offense. I understand that Sabers hate RBIs, but the team with more RBIs at the end of a game wins more often than the team with the higher OPS at the end of the game.

    6. Chris

      July 19, 2011 07:00 PM

      Howard pulling the ball: 0.326 babip and 0.255 iso. Although a bit below his career average babip on pulled balls of 0.341, I don’t think that’s really the issue. I think what’s more troubling about his babip is his up the middle babip of 0.279 (vs. 0.330 career), and low LD% relative to his career. I think overall his platoon splits, low LD%, and REALLY low HR/FB% are what’s most troubling about the Phillies future with him.

    7. Sean C

      July 19, 2011 10:15 PM

      I like Howard a good deal, but his contract is what makes him so unappealing. I hope he turns it around like he usually does in the second half, but who knows.

    8. Heather

      July 20, 2011 06:59 AM

      Herpy-derp Bill? Really? I think you’ve just hit a career low.

    9. Tim

      July 20, 2011 08:20 AM

      Bill, one question: did you take into account that you are comparing full-year stats in previous years to a half-year for this year? I only ask because you noted that Howard has “ridiculously productive second-halves.” Seems to me that a true apples-to-apples comparison would look at only first-half seasons to get a sense of whether the drop is as bad as you claim.

    10. Bill Baer

      July 20, 2011 08:30 AM

      That would assume that Howard’s second-half production is predictive, which I’m not convinced is true. I would be very interested in reading a study on such a subject, however.

    11. hk

      July 20, 2011 08:32 AM

      Past “ridiculously productive second-halves” do not guarantee future ones. While we all hope that Ryan picks it up in the 2nd half, I wouldn’t guarantee or bet on it.

    12. Tim

      July 20, 2011 09:18 AM


      I anxiously await your exhaustive study on the subject. 🙂

    13. Steven

      September 11, 2011 02:43 PM

      OMG his NCiS is lower than Ross Gload. RBI’s mean nothing, you’re so right. The Phils should just trade him for that phantom “Replacement Player” that everyone seems to be comparing him to.

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