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Ryan Howard Sitting on Career-Lows

Posted By Bill Baer On July 19, 2011 @ 7:00 am In MLB,Philadelphia Phillies,Sabermetrics | 17 Comments

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.


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