At Beyond the Box Score, Jacob Peterson (@JunkStats) did some outstanding work digging into Ryan Howard‘s RBI opportunities. Howard, of course, has been the subject of debate for the last year and a half since he signed his five-year, $125 million contract and the RBI stat has been caught in the crossfire. Peterson finds out where Howard stands amongst his peers.
As for the remaining 10 or so RBIs above average, Howard has also almost certainly benefitted from fortunate sequencing this season. His OPS+ is 30% higher than average when he hits with runners in scoring position, but that is not sustainable.
For his career, Howard’s OPS+ is 13% higher with RISP, markedly lower than this year’s 30% mark. Once you take away Howard’s huge number of intentional walks in these situations (almost half his total walks), his career OPS+ drops to only 7% better than normal with RISP. That’s almost identical to the leaguewide figures, which this year are 6% higher with RISP.
So Howard does not seem to have the ability to hit notably better with RISP, indicating that this year’s performance in that situation has been a fortunate fluke.