It’s hard to watch Ryan Howard play baseball right now. He’s in the midst of an atrocious 0-for-18 stretch which is part of a larger 4-for-52 run since April 30th. Entering play on April 30th, Howard was batting .214/.278/.443 which is a far cry from reasonable expectations for a productive first baseman but seemed about right for a 36-year-old who has been playing with a barely functional lower half ever since his Achilles failed him in 2011. But now Howard’s triple slashline has fallen from predictably below average to a downright hideous .156/.226/.369. That .213 ISO is basically the only thing separating Ryan Howard’s offensive line from that of a pitcher.
Watching Howard in recent games, it’s felt as though he’s somehow getting even worse. So I went back and looked at his last hit and compared it to one of his fruitless at bats this past weekend.
In the fourth inning against the Reds on May 12th (twelve days ago!), Ryan Howard took a Tim Adelman curveball deep to right field for a double. Peak Ryan Howard might have sent that ball over the wall, but Howard still crushed the pitch and slid into second with a flourish: