What would you say if I told you that a former National League Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, and three-time All-Star is someone to stay away from in your 2013 fantasy baseball draft? Before you rush to judgment, hear me out.
Ryan Howard enters 2013 with a fresh start, something he’s certainly happy to have. The Philadelphia Phillies first baseman missed the first three months of the 2012 season recovering from an Achilles injury and never felt right when he did finally play.
During the 71 games Howard played in 2012, his power was still visible, as he launched 14 home runs in 292 plate appearances. His batting average, however, was an awful .219. It’s been reported that Howard was certainly not 100% upon his return in 2012, and that he couldn’t push off from his back foot while batting. Even so, the career .271 hitter struck out 99 times in his 292 plate appearances, or 33.56% of the time.
While still being low for Howard, his .423 slugging percentage was the only other fantasy asset besides the home runs that he brought to the table during his brief 2012 stint.
To top off the already noted abysmal 2012 season for Howard, he broke his big toe while standing in the on-deck circle on Sept. 28th, as he dropped the lead weight off his bat.
Entering 2013, Howard, now age 33, is expected to be fully healthy by Opening Day. What should we expect?
Unfortunately for Howard, the injuries already discussed were not his first. In fact, Howard has played the full 162-game major league schedule just once in his nine-year MLB career, and that was back in 2008. Howard simply must stay healthy in order to put together a rewarding fantasy season.
While the opportunity to be healthy seems to be here for 2013, Howard is amidst the declining period for MLB players at age 33. Howard’s discipline at the plate looked to be non-existent when he played in ’12.
Howard’s average draft position entering 2013 looks to be somewhere in the 70s in terms of overall selection. His value is projected to be far off from that, at somewhere around the low 100s overall.
Combining Howard’s age, recent strikeout woes, and the MLB’s recent surge in infield shifts, I just can’t see myself taking Ryan Howard in the sixth round as his ADP suggests. I’d far rather gamble later on a player like Mark Reynolds or Jayson Werth rather than taking Howard because of his name value in the sixth or seventh round. Werth looks like a player to be had in the mid-late teens, with Reynolds following most likely in the later teens. You can do a lot better than Howard in the sixth round, as guys like David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Asdrubal Cabrera would most likely still be available. I hold all three of the aforementioned players in a lot higher regard than I do Howard in 2013.
As always in fantasy sports, and certainly in Ryan Howard’s case in 2013, don’t fall in love with his name. He’s just not worth it any more.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @Jewish_Jeff