The Philadelphia Phillies organization aren’t the only ones who should be glad to have a healthy Ryan Howard back.
After a horrid 2012 campaign, in which he was battling back from an Achilles injury, Howard’s fantasy value has fallen significantly, and fantasy teams should take notice. In just 71 games, Howard hit 14 home runs, 56 RBI and batted a very poor .219. The combination of injury and age has made Howard a bit of an afterthought at the first base position in fantasy land.
Good, you can get him for cheap.
If you’re willing to wait until the eight or ninth round of your drafts, Howard can provide good value at first base for your team. The Achilles isn’t an issue anymore and Howard believes he is as healthy as ever. Let’s not forget, Howard is just one season removed from hitting 33 home runs and 116 RBI. Of course, that campaign ended with a devastating Achilles injury, which lingered into 2012, preventing Howard from being, well, Howard. I’m not putting too much stock into last season. I mean, he didn’t even play 75 games and wasn’t even 100 percent. The fact that Howard continues to state how good he feels is comforting. Howard’s biggest asset is his clearly his power. The 33-year old has hit at least 45 home runs three times, as well as posting 58 back in 2006. Unfortunately, he will kill fantasy owners in batting average, sporting a career average of .271. Of course, that statistic sounds incredible when you put it next to his average against left handed pitchers over the past three years (.230).
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Why take a 33-year old when I can grab one of the younger, up-and-coming players at the corner? To that I say, fair. Howard is definitely on the decline of his career, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t have any upside. Batting in the heart of the Phillies lineup, he still holds 30-home run potential, with the ability to eclipse 100 RBI. If his Spring Training is any indication, Howard may be feeling quite alright. In 24 games played, he is hitting .329 (no, not a typo), has 16 RBI and seven home runs. To put it simply, he is absolutely raking this Spring. The more important part of his Spring is the fact that he is getting a ton of playing time and it isn’t phasing him.
Maybe no one else agrees with me here. Or maybe I’m just praising Howard because I love him and am also a Phillies fan (wink wink). But I am not giving up on him. If he can play at least 130-140 games, he will be a legitimate 30-home run, 100 RBI candidate. Also, if he can somehow manage to keep his strikeout rate below 30 percent, it’ll give him the opportunity to keep his batting average around the .250 area, a spot that won’t particularly kill fantasy owners. All in all, if Howard can stay on the field, he will be a “Big Piece” to the Phillies’ and your fantasy team’s success.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.