Ryan Howard ‘Piecing’ Things Together As Spring Progresses

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies are going to need the ‘Big Piece’ in their lineup in order to return back to the post-season in 2013.

Ryan Howard is going to make a huge impact for the Phillies in 2013 if he can stay healthy and bounce back from an injury that cost him most of the 2012 season.

Howard hit a measly .219 while crushing 14 home runs last season, driving in only 56 runners in just 71 games played. Howard was on-pace to strikeout more than his career-high, which is 199 times. He was also on pace to finish with the worst batting average of his nine-year career.

So far, Howard has played in 11 games this spring. Despite the fact that some of the pitchers are not always major-league quality arms, Howard has had a tremendous start to his spring. He is on pace to finish with the highest batting average, RBI, doubles, and slugging percentage totals in any of his past six spring seasons.

Howard is currently leading all players with 11 RBIs this spring, but his run-producing numbers are not the only signs of a player who is progressively getting healthier.

Howard made a switch at the plate for this season. He has moved in closer on top of the plate, which is enabling him to see pitches better and hit the ball the other way. Though it is a minor adjustment, Howard has seen his numbers increase, especially his batting average and his extra-base total.

If Howard can continue to produce like he is and stay healthy, then the Phillies have a strong chance at competing in the NL East this season.

David A. Cattai is a featured journalist with Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter (@DCattaiSports), Facebook, and Google+ for sports updates.

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