In 2011, Ryan Howard played in 152 games, hit 33 home runs, collected 116 RBIs, struck out 172 times and batted .253. Since then, he has played in 151 games, hit 25 home runs, notched 99 RBIs, struck out 194 times and batted .244. The Philadelphia Phillies will need substantially better numbers out of Howard this season if they are going to be competitive.
Nearly two and a half years after tearing his Achilles, Howard appears to be healthy. The slugger claims he can play 162 games this season, but the Phillies will likely give him his share of rest days, as they did with Chase Utley last season.
Howard will make $25 million this season, the most in the MLB along with fellow teammate Cliff Lee. While the Phillies would love for the highest paid player to be the best player in league, it is extremely unrealistic. He’s now 34-years old and is past his prime. Howard was intentionally walked 37 times in 2006, but last year he was given a free pass only three times. He’s just not the feared batter he once was.
Although the Phillies don’t plan on having the 2006 version of Howard, they will certainly take what they can get. If he can get back to 30 plus home runs and over 100 RBIs then the Phillies could have a fighting chance at the playoffs.
They will likely go as far as Howard can take them. Baseball is a team game and they will need good play from several players to be successful, but if Howard is not a threat in their lineup then it is hard to see them being competitive.
Best case prediction: Howard plays 162 games, hits 34 home runs, 110 RBIs, hits .272, strikes out less than 170 times and draws at least 17 intentional walks.
Worst case prediction: Howard plays 162 games, hits 18 home runs, 70 RBIs, hits .245, strikes out 200 times and draws no intentional walks. If Howard is going to be unproductive the Phillies will be better off if he gets hurt so Darin Ruf or Maikel Franco can get more experience.
Realistic prediction: Howard plays 145 games, hits 29 home runs, 85 RBIs, hits .259, strikes out 190 times and draws 10 intentional walks.
When healthy, everyone knows what you can expect out of Howard: home runs, RBIs, strikeouts and a mediocre batting average. Philadelphia fans would be just fine with that in 2014.