Howard For A-Rod? Forget About It – Phillies Nation
Analysis

Howard For A-Rod? Forget About It

Yesterday, our own Pat Gallen outlined for you why he didn’t think A-Rod would be a good fit in Philly. The influx of trade rumors now surrounding the former superstar third baseman who is currently having his feet held to the fire by just about everyone in Yankeeland got me to thinking: A-Rod is an aging player with a lot of money left on a long-term deal he’ll seemingly never be able to match the exorbitant value of with his play on the field. He’s fallen out of favor and his struggles seem to be at an all-time high.

If this scenario sounds vaguely familiar, it should. The Phillies are currently going through a similar situation with one of their corner infielders–first baseman Ryan Howard. Howard is also a player with a superstar’s capabilities who has been hampered by injury of late, and whose contract seems to be moving rapidly into albatross zone.

So, imagine you’re Ruben Amaro, Jr. and you get a call from Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Here’s what Cashman says:


BC: Hey Ruby, long time no see! How ya doing, buddy? Listen, pal, I’ve got a third baseman on the market and you’re in need of one badly. We could use a steady DH up here in the Bronx, so why don’t we swap Howard and Rodgriguez straight up? You take my problem off my hands and I’ll take your problems off of yours. One big contract for another. Maybe a change of scenery will be good for both of them?

As Ruben Amaro, what do you say to that?

The fan in me wants to vomit at the thought. But GMs can’t afford to let fandom get in the way of sound business decisions and this would certainly be something Amaro would have to entertain. It’s basically a question of which big contract would you rather have. So, let’s compare the two.

First the contracts: Ryan Howard currently has $95M/4 years left on his deal, with a fifth year team option and a $10M buyout, while A-Rod has $114M/5 years. Howard will also be Rodriguez’s current age (37) when his deal is up, while A-Rod will be at the very end of his career, a ripe 42 years old. Advantage: Howard.

Now, let’s look at performance: 2012 was basically a wash for both players, as A-Rod only appeared in 99 games, while Howard was held to just 71. Examining these statistics won’t give us the clearest idea of how each player has fared of late. So let’s take a look at their numbers from 2008-2011.

A-Rod: 323 R, 111 HR, 390 RBI .284/.375/.521 with a 133 OPS+

Howard: 378 R, 157 HR, 511 RBI .265/.349/.529 with a 130 OPS+

It’s actually uncanny how similar the two players have been in the last five years. With an OPS+ separated by just three points, it’s almost too close to call. Advantage: Push

At this point, if I’m Ruben Amaro, Jr., there’s really only one question to ask myself: Do I want production out of the first base position or the third base position? Because past performance indicates you’ll get about the same numbers from both guys. If anything, better numbers will come from Howard, who still has his mid-30s ahead of him while A-Rod is moving into his baseball twilight years. Both players are also subpar defenders, so there’s not enough of a distinguishable difference to give any one guy the edge there. At this point, trading Howard for Rodriguez would seemingly be foolish.

But there is an X-factor here we’ve yet to discuss: Darin Ruf. In theory, the Phillies could trade Howard to the Yankees for A-Rod, filling their need for a third baseman at close to the same price they’re paying for the Big Piece, and move Ruf into the everyday first baseman’s job. As Ruf tore the cover off the ball both in Double-A and the Big Leagues in 2012, it’s something you’d have to at least consider, right?

Absolutely.

Now the question becomes how much faith you have in Darin Ruf to be the everyday first baseman. If you believe he can do the job, it may be worth dealing Howard to get a Howard-like bat over at third. For me, though, Ruf hasn’t proven enough to be handed a job. I’ll stick with a guy in Ryan Howard who has shown what he’ll give me as a big league player.

If Cashman calls wanting to swap Howard for Rodriguez, RAJ would be smart to say no.

Click to comment

0 Comments

  1. Devin

    October 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Not sure I understand the point of this article. It seems like all you’ve done is debunk a trade that nobody was asking for in the first place. Will the next one be “Guys, the Phillies definitely shouldn’t sign my uncle to a major league contract”?

  2. George

    October 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    There are other important things you never touched on: Who would be better in the clubhouse? Who actually seems to at least attempt to improve? Would two rightie bats, Ruf and Arod, tip the scales to the Phils being too righthanded as opposed to too lefthanded? Which player’s production has actually dipped the most in the past few years, Howard’s or Arod’s? Who has actually been more injury prone over their career?

    Some of these things may not be all that much to worry about, but the clubhouse factor would be enough for me to say no.

    Then, there’s also that insidious HR incentive in that Yankee pinhead’s contract.

  3. Ken Bland

    October 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    As Ruf tore the cover off the ball both in Double-A and the Big Leagues in 2012, it’s something you’d have to at least consider, right?>>

    The polarization Ruf is drawing is well documented by both the positive and negative observors. This point, you pretty much either like him for next year. Spring training is only gonna change the minds of those positive on the guy. I’m sort of a tweener on the dude myself, and dramatics aren’t a good venue for forming baseball opinions, but I can’t get out of my mind a portion of a recent Dave Cameron chat.

    Nik asked in a suggestive way if Ruf would see time in the 2013 OF.

    Cameron’s reply was an apparently terse, “Not if they want to win.”

    Some people remember “Ask not what your country can be doing for you, but what you can be bringing to the table for your country.”

    I remember Cameron’s line.

    Priorities.

    By the way, this Howard-ARod deal IS going down. In a fantasy league. Check local listings for details.

  4. EricL

    October 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    You have Howard’s contract wrong.

    It’s either 4 years for $105 million or 5 years at $118 million, depending upon whether or not the Phillies choose to exercise his 2017 option (at $23 million) or buy him out after the 2016 season (for $10 million).

    Either way, the minimum Ryan makes over the remainder of his contract is $105 million.

  5. Chuck A.

    October 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    This article was pointless.

    Next….

  6. Ryan

    October 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    And what he has shown is that he is probably a league average player making 25 million a year.

  7. Devin

    October 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    If I write an article about why it wouldn’t be a good idea for the Phillies to offer Nolan Ryan 40 million to pitch next year would philliesnation publish that too?

    • Lefty

      October 21, 2012 at 8:18 am

      Devin, I was going to leave this alone, but since this is your 2nd criticism of the SAME posting, you obviously feel very strongly about this. So, I’d suggest you put up or shut up.

      Go ahead, write us an article, I look forward to reading it since you believe it should be so much better. I’m serious, go ahead and submit an original piece of your choosing right here in the comments section. Show off your stuff, maybe you’ll get hired, then you’ll have a second job.

      Of course, you know that the writers that post for our entertainment earn the same amount of money as we do for reading, -and criticizing it.

      • Devin

        October 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

        So you somehow came away from what I wrote thinking that I was saying my Nolan Ryan article would be good? Nice critical reading, boss. Guess you were trying to be clever but it didn’t work.

        Look, for a site like this criticism is important. These guys don’t have a professional editor to tell them that articles like this are terrible. I quit reading Crossing Broad because of articles like this. People will quit reading this site, if articles of this quality are consistently posted. That is a fact.

        I get it. You think you’re top dog because you’ve commented almost three thousand times on a blog. That’s cool and everything, do your thing. But don’t run around talking s*** about your betters.

      • Lefty

        October 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm

        I’m not quite certain what your last sentence means, but can tell you that I’m a relative newbie here (3 or 4 years). Chuck A and OCP have posted at least twice as many comments as I have, but it doesn’t appear that way because they changed names. Manny, The Dipsy, Don M, Bart, Psujoe, Bob in bucks, George, Beta Tracey, AFW, Brooks, Jay, Bacardi, Bruce, among a host of others, – they’ve all have all been here well longer than me, but they don’t log in, so their comments don’t get counted.

        I do log in, because for whatever reason my device doesn’t show me updated postings if I don’t. But it’s no sweat to log in.

        Believe me when I tell you that I am not superior to anyone, and no one’s top dog, I’m just another guy that enjoys reading and commenting on blogs.

        Just curious, if people quit reading this site, how would that negatively affect you?

        On the other hand if people keep unnecessarily criticizing their hard work, why would the good people who post the articles for no pay, continue to write them? Would you?

        SO, I’m only asking you to step to the plate and knock a couple postings a week out of the park along with whatever your profession is, and family responsibilities you may have, because it’s what they do.

        You obviously don’t think it’s that hard. And I was serious, maybe you have something great to say, and I’d really enjoy reading it for free. And the bonus is that I promise never to criticize your work.

    • Johanna

      October 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Devin,

      I have to agree with Lefty here. There was really no reason to criticize this article. It’s a “what if” situation. It’s baseball talk that’s all – and to people who enjoy comparing statistics (like me), this type of article is enjoyable, interesting and entertaining. You can see from many of the responses here, others enjoy this as well because they are engaging in a discussion of whether or not this trade would work from a statistical standpoint, not whether or not it would actually happen.

  8. MRH

    October 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Yeah right. Imagine reading “Phillies trade Howard to Yankees for A-Rod.” Trade one of your fanbases’ favorite players for perhaps the most hated player in the league? Won’t happen for that reason alone. There would be a riot in S. Philly.

  9. EricL

    October 21, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Also, let me point out that equal offensive production is not always equal.

    If two players perform offensively at about the same level, and one of them plays a more demanding defensive position, that player is more valuable. So, because A-Rod can play third base competently and, using your your 2008-11 year choices (which is very favorable to Howard), their performance offensively is similar, A-Rod is the more valuable player.

    Which is evident if you want to take all of their stats into consideration. Using your 2008-2011 seasons:
    A-Rod: 18.7 fWAR, 18.0 rWAR
    Howard: 10.7 fWAR, 7.0 rWAR

    • hk

      October 21, 2012 at 6:53 am

      EricL,

      You are exactly right. The author even asked, “Do I want production out of the first base position or the third base position?” The answer to this question – if all other things are equal – is clearly 3B. Howard’s OPS from 2008-2011 puts him in 10th place in OPS among all qualified 1B’s during that time frame while ARod was 3rd among 3B’s in OPS during that period. Also, in the current off-season and in most other off-seasons, it is easier to find a 1B than a 3B.

      Having stated what I did above, I would not want to see the Phillies make this trade if offered for the following three reasons:

      1. Due to ARod being older, I agree with the author that he is more likely to decline faster than Howard. I think the decline in his defense is such that he will play fewer and fewer games at 3B over the next five years (he only played 81 at 3B this year), making him a 1B if he’s in the NL.

      2. Despite the fact that ARod is owed less money annually than Howard, I believe he comes with a bigger hit against the luxury tax as the AAV of his entire deal is $27.5M while the AAV of Howard’s extension is $25M.

      3. Howard’s deal ends one year sooner.

  10. Lefty

    October 21, 2012 at 8:06 am

    On this subject, positional importance and WAR and stats for whatever date you want to select are irrelevant to me guys.

    All I need to know are 3 things. The length of contracts, age of the players, and ARoid’s swift decline this season.

    IMO- Absolutely No.

    That said, I’m not against shedding Howard’s contract for a bevy of young potential stars now that we’ve seen Darren Ruf. I just don’t see any other team doing that.

    • EricL

      October 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Why does Ryan Howard’s decline over the last two seasons not factor in?

      Also, don’t delude yourself with any notions that there’s a team in baseball that would give the Phillies anything of value for a guy with Howard’s contract, injury history and declining skill.

      • Lefty

        October 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        Delude myself? Wouldn’t I have to lude myself first in order to do that? I don’t take recreational drugs, prescription or otherwise, and the last line of my comment was
        “I just don’t see any other team doing that.” So Phooie on you.

  11. phil

    October 21, 2012 at 8:31 am

    You also left out stolen bases. I would take arod because arod is still a lot better and his ego is so huge that he has something to prove

    • George

      October 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Still “a lot” better? Maybe you should re-read those stats Ryan Dinger has cited for each player over the past five years. 3 points difference in OPS+ is hardly a lot, and I really don’t think ARod is enough of a baserunning threat these days to add much value.

      Also, that huge ego propelling him doesn’t mean he will succeed in proving he still has anything. He might actually push too hard and end up worse. That huge ego could prove a huge problem in the clubhouse, too.

      • EricL

        October 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        If you’re basing baseball moves on “ego” you’re doing it wrong.

        And yes, as I said before, when two players put up similar offensive numbers and one of them plays a premium defensive position that player is much more valuable.

        As hk said:
        “Howard’s OPS from 2008-2011 puts him in 10th place in OPS among all qualified 1B’s during that time frame while ARod was 3rd among 3B’s in OPS during that period.”

        10th best at a position that’s relatively easy to fill versus 3rd best at a difficult position to fill is quite a difference.

  12. George

    October 21, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Positional importance is one of those “advanced metrics” that I can’t fully agree with. Sometimes players are put where they are because of certain physical characteristics, not because of lack of ability. An example might be Rollins. He plays an excellent shortstop, and would probably do well in other infield spots, EXCEPT first base, because he’s too short to make the stretches for slightly errant throws. It’s also possible that in the outfield, he might not read fly balls well. Physical traits are also likely to keep a left handed player off the left side of the infield; it would make throwing across the diamond awkward. You wouldn’t want someone the size of Freddy Patek trying to block home plate, even if he could handle all the bounced throws from the outfield.

    While some positions may be more difficult to play, in some respects, than others, all positions are important or they wouldn’t exist. Skillsets, size, handedness, and other things also matter in filling those positions, not just “level of difficulty.”

    • hk

      October 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

      George,

      The key issues with positional importance is how a player compares to others at the same position and how easy it is to acquire a player at each position. Since the average production at 1B far exceeds the average production at 3B, if you project that you’ll have equal offensive production from two players and one plays 1B while the other plays 3B, you would prefer to have the 3B. To reiterate, this not an endorsement of trading Howard for ARod if it was even an option.

      • Lefty

        October 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        hk, Sorry to horn in, but this caught my eye. “The key issues with positional importance is how a player compares to others at the same position and how easy it is to acquire a player at each position.”

        Although he wasn’t talking about first base at the time, this was explained a number of years ago by RA Jr., when asked about a lack of pop at third base. To paraphrase- For a long time our third base bat has been playing second, while our second base bat has been playing third.

        Once Utley became injury prone, (hip, hand,knee(s) that all changed. But if you think about it, what difference does it make where the offensive production comes from as long as it comes?

        The World series bound Tigers didn’t fight the problem of “easier to acquire positionally” they just signed Fielder and moved Cabrera. When the Angels needed to keep Trumbo’s bat in the lineup with their crowded outfield they just taught him to play third. I’m sure there are other examples. I’m just speculating now, but it seems these guys for the most part are excellent athletes that wouldn’t be in the majors if they weren’t adaptable to a certain extent. Who knew that that little Panamanian kid playing second base could be a premier defensive catcher? I tend to agree more with George on this one, big kids are parked at first early, not because they can’t play anywhere else, just because they are the big kid.

  13. George

    October 21, 2012 at 11:10 am

    If it’s based partly on available talent, I can see more validity to positional importance.

    However, availability of talent varies from year to year, but “positional value” doesn’t appear to.

    Basing the importance solely on how players compare at a particular position probably only reinforces my argumant about certain players being better equiped physically for certqain spots. I still don’t want Rollins, for instance, at 1st base. He’d lose a lot of his value there, and the Phils would lose a lot of games when a throw or two went down the line or into the dugout. If your comparing how certain shortstops play shortstop, the entire “importance” issue is meaningless.

    One other thing: big guys are sometimes parked at 1st at a very early age, just because they’re big. They may never have gotten a chance to prove whether or not they could play elsewhere.

    Also, if you’ll note, I’ve never said that positional importance was complete BS. I only said that I can’t fully agree with it.

    • EricL

      October 21, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      While talent does vary from year to year, overall there are positions that are always harder to get offensive production out of, and so getting lots of offense out of those positions nearly always gives you an advantage over the rest of the league.

      The list goes like this, in order of most-scarce to least scarce:
      Catcher
      Shortstop
      2B/3B/CF
      LF/RF
      1B
      (DH)

      It sets up like this because there are positions that are harder to play than others, and so the harder it is to play that position competently, the smaller the available pool of players to fill that position will be. The smaller the pool of available players to fill that position, the lower their offensive production is going to be, because while it’s relatively easy to find a guy who is a major league capable hitter or an excellent defender, it’s extraordinarily difficult to find someone who is both an excellent hitter and highly skilled defensively.

      Generally, most players coming out of lower levels of play/college/high school/etc. move down the above scale. This is because they were generally the most talented/athletic/gifted players on their junior-level teams, and so they were also the best SS or C or whatever (also often pitchers). But as the defensive competition improves as they progress through the professional ranks, organizations slide them down that list in order to maximize their value to the team. In other words, if Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder or Matt Holliday or whomever could play shortstop, there isn’t an organization in baseball that wouldn’t have wanted them there, because of just how much more value he would provide there. But because of their physical limitations they cannot play at the most demanding defensive positions and are allowed to shift to lesser demanding ones. This is why production at the most difficult defensive positions is given a premium, and why it is so rare.

      • Lefty

        October 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        But some do move backwards- Right now I can think of – Cabrera, Trumbo, Machado, Ruiz- I’m sure there are lots of others. It’s not common, but it does happen.

      • EricL

        October 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

        But the reason the Phillies moved Ruiz to the most demanding/difficult-to-fill spot on the diamond was because he could play there and a good defensive/competent offensive catcher is more valuable than a good defensive/competent offensive 2B.

        It’s not common because, for the most part, players are put in their “optimal” positions, in terms of balancing the offense they provide with the defense they provide.

        Detroit, for example, made the calculation that Price’s offense + Miggy’s offense – Miggy’s defense at 3B was better than Miggy’s offense + Inge’s offense + Inge’s defense. They were probably right.

        But defensively, Cabrera most certainly did cost his team runs, when compared to the league average third baseman. If the calculus adds up that the runs lost on defense are more than made up for offensively, then the move is potentially +EV. Most of the times teams don’t do it because that calculation is not positive, because the players just can’t perform at a high enough level (either offensively or defensively) to overcome the lost value by moving them to positions where the average player is much better defensively.

    • EricL

      October 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Let me edit my previous comments a little.

      It’s not that you can’t put players at any position; you obviously can. It’s that teams don’t, because they think it’s important to get defensive value out of some positions. So they put all their slick fielding, fast running players at short. And, as a group, slick fielding, fast running players don’t slug the ball. You can put a big lumbering slugger there, it’s just that he’s going to cost you runs defensively that the slick fielder wouldn’t, and in the end you may not get much of an advantage unless you can find a fast, good fielding slugger, who won’t cost you as much defensively as he adds offensively.

      But those arbitrary positional assignments are what you have to compare the production to. If all teams in the league tended to put their fat sluggers at short and their speedy defenders at first base the average offensive production at first would likely fall, and the average offensive production at short would jump significantly, and in such a case you could then say that a great-hitting first baseman is more valuable than a great hitting shortstop because a great hitting shortstop is easy to find.

      The point, with respect to Howard and A-Rod’s positions, is that Howard plays a position where there are an abundance of good hitters and A-Rod plays a position where there is a dearth of good hitters (for whatever reasons) and because of that, getting equal offensive production out of the two means that the one who plays the position where it’s harder to find offense is inherently more valuable [and, going along with that, replacing the lost production at 1B would be easier than replacing the lost offensive production at 3B].

      • George

        October 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm

        the trouble with all this is that we’re assuming ARod can actually play decent defense and still produce offensively. He didn’t do much of either this season.

        Of course, Howard didn’t do much at 1st, either. But Howard was playing on 1 1/2 legs whereas Arod, I’m assuming, was lousy even though he had both of his working when he played.

        In other words, Howard has a good chance of being better in 2013. At 37, one has to wonder if ARod does. I’d hate to chance trading 1st base production for 3rd base mediocrity.

      • Lefty

        October 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm

        It’s is a better explanation, but you didn’t have to go through all of this. You’re a true credible guy EricL, I mean that.

        That said, I have to pick a nit now, your claim about Chooch above is not quite right. It’s close, but there is another component.

        The Phils did not move Ruiz to catcher because he’d be more valuable there, they moved him because he wasn’t going to make it at all if they didn’t. He got lucky because a scout who had made the same change himself saw him.

        “By this point in his life, Ruiz had already grown frustrated at his prospects. He was already 18 — two years older than many international prospects who sign — and had tried pitching and playing infield, but could not garner any professional interest.”

        You may have already seen this, but just in case, I thought you might like it. I did.

        http://articles.philly.com/2012-07-08/sorts/32589508_1_carlos-ruiz-reserve-catcher-giants-buster-posey

  14. bacardipr

    October 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    As far as a riot in S. Philly if they trade Howard i dunno about that. Next season Howard must bounce back. The casual everyday fan is starting to realize what a Albatross Howard will potentially be.

  15. Ben

    October 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Worst article I read on here. This should be something on crossingbroad it is so bad. I know it’s the offseason but step up your game! RAJ will be disappointed in this one.

  16. phil

    October 22, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Um no arod is a lot better. Look at war and waa not ops+. I would rather have a 3b that can hit better than a 1b and arod is a better hitter than Howard at a more premium position. Howard had a negative war this year…arod didn’t

  17. Bob in Bucks

    October 22, 2012 at 12:36 am

    This is just silly and a waste of time. A theoretical trade that no one in their right mind would propose. Trading two bad contracts helps no one.

  18. Ryne Duren

    October 22, 2012 at 9:02 am

    i wouldn’t make that trade. period! allthough their numbers are simular since 08. i doubt very much that their numbers will be close the next 3 yrs. if we made that trade we’d weaken the team considerably in my eyes. yes howard was hurt but he’s gonna be healthy next year and still in his prime. a-rod on the other hand is on the decline and will only be a shadow of himself, and on the DL again and again. ( check the poly guy simular in age). as high as i am on ruf i’m not willing to just insert him at first and have a-rod on the left side, cause if a-rod goes down in ST then all we’ll have is an unproven rookie at first. i stick ruf in left as an unproven with howard at first but not the other way.
    as far as the money aspect we’d be putting out close to the same amount of money with a-rod and no howard and with less production. i’d much rather have howard and a stop gap at third till asche’s ready, and ruf in left. it’s time to infuse some youth on this team. and a-rod would be the wrong direction.

  19. phil

    October 22, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Howard is post prime. Big guys age poorly. He’s nothing but another Mo Vaughn

    • George

      October 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

      Anyone 33 years old is probably post-prime. But ARod at 37 is probably more so. (He’s also not exactly a little guy.)

      He may win on WAR, but that’s over the past five years. I’d like to see just how the two compare in terms of declines in that number. It could show that perhaps ARod is the one who has been declining the most, and will continue to do so. Part of the reason for that better WAR for ARod is the positional value metric, which I don’t fully agree with.

      I also believe that ARod won’t be playing that “more premium position” for much longer, and will soon be a 1st baseman/DH, because his 3rd base defense has been poor lately. A DH is useless in the NL.

      • Phil

        October 22, 2012 at 10:21 am

        Why don’t you agree with positional value? Are you an idiot? Everything you have posted in this thread has been you making up stuff to justify Howard being about as good as A-Rod with no actual evidence to back it up? Put it like this. Would you rather have Albert Pujols in his prime and a replacement player at 3B or an adequate starter at each position (a 2.0 WAR player which Ryan Howard is). The answer is clearly Albert Pujols and a replacement level player.

        In the scenario of Howard vs. A-Rod, let’s assume that Ruf can be a 2.0 WAR player. Then we would have 2 adequate players at the corners, Ruf and A-Rod. If we keep Howard and let’s say play Frandsen (who may not even be a 2.0 WAR player next year because his sample size was so small this year) then we have 2 replacement level-reserve players at our corner infield for roughly the same price that it would cost for Ruf and A-Rod. Position matters because there are a lot more good 1B in the game than there are 3B, SS, 2B, C, and CF. The reason Howard’s WAR is so low because when comparing him to the rest of his colleagues at 1B, Howard is mediocre. The reason Howard plays 1B is because he isn’t even good at that position so he certainly won’t be good enough to play corner outfield (in fact they tried it in the minors when we had Thome). Howard also can’t play any other infield position because he is left handed. Let’s just say, in a hypothetical world, we can put Howard at SS. Then yes, his oWAR would go up a lot because he would be being compared to some very weak hitters but his dWAR is going to be a lot worse than it even is now, and he would cost the team a lot more wins than he already does.

      • Phil

        October 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

        I wish you could edit on this site. (a 2.0 WAR player which A-Rod is).

      • Phil

        October 22, 2012 at 10:35 am

        I also want to comment on your decline comment along with your A-Rod can’t play 3B anymore comment.

        A-Rod
        2008: WAR: 6.5 dWAR: 0.5
        2009: WAR: 3.9 dWAR: -0.3
        2010: WAR: 3.9 dWAR: 0.5
        2011: WAR: 3.7 dWAR: 1.5
        2012: WAR: 2.0 dWAR: -0.4

        Howard
        2008: WAR: 1.5 dWAR: -1.5
        2009: WAR: 3.5 dWAR: -1.4
        2010: WAR: 1.1 dWAR: -2.3
        2011: WAR: 0.9 dWAR: -2.4
        2012: WAR: -1.2 dWAR: -1.0

        What this shows me is that A-Rod is adequate enough at defense to stick at 3B and Howard is clearly the DH. The reason Howard’s WAR is actually so low is not because of his bat, although, his lack of OBP keeps his WAR down too, but because he is horrible defensively. Sure, A-Rod isn’t some elite defensive 3B, but would you rather have Polly, who can’t hit a watermelon but plays elite D at the hot corner or A-Rod who is roughly average defensively but is still a good hitter, even when taking position out of the equation? What I just posted clearly shows that A-Rod is declining but at a more steady rate than Ryan Howard who appears to be falling off of a cliff. Also, you said A-Rod is a big guy, but he is a lot smaller than Howard, and a lot more athletic and can still run the bases.

        Howard from 08-12 was 28-32. When A-Rod was 28-32 he had 36.3 WAR and was already cementing his legacy into being one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. The reason A-Rod is one of the greatest players of all time (leave the steroid use out of the picture because that is a completely different debate) is because of his ability to play premium positions and play them adequately enough with the glove. So, while Howard has been declining from 28-32 A-Rod was playing some of the best baseball of his life. 2 of his 3 best seasons came in that time period while Howard’s best season came when he was 26 and started declining after that. It’s a safe bet to say that A-Rod is better now and will be better the next 5 years than Howard.

  20. Phil

    October 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Now that I’m at a computer and not my phone I’m going to put what EricL has been saying all along into comparison. From 2008-2011 here are some advanced metrics that certainly take position into account to prove why A-Rod is leaps and bounds better than Ryan Howard. I’m going to include PAs too because I’ll also show that age shouldn’t matter in this argument, especially because big guys tend to age a lot worse than athletic guys.

    Ryan Howard: PA: 2959 WAR: 5.8 WAA: -2.0 oWAR: 10.0 dWAR: -8.6
    Alex Rodriguez: PA: 2681 WAR: 20.0 WAA: 11.7 oWAR: 18.7 dWAR: 1.8

    What this shows is that in roughly 300 less PAs(which is pretty insignificant not even half a season) Alex Rodriguez has put up 14.2 more wins and 13.7 wins above average than Ryan Howard. The reason he was able to do this is because Alex Rodrigeuz plays a more premium position. Furthermore, A-Rod has put up 8.7 more wins on offense and 10.6 more runs on defense at a much more premium position than Howard. So, Howard’s defense is costing the Phillies games where as A-Rod’s defense has been winning the Yankees games. Even last year, he only lost the Yankees -0.4 games with his glove which is minuscule when you factor in the fact that A-Rod won the Yankees 2.3 games with his bat. Is A-Rod declining in his all around game? Absolutely. Is he declining at a faster pace than Ryan Howard? Not even close. I haven’t even talked about base running, which goes without saying, is light years better than Howard. A-Rod in 122 games last year swiped 13 bags with being caught only once. Howard is 12 and 4 for his entire career. These two players really aren’t even close and it is stupid to think that they are of equal value. If A-Rod was a 1B then this discussion might be a little different, but the fact of the matter is that he is not a 1B. And if you moved him to 1B? He would still be a better hitter, base runner, and I’m going to assume better fielder considering he is a better 3B than Howard is 1B. I think a 42 year old A-Rod would still be better than a 33 year old Howard.

  21. Phil

    October 22, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Actually, I used stats from 2008-2012 and forgot to change that in my last post. I included 2012 because A-Rod had the WAR of a starting player in 2012 and Howard was a replacement level player costing his team -1.2 wins.

  22. Jim

    October 22, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Ridiculous article!! Just look at RBI’s and throw all that other analytical garbage in the trash where it belongs.

    Onto the unsubsribe list with Phillies Nation. You guys have really lost all relevance.

    • EricL

      October 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      You keep a list of websites that you don’t subscribe to?

      The Internet is pretty big, so I imagine that list is gargantuan and probably very time consuming to keep up to date. Best of luck with your list.

  23. phil

    October 22, 2012 at 11:45 am

    RBIs are a pointless counting stat that matters position in the line up batters in front of you and swinging the bat. Unfortunately Howard swings the bat too much and doesn’t draw walks because of it thus striking out a lot and creating a lot of outs which diminishes value

    • Simmonds17

      October 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Are wins and losses also a “pointless counting stat”?

      I accept that there is significant value to advanced metrics. But I wish the people who advocate them would stop saying things like RBIs don’t matter, strikeouts don’t matter, as if that has been proven beyond doubt. It has not.

      • Phil

        October 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

        If RBIs were a team stat I wouldn’t call it useless. It is useless in judging the individual players. Wins and losses for a pitcher is the most useless stat ever invented. Wins and losses for a team is the best stat possible. I would also never say strikeouts don’t matter(for a pitcher) because the more hitters a pitcher strikes out the less chance for an error in the field or a bloop single that ends up being a hit when it shouldn’t be. It takes the defense out of the game and makes it so that a player cannot reach base aside from the extremely rare strike out/passed ball.

      • Simmonds17

        October 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        I wonder how the advanced metrics advocates never see some of the contradictions in their positions. Strikeouts for pitchers matter hugely (I agree) but strikeouts by batters do not matter. How can that be? So many advanced metric offensive stats try to determine what will lead to run production absent team factors, but then rbis don’t matter? It really does not make sense.

        When I mentioned wins and losses, I was referring to them on a team basis, not for pitchers. I know there are better ways to evaluate pitchers, whether they are starters or relievers.

        But the determinants in baseball are still wins and losses, which are determined by which team scores more runs – counting stats. They still matter and they always will, which is not to say that advanced metrics can’t give us better ways to look at them and other numbers.

        Put another, I do believe, quite definitely, that the ability to drive in runs is a baseball skill and a very important one.

      • schmenkman

        October 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm

        On the importance of strikeouts for pitchers vs. for hitters, here is one article on the subject with the statistical rationale for why Ks are treated differently for pitchers and hitters:

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2617

        This is another analysis, which argues that Ks are more important for pitchers because it’s one of the few things they control, whereas hitters can contribute in more ways:

        http://www.3-dbaseball.net/2009/09/why-strikeouts-matter-more-for-pitchers.html

        On RBIs, the argument against them is that they combine two things: 1) how many runners are on base/in scoring position when a hitter comes to bat, and 2) how effective a hitter is in those situations. You can try to tease these out by looking at a hitter’s performance with runners in scoring position, but studies have found that for the vast majority of players, over time their RISP stats look pretty much like their overall stats. There are exceptions, like Howard (since he doesn’t have to deal with a shift when batting with RISP), but not many.

        More here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2656

      • Ken Bland

        October 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

        Bravo. It’s not even a matter of proving that ribbies, or batting average, or pitcher’s wins and losses don’t matter. It’s the rush to disavow those measurements as useless, which is preposterous. The time honored measures have reasonably lost importance over the years, but there’s still a place for them. It’s like on base percentage is an excellent tool, but there’s still a place for how many hits a guy actually gets even though it’s not a perfect stat. Yet, some people swear by OBP like IT’S perfect, and yet it’s more or lerss an expanded supplemet of batting average.

        Reggie Jackson had an interesting view recently. On the Trout Cabrera debate, he reasoned, “Guys over 40 favor Cabrera while under 40 folks like Trout because of their sabermetric approach. Sabermetrics are useful in measuring average players, but not the superstars.” There’s no such thing as a perfect stat. Really, the most important stat is how well does your agent negotiate, and did you hold him to a smaller percentage than the norm (4%?).

      • schmenkman

        October 22, 2012 at 4:59 pm

        Anybody have a hint as to why REG-GIE would say that?

      • Ken Bland

        October 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        The theme of the piece in which the Reggie quote appeared was the subject of Trout-Cabrera, and Reggie was voicing his support for Cabrera, and how people had a hard time understanding what a great achievement the Triple Crown was. As the article is a couple weeks back, so I can’t link it easily, but it might have been in response to Trout carrying a higher WAR. You, being appreciative of WAR would be better equipped to guess what truth might exsist to it being a better measure for non superstars since he didn’t elaborate.

      • schmenkman

        October 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        That’s just it — I can’t imagine why he said that.

  24. phil

    October 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I also agree that this isn’t a bad article. I think the only thing bad about it is that the writer based similar offensive production as a push out of comparing a 1b and a 3b which is not something that should be compared. Arods value as a hitter is greater than Howard’s because of positional advantage and the author should have taken that into account.

  25. Simmonds17

    October 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    If I were Amaro and I were offered that deal, I could not say “yes” fast enough. The main question should come down to who is the better player. I say A-Rod, by a wide margin, even as he enters his late 30s.

    I know a lot of people dislike A-Rod personally. That’s never been my thing. I don’t care if he’s a super nice guy or if he ever used PEDs. I care if he could make the Phillies better.

    He would – even now, he’d be a huge upgrade at third, and getting rid of Howard would make the Phillies (1) more versatile and (2) less lefthand-dominant, while opening a clear position for Darin Ruf. I can’t believe the Yankees would do this, even though they almost certainly want to be rid of A-Rod.

    Ryan Howard, right now, is the worst contract in the majors, and there aren’t many deals I would turn down that would result in him moving along.

    • Phil

      October 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      I agree with everything you said except that the Yankees wouldn’t take Howard’s contract. I think they would. He’s still a household name and fans hate A-Rod. It’s safe to say they won’t be selling many new A-Rod jerseys or shirts anymore, but if they brought Howard in they would sell plenty of merch, especially to the African-American fan base. I’m sure the Yankees front office would realize that Howard is not a good player at this point his career, but he could benefit greatly from DHing and that short porch and it is worth the risk to dump A-Rod who is hated in New York now.

      • Phil

        October 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

        In short, for the Yankees, it is strictly a PR/business move, not a getting better move. For the Phillies it is the exact opposite, but this team can take the hit of a PR disaster to make the team better in the future.

      • Simmonds17

        October 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm

        I know A-Rod is on the decline, but I like his chances of taking advantage of the left-field porch at Citizens Bank Park just as Howard would reap the rewards of playing 81 games in Yankee Stadium. It really could be a good deal for both sides, and from the Phillies side, I would do it in a heartbeat.

      • schmenkman

        October 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

        CBP does not help right-handed home run hitters. In fact, compared to Yankee stadium, it hurts righties.

  26. phil

    October 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Counting stats are fine on a team level. Wins/losses and runs per game is the best metric for how well a team performs. On an individual level rbis are not all that relevant because there are other variables to take into account such as line up position and men on base. The ability to drive in runs can be seen in a stat like war. It is a more quantifiable way to judge a players individual ability than just he has a ton of RBIs which has other factors outside of the individual player’s skill set. Look at an even more relative and more simplistic stat like wRC+ which is an advanced runs created formula. This is how an individual player helps create runs rather than just simply driving them in. Getting on base is the most fundamental way to create runs so somebody can drive the runs in. It’s a 2 way street.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Phillies Nation has been bringing Phillies fans together since 2004 with non-stop news, analysis, trade rumors, trips, t-shirts, and other fun stuff!

Browse the Archives

Browse by Category

Copyright Phillies Nation, LLC 2004-2016
Not Affiliated with Major League Baseball or the Philadelphia Phillies

To Top