Phillies Player Review: Ryan Howard – Phillies Nation
2013 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Ryan Howard



Another year, another disappointing, injury-plagued season for Ryan Howard.

Jumping in the way-back machine to 2012, Howard would play in just 71 games that season following his recovery from the torn Achilles tendon injury suffered at the conclusion of 2011. This past year, it was a meniscus tear in his left knee that would sideline him after just 80 games, his finale a 1-for-4 line against the Braves on July 5 in which he smacked his final home run of the year. The three-time All-Star and 2006 MVP was a shell of his former self, completing the 2013 campaign with a .266 average, just 11 homers, and 43 RBI.

His .718 OPS in 2012, actually rose to .783 in ’13. Those two figures still represent the lowest OPS totals, by far, during Howard’s illustrious career. And although the slugging first baseman has been sapped by leg injuries the past two seasons, his GM, Ruben Amaro Jr., managed to find a silver lining when announcing the meniscus tear in July:

“It could have been much more significant damage. We don’t want any of our players on the DL. But we know what it is and it’s treatable. Hopefully we can get him back in time to play this year.”

That never happened. Howard missed the remainder of the 2013 season with the Phillies far out of playoff contention.

In the midst of a much-discussed five-year, $125 million deal, Howard has yet to live up to the lofty numbers of the contract and the expectations that arrive with them. It has been two years since we’ve seen the Ryan Howard that Philadelphia fell in love with; the mammoth home run hitter able to change the course of a game with the flick of a wrist. He says that man still exists, as he told Todd Zolecki:

“Can I be a 30-100 guy?” he said. “Yeah, I definitely think so. I believe in my ability. I hear what people say. It’s cool. You guys are all entitled to your opinions. But let’s say I come back and I do what I do. Then what? If I come back and put up numbers like ’07, ’08, ’09, then what? Are we having these conversations?”

Setting aside your thoughts on the extension he inked during the 2011 season, Howard needs to be correct in his self-assessment if the Phillies are to go anywhere in 2014. But for 2013, it was more disappointment, more injuries, more of the same for an aging Phillies roster.

Grade: D: I won’t give him a complete failure although you could make an argument for it. Howard did produce some when in the lineup, although the Phillies probably would have been better off with a Darin Ruf platoon or just sitting Howard altogether at times. His future depends on healthy legs. Will he ever truly recover?



  1. Boto

    December 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

    As much as I love Howard and all the things he’s done, it seems as if his body has just given out on him. I’d love to see him be productive again, but if it is obvious in Spring Training that it won’t happen he and the Phils should work out some kind of a buyout. I would rather he doesn’t embarrass himself and the team further.

    • schmenkman

      December 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

      1. Spring isn’t a great indicator. He hit .322/.351/.621 (.972 OPS) in March 2013

      2. I’m not ready to agree that “his body has given out”. He had a serious achilles injury which may have contributed to the meniscus tear. I’m looking forward to see what several months’ rest can do for him.

      3. Even during these last two injury-riddled seasons, he has still been an effective hitter against righties (.837 OPS, 121 wRC+). A platoon situation will come long before any kind of buyout IMO, even if the Phillies could make that attractive enough for him to accept, which is doubtful.

      They have already been gradually platooning him more and more since 2011, under the guise of “resting” him:

      in 2011: he sat 3% of the games vs. RHPs, and 15% vs. LHPs
      in 2012: he sat 2% of the games vs. RHPs, and 25% vs. LHPs
      in 2013: he sat 6% of the games vs. RHPs, and 45% vs. LHPs

  2. photoFred

    December 9, 2013 at 9:32 am

    If we allow that his 2013 .783 was achieved while still recovering from a devastating injury, and we remember that he will be only 34 next season, and we realize his comments to Zolecki may actually show a hint of defiance—which may indicate pride and true motivation, then we may have reason to hope. I’m tired of reading about his contract. It is what it is. If he actually DOES return to 30/100 then everything changes.

    So I’ve got my fingers crossed; what choice do I have?

  3. Gaphan

    December 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I’ll give Ryan the benefit of the doubt. I’ll give Rube the failing grade for another boneheaded contact. Expect to see Oswalt and Myers in the pen before this winter is out.

  4. Lou P

    December 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

    What will become of Darrin Ruf. There no mention of him whatsoever. Are the Phillies sour on him?

  5. Chuck A.

    December 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

    How can you effectively grade someone when they’re injured?

  6. Bruce V.

    December 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

    I think he is a bum and that goes for the batting coach to. This guy is supposed to be a professional and he knows that picthchers are throwing him on the outsude of the plate and he refuses to make any adjustments. Don’t stand three feet from the plate, he’ll never reach the outside pitch. I think he does not really care because he got his 125,000. that is what is wrong with most players today. What would the players of yesteryear be worth in todays market?

    • Dave

      December 9, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Couldn’t have said it better Bruce. He also doesn’t work on throwing to second, which is something most 12 year olds can do.

  7. Pamikedc

    December 9, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Doc is retiring. Signing a one day contract with the Blue Jays

  8. bacardipr

    December 9, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I think if healthy enough he could probably bounce back. No not 2009 Howard per say. He does have to make some mental adjustments. Watching him this year not looking at any stats he did seem to lay off some of those pitches right before he went on the injury list. I can see him been a .270/30ish HR guy.

  9. Double Trouble Del

    December 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

    His strength used to be center to opposite field, now it seems he doesn’t trust himself to wait on a pitch and drive it. Is it too late to teach an old dog and old trick?

    • schmenkman

      December 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      I found this surprising, but that trend isn’t clear in the stats.

      All balls in play, by % to which field, since 2006:

      pulled… 31%, 34%, 32%, 32%, 32%, 35%, 34%, 40%
      middle.. 49%, 52%, 52%, 56%, 56%, 49%, 51%, 45%
      opp fld.. 20%, 13%, 16%, 12%, 12%, 16%, 15%, 15%

      With the exception of 2006, he never hit that many more the opposite way than he did in 2012-13.

      But maybe while he’s hitting it the opposite way, maybe he’s just not able to drive the ball as much. Below are just his extra base hits since 2006:

      pulled… 25%, 37%, 15%, 29%, 31%, 31%, 24%, 30%
      middle.. 43%, 51%, 56%, 60%, 47%, 48%, 60%, 45%
      opp fld.. 32%, 12%, 28%, 10%, 22%, 20%, 16%, 24%

      And again, with the exception of 2006, and maybe 2008, he hasn’t driven the ball the other way (in relation to his other hits), any more than he did recently.

      It seems that the bigger problem is the overall decline, rather than which field he’s hitting to..

      • photoFred

        December 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        I’m trying to remember when everyone started playing the shift against him…

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