Analysis

Is Ryan Howard Heating Up? 

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

PHOTO: Laurence Kesterson/AP

Ryan Howard hit another home run last night, giving him four on the season. All four of them have come within the last eight games. Over that span, he’s hitting .214/.290/.643 (a .933 OPS), and has two walks and eight RBI to go with it.

In those eight games, the Phillies as a whole are are hitting .239/.289/.351. Howard accounts for 9.7% of their plate appearances, but 67% of their home runs and 29.6% of their RBI.

Over the last week, he’s been hitting the ball hard 36.8% of the time (according to FanGraphs), which is best on the Phillies and up from his season average of 33.3% (fire emoji). However, his BABIP has been absurdly low. It’s at .063 over the last week and .205 on the season. This is easily explainable. Howard pulls the ball 54.2% of the time in 2015 (68.4% over the last week). With the insane amount shifts he sees, tons of hard-hit balls to the right side get swallowed up for outs. By my count, about 63% of his outs in play in 2015 have come on the right side, with many of them being fielded in shallow right field. This explains his low season batting average of .191.

Still, Howard has been producing over the last week or so. He’s looked good. I think it’s a little much to expect him to hit a home run every seven or eight plate appearances, which is what he’s been doing over the last eight games–that would equate to about 82 home runs over 162. But I don’t think it’s too much to expect him to produce for the Phillies. Remember, there were a lot of people, myself included, that believed Howard shouldn’t start for this team. Yet, now he’s on pace for 35 home runs and 86 RBI.

He’s moved himself up to fourth on the Phillies–behind Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis, and Cody Asche–in advanced stats like wOBA and wRC+, and he’s doing it with a BABIP at least 168 points below the three ahead of him and a batting average under .200. We are still in the first month of the season, so a lot can obviously change–small sample sizes can be extremely deceiving. But Howard has been one of the better Phillies hitters, and, for now, deserves some praise.

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