Phillies Profile – Ryan Howard

In Philadelphia Phillies on March 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Over the next 28 days Philly Pressbox ( (@phillypressbox) will be doing a review and analysis of each Phillies player, Manager Charlie Manuel and the coaching staff leading up to Opening Day 2012.  On Day 9, we preview Ryan Howard.

Ryan Howard – “The Big Piece” is the key to the middle of the Phillies line up and the key to The Fightins reaching the World Series in 2012. Howard has hit home runs at a greater pace than any Phillie in history, including Michael Jack Schmidt. In his 6 seasons as the Phils regular 1st baseman Ryan has hit 58, 47, 48, 45, 31 and 33 home runs, leading the league twice. He’s also driven in over 108 runs every year while leading the league in RBI’s three times with over 141 each of those years. Howard won the Rookie of the Year award in 2005, won the MVP Award in 2006, finished 2nd in the MVP voting in 2008 and is a 3 – time all star selection. Interestingly enough if you take a close look at Howards statistics his best seasons came when the #3 hitter, Chase Utley, in the lineup had his best seasons and the #5 hitter, Jayson Werth, had his best seasons. It all works together for Howard. When Utley has been injured and missed games or not been up to his best, which means not on base as much, Howard doesn’t get the good pitches he used to get. The same can be said for the 5 hole in the lineup when Werth signed with the Nationals and Hunter Pence was not yet a Phillie. Look for yourself. Utley over the last 5 seasons has hit .332, .292, .282, .275, and .259. Howards RBI totals have been 136, 146, 141, 108, and 116 during the same period. These numbers are still awful good for any player, but not what we’ve come to expect from “The Big Piece.” With that said, it’s pretty clear that Ryan has developed some bad habits at the plate. He’s not getting the pitch selection he used to get. He’s seeing constant breaking balls away and is chasing them and striking out too much. The habits are bad, but the fact the table isn’t set by the top of the lineup results in Howard not seeing as many fastballs as he used to. A healthy Utley and the everyday presence of Pence in the 5 hole will help Howard in 2012.

Defensively, Howard continues to get better each season. After leading the league in errors 3 years in a row Howard finished with a career best .993 fielding percentage in 2011 with only 9 errors. This is down considerably from his career low numbers of .988 and 19 errors in 2008.

Personal Analysis:

The news out of Clearwater seems to be getting worse. The latest projection is that Ryan won’t be ready to play until late May or early June. GM Ruben Amaro said When (the wound) gets healed over and we feel comfortable he can take the boot off, that’s what we’ll do, but he’s doing some more activities now, he’s doing some cardio stuff, he’s taking ground balls on the bucket. “I think he’s going to take throws … he’s doing stuff he can do when he’s in the boot that aren’t ridiculous, but things that will help him so he’s not too far removed from doing baseball stuff.” With that said the Phillies will err on the side of caution and not bring Howard back too early and risk not having him for the second half of the season. The Phillies will need to hold down the fort with their solid pitching, get good contributions from whatever combination of players they decide to use at 1st base and Pence will have to be solid in the #4 spot. None of that matters if the combination of Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Utley don’t set the table for Pence. We know Pence won’t hit the home runs that Howard hits but he could drive in the runs. Once Howard returns, we expect 18-24 home runs and 60 RBI’s down the stretch. The Phils will need “The Big Piece” to be healthy for the second half of the season to win the 2012 World Series.

Tomorrow we will preview Chase Utley.

The series: Day 1, Charlie Manuel. Day 2, The Coaching Staff. Day 3, Roy Halladay. Day 4, Cliff Lee. Day 5, Cole Hamels. Day 6, Vance Worley. Day 7, Joe Blanton. Day 7, Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz.

Philly Pressbox would like to welcome our Sponsor, .

Please click the following link!44451!Phillies+shopping-trends.xhtml?credituser=C9407795 for all of your Phillies needs. Shopping made easy right from your home without ever missing an inning of the 2012 Phillies.



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