Analyzing Ryan Howard’s Season

The final out of the Phillies 2010 season will linger in the minds of many fans throughout the off-season.  In Game 6 of the NLCS on a pitch that was borderline, Ryan Howard stood and watched as strike three was called, officially ending the Phillies year.  Whether it was a ball or a strike does not matter; it was close enough that Howard probably should have swung to protect the plate and at least try to foul it off to stay alive.  But that is how the season went for this team – they were so close to breaking out and just never got it done.

Injuries plagued the team all year, including Howard who missed 16 games with a sprained ankle.  So while Howard’s numbers were down significantly from 2009, how much better could he have produced if he played those 16 games?

This is a chart that shows Howard’s numbers in 2009 and 2010.  The numbers in red bold are projections if 16 games, which is roughly 12% more at-bats, were added in.  Take a look:





















































From the data, it appears that Howard had a similar season to 2009, although his power numbers are clearly declining.  Even with the adjustment, on average, Howard would still be hitting 10 fewer home runs and have 20 fewer RBI’s than in 2009. 
P2241224 Howard2.jpg
Back in 2007, the year of the MVP award, Howard hit 47 homers in only 529 at-bats.  In 2008, it was 48 homers in 610 at-bats.  So the years 2007 – 2010 show a steady and consistent decline in power.

It is also worth noting that with the power outage, Howard’s batting average has not improved.  Howard has been getting more singles and fewer extra-base hits.  So while the average remains steady, they are not paying him around $25 million dollars a year to hit singles.

The high strikeout count for Howard has also been an issue since he arrived.  He had 157 this year, an improvement over 186 in 2009.  But if you average in 12% more at-bats, that number rises to 176, only 10 fewer than 2009.  So he is striking out at about the same rate but seeing less production in extra base hits, homers, runs scored, walks and RBI’s.

One positive may be that Howard’s defense has improved, something he has worked very hard at.  While he had the same number of errors this year and last with 14, sometimes the numbers do not accurately reflect the overall performance.  Howard was able to get to balls this year that he may not have last year and seemed to put more effort into diving for balls that he may have given up on before.

All this amounts to is that Howard had a disappointing season and did not come through in clutch situations during the playoffs.  In fact, the same can be said for most of the team; many had down years.  That makes the age of the Phillies’ key players a bit more concerning overall.  But Howard, 31, should be in his prime, which is why his steady decline in power is alarming.  His numbers are not bad by any means; I just think the Phillies expected more from him when they gave him a huge extension.  Howard is signed through 2016 with an option and $10 million dollar buyout for 2017.  The Phillies will have Howard for at least 6 more years so, they had better hope he comes out of the gate swinging next year.

I will be examining other Phillies players as well throughout the next few weeks while we await word on free agency and other off-season moves. 

The World Series begins tonight (without the Phils….*SIGH*).  Who are you rooting for and what are your predications?  Please let me know in the comment section below.  My crystal ball says Rangers in 6.  The MVP will be Cliff Lee.


Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*




  1. Erock

    Rangers in five and I being nice because I don’t think the Giants are good even though they beat a Phillies team that didn’t show up. Ryan and Chase didn’t have a good post-season at all.

  2. raysrenegade

    I think your crystal ball is spot on with the total game prediction!
    But I personally think Josh Hamilton will two-step away with the MVP to put next to his ALCS MVP plague.
    But that is the fun of it all…trying to guess right with a team we do not usually root for…but always against.
    Phillies did have a rough patch during 2010, but the team did post wins, did find replacements and smoothed over e rough Bullpen period to get homefield advantage.
    That type of consistency under injury and collective fires is admirable… and also scary as to how they could of been if healthy all year long.
    Now it is time to rest, relax and just re-vamp to do it all again. Nothing to be ashamed of because sometimes karma is a finicky woman (I mean that as a compliment).

    Rays Renegade

  3. rrrt

    Considering Lee finally pitched a postseason stinker last night, I don’t think your MVP choice will pan out. Personally, I don’t really care who wins (though I will have a conniption if the demon elf ends up MVP).
    Howard made me so mad! Yeah, the pitch may have been low, but when you’ve got 2 strikes and it’s that close you’ve got to protect the plate. Jeez, I’ve been drilling that into my 12-year-old all year, how come Howard doesn’t know this?
    I sometimes wonder if Howard goes to the plate with any plan in mind of how he may be pitched to. So often he appears to be guessing based on the count and not be very able to recognize the pitch on its way, and guesses wrong. And what happened to his power? Maybe dropping all that weight wasn’t such a good thing after all.
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

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