The budget Ryan plan…
At what point does this experiment end? Howard is hitting .224 with a .305 on-base percentage. He has one home run in his last 121 plate appearances. He has three doubles in his last 55 games dating back to May 22.
The Phillies are throwing away games and costing themselves wins by batting Howard fourth nearly every night. It hurts to write that about a player as gregarious, as friendly, as easy to root for as Howard, but it’s the truth. There is no longer a logical defense for him.
Howard’s backers cite his RBI total, that he’s driven in 60 runs. Well, so have 17 other major-leaguers. And Howard has had more plate appearances this season with men on base than any player in baseball.
In 224 of Howard’s plate appearances, one or more runners have been on base. He’s driven in just 14.8 percent of them. More than 175 players have a better rate of plating their baserunners.
Howard is owed $25 million next season. He’s owed $25 million the season after that. In 2017, he’s on the books for $23 million but can be bought out for $10 million. So he will be paid at least $60 million over the next three seasons, making him completely untradeable unless the Phillies pick up just about every dollar.
...Playing him everyday, batting him fourth everyday, will not turn this situation around. Howard has hit .236 with 40 home runs in his last 1,026 plate appearances. His OPS over that span is two percent below the league average. That’s a pretty indicative sample size.
At this point, Darin Ruf deserves the opportunity. Bat Marlon Byrd cleanup until/unless he’s traded. Maybe bring up Maikel Franco and give him a two-month look against major-league pitching. See what they can do with all of the RBI opportunities that have gone to waste.
Because the easy route, the loyal route, the status quo that values feelings over results ... that isn’t working.
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