Ryan Howard went 1-for-4 with two more runs batted in yesterday as the Phillies dropped the series finale in Houston, a disappointment in their chase for the National League’s second Wild Card spot. Howard’s RBI total on the season moved up to 46 in just 61 games and 253 plate appearances. In a full season, that would put him on pace for over 120 RBI, a threshold we had gotten used to seeing Howard cross in the past. However, as usual, the RBI statistic is painting a very inaccurate picture of a player’s actual offensive contributions.
All of the signs point to a dramatic decline for Howard, some of which was to be expected after returning from his Achilles injury — some would argue too soon. Howard is walking at the lowest rate of his career, striking out at the highest rate of his career, and hitting for the least amount of power in his career.
...2012 was the first year of Howard’s monstrous five-year, $125 million contract, and it has been a disaster, though not entirely Howard’s fault — his Achilles injury can certainly be classified in the “freak injury” bin. Still, the Phillies still owe him $105 million and he turns 33 years old in November, both numbers that are now too high for their liking. In the likely event the Phillies are making golf plans in October, perhaps the five-month reprieve will allow Howard ample time to return to full strength for 2013. Otherwise, the Phillies will be left trying to hide him and hoping to dump his contract in an August in a waiver deal as the Boston Red Sox did with Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez several weeks ago.