Ryan Howard has certainly brought fantasy owners a lot of frus..."/> Ryan Howard has certainly brought fantasy owners a lot of frus..."/> Ryan Howard has certainly brought fantasy owners a lot of frus..."/>

Fantasy Baseball Player Profiles 2013: Ryan Howard


Photo courtesy of Matthew Straubmuller

Ryan Howard has certainly brought fantasy owners a lot of frustration over his career. While his power will rival any first basemen, he’s hit .262 in the six seasons since winning the MVP in 2006, bottoming out at .219 in an injury plagued 2012.

Okay, so Howard is a masher now. That’s all well and good, but the man who once slugged 58 homers in a season and who hit 45 or more every year between 2006 and 2009 hasn’t topped 33 since. So, what can we expect from the Philadelphia slugger moving forward? Let’s take a look at some things

How concerned should you be with his 2011 injury?

While a torn Achilles is nothing to overlook, I want you to take a look at his power numbers from 2012.


So, let’s bump him up to his 2011 at-bats (557) and see what his numbers would have been, if he stayed close to 2012’s rate/


Granted, we’re not looking at advanced stats there, not yet, anyway. But those numbers are well within Howard’s averages between 2010 and 2011 (32 HR/112 RBI), so it’s safe to say that with a full year in 2012, he could have produced the power that we saw in the previous two seasons.

So, he recovered from the injury fine. It stands to reason that now that he’s even more removed from the injury, his Achilles is no longer a concern. But while Howard’s Achilles isn’t a concern, plenty of other things are.

What should you be concerned with?

Plenty. For starters, let’s look Howard’s strikeout rates since 2006, his first full Major League season.


Howard has always been a big strikeout guy and honestly, I think people make a big deal about strikeout rates at times. But striking out more than once for every three at-bats is excessive. Striking out 99 times in 71 games can be attributed to a player recovering from an injury a bit slowly, but the rest of his numbers do indicate that a player is on the decline, especially when that player is 33.

Let’s start with a very simple one, batting average. Again, Howard has not hit over .300 since his MVP campaign of 2006. Actually, he hasn’t cracked .280, topping out at .279 in 2009. Now, if we knew he’d .279 with those power numbers (even if they are declining), it wouldn’t be a big problem, especially if you couldn’t get your hands on an Albert Pujols or Joey Votto. The problem is that we don’t know that Howard will hit .279. Actually, if recent trends continue, he won’t be close.


His cumulative average over that time was .256, which is problematic from a position that should be one of your fantasy team’s most productive. Also remember that Howard generally bats after Chase Utley in the order, meaning teams can play matchups in the late innings with lefties. Howard’s a .227 career hitter against lefties, going .224 in 2011 and .173 in 2012.

Again, I can cut some slack for 2012, and I don’t expect Howard to continue his downward spiral and fail to reach .219 in 2013. looking at that .253 average from 2011, I can’t say that I have much confidence that Howard will top that.

While I’ll never be mistaken for Brad Pitt or Jonah Hill, let’s take a more sabermetric approach here, even on a pretty basic level.

2010.353.505.859 (rounding differences account for the OBP and SLG not adding up)

Not exactly a trend in the right direction, especially when you consider that 2010 was his Age 30 season. Again, even if we go back to 2011’s slugging percentage and apply that to Howard for 2012, there were still 10 first basemen with 500 or more at-bats who had a higher slugging percentage.

Is there hope?

Yes, there is some hope. How much hope depends on how much you value Spring Training stats, though. But take a look at what Howard did through his first 20 Grapefruit League games.


Again, how much stock do you put in Spring Training for established vets? Personally, I won’t say that I’m overly enthused about those numbers because he’s either facing minor leaguers or major leaguers trying to work their stuff out, but this is a step in the right direction, for sure.

What can we expect for 2013?

We spent a lot more time on negatives than positives here and there’s a reason for that. Howard is on the decline and has no value in keeper leagues anymore. But take a look at our Draft Kit Projections for 2013.


Not bad and if the hitters in front of Howard (Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins) can stay healthy, Howard can go over 100 RBI again, pushing the 115 or so that we saw in the years before 2012. He is declining and while he won’t push 40 again, his recent rates have been pretty consistent. Remember, Citizen’s Bank Park is very friendly to left handed power hitters. Assuming there’s no injuries, or at least limited injuries, a guy with Howard’s strength should be around 30 HR/100 RBI.

Personally, I’m right on board with our projections. I am not calling them overly optimistic in any way. If you’re going to start Howard full time, it’s probably in one of four types of leagues.

  • NL only
  • 2 UT spot leagues
  • A league with a CI spot
  • A league with more than 12 teams

Having said that, if you have a deep bench, he’s worth a late round pick, no questions asked. You can ride his hot streaks and bench him when he’s cold. He’s not one of the game’s elite players anymore but if you’re an active owner and carry realistic expectations and, Ryan Howard is still a valuable fantasy baseball player.