Ryan Howard: Worth the Investment?

9/29/12 in MLB   |   AJ_88   |   166 respect

The Philadelphia Phillies, recently eliminated from playoff contention, received more bad news today when it was revealed that Ryan Howard has a broken toe. Adding insult to injury, the break took place while Howard was leaving the on-deck circle and dropped the pipe weight from his bat, landing on his foot. 

Rupturing his achilles last season, rehabbing and returning this season only to end his season with a break in his toe raises some red flags. Well, as does his decreased statistical output. Last season Howard only managed to hit .253 from the plate, regardless of the 33 homeruns and 116 RBI, he also struck out 172 times. 

Sep 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) gets hit by a pitch during the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals defeated the Phillies 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIREThis season, Howard managed to play in 71 games, hitting .219, 14 homeruns and 56 RBI with 99 strikeouts. The worry here is that his inability to remain healthy along with his decreased effectiveness from the plate will turn out to become a poor investment. He is due to collect $20 million this season and that number isn't set to decrease at the same rate his play has. 

Ever since Howard's breakout 2006 (.313 average, 58 homeruns, 149 RBI), his batting average has steadily dipped, reaching .279 as his highest output since then. 

Along with all the large contracts handed out to the Phillies starting staff (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee,  Cole Hamels), they can ill afford to pay Howard the amount remaining on his contract, especially if he is hurt and particularly if his production continues to dip. 

The good news is that he'll have quite a long offseason to rehab his broken toe and prepare to return to his form of six years prior for the Phillies to have an opportunity to make any noise in a now very competitive NL East.  The Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves pose legitimate threats as playoff contending teams each season.  The Phillies appear to be on the wrong end of the divisional flip in supremacy - Ryan Howard isn't helping. Nor is his contract. 
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