Ryan Howard's worst first week

The Phillies' Ryan Howard reacts after striking out. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Ryan Howard is who he is, and as the Phillies showed during the first three months of last season, they certainly are not a better team without who he is. But what Howard is is a guy who has gone through plenty of stretches like the one in which he currently finds himself: six games into the season and still searching for his first extra base hit. 

Below is how Howard's first six games of 2013 compare to his first six games of the previous five seasons:

Year Plate App. Extra Base Hits Times on Base Strikeouts/Walks
2013 26 0 6 8/2
2012 22 2 5 7/2
2011 28 5 14 7/2
2010 30 7 12 4/2
2009 26 3 10 4/1
2008 26 1 9 7/5


But Howard's current slump is unique only in its timing. In 2011, he went through a six-game stretch in mid-April in which he went 25 plate appearances without an extra base hit, reaching base six times and striking out seven. Howard has had 28 different streaks of at least six games without an extra base hit. In 2011, he went 11 games in July without an extra base hit. In 2010, he went 11 games in late April. Each time, his on base and strikeout numbers were similar to what they are right now.

The best way to weather a Howard slump is for somebody behind him to get hot, and for the pitchers to limit the number of runs the Phillies need to score in order to win. Thus far, that has not happened. 

Here's our coverage from today's Daily News...

Cole Hamels had his second straight rocky outing, but of greater long-term concern is a bullpen that once again was unable to stop the bleeding. 

Michael Young's double was the first extra base hit by a Phillies No. 4 or No. 5 hitter this season. The Phillies are waiting for their power to arrive. 

John Smallwood isn't worried about Cole Hamels' rocky start.