Monday, February 8, 2016

Power is missing for Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard, typically a slow starter, was off to his worst 18-game stretch entering Tuesday. It is early and the sample size is small, but Howard was trending downward.

Power is missing for Ryan Howard

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Charlie Manuel grabbed a first baseman's mitt hours before first pitch Tuesday and manned the position. Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen wanted extra work on the infield. The 69-year-old Manuel helped.

"We needed somebody," he said.

What Manuel needs is the man usually at first base, Ryan Howard, to produce more. Howard, typically a slow starter, was off to his worst 18-game stretch entering Tuesday. It is early and the sample size is small, but Howard was trending downward. 

Just 6.8 percent of his hits were for extra-bases. His career average before 2013 was 11 percent. It has declined in each of the last two seasons.

More coverage
Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
Final season stats for Phillies
Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates
Which player do you wish was still around?
David Akers
Gio Gonzalez
Andre Iguodala
Jaromir Jagr

Howard was hitting a respectable .275 but with a .297 on-base percentage and .377 slugging percentage. That .674 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) percentage was his lowest in any season's first 18 games. So was the one home run he's hit.

The lesson after a torrid spring, Manuel said, is that power strokes come and go.

"He'll get it," Manuel said. "It's coming. It's still there. He's going to get it."

The $125 million first baseman ranked 120th among qualified hitters in slugging percentage.

"He's our big power threat, yes," Manuel said. "Until someone comes around and wants to hit 30 or 40. Ryan is the guy we depend on for power."

Manuel cited some recent hard-hit balls by Howard to suggest promise. He added, though, "it looked like he was trying to do too much in the other at-bats."

April is traditionally Howard's worst month; his career OPS is lowest then. Howard has never had a full month with fewer than three home runs. With one in 18 games before Tuesday, there was work to accomplish before May arrives.

For reference, here is Howard's production over the first 18 games in previous seasons:

2006: 72 PA, .355/.444/.613 (1.057), 5 HR
2007: 88 PA, .215/.409/.415 (.824), 3 HR
2008: 81 PA, .182/.321/.394 (.715), 4 HR
2009: 82 PA, .292/.378/.556 (.934), 4 HR
2010: 83 PA, .275/.301/.475 (.776), 3 HR
2011: 79 PA, .265/.329/.471 (.800), 3 HR
2012: 70 PA, .217/.329/.450 (.779), 4 HR
2013: 74 PA, .275/.297/.377 (.674), 1 HR

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer's beat writers and columnists.

Jake Kaplan Inquirer Staff Writer
Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
Matt Breen Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter