Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Howard's lagging defensive play could mean earlier exits

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (David Zalubowski/AP)
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. (David Zalubowski/AP)

LOS ANGELES - Ryan Howard was back at his customary position at first base last night at Dodger Stadium. But whether he'd finish the game there was another question.

On Sunday, manager Ryne Sandberg inserted John Mayberry Jr. into the game in place of Howard when the Phillies took the field in the bottom of the eighth inning. Mayberry ended up making a game-saving catch on a ball thrown low in the dirt on the final play of the game an inning later.

Sandberg said Sunday he'd "possibly" considering taking Howard out for defensive purposes more often. He called Mayberry a more athletic option.

But the fact is Howard, never a plus-defender, has seen his game at first base slip with each passing year.

More coverage
  • VOTE: Who'll be the next coach/manager to leave?
  • POLL: Is Klentak the right choice for the Phils as GM?
  • Final season stats for Phillies
  • Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
  • Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
  • WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates
  • What do you think of the use of replay in Major League Baseball?
    Hate it.
    Too early to tell.
    It’s a good addition to the game.

    Entering last night's game, Howard had two errors in 16 games this season; among first baseman, only Daric Barton, of the Athletics, and Jose Abreu, of the White Sox (three each), had more.

    But Howard also had one error taken back last week, when an official scorer changed a previous decision to award a Milwaukee's Logan Schafer a double, days after the game was played. Howard himself said the play was an error, not a hit.

    Among first baseman who qualify, Howard's -0.6 dWAR - the defensive component of the all-encompassing WAR stat (wins above replacement) - ranked 28th out of 28 players.

    "He has not played well defensively," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He needs to be better. Pretty simple."


    The Phillies submitted a request for a review of the official scorer's call on Sunday that ended with Ryan Howard reaching second base on a single and error in his fourth at-bat at Coors Field. If the play had been scored a double, Howard would have the first cycle by a Phillies played since David Bell did so in 2004. Manager Ryne Sandberg: "You're not guaranteed to knock a ball down when you're trying to make a catch like that, especially when he's trying to make a shoestring catch and have a play at the plate. There's a lot going on there. I'm not sure there's a guarantee to knock that down" . . . Darin Ruf (oblique) has began to take swings during his rehab in Clearwater, Fla. But Ruben Amaro Jr. was unsure when Ruf would be ready to get into games on an official rehab assignment.


    On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21



    Daily News Staff Writer
    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
    Latest Videos:
    Also on
    letter icon Newsletter