Wake Up Call: Ryan Howard Is Not in the Top 10 First Basemen in Baseball

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News


What’s the problem with giving a huge extension to a player before their contract year?  The Philadelphia Phillies are finding out.

The Phillies and their fans were very excited about the new contract extension that General Manager Ruben Amaro just gave to Ryan Howard last month.  The Phillies will be paying Howard one of the highest salaries in the history of baseball starting in 2011; Howard will be making $25 million per year, which is known in baseball as “A-Rod Money” because only Alex Rodriguez has ever made that much.

Get ready for the bad news, Phillies fans.

A guy making A-Rod Money should be, at the very least, the best player on his team.  Unfortunately, Howard is not – at least not at the moment.

Thus far in 2010, Jayson Werth – who will need a new contract of his own soon – has been the Phillies’ best hitter.  Howard isn’t the Phillies’ second best hitter either – that title goes to Chase Utley.  

But that’s okay – lots of teams pay big money who players who aren’t the best player on their own team.  Not “A-Rod Money,” but whatever.

If Howard can’t be the best player on his team, one would hope that he would at least the best player in baseball at his own position.

Hold on to your hats.

No one would argue that Howard is the best first baseman in baseball – that honor goes to Albert Pujols – but we also wouldn’t require it either.  It is no fault to be the second best first baseman behind Albert Pujols.

Unfortunately, Howard isn’t that, either.

Third place ain’t bad, right?  If Howard were the third best first baseman in baseball, we’d be very happy for him.  Heck, if he were the fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh best first baseman in baseball, we might still be thrilled.

But how thrilling is this:

Using OPS as a barometer of overall performance, in 2010 Ryan Howard is currently being out-performed by . . . wait for it . . . fourteen other first baseman.

Maybe we need a different barometer.

Using adjusted batting runs instead, Howard ranks 17th overall amongst first basemen in baseball, behind Aubrey Huff and ahead of Russ Branyan.  That’s right – he is in the bottom half of the list.

Ranking first basemen by homeruns, Howard comes in 12th.  He is seventh amongst first basemen in runs and sixth amongst first basemen in RBI.  These numbers are better, but remember, we’re talking about A-Rod Money.

So Ryan Howard is not performing amongst the elite first basemen in baseball; first basemen are traditionally amongst the best hitters in baseball, so we could at least expect him to be amongst the top 20 or so hitters in the game.

We can expect it, but that won’t make it so.

To this point in the 2010, using OPS as a barometer for overall performance, Ryan Howard is currently the 70th ranked hitter in major league baseball.  Shifting to adjusted batting runs, Howard is ranked 83rd in the league.

He is currently 37th in homeruns, 19th in RBI, and 37th in runs scored.

The clincher here is that Howard’s contract wasn’t even up until 2011.  That means Amaro had a whole year to see how Howard was going to perform.  

So what’s the point of all this?

Suppose Howard continues to perform at this level.  Would Amaro really have thought Howard was worth A-Rod Money after a season’s worth of this kind of performance?  Could the Phillies have saved five, 10, or even 15 million dollars per season on this deal?

For years Phillies fans have wanted the Phillies to spend top quality money on top quality players.  For Phillies fans, the crushing blow here is that, apparently, the Philadelphia Phillies were finally willing to spend A-Rod Money, but they didn’t get A-Rod Value in return. 

Imagine if they had?  

If Howard could have been re-signed to a value-appropriate extension, the Phillies could have spent that A-Rod Money on a whole host of players on small market teams who will be looking for new homes in the near future – guys like Hanley Ramirez, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Braun or – brace yourself – Albert Pujols.

Instead, the Phillies gave A-Rod Money to a player they already had, and could have re-signed for far less.

And that is why you never give a huge extension to a player who isn’t even in his contract year.

Read more Philadelphia Phillies news on BleacherReport.com

Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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