Make no mistake, people: Ryan Howard's production is declining


Ryan Howard headshot.jpgI’ve made some comments this afternoon about Ryan Howard likely declining. I’m not a stats guy, though, so I’m just making some guesses, albeit guesses informed by history.  Bill Baer at the Phillies’ blog Crashburn Alley is a stats guy, however, and in the course of assessing the wisdom of the Howard contract extension, he brings some statistical noise that should be unsettling to Phillies fans:

Already, Howard has shown signs of decline as his walk rate has
declined every year since 2007 and sits at a paltry 3.6% thus far in
2010. His BABIP has been lower as more and more teams have employed an
infield shift against him. Opposing teams have also been bringing in
more left-handed relievers to face Howard and his production against
them has swiftly dropped. His strikeout rate has declined gradually but
so has his isolated power. Using FanGraphs’ pitch type linear weights,
Howard’s production against the fastball has dropped every year since
2006. He has swung at more and more pitches outside of the strike zone
every year since he came into the Majors. Finally, his whiff rate
(swinging strike percentage) has increased every year since 2006.

This will be a fun ride for two, maybe even three more years, but it
will quickly become tumultuous.

You don’t have to be a hardcore sabermetrician to grok the point: He’s less patient at the plate than he used to be, fewer batted balls are being turned into hits, which could be because of the shift opposing teams employ, but could also mean that he’s not hitting the ball quite as hard as he used to. His ability to hit lefties has not improved and may, in fact, be declining, if that was even possible. He’s striking out less, but there’s a corresponding drop in his power. He is, however, swinging and missing more often than he used to, even though he’s striking out at slightly lower rates.

None of this is to say Howard is a bad player. But it certainly paints a picture of a player who (a) you shouldn’t expect to improve over the next six years, and who will almost certainly decline; and (b) should not be paid upwards of $25 million a year across so many years.

Here are the lineups for NLCS Game 5

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It’s tied 2-2, but if you’re like most people you have feelings about who has an edge.

Maybe you’re a “momentum” person and you like the Cubs’ current vibe because they scored a bunch last night. Maybe you’re a “momentum is your next day’s starting pitcher” guy, and you prefer either Jon Lester or Kenta Maeda. Or maybe you’re playing chess with all of this and thinking a couple of moves ahead. As in “yes, the Cubs have an advantage tonight because Lester is better than Maeda, but if they DON’T win tonight they’re screwed because then they have to face Kershaw and Hill in Games 6 and 7.”

I dunno. I find all of that rather exhausting. Let’s just watch and see what happens. Here’s who will be doing the happening:


1. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
5. Javier Baez (R) 2B
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Addison Russell (R) SS
8. David Ross (R) C
9. Jon Lester (L) LHP


1. Kiké Hernández (R) 2B
2. Justin Turner (R) 3B
3. Corey Seager (L) SS
4. Carlos Ruiz (R) C
5. Howie Kendrick (R) LF
6. Adrian González (L) 1B
7. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
8. Joc Pederson (L) CF
9. Kenta Maeda (R) RHP


Trevor Bauer says his finger will be OK for the World Series

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Trevor Bauer #47 of the Cleveland Indians walks back to the dugout after being relieved due to his cut pinky finger in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians starter Trevor Bauer said he expects his sliced right pinkie to heal in time for the World Series.

Bauer, of course, is a drone hobbyist and hurt his finger while fixing a drone. By the time he’ll have to pitch again he will have had nine days since his last, bloody start in ALCS Game 3. Yesterday he said “I’ll be ready to pitch in the World Series whenever they need me. I’m doing everything I can and I’ll be back out there for sure.”

Bauer reportedly suggested that Indians trainers cauterize his finger on Monday. They declined. Which is something Bauer should probably thank them for.