Jon Heyman credits Ryan Howard for being “worth every penny” of a contract that hasn’t started

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Here’s a tidbit from Jon Heyman’s latest column at SI.com:

It’s early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract. But Howard, who has a league-leading 29 RBIs, is worth every penny so far.

Couple things.

One, it’s so “early in Ryan Howard’s $125 million contract” that the contact hasn’t even started yet. He signed a five-year, $125 million extension that starts in 2012. Kind of hard to be “worth every penny so far” when he hasn’t even been paid any of those pennies yet.

Beyond that, Howard “has a league-leading 29 RBIs” largely because he’s come to the plate with significantly more runners on base than anyone else in the league. Howard has had 111 runners on base for his 125 plate appearances. No other NL hitter has had more than 96. Howard is hitting .266 with an .851 OPS with runners on, which is hardly anything special.

He’s also hitting .276 with six homers and an .854 OPS overall, which ranks 11th among MLB first basemen and 42nd among all MLB hitters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the leaderboard. If that’s been “worth every penny” of a $125 million contract that won’t even begin until next season then an awful lot of hitters should be asking for raises.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.