Ryan Howard was hardly the Phillies’ biggest problem

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Ryan Howard struck out a ton in the playoffs, including watching a called third strike to end Philadelphia’s season in a spot where just about everyone can agree that he should have swung, but the increasingly repeated notion that he’s primarily to blame for the NLCS loss to the Giants seems to be ignoring one very crucial point:

Ryan Howard had the Phillies’ highest OPS in the playoffs and hit .318 with a .400 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in the NLCS.

If his hitting .303/.395/.424 in the playoffs supposedly sunk the Phillies, then what about Chase Utley hitting .212/.325/.333 with some ugly defense at second base? Or how about “table-setters” Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco combining to go 14-for-66 (.212) with a .570 OPS so that Howard rarely had anyone on base to actually drive in? Or what about Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez going 14-for-65 (.215) with a .550 OPS behind him?

Howard had a .303 batting average in the playoffs and no one else on the entire team had a batting average above .230. Howard had an .819 OPS in the playoffs and no one else on the entire team had an OPS above .760. Or, put another way: Howard hit .303 overall in the playoffs, including .318 in the NLCS, while the rest of the Phillies’ lineup combined to hit .203 in the playoffs overall and .202 in the NLCS.

Should he have swung at that 3-2 slider from Brian Wilson? Absolutely. Is he primarily responsible for the Phillies missing out on their third straight World Series? Not even close, unless you don’t mind ignoring facts to support your Howard-bashing argument. Sadly, it seems like an awful lot of Phillies fans and media members are all too happy to do just that.

Clayton Kershaw returning to Dodgers on 1-year, $20M deal

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw will pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023 after signing a one-year, $20 million deal.

For the second straight year, the Dodgers didn’t extend a qualifying offer to the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Instead, they gave him additional time to mull his future, and he once again decided to stay with the only franchise he’s ever played for during his 15-year major league career.

The 34-year-old left-hander was 12-3 with 2.28 ERA in 22 starts last season. He struck out 137 and walked 23. Kershaw made his ninth All-Star team and started the Midsummer Classic for the first time in his career at Dodger Stadium.

Last April, he became the franchise’s all-time strikeout leader with 2,697. He reached 2,800 strikeouts in his last start of the regular season on Oct. 5 against Colorado. Kershaw ranks 24th all-time with 2,807.

Kershaw has a career record of 197-87 with a 2.48 ERA. He won his only World Series title in 2020, when the Dodgers beat Tampa Bay during the pandemic-shortened season.