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Ryan Howard: the Phillies’ seventh-best player

Aug 15, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

Phillies' Howard smiles after scoring the game-winning run against the Astros during their National League baseball game in Philadelphia

I felt bad that the Phillies game got rained out, thus depriving you guys of obsessing over them in the ATH comments, so I’ll just throw this little link out there for you. It’s an article by Sean Forman — the boss of Baseball-Reference.com — from yesterday’s New York Times. In it he offers the totally sensible yet always-inflammatory argument that, hey, Ryan Howard isn’t anywhere near as good as you guys think he is:

Based on sabermetric stats, Howard does not appear to be the elite hitter that his R.B.I. totals imply … Among N.L. batters who have qualified for the batting title entering the weekend, Howard’s .831 O.P.S. was just 23rd in the league. Among N.L. first basemen, he ranked seventh, below average for the 12 qualifying players …  If we combine hitting, defense and base running, WAR (wins above replacement) rated him as the seventh-best player on the Phillies this year.

Of course you can just take the “la la la I can’t hear you” approach and discount Forman’s arguments because they’re based in statistics as opposed to moxie or whatever you prefer. And I assume some of you will.  You will defend Howard as an elite player because he’s your first baseman and he’s a very likable guy. And hey, it’s not his fault that his RBI totals, borne of way more opportunities than others due to his excellent teammates, give the illusion that he is a better hitter than he really is.

But it doesn’t change the fact that, year after year, Howard is probably one of the most if not the most overrated players in the game.

346 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    Ahhh… Craig is back.

    • jimbo1949 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:38 AM

      ah yes, he renews his claim to “The Master Baiter”.:-)

  2. halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    “Based on sabermetric stats….” Stop there, Sean Forman. Your voodoo metrics are meaningless.

    Ryan Howard’s 95 RBI’s and 26 bombs speak for themselves. Mr. Forman, please sir, do not make yourself look foolish.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:45 AM

      It’s true. Tony Armus’ league leading 123 RBI’s in 1984 were all about his greatness and not about batting behind Wade Boggs and Dwight Evans. Why can’t people see that if a player hits .257, that is meaningless if 26 of those hits go over the wall? So what if Howard ranks 50th in the league in batting, 33rd in OBP, 18th in slugging?
      Sure, Howard has 167 PAs with men in scoring position, leads the league by a mile. It’s clear he’s just more clutch than say Albert Pujols or Justin Upton. Not because he has 54 more times than Pujols with risp, or 41 more times than Upton.

      Yes, Howard has 26 home runs nad 95 RBI’s. The point everyone is making is that Matt Kemp or Lance Berkman would have 115 RBI’s at this point. By your logic, Tony Armas in 1984 was (43 HR, 123 RBI, .268/.300/.531) better than Mickey Mantle in 1957 ( 34 HR, 94 RBI, .365/.512/.665).

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:56 AM

        I see all the stats you are providing and cannot refute them. Why? Because they are just that, statistics. If Howard has 54 times more come up with runners in scoring position that say, Albert Pujols, who’s to say that Pujols drives those runners in? It’s all speculation. The bottom line is that Howard drives in runs because he’s clutch. The man averages over 130 rib’s a year and people want to analyse his stats to downgrade what he has done. Ask one of his teammates if he’s clutch or not. I think you know the answer.

      • Manni Stats - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

        “Howard drives in runs because he’s clutch”

        Then I ask, why is he clutch? Because he drives in runs of course, and now we are officially begging the question.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:25 AM

        What makes a cluth hitter is simple. When you have a runner in scoring position, the batter often tends to drive in the runner more times than not. How do you know someone is clutch? You watch him play.

      • JBerardi - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        “Then I ask, why is he clutch? Because he drives in runs of course, and now we are officially begging the question.”

        50 points for correct use of “begging the question”.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        ‘Ceps, we’ve spent the entire thread establishing that Howard isn’t particularly elite at driving in runners who are on base. He just bats in a lot of target-rich environments.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:27 AM

        Yet he is 3rd among 1st basemen in % of runners driven in. Yeah, that’s horrible.

    • sieg1234 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM

      Really? Really? Hahahahha…making yourself look foolish is something you just mastered with that comment. Ryan Howard is a product of the players around him and opportunity. Think for a second, what if Howard could actually put the ball in play even 100 of those 200 annual strikeouts? What if he could 30-40 more base hits every 600 AB’s? What would his numbers look like then? What if he played for the Mariners? How would those RBI totals look then? Get a clue man, Ryan Howard is a joke of a baseball player. Barely average on a yearly basis.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        “Ryan Howard is a joke of a baseball player.”

        With that comment, I have no response to you. You get no debate from me.

    • JBerardi - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:32 AM

      “Ryan Howard’s 95 RBI’s and 26 bombs speak for themselves.”

      You anti-stat people use a hell of a lot of statistics to make your arguments.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 8:58 AM

    A whole blog post on Mr. Lucky. Woo Hoo!!! I won’t be baited. I’ll just say this…I don’t want ANYBODY else in baseball up to the plate with RISP. Period. Yeah, he watched strike 3 in the 2010 NLCS I’ll give you that. But if there are RISP, I would choose Mr. Lucky to bat every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      Really? Because since he broke into the league in 2005, there are sixty-three qualified players with a higher batting average with runners in scoring position. He is, however, second in plate appearances with runners in scoring position. But no, it has absolutely nothing to do wtih opportunity. None whatsoever.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:21 AM

        Yeah, and I wouldn’t take any of them before Howard once August hits. Sure, you want them knocking in some shlub in May…fine. But when August hits, Mr. Lucky steps it up and I am willing to bet that his average with RISP is in the top 5 from August on since 2005. I am also willing to bet that his average with RISP and 2 outs is not 64th this year or any year, unless everybody is hitting above .338 with RISP and 2 outs.

      • Matthew Flint - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:23 AM

        He also leads the league in tying or go-ahead RBI since coming in. Yeah, I’m with Chris, give me the big man in the big moment.

      • The Common Man - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:27 AM

        Ryan Howard has a hidden “August” switch in his back that, when you turn it, allows him to become a dominant run producer for exactly two months. Sadly, it is absolutely impossible for you to use it in the first four months of the year, as this would drain Ryan Howard’s batteries.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM

        Given that we’ve just established that he has the most PA with RISP, why is him having the most tying or go-ahead RBI telling us anything? Again, you aren’t controlling for opportunity.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:48 AM

      Isn’t the Howard-is-the-most-clutch-from-August-on argument somewhat akin to Tom Sellick’s argument for why he shouldn’t be released in Mr. Baseball* “But..I lead the team in ninth inning doubles in the month of August!”

      *My quoting of Mr. Baseball should not be misread as an endorsement. It is a truly terrible movie.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        Hey falcon…seriously…the asterisk and footnote thing works for Joe Pos and only for him. When you do it, and you seem to do it quote a bit, it is just very annoying.

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        Hey Chris,

        Being an insufferable douche only works for only works for…..

        …you get the point.

  4. FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:01 AM

    Hey… it’s not Howard’s fault that all other team’s 1-2-3 hitters suck so bad that they can’t get into scoring position often enough to beat Howard’s RBI totals. :-)

  5. alexmcclellan - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Obviously he isn’t one of the best overall first basemen in the game, probably one of the slowest TBH, and he isn’t amazing at fielding, but all we need him for is his bat. Statistically that article may be correct that he is the 7th best player on the team, but he means more to the Phils than most anybody else. I’d take being the 7th best player on a team that has been the #1 team in the MLB for months now, its all about doing his part en route to a championship!

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:08 AM

      Question: If he is the number #1 power threat in the lineup and the greatest run producer in the lineup, how can he be the 7th best player on the team?

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM

        Because (a) there is more to being a good player than mere power; and (b) the “run producer” thing, as the article shows, is not a function of Howard’s singular skill as much as it is a function of opportunity (i.e. players who are better than him get on base in front of him a lot).

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:16 AM

        Respectfully I disagree, Craig. Let me phrase it a different way. If you put anyone else in that lineup in the (4) hole, do you think that person would even come close to sniffing 95 RBI’s? And how about the skill that Howard seems to have that people overlook: hitting in the clutch?

      • CJ - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:21 AM

        Well, ‘cepts, when you look at hitting stats plus Howard’s 2 biggest weaknesses in his game, it levels the playing field a bit.

        It’d kinda be like me looking at you and Craig and deciding that you’re on equal footing as baseball bloggers because neither of you have a Pulitzer. Of course, Craig is much more qualified, but if you look at some stat that he’s not good at, people can come to crazy conclusions.

      • CJ - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:22 AM

        *Craig, that “random stat he’s not good at” is referring to Howard’s baserunning, not your hopes at a pulitzer :)

      • Ari Collins - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:25 AM

        c) it’s easy to find a slugging first-baseman, but very hard to find a slugging second-baseman. Or, for that matter, a slugging any-other-position, except maybe LF and DH.

        d) defense matters too.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        What’s wrong with Howard’s defense? He has dramatically improved throughout the years. I don’t have the “stats” in front of me, but I’d bet he is above average at the position this season and the totality of his career.

      • The Common Man - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        I’d lay odds you could put Chooch in the #4 spot on this team and he’d knock in 100 runs.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM

        Yeah, but not 130.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        That 30 RBI difference would come entirely from HR, which Howard can get regardless of his spot in the lineup.

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:57 AM

        From Halladay’s biceps: “If you put anyone else in that lineup in the (4) hole, do you think that person would even come close to sniffing 95 RBI’s?”

        Well, Howard is hitting .311/.413/.504 with RISP.
        Prince Fielder is hitting .330/.470/.554, so I’m guessing he would
        Matt Kemp is hitting .303/.401/.574, so he probably would
        Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .317/.412/.537, so he probably would
        Jay Bruce is hitting .313/.440/.607, so he certainly would
        Ryan Braun is hitting .302/.402/.577, so he would
        Lance Berkman is hitting .373/.481/.747, so he’d have a sh*tload more
        Albert Pujols is hitting .330/.398/.521, so he might
        ect…..

        I can’t speak for the Phillies, but there are many, many players around the league who would have as many, or more, RBIs if they got stuck in had 167 PA’s with RISP.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

        falcon,

        My fictitious scenario actually had to do with other Phillies batting 4th in the lineup and how many runs would they drive in, not other players around the league. But, the only guy in MLB that I would take over Howard on batting 4th would be Pujols. Other than him, Howard is my man.

  6. a125125125 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    He might be the Phillies 7th best player, but he’s remained Brian Wilson’s favorite player ever since last October.

  7. paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I look forward to seeing this linked under “Most Commented” posts on the right for quite some time.

    Low hanging fruit on a Monday morning…..

    • biggiesmalls26 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:14 AM

      What a bunch of BS! We all know Howard’s flaws. He’s not Albert Puljos for sure. But, he is a winning player on a winning team. He can carry a team for weeks, scare the hell out of the opposition (now that he has protection), and isn’t a turd. He always works on his game. He was a terrible first basemen, and now he’s pretty good. He dropped weight. He is always trying to get better. This is the Jeter argument…taking a winning player and examining their stats. The Phillies have great players and are better than the sum of their parts.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:29 AM

        Speaking as a Red Sox fan (i.e., someone whose team doesn’t play the Phillies often, though can reasonable expect to see them in the World Series), I most certainly am not afraid of Ryan Howard. His weakness against lefties has been obvious for years now, and isn’t getting any better.

        If the game is on the line and Ryan Howard is due up, my only concern is that my manager isn’t smart enough to know that Ryan Howard can’t hit lefties. Here’s his stats for 2008-2010 versus lefties: .230/.307/.431. And 2011: .250/.305/.379.

        My manager is smart enough to know that.

        Ryan Howard seems like a nice guy. I understand why Phillies fans like him. But they’re delusional if they think anyone fears Ryan Howard.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        The fact that you would be calling for a pitching change highlights the point that you do, indeed, fear Ryan Howard.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Or that you’re aware of the fact that one particular type of reliever you carry is going to be much more effective against him than others.

        No, I take it back, you’re right. Managers bring in Boone Logan, Javier Lopez, and Randy Choate to face hitters they’re terrified of.

      • Alex K - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        I disagree, Doc. It doesn’t mean they fear Howard, it means they know how to make him ineffective. Big difference.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Here’s is what I would like to see, and maybe some sabremetric guy can tell me this…where can I find the listings for the top guys coming up with players on base? Is this stat kept somewhere? I’d love to know the % of the guys on base Howard knocks in as opposed to the others on that list. If his % knocked in is higher, than wouldn’t that be a much better stat than just whining that “he comes up with more men on base so his RBI don’t matter!!!”?

    It’s so damn easy to say that Rollins and Polanco have gotten on base in front of him so much, but I didn’t realize that a .330 OBP and a .339 OBP was so good? Sure Utley is .363 but he missed the first 50 games of the season. And Victorino has batted 5th or 6th more often than he has batted 2nd.

    Hate to let the FACTS get in the way of a story, especially one written in the New York Times.

    • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:15 AM

      tsk, tsk. Chris, you have been successfully baited… again!

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:18 AM

        I know FC. What can I say…I like to learn and if somebody can give me those stats, then I’ll back down. Until then, it’s no coincidence that the same guy keeps being among the league leaders in RBI every single year. Like he is the only guy coming up with men on base. I’m open to #’s…I have admitted that. I’m not completely closed-minded. If somebody can give me a % of men knocked in stat, then I’ll let my common sense guide me. Until then, people just like to look at WAR as the be-all end-all and they let that get in the way of their own common sense.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:23 AM

        Chris, I have been saying from the beginning. This WAR stuff is way overrated. It tells me nothing in regards to what I see on the field whatsoever. I wonder what the WAR of the Giants collective lineup was last year that won the World Series. LOL!

      • The Common Man - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        Here Chris, enjoy: http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2011-situational-batting.shtml

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        TCM, I answered the author of the article below with this link, which proves that Howard is the 2nd best RBI man of those lucky guys in the top 10 in coming up with men on base. That clearly shows that he knocks in more guys than anybody else, except Gonzalez. Which is my point. And it was made. I would like to thank Paper for the great link.

      • The Common Man - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:50 AM

        Actually, what it proves is he’s knocked in an NL-leading 70 of the NL-leading 375 guys who have been on base this year for him. Among those with more than 200 PAs with a better percentage of runners knocked in this year are: Chipper Jones, Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, David Freese, Xavier Nady, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Morse, and Pablo Sandoval. And that’s just in the NL. In the AL, we get to add Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Travis Snider, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez, Travis Hafner, and Ben Zobrist.

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:25 AM

        TCM, however, there needs to be a proper comparison, take one of those guys you mentioned: Xavier Nady. He has a great RBI% but it’s with 150 guys on, is it a safe bet that he would keep up that % if he had 300+ base runners on? Or is that a mirage? Kind of like saying: Hey this guy with 60 at bats has a .400 AVG.

        I think it is more fair to compare similar situations, in this case, compare the RBI producers with at least 300 guys on. Not sure what would be more statistically accurate or what the proper cut-off point should be.

        As someone else mentioned Adrian Gonzalez has had 7 more at bats with men on but 3 less RBI than Howard. It’s a fun discussion, as usual it depends on interpretation of data and everybody disagrees on what the data means.

      • Matt - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        Mr. Bicepts, the Giants had the second-highest WAR in the National League last year (the Baseball-Reference version, I didn’t check Fangraphs yet). Their batting lineup was in the upper half of the league, but nothing special (but, neither was their AVG/OBP/SLG slash line). Their pitching WAR was the best in the NL by a wide margin though. So, they were certainly the team you would’ve expected to win the NL West based on WAR.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      Baseball Prospectus used to have sortable Others Batted In leaderboards where you could look how many plate appearances players had with runners on the various bases, what percentage of those runners were driven in, etc, but now you need to be a subscriber to get those. What I did was go here: http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=0&season=2011&month=29&season1=2005&ind=0 and look at his splits with runners in scoring position. It’s not as good of a breakdown as BP had, but you can see that Howard had the second-most PAs with RISP since breaking into the league, but wasn’t particularly adept at getting hits in those situations (seeing as singles will typically score RISP, batting average is appropriate). Howard does have some addition utility in being able to drive runners in from first with his extra-base power, and he can obviously drive himself in with his home run power, but he doesn’t have any special mo-jo with runners on second and/or third.

    • sforman71 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:26 AM

      Chris,

      Did you read the article? In the article I state that Howard has the second most runners on base of any player in baseball this year. And the most since 2006 by nearly 120. This year the Phillies #1-3 have the 8th most times on base and the 17th most xbh’s. So they get on base and don’t drive themselves in leaving a lot of runners for Howard.

      Below is a link that compares Howard to the other 9 #4 hitters with the most PA’s. As you’ll see there is little special in the rate at which he drives in runners.

      https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1FWhgnXnfjgeuaS1Macx_xNgGlqVoJp-wgpfjpyj2fLo

      The Times didn’t include the charts in the online article. I don’t know if they put it in the print piece or not.

      sean forman

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        Sean, I didn’t ask for raw #s I asked for %. And Paper gave me the link below. It shows that of the top ten guys who have all these runners on base in front of them, Ryan Howard’s % is SECOND, behind only Gonzalez. Which basically proves my point…put anybody else in his spot and they are not knocking in the same # of men. Period. That stat is irrefutable and undeniable looking at that stat.

        Tell me I am wrong and then tell me why.

        http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/RBIPCT.py?StartDate=03%2F30%2F2011&EndDate=08%2F14%2F2011&SortField=OnRBI.RunnersOn&SortDir=desc&MinPA=100

      • sforman71 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Chris,

        look at the second chart. The last four columns are the percentage of runners from each base he drives in. Among the 10 #4 hitters with the most PA’s.

        Howard is

        tied for second with four others for driving himself in at 5%
        tied for fourth with one orther for driving runners in from first
        third in driving runners in from second
        tied for 7th in driving runners in from third.

        The point of the article is not that Howard is bad at driving in runners. He is good at that. The point is that the Phillies would score more runs (perhaps many more) overall with a better hitter earning their $25m.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:42 AM

        Because you’re artificially restricting the pool of players you’re analyzing to the ten that get the most opportunities, when the entire point is that most players don’t get nearly as many opportunities as Ryan Howard does. Who cares if he’s second among ten random players?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:47 AM

        Sean,

        It seems to me that the point of the article is to refute all these articles that describe Ryan Howard as the best player in baseball. Or one of the best players in baseball. Or a top 10 player in baseball. Or a top 5 first basemen in baseball. Oh wait, there are no articles that say that?

        Then what exactly is the point of the article? That Howard is very good at driving in runs? OK, we all know that. Why do you, and the rest of the sabremetric guys, continue to harp on his faults? And what is it to you how much the Phillies spent on the guy? It is their money and they are selling out every single night, so what difference does it make how much he makes?

        See, the problem I see is that you guys are responding to NOTHING. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best player in baseball. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best first baseman. Yet you guys continue to kill the guy for no reason other than to write about your stats. Great. He’s third in driving runners in from second. Woo Hoo!!! and he is tied for 7th in driving runners in from third. But overall, most importantly, he is second of the top ten lucky guys in driving runners in when they are on base in front of him. And that’s all I need to see to know that he is just fine.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        I think Chris pretty much hit the nail on the head. Nice post.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        Sean, I didn’t ask for raw #s I asked for %

        Are you asking about % driven in? Because if so Howard drops to 25th. Someone double check the math because there are people with far fewer opportunities that drive in a higher % of runners than Howard. Howard at 18.4% is dwarfed by guys like Hamilton (22.47%), Chipper (21.83%) and Michael Young (20.96%).

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        Yeah, it’s weird dr. These people just want to write about Ryan Howard’s faults and flaws. They are responding to absolutely nothing and no one. They are just spouting all the things Ryan Howard doesn’t do, even though nobody is saying that he does the things they are saying he can’t do. Why? I have no idea. It’s like Ryan Howard is the Poster Child for everything that is wrong with baseball because their subjective defensive stats say he is a below average fielder and he knocks in so many runs. I mean, Christ, he didn’t even make the popularity contest that is the All-Star game so why the f*** are these guys still whining about him?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:14 AM

        I don’t know…It is funny because there is nobody harder on the guy than Phillies fans. Reading articles like this and some posted on the “Sweetspot” blog make it seem like us fans think is a a modern day baseball god. That just isn’t true. In response, they go completely the other way with it. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. He is a very good run producer period. Would some other players but up similar or marginally better numbers in that line-up, probably…but the simple fact is, just because somebody is producing at a certain clip with less opportunities, doesn’t mean that same somebody would produce at that consistent rate given more opportunities.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        The only logical explanation is that they are all jealous of the Phillies and the success they are having so they want to beat up on the guy who leads the league in RBI year in and year out.

        If I am wrong, Sean, then answer me this…why not write an article on how great Chase Utley or Victorino is? Why not write the world an article talking about Victorino’s close to .400 OBP? Why not write that Victorino is establishing himself as one of the best centerfielders in baseball right now??

        Basicaly, instead of writing about how Ryan Howard isn’t as good as Victorino, why not write about HOW GOOD SHANE IS? Oh, I know why…because that wouldn’t create the hits with stat geekdom that bashing Howard’s overall game does, right?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        Once again, I think you pegged the issue. Nothing creates the hits like a steroid debate or a sabermetric debate….throw in the Phillies and it explodes.

      • uberfatty - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:11 AM

        Chris F, above: “A whole blog post on Mr. Lucky. Woo Hoo!!! I won’t be baited. I’ll just say this…I don’t want ANYBODY else in baseball up to the plate with RISP. Period. Yeah, he watched strike 3 in the 2010 NLCS I’ll give you that. But if there are RISP, I would choose Mr. Lucky to bat every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

        Chris F., below: “See, the problem I see is that you guys are responding to NOTHING. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best player in baseball. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best first baseman. Yet you guys continue to kill the guy for no reason other than to write about your stats. Great. He’s third in driving runners in from second. Woo Hoo!!! and he is tied for 7th in driving runners in from third. But overall, most importantly, he is second of the top ten lucky guys in driving runners in when they are on base in front of him. And that’s all I need to see to know that he is just fine.”

        Gotta love consistency.

      • uberfatty - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        Chris F, at top: “A whole blog post on Mr. Lucky. Woo Hoo!!! I won’t be baited. I’ll just say this…I don’t want ANYBODY else in baseball up to the plate with RISP. Period. Yeah, he watched strike 3 in the 2010 NLCS I’ll give you that. But if there are RISP, I would choose Mr. Lucky to bat every day of the week and twice on Sunday.”

        Chris F., above: “See, the problem I see is that you guys are responding to NOTHING. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best player in baseball. Nobody is saying that Howard is the best first baseman. Yet you guys continue to kill the guy for no reason other than to write about your stats. Great. He’s third in driving runners in from second. Woo Hoo!!! and he is tied for 7th in driving runners in from third. But overall, most importantly, he is second of the top ten lucky guys in driving runners in when they are on base in front of him. And that’s all I need to see to know that he is just fine.”

        Gotta love consistency.

      • uberfatty - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM

        EDIT FUNCTION

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:17 AM

        Where’s the inconsistency? I said he is great at producing runs. I said I don’t want anybody up there with RISP. Where’s the inconsistency? He isn’t the best first basemen. He is not the best player in baseball. But he is, in my opinion, one of the best hitters with RISP and I am glad the Phillies have him. And everything written in this blog is in RESPONSE to the guy writing in the NYT about Howard’s flaws. Why? Why write about his flaws? Why write it is so easy to hit behind Shane, even though that is wrong since Shane only batter ahead of Howard 16 times this year? Why not write about the great year Shane is having? Because that is praising a Phillie and we can’t have that.

        No go back and crawl under that hole you have been hiding under.

  9. tjv027 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    First of all, the title of this article says Ryan Howard is the Phils’ 7th best player, and then the article itself talks strictly about his offensive numbers. Interesting. For a slugger and a guy as big as Howard, he plays defense that is well above average. Could possibly be worth mentioning.

    Ryan Howard’s September 2008 numbers: .352 AVG, 11 HR, 32 RBIs, .852 slugging. Cole Hamels was your World Series MVP, but Ryan Howard single-handedly got the Phils to the playoffs. Without that insane month, the Mets win the division, and the Phils don’t even get a shot. Just for that, the Phils can pay him whatever they want for as long as they want, and I won’t care.

    And another thing: Howard was the 2006 MVP, and should have been the 2008 MVP. Pujols was the best player in the NL, but Howard was most valuable to his team. The Cardinals finished 5th in the division last year and never sniffed a chance at October. Where do they finish without him, dead last? Who cares? Howard was far more valuable to the Phillies than Pujols was to the Cardinals.

    And when it comes to Sabremetrics, they’re really cool. They go deeper than traditional stats, and I think they have a lot of merit. But can we please stop with this “RBIs don’t matter” claim? Does anybody out there really think that if a player does his best work when runners are in scoring position, that it’s just pure luck? I call it being clutch in a pressure situation.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:52 AM

      For a slugger and a guy as big as Howard, he plays defense that is well above average. Could possibly be worth mentioning.

      No he doesn’t. this year/career:

      UZR: -4.8/-2.9
      DRS: -12/-22
      TZL: -21/-42 (nothing for this year so used last years)

      And another thing: Howard was the 2006 MVP, and should have been the 2008 MVP. Pujols was the best player in the NL, but Howard was most valuable to his team

      Ryan Howard – 3.0 fWAR/
      Albert Pujols – 9.1 fWAR/

      removing defense since one year sample sizes are terrible

      RH – 19.7 RAR
      AP – 69.4 RAR

      But can we please stop with this “RBIs don’t matter” claim? Does anybody out there really think that if a player does his best work when runners are in scoring position, that it’s just pure luck? I call it being clutch in a pressure situation.

      Nope, because it’s been proven that there’s no such thing as a clutch player. No player in the history of the game of baseball has been proven to increase his numbers in the “clutch” year in and year out.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Crap, forgot bWAR so comment should have said:

        Ryan Howard – 3.0 fWAR/2.8 bWAR
        Albert Pujols – 9.1 fWAR/9.6 bWAR

        removing defense since one year sample sizes are terrible

        RH – 19.7 fRAR/13 bRAR
        AP – 69.4 fRAR/ 70 bRAR

      • tjv027 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

        You don’t need numbers to “prove” a player to be clutch, you just need baseball sense. With two outs and a man on second, Ryan Howard will see less hittable pitches than he would in a situation with no one on base. But the guy still drives runs in. This is the problem with you sabremetric people. Sabremetrics are a great complement to traditional stats and baseball sense, but not a suitable replacement.

        And you can throw WAR at me all you want, but the bottom line with that stat is that you are comparing a player’s productivity to a fictional “replacement player” that doesn’t actually exist. A stat like that cannot stand on its own, in my opinion. The reason I say Howard was more valuable than Pujols is because of his September and what it did to get a struggling Phillies offense to the postseason. Without it, they don’t go. You can say Pujols was worth more wins, and you may be right, but once again, they finished 5th in the division. Without him, what’s the impact? Nothing but a better draft pick.

        Also you misunderstood my claim on Howard’s defense. Overall, he’s poor defensively. But if you compare him to other guys around his size that are only in NL lineups for their offense, he isn’t the butcher people make him to be. Guys like Fielder, Thome, Giambi when he played first are who I’m talking about. For what Howard brings to the table offensively, his defense if more than acceptable.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        This is the problem with you sabremetric people. Sabremetrics are a great complement to traditional stats and baseball sense, but not a suitable replacement.

        Why not? Make an argument, besides passing the eye test, that shows they aren’t a suitable replacement? Merely stating so isn’t an argument either.

        The reason I say Howard was more valuable than Pujols is because of his September and what it did to get a struggling Phillies offense to the postseason

        September ’08 triple slash line
        Player A: .352/.421/.852
        Player B: .321/.427/.702

        Which one is Pujols and which is Howard? Also keep in mind that OBP is the best correlating statistic to scoring runs.

        But if you compare him to other guys around his size that are only in NL lineups for their offense, he isn’t the butcher people make him to be.

        Haha, keep moving the goal posts. Next you’ll tell me that he’s the best fielding 1b under a full moon in the month of Tishri

      • tjv027 - Aug 15, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        I just made an argument against Sabremetrics by giving you my hittable pitch example. You chose not to address it. I guess if you have to put down the calculator and watch an inning or two, you’re not interested.

        And why do you keep giving me stat lines on Howard and Pujols? You still either don’t understand what I’m saying or don’t want to respond to it. Pujols is flat out better than Howard, I said as much in my first two posts. But the MVP is supposed to go to a player that, without him, his team wouldn’t have been nearly as successful in the win column. Hence the “valuable” in Most Valuable Player. For the third time, the Cardinals finished 5th out of 6th in their division that year with Albert Pujols. Without him, not much changes.

        And I don’t know what “goal posts” I’m moving, because my stance on Howard’s defense remains the same. Poor by MLB standards, good enough by NL slugger standards. Teams have put up, are putting up, and will put up with much worse defensively for Howard-level production.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        I just made an argument against Sabremetrics by giving you my hittable pitch example.

        I didn’t choose to ignore it. It’s something that can’t be proven easily. I don’t have access to pitch f/x data, nor do i have the ability to make heat maps. Doubt any writer from Beyond the Box Score or Fangraphs reads this, but if so it’d be nice to see.

        And why do you keep giving me stat lines on Howard and Pujols?

        Why? Because you brought up that Howard was more valuable in ’08 than Pujols. You specifically mentioned those two players.

        And I don’t know what “goal posts” I’m moving, because my stance on Howard’s defense remains the same. Poor by MLB standards, good enough by NL slugger standards

        You just did it again. First you said his defense was good, I showed it wasn’t. Then you said it was good compared to guys like Giambi, Thome et al which is hilarious in and of itself b/c those guys don’t play firstbase (one is a PH and the other is a DH). Then you finally say his defense vs sluggers remains good. Pick one

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      Wait, if by highlighting Howard’s September numbers,you ignore his .257/.349/.466 April line. Do games in April not count?

      • tjv027 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        Right, because every manager will tell you that how you play in April is much more important than how you play in September. And by the way, hitting .260 isn’t exactly a slump.

      • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

        Oh yeah, I for got about the rule change that declared April wins were only worth 1/4 as much as September wins.

      • tjv027 - Aug 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        Are you really trying to tell me that April performance means as much as September performance? They look the same on the stat sheet, and wins are wins whenever they’re earned. But are you really so delusional or do you really watch such little baseball that you think it’s just as good to be hot in April, and your bats go cold in September just in time for the postseason as it is to be the opposite? Are you a Royals fan or something?

    • tjv027 - Aug 16, 2011 at 8:52 AM

      “I didn’t choose to ignore it. It’s something that can’t be proven easily. I don’t have access to pitch f/x data, nor do i have the ability to make heat maps. Doubt any writer from Beyond the Box Score or Fangraphs reads this, but if so it’d be nice to see.”

      Exactly. It can’t be proven easily. Like I said, SABR numbers are cool and useful, but there’s certain aspects of the game that you cannot realistically assign a number to.

      “Why? Because you brought up that Howard was more valuable in ’08 than Pujols. You specifically mentioned those two players.”

      At this point you are literally reading half of a paragraph of what I type, quoting it, and ignoring the rest. Whatever.

      “You just did it again. First you said his defense was good, I showed it wasn’t. Then you said it was good compared to guys like Giambi, Thome et al which is hilarious in and of itself b/c those guys don’t play firstbase (one is a PH and the other is a DH). Then you finally say his defense vs sluggers remains good. Pick one”

      My three “different” stances on Ryan Howard’s defense. I’ll let you pick the one you like best:
      1. “For a slugger and a guy as big as Howard, he plays defense that is well above average.”
      2. “Overall, he’s poor defensively. But if you compare him to other guys around his size that are only in NL lineups for their offense, he isn’t the butcher people make him to be.”
      3. “My stance on Howard’s defense remains the same. Poor by MLB standards, good enough by NL slugger standards. Teams have put up, are putting up, and will put up with much worse defensively for Howard-level production.”

      Be careful, in my next post I may “move the goal posts” again by saying that Ryan Howard plays decent defense for a guy that’s over 220 lbs. Or maybe I’ll fly right off the handle and claim that Ryan Howard plays acceptable defense for a HR-hitting cleanup hitter. And by the way, as for Thome and Giambi, I was talking about those guys when they were actually relevant. Jim Thome played quite a bit of first base in his career in Cleveland, and even a little bit of third. It also would have been tough for him to be a DH with the Phillies, you know, what with that position not existing in the National League and all. Giambi played plenty of first with the A’s too.

  10. dbick - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    remember when the Braves were supposed to contend for the division? That was funny.

    • dbick - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:19 AM

      And on a side note, with his WAR he’d be considered 4th best on the Braves. LOLbarves.

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

      Yeah, but I think that has a lot more to do with the 3rd best pitcher in the NL also being the 3rd base pitcher on the Phillies than Ryan Howard RBIs.

  11. Jonny 5 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    LOL!! Well what’s he been doing lately? Here it is, it’s August, and once again he’s lighting things up. For the last 2 weeks his OPS is 1.027 and for the last week a 1.228. You could write an article every year about how Howard is struggling and right about this time every season something sparks and the man is on fire. He’ll be close to his his normal numbers by the end of the season once again.

    • sforman71 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:28 AM

      The article is not based on just this year. Other than 2006 when he as legitimately fantastic, he has at best been a borderline top ten hitter in the National League.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:34 AM

        Yes, borderline top ten for the last 6 seasons. Man what a suck job he is.

      • sforman71 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        borderline top ten at best. Most years he has been well out of the top ten.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:44 AM

        And a good number of the players in front of him are other first basemen. You pay for scarcity, and Ryan Howard’s skills are rather replaceable.

  12. b7p19 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Now this is exactly what we needed on a Monday morning. “Thats my first baseman, man!” *sob sob* “Thats my favorite player” *sob sob*.

  13. bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Hey Craig – your stupid sabermetrics fail to take into consideration the following.

    With the bases empty, Ryan Howard hits a mere .224 – he ultimately isn’t focusing or isn’t hitting with no one on base – that’s an issue, but it is also skews those stats. Given that teams pitch around him with runners on, and that he did not have decent protection until 2 weeks ago, the following completely collapses your argument:

    With Runners on, Howard’s average jumps to .289
    With RISP, Howard’s average jumps to .311
    With RISP and 2 outs, Howard’s average jumps to .338

    Yes, his teammates are getting on base ahead of him, but the key is that when they do, he produces, which is exactly what you want. His statistics are not showing that “oh his average is so low but he has enough opportunities to plate runners because they are always on base”, his statistics show that he actually hits BETTER when those runners are on base.

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:27 AM

      You did your homework well, bdawk20. This is the refute to all the other nonsense stats. This is called coming through in the clutch. Well done!!!

      • 18thstreet - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        It’s a shame Ryan Howard doesn’t try when no one is on base.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:36 AM

        Has nothing to do with it…it is a function of the over shift. He hits at least 20 rockets a season that the 2B, SS, 3B…whoever is playing in short right flags down. His power is the other way and to center so why he can’t hit liners that way is a different discussion.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:36 AM

      Curious as to where you got your numbers, because for his career, Ryan Howard his .282/.412/.561 with RISP and .260/.420/.526 with a runner on third and two out. While those are really good when compared to the entire population of hitters, they’re barely top ten when compared to other first basemen. The opportunity cost of playing first base is so high that Howard just doesn’t separate himself from the rest of his contemporaries.

      • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:45 AM

        My numbers reflect the 2011 season, which is what this article is referencing.

      • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        Also, my stats do not mention runner on 3rd with 2 outs, but rather RISP with two outs.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:51 AM

        Ah, in-season splits. Yeah, those always represent skill and have nothing to do with randomness at all!

    • thefalcon123 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:03 AM

      “With the bases empty, Ryan Howard hits a mere .224 – he ultimately isn’t focusing or isn’t hitting with no one on base – that’s an issue, but it is also skews those stats”

      That means, Howard isn’t on base so no one can knock him in. That’s a biiiig problem and a lame justification for his stats.

  14. paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    Considering the quality of the Phillies roster, being the 7th best player is still pretty good.

    What stats do people think are important within the context of RISP? I’ll keep it very simple.

    Howard is 2nd in MLB (1st in the NL) in PA with RISP and 2nd in PA with men on. Right behind him in the NL are Fielder and Kemp….NL leaders in RBI….Howard, Fielder, Kemp…this is a common pattern, not an outlier).

    His BA is 39th in MLB with RISP.

    His OBP is 28th in MLB with RISP.

    His SLG is 38th in MLB with RISP.

    The man just get’s a whole lot of chances. Yeah, he does pretty good with them, but in no way, shape, or form is he particularly outstanding at it.

    Howard is a good player, but he only does one thing well, he isn’t good at not making outs, running bases or playing defense. Not sure why people get so up in arms by pointing out what is obvious.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:27 AM

      paper, I’ll reverse the question for you then….why are people so bent on putting the guy down? I haven’t read a single article saying he is an MVP candidate. I haven’t read a single article saying he is the best player in baseball. I haven’t read a single article saying that he is anything more than what he is…the RBI leader in baseball and nothing more.

      Yet, seems two or three times a week some stat geek has to write an article pointing out all his flaws…as if they are replying to something that has been written in the media.

      You ask why people get up in arms about the obvious…I ask why do the stat geeks love to point out Howard’s flaws? Just to start crap up? That’s pretty f’ing lame if you ask me.

      • paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:32 AM

        People aren’t bent on putting a guy down, people are bent on accurate evaluation. No one says Howard sucks (and if they do, they are wrong), they just point out that he is not nearly the baseball god that many treat him as. He was fantastic for two seasons, but they were quite some time ago now.

        Why are people bent on propping a guy up and giving him so much of the credit that is earned by his team mates? Utley and Victorino are clearly superior players, why should they be over-shadowed by Howard?

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        Victorino and Utley are superior players? Laughable. You are comparing apples to oranges. That’s such a ridiculous statement I don’t even know where to begin. They are different types of players.

      • Jonny 5 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:43 AM

        Utley is far from overshadowed by Howard, Why Victorino is kicked to the side is beyond me. But really, I don’t see anyone calling him anything he isn’t. Overpaid? Sure. But it’s not my money. If he keeps on doing his job like he has been doing it, I’ll be happy as a fan.

        PL, I just don’t see why Howard is singled out for his game constantly, because the guys shouting down from the soapbox about how “not great” Howard is, far outweigh the people saying he’s a “baseball god”. What you claim here just isn’t true, if anything it’s opposite of what you stated. I myself see him as unfairly made an example of by the sabermetrics crowd to prove just how smart they really are. For the thousandth time. Literally.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        I think everybody in Philadelphia would tell you that Chase Utley is the best field player on the Phillies. I don’t see how that makes him over shadowed. In fact, many Philadelphians get on Howard’s case. Go read a comment section after games. However, nobody ever rags on Utley. Victorino is under rated, however, and has been for a long time.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:47 AM

        It might not be your money, but the Phillies do have a finite budget, and toodling around on Cot’s Contracts yesterday, I figured they’d be $15-$20 million over that budget next year if they wanted to bring back the entire team. Howard being overpaid is going to cost them an important part next year.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:58 AM

        Actually that is not entirely true…it has been a given that they won’t bring back Lidge (why would they), Oswalt, and Ibanez. Matt Gelb had a nice article that detailed that they will have a surprising amount of payroll flexibility next season even with the increase in salary due to Lee and Howard.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        Hmm, didn’t realize they weren’t planning on picking up Oswalt’s option. Do they have internal options to replace Lidge? If not, they’ll still have to pay for a relief ace on the FA market.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        They do have internal options to replace Lidge, even if they do not bring back Madson.

    • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Ehh, Howard’s defense isn’t that bad. .993 fielding % this year – it’s middle of the road, which is average.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:37 AM

        It’s fielding percentage, which is worthless.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        Well, according to baseball-reference, his dWAR this season is a +0.3 and a +1.8 for his career. That isn’t bad, not bad at all. Not elite by any stretch of the imagination, but not garbage like some would suggest.

      • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        Kevin S. – Maybe in Fantasy Baseball it is worthless, but when playing the actual game, it is pretty important.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:10 AM

        Kevin S. – Maybe in Fantasy Baseball it is worthless, but when playing the actual game, it is pretty important.

        No it’s not, and here’s why. Let’s take a hypothetical of two players:

        Player A we’ll call Jerek Deter. Now more Deter has absolutely shit for range, especially to his left. And anything more than 3 feet to his right is considered a hit because he can’t dive for it. So essentially he’s a statue. But due to the sheer number of reps, 99/100 balls hit right to him are caught and 97/100 are thrown right at his intended target. Splitting the difference we get a .98 fielding percent.

        Player B we’ll call Alvis Endrus. He’s got incredible range, often grabbing balls behind 2nd base and balls 15 feet to his right. Problem is he often rushes his throw because he’s diving all over the place, that 95/100 times his throw is off balance and the first baseman can’t catch it. Therefore he’s charged with an error.

        Player B’s fielding % is .95 and Player A’s is .98. But who is the better defender? The guy who can’t reach anything 3′ or the guy who stops everything, and has 3x the opportunities, but makes a few more “errors”?

      • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        Hey Church, show me where baseball measures that Derek Jeter can’t ground a ball 3 feet to his right. Whoever made the comment about nerds getting into baseball f’ing things up hit the nail on the head.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        Are you kidding me, you really need me to argue that Jeter isn’t a terrible defensive shortstop? Ok here goes. Since ’02 he’s:

        UZR: -43.1 (one positive year only)
        DRS: -126 (no positive years)
        TZL: -41.7 (one positive year only)

        You know that flashy jump move he does? 9/10 shortstops in baseball easily field that and make the out.

      • cleverbob - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        Fielding percentage is useful for 1st basement since none of them are exactly mobile. Prince Field couldn’t move 15 feet to his right if he was standing on a Segway.

    • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Crouching Dragon Paper Lion. I like numbers, can you point me to where you get stats like those and sorted easily? Also, I’m not sure I like SLG anymore, if you want a measure of power singles shouldn’t count, I think they skew the numbers. I think slugging should be about doubles and home runs (and triples should count the same as doubles because hitting a triple is a more of a function of hitting into a specific gap with the right carom off the wall and having great speed, so it has little to do with bat power, also a double is almost always as good at clearing the bases as a triple… unless Pablo Sandoval is running at first base)

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:48 AM

        So what you want is ISO (SLG-AVG). Fangraphs and B-R both keep it under the Advanced Batting sections of their player pages.

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:50 AM

        Thanks Kevin!

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM

        I’m looking at ISO and here’s what I don’t like about it: AVG includes doubles, triples and HR. When you subtract AVG from Slugging, Triples count TWICE as much as Doubles and HRs THREE times as much as Doubles, I think that overvalues triples (which in base-clearing situations and getting into scoring position is not really THAT much more valuable than a double) and underrates doubles a lot.

        I would do it this way but could be much better = ( 2B + 3B + 2 x HR ) / ( AB – 1B )

        The big variables here are how much more valuable are triples and HR versus a double? SLG takes a total bases approach but that doesn’t mesh well considering the effects of how runners manage the bases. A good runner will typically score from 1B on a double, slower players won’t but generally even average base-runners will score from 1B with a double on 2 outs.

    • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      His BA is 39th in MLB with RISP.

      His OBP is 28th in MLB with RISP.

      His SLG is 38th in MLB with RISP.

      That means he’s roughly in the top 10% of players with those abilities. It all depends on your definition of great. In my university scoring above the 85th percentile was great. That’s 90th percentile, I’ll take it :-)

      • Kevin S. - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:53 AM

        But you have to compare him to other first basemen, which leaves him well outside the top 10%. First basemen are supposed to be great hitters. Howard doesn’t stand out among the crowd.

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        Hey, I’m only responding to the post, Blame Paper Lions for not posting Ryan’s ranks among first baseman. So maybe that just means he’s not an elite 1B since 07 but still a great MLB player :-)

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:54 AM

        But you have to compare him to other first basemen

        This gave me a thought. Let’s compare Howard’s RBI% vs other well known 1B in the League:

        Adrian Gonzalez 19.42
        Ryan Howard 18.40
        Mark Teixeira 17.92
        Prince Fielder 17.92
        Albert Pujols 16.03
        David Ortiz (DH/1B) 15.71
        Derrek Lee 14.08
        Carlos Pena 14.00
        Aubrey Huff 13.67

  15. paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    This is for Chris F., in response to your request. What you are looking for is called RBI percentage (% of men on base that are driven in). Here is a link with the dates for this year: http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/RBIPCT.py?StartDate=03%2F30%2F2011&EndDate=08%2F14%2F2011&SortField=1.0*%28OnRBI.RBI-OnRBI.HRs%29%2FOnRBI.RunnersOn&SortDir=desc&MinPA=100

    Howard ranks 25th in MLB.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:30 AM

      Great stat, paper and exactly what I was looking for…although I sorted it by runners on to make my point.

      Howard is 2nd in the top 10 in % of runners knocked in. Which means that if you put ANY of those other guys into his position, they would NOT have knocked in as many guys as him. As I have always said, A-Gon is having a great season no doubt about it. However, other than HIM, Howard is the best run producer in baseball and this just proves my point.

      Thanks again, Paper!!!

      • Ari Collins - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        What’s the difference between “% of runners knocked in” and “% of men on base that are driven in”? I’m just trying to figure out what you did that results in Howard being 2nd.

      • paperlions - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        No, it doesn’t prove your point, actually. According to the stat there are a bunch of players that would have driven in more guys than Howard if they were in his position in the batting order. How in the world does that “prove your point”?

        What your re-sorting should have proven to you is that all the guys that lead the league in RBI are simply the guys that come up with the most men on, they are NOT the guys that are the best at driving runners in…because that does not manifest as a skill….the guys that are the best at driving in runners are the best hitters.

      • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:43 AM

        Another thing worth noting is that Howard as 135 AB’s with RISP and Gonzalez has 143, yet Howard has 3 more RBI’s…

        Gonzalez does have 15 or so more runs scored, which is attributed to his higher BA (And higher OBP). If a .90 point higher BA is only equaling 10-12 more runs in a season, then you could rationalize that Howard is more efficient.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:54 AM

        Because I am only comparing Howard to the other lucky guys who have all these players on base in front of them. That’s why I sorted by # of men on base. He is second in the top ten of luck. That’s my point. When I see people say, rather stupidly, that you can put anybody in there and they will knock in the runs that Howard has, I wonder if that is true. For instance, look at Kemp. He has that wonderful WAR and he is so wonderful, but he is a full 1.5% behind Howard in knocking in the runners on base. So don’t give me Kemp. Big Papi is almost 3 % behind him. Cabrera is another 3% behind Howard.

        It isn’t Howard’s job to get on base. It isn’t his job to hit singles. It isn’t his job to walk. His job is simple…knock runs in. And he does it as well as almost anybody in baseball the last 5 years. His RBI % proves that.

    • Ari Collins - Aug 15, 2011 at 9:36 AM

      Someone should give Xavier Nady $25M.

  16. mfairo - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    This is what happens when geeks try to get into sports. Go back and look a the history of baseball. I’m sorry was Babe Ruth a good fielder or baserunner? I guess he was overrated. There are sluggers and the nature of being a slugger is just that. You are paid to drive in runs and hit homeruns 2 things that Howard has done better than ANYONE else in baseball in the last 5 years. Go look that up. Stats are for losers. The leader of the sabergeekdom Billy Beane has really done a tremendous job building that dynasty in Oakland using these stats. Let’s get a bunch of slap hitters who get on base but no one to drive them in. Good baseball……I miss the old days. Forgive me but isn’t the object to score more runs than your opposition? Oh yeah and that Hunter Pence is a real lucky stiff too. Call me when Jonathan Singleton is old enough to drink…..

    • 03dp - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      Babe Ruth is rated by WAR as the best player ever. He was sooooo much better than the replacement player of his time. Howard is better then the replacement 1B now, but not by that much.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_bat_career.shtml

    • aaronmoreno - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      Yeah, everyone knows Billy Beane hates sluggers.

    • Paul Zummo - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:23 AM

      You are paid to drive in runs and hit homeruns 2 things that Howard has done better than ANYONE else in baseball in the last 5 years. Go look that up. Stats are for losers.

      You’re saying that stats are faulty, and you base your argument on . . . stats.

      So since you’re using stats (RBI and HR) to make your argument, does that mean that you are a loser?

      • mfairo - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:29 AM

        Hey I may be a loser you don’t know me……anyway I use real live tried and true stats that mean something for my argument not made up numbers that any math geek can pull out of a hat to prove their point. This is sports not science. Howard is what he is, a very good slugger and there have been many just like him in baseball. In fact there are many in Cooperstown right now. He is not a great all around player and people who try to take away from his game because of that are haters and that is a simple factt. Forgive me if I am wrong but was he not the quickest player ever to 200 homeruns? Homeruns don’t care if anyone is on base it is still going over the fence and you can’t take that away.

    • Chris St. John - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      I did look this up. Baseball Prospectus has a statistic called OBI% (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=975547). Basically, how many runners were on base for this player and how many of these runners did he drive in, excluding himself?

      I looked at this over the last 5 years (2007 – 2011). Ryan Howard is actually third in OBI% with an 18.6, however, the two players ahead of him (Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto) have had nearly 1000 fewer opportunities than he has had.

      The next closest player in terms of opportunities and OBI% is either Ryan Braun or Matt Holliday. Braun has had 400 fewer opportunities and an OBI% of 18.3. Holliday has 300 fewer opportunities and an OBI% of 18.2.

      No one has had more opportunities than Howard, but of the players closest to him in opportunities, none exceed him in OBI%.

      Teixeira, Cano, Cabrera and Fielder round out the top 5 in runners on base while at the plate. Their respective OBI% (remember Howard’s is 18.6): 17.1, 15.5, 17.7, 16.0

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:22 AM

        Brilliant post. Thanks. I think that should provide some clarity to the discussion.

  17. sgtr0c - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Your article is like a fight with my wife, you tell me what I am thinking and gonna do, then you start your defense before I can say anything. Does it kill you that you hate the Phils, but know that writing stories about them is what pays the bills? Maybe you’re pissed about ugg’s streak ending and you just wanted to kick the dog?

    • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Dude Craig just has fun with articles like these. Don’t take it seriously, it’s all in good fun and baseball discussion. The funny part of it all is that everyone is just basically splitting hairs:

      Commenter #1: He’s very good, NOT Great!
      Commenter #2: He’s GREAT, not just very good!

      Repeat until the end of time…

  18. 03dp - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    I’m a Phillies fan who uses SABR stats and believes that Howard is overrated by the general media and public.

    While this article states that that Howard has the 7th best WAR on the team this year, but it doesn’t mean he’s the 7th best player on the team. WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement, and the replacement player at 1B around the league is pretty good as it represents a collection of the top hitters in the league. When you compare Howard to the 1Bs around the league (Pujols, Fielder, Tex, AGon, Votto, etc), JRoll to the other SS, and Ruiz to the catchers around the leauge, you can see why Ruiz and JRoll are more valuable relative to position.

    Also, bringing down Howard’s WAR is the positional adjustment for defense. It’s just easier to play D at 1B then it is at SS, CF or 2B, so all 1Bs get downgraded on WAR defense. On the subject of D, while it has improved the past few years, Howard is still pretty bad in the field.

    For Offense only, since that what most people are concerned about, Howard is the 4th best Phillie this year in wOBA and wRC+.
    http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Phillies&pos=all&stats=bat&qual=0&type=8&season=2011&month=0

    That list goes
    1. Victorino
    2. Pence
    3. Utley
    4. Howard

    Pence’s numbers are up as a Phillie, for the season, he ranks below Utley. For those talking about just offense, if we needed one hit to win a playoff game, I’d take the players in that order (switching Utley and Pence according to their season numbers.

    Bottom line, Howard is probably not the 7th best offensive player on the team, but that is where he is relative to the replacements.

  19. drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Somebody tell me if this logic is faulty: With a greater sample size comes a greater degree of statistical certainty. Even those in the sabermetric community seem to say that statistics within any given season are subject to a degree of randomness. Who is to say that those who haven’t gotten as many PA with RISP or runners on base as Howard would continue their current statistical pace with those additional opportunities? I just don’t see why people have to knock Howard for taking advantage of the run producing opportunities given…the fact is he is taking advantage of those situations at a very respectable clip.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

      I just don’t see why people have to knock Howard for taking advantage of the run producing opportunities given…the fact is he is taking advantage of those situations at a very respectable clip.</blockquote.

      The logic is correct. The problem is people are arguing past each other. Those, like myself, quoting the stats are trying to argue two things. One, Howard isn't as prolific in the clutch as many think, because others with the same opportunity would knock in more runs (see the comment about that his % of runners driven in is 25th in baseball).

      Second, many people who quote RBI numbers want to give Howard all the credit for the RBI. The problem is two fold, one when no one is one base his numbers aren’t that great. As you’ve mentioned a few times, the shift absolutely kills him. Two, having men on base eliminates the shift, and Howard has been prolific at driving in runs. HOWEVER you have to credit those men on base somehow for being there, because if they weren’t, Howard couldn’t drive them in.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:24 AM

        I agree with what you are saying. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being ranked 25th in baseball in % of runners driven in and it does not surprise me that he is ranked there. In my book that qualifies as being pretty “clutch” (for lack of a better term).

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:30 AM

        Yes, but as far as the top 10 in # of runner in front of them, he is second. And to me, THAT is a bigger deal because it is being done in a larger amount of times. Sure, Nady has a better % in less than half the times. Put him out there as often and Howard and I am sure he is bound to even itself out.

        The fact is that in the top 10 of guys who come up with the most men on base, Howard is behind only Gonzalez. Period. And that’s all his job is…knock men in. And he does that better than anybody.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM

        That’s an excellent point Chris. Something nobody on here seems to be responding to…that and the A.Gonzalez comparison.

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        I’m a little surprised people think beting 25th or 30th in MLB is somehow bad or not impressive. That’s least the top 10%, 90th Percentile. That’s good enough for me. I think the whole: other guys need to get on base argument is something of a cop-out: ALL hitters need guys in front of them to drive them in.

        One, Howard isn’t as prolific in the clutch as many think, because others with the same opportunity would knock in more runs

        You actually can’t know that for certain, since a lot of guys who have higher RBI % (and really we’re talking about maybe 2% points, a bump from 18 to 20 in many cases, at most!) have not had as many opportunities as Howard by a large factor. Nady has had less than half the guys on base, question: Would Nady maintain that RBI% clip if he had 350+ guys in front of him like Howard at this point of the season? You’re increasing the number of chances by more than twice, I think that’s more extrapolation and less sound statistics, the margin for error increases significantly when you boost the sample size so much!

      • spindervish - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:44 AM

        You think that someone arguing that it is not a baseball player’s job to get on base is making a good point?

        The skewed perception on display here is absolutely stupefying.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:46 AM

        Reasonable minds can agree to disagree on a number of things regardin Ryan Howard.

        One thing that can NOT be disagreed about is that hacks will write articles about Ryan Howard’s faults because they are jealous of the success of the Phillies and will do anything to point out those faults.

        As I said above, and will likely never get an answer about…why not an article on how good Shane has been this year? With his .390 OBP and 4.7 WAR, instead of writing about how Ryan Howard is so overrated(by WHOM…I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHO OVERRATES RYAN HOWARD), why not write an article on how UNDERRATED Shane Victorino is. Considering he is having one of the best years for a Center Fielder in baseball, where’s the articles extolling his virtues. Oh I forgot, those articles won’t produce the hits that a Ryan Howard-bashing article will produce.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:49 AM

        spindervish, if you are going to continue to harp on the notion that getting on base is Ryan Howard’s #1 job, then you and I will definitely have to agree to disagree before we go any further.

        I respect your opinion and your right to have it…I just disagree 100%.

    • bdawk20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      Probably cause Ryan Howard is black (and this is coming from a white guy).

    • halladaysbiceps - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      Simple. This guy who wrote the article, Sean Forman, is a New York guy that singled out Ryan Howard to put him in a not so favorable light because he hates the Phillies. That’s clear as day. Especially when you say he’s the 7th best player on the team.

      No one produces and in-depth article to this degree if they did not have an agenda.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        Sean Forman, is a New York guy that singled out Ryan Howard to put him in a not so favorable light because he hates the Phillies

        From an interview with SI.com we get the following information:

        1. But, I have a PhD. in mathematics [University of Iowa], where I grew up

        2. It has grown to be so successful that Forman, a catcher on his high school team in Iowa, left his job as an assistant professor of mathematics at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia to run B-R fulltime.

        3. I’m a Red Sox fan, so I have a poster of Fenway up on the wall

        4. SI.com: You don’t live far from Citizens Bank Park in Philly. Do you go to many games?
        SF: Probably 15 or 20 times a season.

        5. SI.com: Do you root for the Phillies?
        SF: I’ve had playoff tickets the last four years now. I’d like to eventually get to use them. I really enjoy watching [Ryan] Howard and [Chase] Utley play. And I’m excited to see what [Cole] Hamels does this year, as well. But, deep down, I pull for the Red Sox to win.

        http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/john_donovan/02/06/forman.reference/

  20. hateradeonrocks - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    craig calcaterra is the 7th best writer on hardball talk. Thats stupid if Howard’s our 7th best player why is he batting 4th? Honestly SABR people don’t understand baseball. Howard’s a clutch home run hitter and gets big hits. I don’t really care what other people think of howard because Ruben Amaro Jr. who is the best GM in baseball decided that this guy was worth the money and we’ve won more games than anyone.

  21. sasquash20 - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Haters hating. That is all this is. I wouldn’t trade Howard for anyone. 7th best player on the Phillies? Please stop with this nonesense. I won’t go into his stats until the season is over. August, September, and October are by far his best months. It wouldn’t be fair to judge his stats now when they will only go up the rest of the season. And he is by far the best player in those months. He carries the Phillies ever end of summer early fall. There is no WS without him in 2008. Stop hating losers and give the man his due respect. Nerds and geeks try to break jocks down because they sucked at sports there whole life. So take your geeky, nerdy stats and shove them in your corn hole!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      Nerds and geeks try to break jocks down because they sucked at sports there whole life

      Let’s make a deal, I’ll mention my athletic endeavors and you mention yours. I’ll start, Division 1 athlete who played for the Olympic Development Program (essentially highest level of pre-college soccer outside of the Bradenton Soccer Academy).

      Your turn.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        I know I didn’t make the comment you are responding to, but I would like to mention that I played mid-major Division I basketball before a horrific knee injury ended my playing career.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:38 AM

        It’s to the people who decry that there are those of use who use math to make an argument have never played sports before.

  22. hateradeonrocks - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    and any time i see defensive SABR stats I know that person has never played baseball at a high level. Fielding isn’t about making the flashy play by showing huge range, it’s about effort and instincts. Ibanez is underrated as a fielder because even though his arm stinks and he can’t move he gives 100% and throws to the right base.

    • JBerardi - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      In general pitchers seem much more willing to embrace sabermetrics than position players, as guys like Zack Greinke, Brian Bannister, and Max Scherzer have been vocal about their interest in and reliance on various new-school numbers.

      Daniel Bard joined that club yesterday by admitting to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that he visits Fan Graphs to check out their “shutdowns” and “meltdowns” stats, which are interesting new ways to evaluate relievers.

      Bard is one of the best non-closer relievers in baseball, so it makes sense that he’d be interested in a stat that attempts to evaluate relievers based on something other than save totals. Last season Bard ranked fourth among all MLB relievers with 38 “shutdowns” compared to 10 “meltdowns.”

      As he told Abraham: “People should Google it, it’s interesting. It’s just another way to look at things.”

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/04/21/stat-head-setup-man-daniel-bard-reads-fan-graphs/

    • dianagram - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:49 AM

      Jeter gives 100% and has great instincts (remember “the flip”?), but no one would ever say he’s a great defender.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 15, 2011 at 3:03 PM

      and any time i see defensive SABR stats I know that person has never played baseball at a high level.

      Missed this earlier, but why do you feel this way? Is it ignorance of how they are collected? As an FYI, UZR is done by ex-college/minor league players who watch every single at bat to see where the ball is fielded.

  23. hateradeonrocks - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    I hope they bring up his stats against LHP because Adrian Gonzalez has a whopping 1 more HR against LHP than Howard. OBP, AVG, OPS, ISO, park adjusted OPS all that crap is just that…. crap. None of those things contribute to actually putting runs on the board. if you look at the RBI stat and look at the league leaders. I want to see how many bad players are in the Top 10 in RBI and top 15 in HR. The threat of the longball is bigger than the threat of single which is why Joey Votto is overrated because he’s not a real HR hitter.

  24. awinsawin - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    This will be the only argument that matters you bored or out of work number geeks He’s a winner on a winning team. It’s that simple.

  25. dianagram - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Ryan Howard is 20th in the Majors in OBI% (basically, what % of runners on base did he drive in). His 18.4%, while good, pales next to Josh Hamilton and A-Gon.

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1028724

    He’s also had 375 runners on base during his ABs, 2nd highest in the majors.
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1043797

    Context people, you must put counting stats in CONTEXT!

    • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      Hey 20th in MLB is still the top 10%. :-)

      • spindervish - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:04 AM

        The point is that position matters. If you were to say, “Ryan Howard is a top-30 hitter,” or “Howard is in the top 10% of all ML hitters,” I doubt you would find a single reasonably informed person who would disagree with you. But a first baseman being a better hitter or better run producer than a SS isn’t especially impressive. Compared to other players at power positions, he’s good, not great.

      • FC - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Well I posted above a small sample of 1B men and their RBI%, it’s incomplete but among the more famous names Howard is second only to Gonzalez and beats out guys like Pujols, Teixeira, Ortiz and Fielder. Granted Ortiz is a DH and no longer a 1B. So I’d say Howard is among the elite 1B in run producing at the very least. At least I’ve read that people usually compare Howard to Pujols, Fielder and Gonzalez on a regular basis.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:08 AM

        Well, according to that chart provided he would be the 3rd ranked 1B in that category…still top 10%.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:12 AM

        but spindervish thinks that Ryan Howard’s #1 job is to get on base, so his opinion is skewed a bit. See, we know that Howard is not expected to get on base…he is expected to knock runner in. When he K’s with a man on second an nobody out, it pisses us off as much as the next guy. But next time up, with 2 outs and Shane on first, he strokes a double into the left centerfield gap and we realize that he isn’t there to move the runner…or to walk…or to hit a single in front of the #5 hitter. His job is plain and simple…knock in runs. And he is the 3rd best 1st baseman this year, and I think he is probably #1 or #2 in the last 5 years.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:19 AM

        So, in summary the sabermetric people are saying that Howard is not an elite RBI guy because he comes up with many more people on base and that others would have more RBI’s in his spot. Then, we find out that he is 20th in all of baseball in knocking in base runners on a percentage basis…pretty outstanding. Then, they counter that because he is a first baseman he should be compared to other first baseman…and we find he is 3rd in MLB on a percentage basis. Then, we look at those in the top 10 in opportunities and find that he is 2nd among them on a percentage basis. Yep, Ryan Howard is a completely over rated RBI guy.

      • spindervish - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        Chris, you really need to learn how to have a proper argument. Lay off the straw men, and stop putting words in other people’s mouths.

        It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. I don’t think I would say OBP is the single most important metric for evaluating a hitter. It is definitely pretty damn important. And for someone to plainly state that it is not a professional baseball player’s job to get on base is, frankly, one of the stupidest things I’ve seen written here. If perhaps you didn’t mean it quite the way it sounds, then I would recommend you think for a second before you hit “Post.”

    • drmonkeyarmy - Aug 15, 2011 at 10:57 AM

      I would hardly call a 1% difference between A.Gonzalez and Howard “paling in comparison”. We are arguing about 1% on a relatively small sample size. If confidence intervals or “p” values were applied to this data, the amount of statistical uncertainty would be laughable.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 15, 2011 at 11:02 AM

      I’ll choose to look at this stat geek chart, and see that Howard, being 2nd in # of runners on when he comes to the plate, is also 2nd in % of runners knocked in in the top 13 on this chart. I don’t know where your chart came from but there is way too much information on your spreadsheet. The below sheet is about as geeky as I can get.

      http://www.baseballmusings.com/cgi-bin/RBIPCT.py?StartDate=03%2F30%2F2011&EndDate=08%2F14%2F2011&SortField=OnRBI.RunnersOn&SortDir=desc&MinPA=100

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