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Ryan Howard is on the comeback trail

Mar 3, 2013, 9:06 PM EDT

Ryan Howard AP

Laugh all you want about the $105 million the Phillies still owe Ryan Howard. And laugh all you want about the .219/.295/.423 slash line the first baseman posted at the age of 32 last season in his return from a torn Achilles. In nine spring training games, Howard is looking more and more like the former MVP who terrorized pitchers across the league.

In 24 spring at-bats, Howard has slugged three homers, tied for the second-most among contestants in both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Two of those homers have come against name brand pitchers in Craig Kimbrel and R.A. Dickey, both hit to left-center. The third, his most recent, was a tape-measure shot to right against Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil. Along with the homers, Howard has hit three doubles and driven in ten runs.

Howard has traditionally been a high achiever in spring training. His OPS starting in 2011 — he did not participate in spring training last year — and working backwards to 2006 has been .904, .896, 1.180, 1.017, .710, and 1.133. Along with the fact that spring training stats are notoriously poor barometers by which to predict regular season success, one should take his performance in 24 at-bats thus far with a giant grain of salt. Still, the city of Philadelphia would love to see their star slugger back in form, reclaiming his place in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup.

  1. gallaghedj311 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    And he’s hit lefties well.

  2. bronxbomber213 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Nice article Sir…if I were a phillies fan It would def be nice to see!! Congrats to him for workin hard..but for 25 mill he better lol!

  3. proudlycanadian - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    He has been impressive even if the dinger against Dickey was wind aided. Another Filly who is hitting this spring is Brown. The left handed hitting Brown hit his home run today of a left hander (Loup).

  4. captainwisdom8888 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    The Phillies are going to need Utley and Howard to regain their MVP-type productions in order to put up any fighting chance this season. The pitching rotation is as good as it ever will be, and if we manage to have a top-5 offense in the NL than we have another legitimate chance at a ring.

    I have a feeling that if things go downhill this season, the Phil’s will be in for quite the overhaul on not only the core of our players, but Charlie Manuel as well.

    • mazblast - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      IIRC Chollie’s contract expires this year, and he’s not inclined to delay retirement when it’s up. He’s had a nice run in Philly.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:11 AM

      Actually, in another thread, a Phillies-baiter extraordinaire pointed out that the Phillies had the 7th ranked offense in the NL in 2011 – when they had 102 wins. So if the pitching can get back to form, they leave this question mark offense a little wiggle room (emphasis on “little”).

      But yes, no question about it that Utley and Howard need to come through, or forget it. And I would add Halladay to that as well.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:29 AM

        Didn’t realize that not assuming that a rotation (which isn’t as strong on the back end) is going to replicate a historically-great season across the boards makes me a Philles-baiter extraordinaire. Keep telling yourself that.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:16 AM

        Wow! I thoguht I would have to say Beetljuice three times to make you appear – too easy :)

      • dwdive - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:13 PM

        Yeah because a team finishing 7th out of 15 teams that also included the awful Marlins, Mets, and the entire NL West, is a real dominating Offensive team… That team that won 102 games did it with a sub-par offense. Anyone to say otherwise, doesn’t know baseball, and definitely didn’t watch the Phillies play that year. You can take a handful of games that they scored 10+ runs out of the equation, and they are near the bottom of the pack in scoring runs that yr. Especially in the 1st half of that season, before everyone was healthy and before they traded for Pence, that offense was absolutely awful. Kevin is a Phillies troll and for some reason he can’t stay away from stories written about the Phillies

  5. volcom2143 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Thank god it’s a Philly story that Craig didn’t write .

    • tuberippin - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:33 AM

      *standing ovation*

    • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Of course…besides the fact that it’s a weekend, there was ZERO snark and not baiting whatsoever. Meaning it had to be written by someone new. When Craig gets back everyone gets the memo…specifically Joe Pos and Bill…..”When we write postings about the Phillies…we bait Phillies fans. Period. If you don’t want to bait Phillies fans with snark, then don’t write an article about them”

      And Baer…where the hell do you get off actually quoting the correct amount that the Phillies owe Ryan Howard??? What’s this “$105 million nonsense???”

      I know you wrote 7,000 articles this past weekend and I love you for it…but repeat after me…WHENEVER WE WRITE RYAN HOWARD’S NAME, WE WRITE “$125 MILLION EXTENSION”. SAY IT!!! SAAAAAAAYYYYY ITTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. schmedley69 - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Don’t you know that all Ryan Howard posts on this site are supposed to be negative?

    • 18thstreet - Mar 4, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Just wait a month. They will be.

  7. beefytrout - Mar 3, 2013 at 9:45 PM

    Michael Young’s leadership is already paying off.

  8. officialgame - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    He who laughs last, last best.

    • mazblast - Mar 3, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      He who laughs last, probably didn’t get the joke.

      • PhillyPhanAnalysis - Mar 4, 2013 at 12:40 AM

        He who laughs last, was the puppet master all along…

  9. dawglb - Mar 3, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Howard is one of the League’s class acts. I am happy to see him recovering from his injury. I hope he stays healthy and produces this year.

  10. schuckme - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    effin righttt.. go phils!

  11. badintent - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:31 AM

    Ryan a class act for many years, even when he was getting paid chump change on his first contract and putting up big numbers, he never complained, sat out, held out, etc. Hope he has monster season and destroys the Mets.
    Al Gore torn his Achilles as VP and look at all the damage he did when he came back with carbon taxes and making terrible movies. So Ryan can come back much better and fill up energy sucking staduims with 60 homers.Sorry Al……………………………………………………..

  12. shzastl - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:51 AM

    Bill Baer is prolific! Cranking out the articles

  13. joeyb3878 - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Especially good to see him going opposite field along with driving one out of clear out of the stadium.

  14. phillyphannn83 - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Yes our stars need to perform like stars but we certainly don’t need two guys playing like MVPs to compete(3 if you include Halladay). Need I remind you all that it was our 8th inning bullpen that single-handedly kept us out of the playoffs last year? The one thing that I am concerned about is someone is going to have to make up for Choochers performance. He’s out 50 games and after watching him come out of nowhere offensively last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that adderall has some sort of performance-enhancing effects.

    • dwdive - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Chooch is only out 25 games, and Kratz will fill in nicely. Frandsen is also a nice player off the bench to give M Young a break at third, and to come in as a defensive 3B late in games. The outfield is the only real worry, but Brown is looking good as is Rivere, so it will come down to either Ruf or D Young for the 3rd OF position. Brown can play RF, so it will be Ruf or Young playing LF.

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