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Ryan Howard isn’t fond of platoon talk

Feb 15, 2014, 7:05 PM EDT

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For several years, many have suggested that the Phillies ought to platoon first baseman Ryan Howard with a right-handed hitter who can handle lefties. In the past, John Mayberry, Jr. was one option and more recently, Darin Ruf seems tailor-made for the role.

Per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, Howard is keeping the mindset of an everyday player, saying, “That’s negative. If I think negative, if I think I can’t hit lefties, I might as well not go out there at all.” More from Salisbury:

Howard believes a healthy left leg will allow him to be better against lefty pitching in 2014.

“Being able to now have two legs and being able to be a little more stable in the box, it will allow me to stay back a little bit longer and kind of see balls,” he said Saturday. “When my legs are going good and everything is going well I can hit lefties. It’s just a matter of being able to be stable in the box.”

Howard’s weighted on-base average (wOBA) against right- and left-handed pitching since 2006 looks like this:

Year vs. LHP vs. RHP
2006 .386 .461
2007 .352 .427
2008 .319 .398
2009 .290 .450
2010 .359 .373
2011 .283 .385
2012 .261 .327
2013 .238 .371

The National League average wOBA for first basemen from 2006-13 has been .362, .358, .353, .360, .347, .340, .328, and .328, so Howard’s production against lefties over the last three seasons has been significantly below average. He can still hit right-handed pitching without a doubt.

Also from Salisbury, Howard says his goal for 2014 is to play in all 162 games.

  1. darklockett - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    Good luck playing in all 162 games this season. Let’s hope for 62, homie.

    • mmeyer3387 - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Howard is clearly not the player that he used to be. His stats from the last couple of years show an obvious decline in production. Furthermore, he also has other factors that he has displayed that are a concern. First, he had trouble getting on the field from countless health issues. Second, he struggles against left handed pitching. Third, he has become defensive liability. Fourth, he has trouble on the bases that make him a candidate for double plays. Fifth, he is under a large contract, which causes a negative ratios of production on the field versus his salary.

      • 78mu - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:46 PM

        A lot of people criticized that extension before he got hurt. The injury was an added dose of bad luck.

        Remember when people were suggesting the Cards and Phillies swap first basemen before Pujols hit free agency?

  2. Kevin S. - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    So Howard’s saying his leg’s been good once in the past six years?

  3. captainwisdom8888 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    I pray they platoon him (or trade him). The trends in the chart above are over many years and a large sample size. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING suggests he can turn it around against lefties. .220 career avg against southpaws. nearly .300 hitter against righties tho. As a power hitter capable of cracking 40+ hrs, .300 is nice and tidy

    • 78mu - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      Tough to platoon a guy you’re paying 25 million for the next 3 seasons but then again it’s probably better than batting him 8th against every LH starter.

  4. gmfw7 - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:50 PM

    Platooning him will be a horrible idea. Not being in the lineup every day will do nothing but keep hom from ever getting into a groove and anyone who’s paid attention knows that when he gets in one of his grooves he’s still one of the scariest hitters in the game…he’s a lock for 30+ and 100+ every season when healthy…even with the atrocious numbers against lefties he was pace to do it again last year and he had close to 60rbi in the second half of 2012 as well. Just let the big guy go out there and play and worry about getting a legit right handed power bat behind him and some help in the pen and the team will be alright. He’s missed more than a full seasons worth of games the past 3 years and he still has more HR and RBIs then anyone in baseball since ’06

    • quintjs - Feb 15, 2014 at 9:12 PM

      What is the right number of games the Phillies should lose against LHP just so they can feel good when Howard wins one against RHP?

    • rolltidenj - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:03 AM

      Last year, Howard hit 11hr and 43rbi in 80 games. How does that equate to 30 and 100 over a full season?

      • 78mu - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        Math is hard!!!

  5. andreweac - Feb 15, 2014 at 9:27 PM

    Howard is old school.

  6. tuberippin - Feb 15, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    Dear Ryan,

    Sorry that Jim Thome blocked you at first base in Philly for a couple years there; you might have won another MVP for all we know, given the production of your early years. Jim Thome was just a better all-around player though.

    Your time as a power hitter has came and went. It was short, but dominant. A RoY award, NL MVP, a 58-HR season, five NL East titles, a couple pennants, and a World Series championship.

    No person likes to admit when they’re done. Often, it has to be performed by others in lieu of Person A’s self-denial. Much like we had to flip Thome in order to see what you could do as a first basemen, it is now time to platoon you to see what Darrin Ruf can do as a first baseman. It’s just a shame that it’s Darrin Ruf and not Jonathan Singleton.

    Sincerely,

    A Phillies Fan

    • jbink2585 - Feb 15, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      @TUBE– DONE? No way………… Will he ever be the Player he was absolutely not never again, worth his salary never, however he def can still get you 25-30 and over 100 rbis a year

      • Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:33 AM

        And if he does that while not getting on base and playing poor defense at first base, he won’t be a particularly useful player.

    • Francisco (FC) - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:11 AM

      Isn’t Johnathan Singleton another left handed hitter?

      • tuberippin - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:14 AM

        He is left-handed. The reference was due to the fact that before Amaro traded him to Houston with Cosart and Villar to get Hunter Pence, he was supposed to be Howard’s successor at 1B. Due to that trade, we don’t really have a contingency plan there, so we have used the following as alternatives to Howard when injured/ineffective:

        – John Bowker
        – John Mayberry Jr.
        – Ben Francisco
        – Hector Luna
        – Ty Wigginton
        – Laynce Nix
        – Age-41 version of Jim Thome
        – Darin Ruf

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Feb 17, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      “I’m so bad at hitting lefties that I should not start those games. I’ll maybe pinch hit late in the game if they have a righty. But, forget about me vs lefty starters…”

      Is this sort of what you wanted Howard to say?

  7. tvguy22 - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Maybe if he didn’t half-heartedly wave at every left-handed breaking pitch like a screen door in a thunderstorm he would be worth half his salary.

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