Key Stats: Since his first full season in 2006 Howard has averaged a staggering 43 HR’s a year. He has the most HR’s over that time with 262 and it isn’t even close (Albert Pujols is 2nd with 244). In that same 6 year stretch he has 796 RBI, once again, tops in that time, and also, once again, the 2nd place Pujols is left in the dust with a paltry (in comparison) 708 RBI’s. Power production has never been an issue for Howard, and even when he is batting in the .250’s we haven’t cared since 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s were automatic.
Skeptics Say: Howard is going to miss the start of the season recovering from an Achilles tear and his return date isn’t set in stone. If I had to guess, I would guess he comes back sometime in May. Even if he misses all of April and May, he would still be coming back for about 110 games remaining on the schedule. He plays 1B and doesn’t run, so aggravating the Achilles and missing more time when he comes back isn’t something we should be terribly concerned with.
Peer Comparison: Usually we would use this space to see how a player compares to someone else at the position, but I’m going to change things up slightly here. So often in fantasy sports we worry about how a player is performing over a full season rather than how that position on our team is doing over a full season. I am telling you to grab Howard then get someone like Michael Cuddyer in the middle rounds of your draft, play him at 1st while Howard is out then move him elsewhere when he returns. Over a full season using that strategy you could get A. Not only better production then what Ryan Howard could have provided over a healthy full season but, B. 1st or 2nd round production out of a couple of middle round picks. The idea is to get someone who will still maintain value on your team after Howard returns. Don’t look to Ty Wigginton (who is filling in at 1st on the Phils while Howard is out). Go for Pablo Sandoval, Lance Berkman, Michael Cuddyer or Lucas Duda (I am drinking the Camptown Races Kid Kool-Aid).
Lineup Outlook: Yeah the Phillies are another year older, but they are still the Phillies and they still have a good offense. Howard will still have guys on base in front of him to drive in once he comes back.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #15 First baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #20 First baseman & #151 Overall; RotoChamp – Not Ranked; Mock Draft Central ADP – #14 First Baseman and #151 Overall
Projection: I think he ranked so low based on how his stats will look over a full year, so yeah, his totals will not look very Ryan Howard like, however if we judge him along with everyone else on a per 300 AB basis (which is what his projections are below) he’s still towards the top of the class.
.260 AVG, 19 HR, 46 RBI, 37 Runs, 0 Steals, .350 OBP, .880 OPS per 300 AB’s