From the Bench: Ryan Howard’s Defense is a Problem
After the 1st month of the 2014 regular season, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing .500 baseball. They have certainly had some positives this year, but they have also dealt with some negatives. One negative that continues to rear its ugly head is the lack of defense from Ryan Howard at 1st base.
When the Phillies signed Howard to a long-term contract through 2016, they want to lock up his amazing fantasy baseball power bat. Unfortunately, 2012 and 2013 were full of injuries for the slugger. This season, he has been able to stay healthy, but now a new problem has emerged. Simply put, he is one of the worst defensive 1st baseman in the game.
Thanks to advanced statistics, defense is stressed more than ever in major league baseball these days. People might be willing to overlook it a bit more if Howard wasn’t hitting a pedestrian .255 while striking out about once every 3 at-bats, but he is struggling there as well. He has been charged with just 2 errors this year, but his lack of range and his inability to consistently dig up balls in the dirt has hurt the Phillies already this season.
There have been talks about possibly using Howard as a platoon player since he simply can’t handle left-handed pitching. Once possible solution would be to use Darin Ruf as the other 1st basemen, but they have yet to make that move. If the Phillies are going to continue to try and chase a playoff spot after a pretty solid 1st month, they might be best off making a change. Howard is not getting it done against left-handed pitchers, and he is regressing rapidly in the field as a 1st baseman. It would certainly hurt his fantasy baseball numbers, but it would probably help the Phillies.
*This article was written by Daniel Drury.
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