Ryan Howard treated like a king despite historic postseason struggles

Ryan Howard has struck out 21 times in his last 38 postseason at bats. That’s about as bad as it gets. In fact, it’s historically futile.

But does Fox or any network ever note this? In 2009, they had to, but thus far in 2010? No, sir. Ninety percent through its recap of last night’s loss, the AP  makes fleeting mention of one Howard punchout, as well as his first inning double. Nothing further. “No current notes” says his Yahoo profile. A google search turns up little mention as well. In fact, the positives are somehow still reinforced where appropriate. 

Otherwise, you’ll see Howard winning awards, getting selected to All-Star teams he has not earned, being in every Subway and Boys/Girls Club commercial, guest-starring on the season finale of HBO’s Entourage (to rave reviews, naturally), every MLB promo video, and, most audaciously, representing all of Major League Baseball on the David Letterman Show doing the Top Ten reasons to watch the MLB Playoffs before a National TV audience (the MLB.com piece opens: “Confident. Smooth. Perfect timing — all are attributes of Ryan Howard’s swingRyan Howard“…please) Thursday night.

To make matters more Orwellian, as of 2011, Howard will also be the HIGHEST paid player in baseball after Alex Rodriguez, despite his stats placing him barely in the top 25 in baseball this past season; and more importantly, his power numbersare also down over 30% in 2010. 

Thankfully, the “new media,” led by twitter, prefers honest journalism and does not play favorites, calling out poor performances and acknowledging the obvious, even if it’s “their guy.”

Some I know, especially Philly fans, get mad at me for reporting these issues. Some even call me a “racist.” Of course. Just like any criticism of the president is now “racist,” eh? I’m talking about a baseball player here, not race. {Leave the identity politics to Joe Morgan, and the race-baiting to folks like Orlando Hudson and Jeff Passan .}

But folks, this kind of piece is one key job of a conscientious reporter/blogger. It is NOT an obsession. I have no specific interest in the Phillies nor their first baseman. In fact, I think Ryan seems like a charming person, and I’ve written that before. But I prefer to “expose” the lunacy, laziness and irresponsibility —  be it political, social, sports, etc. I did so on this very site back in April when Mr. Howard’s capricious deal of 25 million per season was signed.

Nothing here is really an opinion, just stats, examples and occurrences, all backed up with hyperlinks. If you still object, that’s on you for ignoring FACTS.

About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.


  1. Not being familiar with Ryan Howard, I find myself with just one question…..WHY? OK,he's a nice guy….I thought nice guys finished last…and 25 million a year is no small change whether he is nice or not.

    • I don't know if he is a nice guy but he seems like it. Just overrated and overhyped as the article explains.

      As to why, good question.

  2. Well, I doubt that actually. But he's 31 years old. He's on the downside of his career. Again, what the heck was Philly thinking signing a declining player to a HUGE SEVEN YEAR deal? I know the ratiohnale: reward him, keep the nucleus together, etc. But still, very silly. A 4 yr deal would have been fine.

  3. Honest and fair piece. I appreciate you acknowledging that he seems like a charming gentleman. All you are asking for is fairness. Seems reasonable to me. I just hope he shows up soon to beat the Giants.

  4. 58, 47, 48, 45
    Numbers that will probably never be seen by guys like Votto, Werth, Texeiera, Reynolds.
    Sure, he had a down year, but you seem to think his 31 HRs this year completely erase the astronomical numbers he put up his first 5 years (22 HR in 88 games as a rookie (still on the 1:4 average)).
    Fielder had 50 and 46 sandwiched by 34 and 32. He is on a similar salary arc with far worse power numbers. He averages 37 and 104 over 162 games, yet Howard averages 47 and 138 and he's overrated?
    Mauer was also down about 30% in hits, HRs, RBI, and BA and signed an extremely similar deal as Howard, and yet there is no criticism (by a mid-west blog nontheless)- There is where the racist suggestions may or may not come from.

    • We're talking about NOW. This is an albatross. His numbers will go down big time each year and clearly he is about the worst clutch hitter in baseball. Think the big guy will even play until he's 37? Give me a break. Sometimes you must take your philly bias out and see what the rest of America sees: a joke of a contract. In the end, YOUR team is handicapped by this absurdity. I dislike the Phils, so I'll enjoy their struggles.

      I dont know why race keeps getting brought up. How typical to distract from the factual issues.

  5. The money changes everything. Even great players are allowed to have bad streteches, even in the playoffs. It's only human. But Ryan's demand for a superhuman contract is premised on his assumption that he's a superhuman player. So his playoff performance wasn't just a dissappointment, it was a complete disconnect.

  6. frankie depalma says:

    Admittedly it's not saying much (and the Giants deserve a little credit for this), but let's not forget that he had the Phillies' highest OPS in the 2010 postseason.

    • Well, yes, but Philly/Howard fans can't have it both ways. They ask that we ignore his whiffs, low walks and low BA and focus on power; then when he walks and has a decent OPS, they want to ignore his lack of power or hitting with men on base.

      he's simply overrated…vastly overrated…and his contract is a detriment to the sport

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