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Ryan Howard is disappearing when the Phillies are behind

Posted by Andy on June 13, 2011

Ryan Howard has some unusual splits this year based on whether the Phillies are ahead, behind, or tied.

Here are Howard's splits for when the Phillies are ahead in the game:

I Year G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB BAbip
2004 10 17 17 3 2 0 0 1 0 8 .176 .176 .294 .471 0 .333
2005 53 155 136 38 6 1 7 22 16 48 .279 .355 .493 .847 5 .373
2006 96 275 224 70 11 0 19 57 44 70 .313 .429 .616 1.045 19 .370
2007 97 265 204 57 11 0 19 54 54 88 .279 .430 .613 1.043 21 .376
2008 99 260 227 59 14 1 18 56 31 77 .260 .350 .568 .918 5 .308
2009 108 299 255 60 15 2 15 42 40 85 .235 .344 .486 .831 7 .288
2010 92 237 207 55 9 1 9 36 26 73 .266 .354 .449 .804 5 .365
2011 42 113 96 25 8 0 4 17 14 30 .260 .372 .469 .840 3 .339
Career Total 597 1621 1366 367 76 5 91 285 225 479 .269 .376 .531 .908 65 .342
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2011.

As you can see, his 2011 numbers, at least BA/OBP/SLG, are pretty much right in line with his career averages. His HR and RBI totals are way down, though.

But check out his splits for when the Phillies are behind:

I Year G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB BAbip
2004 11 15 13 5 1 0 2 4 1 3 .385 .467 .923 1.390 0 .375
2005 48 107 101 29 6 1 9 21 6 30 .287 .327 .634 .961 0 .323
2006 99 240 211 66 10 0 21 46 26 64 .313 .388 .659 1.046 2 .352
2007 96 220 193 51 11 0 18 46 24 65 .264 .345 .601 .946 2 .295
2008 99 250 227 53 5 3 16 53 20 74 .233 .292 .493 .785 3 .264
2009 96 229 205 62 11 2 16 45 22 52 .302 .371 .610 .981 1 .333
2010 89 208 191 57 9 2 13 39 14 44 .298 .351 .571 .922 2 .326
2011 35 81 71 16 3 0 2 11 8 24 .225 .296 .352 .648 0 .298
Career Total 573 1350 1212 339 56 8 97 265 121 356 .280 .345 .579 .924 10 .314
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2011.

He's done very little with the bat this year in these situations, managing just 5 extra-base hits.

Note that his RBI are down when behind, too. Since his overall RBI total is quite good (53, on pace for 130+ this year) it turns out that he's doing better-than-usual when the Phillies are tied:

I Year G PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS IBB BAbip
2004 7 10 9 3 2 0 0 0 1 2 .333 .400 .556 .956 0 .429
2005 50 86 75 23 5 0 6 20 11 22 .307 .395 .613 1.009 3 .362
2006 109 189 146 46 4 1 18 46 38 47 .315 .466 .726 1.192 16 .341
2007 97 163 132 34 4 0 10 36 29 46 .258 .393 .515 .908 12 .312
2008 119 190 156 41 7 0 14 37 30 48 .263 .384 .577 .961 9 .281
2009 116 175 156 50 11 0 14 54 13 49 .321 .371 .660 1.032 0 .371
2010 110 175 152 40 5 2 9 33 19 40 .263 .354 .500 .854 4 .298
2011 55 92 80 20 4 1 7 25 9 24 .250 .326 .588 .914 3 .255
Career Total 663 1080 906 257 42 4 78 251 150 278 .284 .389 .597 .986 47 .319
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/13/2011.

He's already got a big pile of HR and RBI in this situation, which is obviously great for the Phillies.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011 at 1:51 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

18 Responses to “Ryan Howard is disappearing when the Phillies are behind”

  1. To be fair, Howard is leading the National League in go-ahead RBIs (18) and game-winning RBIs (10).

  2. He had 3 RBIS all while behind in yesterday's game as well. This included a clutch 2 RBI single to scoring the tying and go-ahead (eventually winning) run.

  3. To be fair a) numbers are down overall league wide and b) it's not a very large sample size. Howard's numbers (when adjusted for offensive context) are just a hair below his normal range which is an OPS+ between 124 & 144 in non-MVP seasons. It currently stands at 120.

  4. How does he compare to other players? When the Phillies are ahead, its often because the opposing pitcher or team is weak (or both). It makes sense that Howard would hit better against weak teams and pitchers.

  5. Chicken and the egg.

    Is Ryan Howard hitting poorly when the Phillies are behind or are the Phillies behind because Ryan Howard is hitting poorly?

    Given how the lineup is constructed I'd argue there's a strong case for the latter scenario.

  6. This is kind of an odd day for this post, since he drove in 3 runs to virtually singlehandedly win the game sunday

  7. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    A better question concerning Ryan Howard may be:
    how is that 5 year/$125 mil extension (ages 32 to 36) looking? If you look at his most similar batters (through age 30), maybe not so good right now:
    Richie Sexson (928)
    David Ortiz (905)
    Willie McCovey (897) * (HOF)
    Fred McGriff (894)
    Cecil Fielder (893)
    Mark McGwire (893)
    Mo Vaughn (891)
    Carlos Delgado (891)
    Tino Martinez (880)
    Norm Cash (877)

    Most of these guys, except McCovey, Cash, and McGriff, were done as regulars by age 36, and declining before that. Maybe "Mc..." surnames are the new market inefficiency?

  8. This is a silly post. Ryan Howard has always been a second half player, and to compare full season numbers to 1/3 of the season is foolish.

    Also, you're talking about a sample size of only 92 PA, which is hardly reliable..

    It's simply not a statistically significant sample size.

    For further reference see this:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/when-samples-become-reliable/

  9. [...] Ryan Howard is disappearing when the Phillies are behind: Andy at the Baseball-Reference blog has noticed a big split for Howard in 2011 when Philadelphia is trailing. [...]

  10. So what exactly are we to make of this? That over his career he actually has hit a little better when the Phils are behind but this season he hasn’t. Does that really mean anything ath this point in the season? I don’t think so. The most interesting thing I see here is that he tends to be less patient when the Phils are behind. Probably a natural thing as you would tend to be more aggressive in trying to drive a run in when behind.

    Doug

  11. John Autin Says:

    I think the Phillies should turn him into a pinch-hitter. He's 12 for 29 in that role, with 5 HRs and a 1.503 OPS. :)

  12. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Just an aside, but only 6 players have 135 RBIs in 4 different seasons.
    That's small company.
    Gehrig & Ruth 9 times each. (Which is ridiculous when you think they did that 4 times hitting back to back).
    Greenberg & Foxx 5 times each.
    Howard & Sosa 4 times each.
    Only Ruth, Gehrig, Sosa and Howard have done so in at least 4 consecutive years. And to think Howard did it in his first 4 full seasons.
    I know RBIs are not a true measure of a player's ability and have as much to do with luck rather than ability, but only 4 guys to do something in over 110 years is pretty good company.

  13. what are his career numbers in september for seasons in a pennant race and seasons not in a race

  14. And yet the Phils still have the most wins in baseball. Look out if they DO start hitting in the second half, which has been their history.

  15. thejerseydevil Says:

    2 outs, RISP: .952 ops
    Late & Close: .961 ops
    Tie Game: .914 ops
    Within 1 R: .958 ops
    Within 2 R: .879 ops
    Within 3 R: .834 ops
    Within 4 R: .845 ops
    Margin > 4 R: .472 ops

    So he's just not productive in "garbage time". Weird, but why is that a problem?

  16. just noticed that he has 0 errors in the field...i haven't seen many phillies games this year, so has he improved that much or is he not getting to as many balls or making less plays, such as taking the easy out at first instead of starting the double play, pitchers covering the right side of the field instead of howard on bunts...

  17. I don't see Howard declining to the point where he's worthless by age 36. Comparisons to Mo Vaughn, Cecil Fielder, or David Ortiz are somewhat questionable because Howard, unlike many other physically big first basemen, is actually in better physical shape now than he was as a rookie. As someone who watches Phillies games regularly, I have noticed that Howard is not only thinner, but runs the bases better, is more agile in the field, and even strikes out (marginally) less than he did earlier in his career. Also, his brief stint on the DL last year was the only time in his career he's ever been seriously injured, and it isn't something that seems to be bothering him anymore. He will probably decline a little bit, but I expect he'll still be hitting 30-35 homers per season in 5 years, which is production from first base that many teams would be happy to have. And in terms of RBI, I don't really think you can say that consistently driving in well over 100 runs/year is entirely luck. Right now the Phillies are in the bottom half of the league in runs scored, Howard is batting under .250, and he's still up there with the league leaders in RBI and on pace for something like 125, and has been protected most of the season by the mighty Ben Francisco.

  18. @17 I like those points about Ryan being in better shape now, and I've heard his work ethic is good. I understand he came from a good family and has his head screwed on right. I love to watch him hit and I think the Phils made a good investment. Howard = HoF