Gee whiz, you'd think Ryan Howard was hitting with the proficiency of Ryan Seacrest. Phillies followers and even many in the national media have written him off as a has-been. So have Fantasy owners, as his dwindling ownership and starting rates indicate. But his numbers scream otherwise.
The latter figure of 50 percent can be justified now and will be tumbling in the wake of the news that Howard could be platooned going forward and possibly dealt away. But those reacting as if Howard is a waste at the dish should note that he ranks 15th among all eligible first baseman in points leagues, ahead of fairly productive players such as Lucas Duda, Justin Morneau, Casey McGehee, Adam LaRoche, Eric Hosmer and James Loney. He is also, of course, ahead of Chris Davis - and nobody is ready to throw him out with the bathwater.
Granted, Howard has struggled against left-handers. His .224 average does not spur Fantasy owners to turn cartwheels and he has just 10 doubles. But he's on pace for about 25 home runs and 95 RBI on a team not exactly providing boatloads of baserunners.
This is not to claim that the Phillies and Fantasy owners should not explore better options. But if he is indeed traded - that is, if the Phillies are willing to take on the bulk of his salary - don't be surprised if he rakes elsewhere. He combined for 25 home runs, 99 RBI and a .445 slugging percentage in what amounted to one season's worth of at-bats the last two years and he's only 34 years old. Perhaps a change of scenery is all that he needs.
Perhaps not. But Fantasy owners with Ryan on their rosters should not be so quick to dismiss him if he does indeed get traded - the Phillies have seemingly given up on him. And those who don't have Howard should think about trading for him on the cheap. A swap in real life could result in him finding the groove at the plate again. A prideful player such as Howard, once one of the top sluggers in the sport, might just prove the doomsayers wrong and show, to paraphrase a quote from Mark Twain, that reports of his baseball death have been greatly exaggerated.