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2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 13: Why Philadelphia Phillies’ Ryan Howard Is Still A Top-Five First Baseman

Sat, Jan 22, 2011

Big Board, Player Projections

Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.

Ryan Howard missed three weeks last August with a sprained ankle, effectively ending his four-year streak of at least 45 HRs and 136 RBI per season.  That ankle is now 90 to 95 percent according to the Phillies’ website.

“It feels good,” Howard said. “It’s a lot better than it was. I got a lot of work done to it. I got a lot of the swelling out. Like I said, every once in a while, I get a little bit of stiffness or soreness, but I’ve been working out, and so far, so good.”

Howard averaged a home run every 12.1 at-bats from 2005 to 2009, before dropping to 17.7 at-bats per HR last season.  Given a clean bill of health, his redonkulous at-bat per HR rates are impossible to ignore when projecting his 2011 season.

Although Howard isn’t likely to post the 30.0 percent-plus HR/FB rates that supported his near-50 long ball totals from 2005 to 2008, the 31-year-old remains fully capable of blasting 40 bombs in 2011.

While Howard’s power may be declining slightly, his strikeout and contact rates have been trending in the right direction for the last few seasons:

K%

  • 2007: 37.6%
  • 2008: 32.6%
  • 2009: 30.2%
  • 2010: 28.5%

Contact Rate

  • 2007: 64.7%
  • 2008: 66.5%
  • 2009: 67.3%
  • 2010: 68.2%

Although both his strikeout and contact rates remain on the wrong side of the league average, it’s important to note that Howard’s plate discipline is – slowly but surely - improving.

Further, his career batting average (.279) is probably higher than most realize, and is identical to that of Prince Fielder, who has been wildly inconsistent over the last four seasons. Expect the more predictable Howard to blast 40 HRs and be among the league-leaders in RBI in 2011.

  PA R HR RBI SB AVG
2010 stats 626 87 31 108 1 .276
3-year average 674 99 41 132 3 .269
2011 FBI Forecast 680 100 39 130 1 .277

 

Image courtesy of: Serena A. Thaw

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