This will also be his first season since 2011 where he will be coming into opening day seemingly healthy. Howard claims he can play all 162 games in 2014, an unnecessary optimistic belief.
Howard's increased salary comes from a contract he signed in April 2010, which has already paid him $20 million in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Focusing on the latter and less productive half of the contract first, this is a total of $40 million over those two years.
Undoubtedly, 2012 and 2013 have been the worst two seasons in Howard's career. A contract signed way too soon and for way too long, things are looking like we can add "way too much" to the mix.
Taking Howard's salary and the numbers he produced in his two most recent seasons, this is how much money Howard has been earning for what he has been giving back on the field:
2012-2013 Home Run Total: 25
$1.6 Million per home run
2012-2013 Hit Total: 133
$300,000 per hit
2012-2013 Game Total: 151
$264,900 per game
2012-2013 Plate Appearance : 609
$65,681 per plate appearance
A noted home run hitter, Howard's biggest fault is certainly the $1.6 million he has earned per home run. Based on his career earnings of $105,255,000 and 311 career home runs, Howard's lifetime average is $338,440 per home run.
Having played 151 games in the past two years this equates to about a full season. His numbers are actually not bad when considering this. The problem is the hefty price paid for these two half seasons.
Combining 2012 and 2013 into one season, Howard's numbers would look like this:
Plate Appearances: 609
Home Runs: 25
Batting Average: .243
Salary: $40 Million
Out of all of these numbers, the only ones close to his averages are doubles and strikeouts. In fact, Howard has only ever had more than 31 doubles once in a season. This could explain his decrease in home runs and runs while still maintaining close to 100 RBIs in a season. Howard can still drive in runs, but with the lack of home runs he can no longer drive himself in.
The harshest statistics here though are the ones associated with getting on base. Howard's lack of walks and increased strikeouts, which had actually been down in recent years, is unsettling.
As bad as Howard's numbers may look, they fall almost directly in line with the team as a whole. The team batting average for the Phillies in 2013 was .248 to go along with a .306 OBP.
A team salary of $170,760,689, how much did the team pay as a whole for certain statistics?
2013 Home Run Total: 140
$1,219,719 per home run
2013 Hit Total: 1355
$126,022 per hit
2013 Run Total: 610
$279,935 per run scored
Once again, Howard's numbers do not fall too far below the team average. Considering Darin Ruf was third on the team in home runs with 14 in 251 at-bats last season, the low is not unexpected.
The biggest thing Howard needs to do in 2014 is get on the field. Even if his play is not always 100% the team tends to benefit with his bat in the middle of the lineup.
Replacements in the past have no performed well in Howard's absence. Players like Ty Wigginton and John Mayberry Jr. filled in plenty at first base. Neither was ever very productive, making fans miss Howard even more.
In the end Howard does not have to live up to his contract; few players ever do. Howard only has to be average. He may not get paid like an average player, but keep in mind that his best years he was earning chump change in baseball money.
Howard's contract has not handicapped the Phillies. Howard's contract plus the contracts of other players who are now far past their prime are the real problem.
Tim Boyle is a lifelong and loyal Philadelphia sports follower who enjoys writing about his favorite teams and discovering unique statistical facts.
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