The future of Ryan Howard is a popular topic of discussion among Phillies fans. Some of my Philly fans believe Howard can continue to be a productive hitter into his mid-30s. Based on history, I disagree, particularly with Howard's somewhat late start to his MLB career.
Historically, players made in Howard's mold breakdown more quickly than others. Also, Howard's high K totals leave him little margin for error. When Howard batted .313 in 2006, it was because he batted .455 (including 58 HRs) when making contact. He hit a HR on nearly 40% of flyballs. That's a lot of work to get the BA to .313.
Last year, Howard's contact BA was .430, which led to a .268 overall BA. This season, his contact BA is .333, and his overall BA is .206. The fact he strikes out so frequently and relies on the HR for so many hits is a dangerous longterm situation, I think.
Among the 10 "most similar" players for Howard on baseball-reference.com are Cecil Fielder, Mo Vaughn, Tony Clark and Tim Salmon. If that's not cause for pause, nothing is.
Howard's OPS+ his last two seasons are 167 and 144. This year it's 101.
Fielder's OPS+ after the age of 29 were 113, 111, 108, 101 and 86. Vaughn's after 29 were 153, 119, 115, 113 and 73. Clark's were 47, 100, 95, 154, 60, 103 and 84. Salmon's were 119, 135, 98, 133, 122, 67, and 109.
While many of those numbers are better than their league's average, they're not superstar quality.