There's been much talk over the past week about Ryan Howard's contract extension. Only time will tell if it was a good or bad deal. Howard fans point to his HR and RBI totals as proof he's a great player worthy of his contract. No doubt, Howard is a terrific power hitter, particularly against RHP, which he kills.
But he is fairly one dimensional now, with nearly all his value tied to the long ball. If that skill erodes prior to the age 35, as has been the case with sluggers of Howard's type, the Phils will be in trouble.
I'm not going to suggest Howard is not a worthwhile player. But basing value on HR and RBI alone can be misleading.
Consider this player: He led the league in RBIs only once in his career and had seasons in his prime in which he drove in "only" 83, 106, 110, 90, 101 runs. He never surpassed 137. Hard to say, though, that the player -- Barry Bonds -- wasn't the most feared or best hitting in the game during that time.
There's also been a lot of comparisons drawn between Howard and Pujols. Last year, Howard hit 45 HR and had 141 RBI. Pujols hit 47 HR and had 135 RBI.
Pujols had 10 whiffs and 5 GDP with RISP. Howard had 63 Ks and 6 GDP. Pujols had 189 PAs with RISP and drove in 83 runs. He batted .405 with men on 1st and 2nd, .571 with men on 2nd and 3rd (with 10 IBB in 20 PAs) and .588 with the bases loaded. He drove in 105 runs in 346 PAs with men on base (and totaled 82 BB, with 43 IBB and 6 HBP).
Howard had 216 PAs with RISP and drove in 96 runs. He batted .259 with men on 1st and 2nd, .364 with men on 2nd and 3rd (with 1 IBB in 15 PAs) and .278 with the bases loaded. He drove in 120 runs in 354 PAs with men on base (and totaled 43 BB, with 8 IBB and 4 HBP).
If you subtract BBs and HBP from their PAs with RISP, Pujols collected .654 RBI/PA while Howard was .527 RBI/PA. Prince Fielder, for the record, was at .578 RBI/PA.