A lot of people have many diverse opinions about the Phillies superstar Ryan Howard. In the early part of his career, Howard played like a man on a mission. He was smacking the ball out of the park faster than any other baseball player to play the game. In fact, he holds the record as the player to reach the 100 and 200 home runs mark, the fastest in history. These records came in 2007 and 2009 respectively, when Howard was ripping the cover off of the ball religiously.
Since the 2009 season though, Howard hasn't been the same player. Yes, injuries did catch up to him a bit, but he has made a remarkable turn from player on the rise to player on the demise. How could such a thing happen to such a great player? The record he garnered from the 2009 World Series is a dubious one, he now holds the record for the most strikeouts in a World Series by a player with 13. He's also picked up the Phillies record for most strikeouts in a season, which came in 2008 at 199.
Ryan Howard is one of the best paid players in the game, the Phillies extended his contract in 2010 for $125M dollars that runs through 2017 when Howard with be 37. He's already been collecting a huge sum making $65M in the last 4 seasons alone.
When he signed the contract extension in 2010, Ryan Howard joked that, "Hopefully there is no riots taking place back in Philly." The contract extension was done on the road by the Phillies, announced when they were on a West Coast trip, rather than at home when the team returned to Philadelphia. Usually when great news like this for a Phils player happens, it would be announced in the friendly confines on the player's home turf.
No, there were no riots, but there was whispering and innuendo. Was Ryan Howard worth all of this money?, and would he continue to produce at the pace that he was going at. The fans haven't totally given up on him, but this too can change especially with the kind of money that he is getting to play baseball.
Here's a look at the some of the career statistics of Ryan Howard so far:
|162 Game Avg.||162||694||598||98||162||30||3||44||136||83||193||.271|
There has been a steady decline across the board in every category, again the numbers are skewed due to injury, but if you follow the Phillies, you know that Howard just doesn't have that same magic that he carried just a few years ago.
This 2013 is a pivotal year for Howard, he's just moving into a stage in his career that could be either the best or a continuation of this decline we've seen in his numbers over the past couple seasons.
It's time for Howard to show the MLB and the Phillies fans some of that magic this year, they need his offense and he's got to take the reigns of the team and make some better things happen in 2013 for the team and his own career.