Over the last 30 days, he has looked like vintage Ryan Howard. You know, the slugger that averaged 47 home runs per 162 games from 2006 to 2011.
This season, Howard's been nothing more than a laughingstock in Philadelphia as he plays out the final season of his five-year, $125 million contact.
On Jun. 29, Howard was sporting a .151 batting average over 205 plate appearances, posting a .564 OPS. He did hit 11 home runs over those 62 games, putting him on a 29 home run per 162 game pace.
If it was not already, it was clear that Howard is well past his heyday. At the very least, he provided a veteran presence in the young Phillies clubhouse and did hit the occasional home run.
But in the past 30 days--more so the past two months--, Ryan Howard has been a treat for Phillies fans to watch as he finishes up his time with the team.
Minimum 50 plate appearances, Howard ranks third in the Major Leagues in wRC+ and wOBA since July 21. He's hit .360 with a 1.196 OPS in that time, swatting six home runs and driving in 15. Sure, it's a short sample, but that's a 58 home run and 143 RBI pace when extended out to 162 games.
In short, right now, Howard is hitting home runs at the same pace that he did over a full season in 2006, when he was named National League MVP.
With this great play, many are wondering whether the Phillies will want to trade Howard at the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline.
And, frankly, I don't see it happening.
Overall, Howard is a rental that a team will get for four weeks. For truly anyone, Howard won't be a starter, and while he could provide some pop off the bench, he will not garner a return that is valuable enough for me to envision the Phillies moving him.
And who would even want to deal for Howard? He just does not provide enough value for a championship caliber club, and even a middling team would likely rather use their own talent than trade for a player who is pretty much out of the game. Unless an injury gets in the way, the suitors are limited.
At this point, the Phillies probably want to just hold on to Howard. He's a legend in Philadelphia, second in career franchise home runs only to Mike Schmidt. When they likely aren't going to get anything that even resembles a return, it just does not appear to me that Matt Klentak and co. will decide to move him, especially since he and his contract will be off the books at the end of the season anyway.
Look at it this way. Klentak had the perfect opportunity to deal starter Jeremy Hellickson at the non-waiver trade deadline. A rental, like Howard, Hellickson did not seem to draw the return that the Phillies' front office was looking for. Instead, they held pat and are planning on offering him a qualifying offer at the end of the season.
If Klentak did not want to move his best trade chip at a point where his value was extremely high because he did not get the "right" return, why would he want to deal a guy that wouldn't get much of a return, if any, let alone the "right" return?
This is good from a P.R. perspective, too. While he does not have the same appeal he once did, Howard will still sell tickets. This comes into play at the end of the season, as fans should want to see his last few games in a Phillies uniform. No matter how much it sounds like Phillies fans hate Ryan Howard, it's not hard to think they won't still come out there to see him finish out as a Phillie.
Never say never, but Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will probably still be in a Phillies uniform come Sep. 1.