Before the 2010 season, Ryan Howard was one of my favorite fantasy players as he averaged something like 45 HRs and 140 RBI in his first 4 full seasons in the majors. Then in 2010, he hit .276-.353-.505 with just 31 HRs and 108 RBIs.
His drop in HRs from 45 to 31 and RBIs from 141 to 108 were accompanied by a drop in FB rate from 41% to 37% and a drop in HR/FB% from 25% to 21%.
The drop in FB rate and the high strikeout rate are worrisome, but what is becoming more worrisome is the Phillies lineup. The loss of Chase Utley is a huge loss for the Phils, but when you add in the loss of Jayson Werth to free agency, and the declining performances from aging hitters Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins, Howard's production has a good chance at further decline.
More after the jump:
Here is the Phillies projected lineup on Opening Day:
Does Jimmy Rollins and his sub-.250 BA the last two years provide enough protection behind Howard in the Phillies lineup? Ben Francisco is another possibility to hit 5th, but he has never played a full season in the majors.
I see teams pitching around Howard until the hitters behind him begin to drive in runs and make them pay for not pitching to Howard.