Two points today about Ryan Howard.

The first one is actually more a point about batting average. In 2008, Ryan Howard hit .251. A year earlier he had hit .268. In the two years, though, he got a hit when he came to the plate at almost exactly the same rate:

Year PA H % of PA
with hits
2007 648 142 21.91
2008 700 153 21.86

The issue, of course, is walks and that batting average doesn’t care about how many plate appearances you have. So even though Howard accumulated hits at a virtually identically rate in 2008 as he had in 2007, he changed plate appearances that were walks in 2007 to outs in 2008. That gave him more at-bats while he continued to get hits at a very similar rate.

Howard’s walk rate was down in 2008 compared to recent seasons. Here’s the percentage of plate appearances he drew walks, intentional walks and unintentional walks over the past three seasons:

Year PA BB % BB IBB % IBB UBB % UBB
2006 704 108 15.3 37 5.3 71 10.1
2007 648 107 16.5 35 5.4 72 11.1
2008 700 81 11.6 17 2.4 64 9.1

The decline in the walk rate had Howard’s on-base percentage low for a player who hits so many home runs. In 2008, Howard hit 48 home runs with an on-base percentage of .339. How many times would you guess a player has hit at least 40 home runs with an on-base percentage under .340 in the last ten seasons? I believe the answer is that across both leagues there have been 107 other instances of 40 or more home runs and only twice, Tony Batista in 2000 and Jose Canseco in 1998, has the guy who hit them on-based less than .340:

Year Player Team HR OBP
2008 Ryan Howard PHI 48 0.339
2008 Adam Dunn CIN/ARI 40 0.386
2007 Alex Rodriguez NYY 54 0.422
2007 Prince Fielder MIL 50 0.395
2007 Ryan Howard PHI 47 0.392
2007 Carlos Pena TAM 46 0.411
2007 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.386
2006 Ryan Howard PHI 58 0.425
2006 David Ortiz BOS 54 0.413
2006 Albert Pujols STL 49 0.431
2006 Alfonso Soriano WAS 46 0.351
2006 Lance Berkman HOU 45 0.42
2006 Jermaine Dye CHW 44 0.385
2006 Jim Thome CHW 42 0.416
2006 Travis Hafner CLE 42 0.439
2006 Andruw Jones ATL 41 0.363
2006 Carlos Beltran NYM 41 0.388
2006 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.365
2005 Andruw Jones ATL 51 0.347
2005 Alex Rodriguez NYY 48 0.421
2005 David Ortiz BOS 47 0.397
2005 Derrek Lee CHC 46 0.418
2005 Manny Ramirez BOS 45 0.388
2005 Mark Teixeira TEX 43 0.379
2005 Albert Pujols STL 41 0.43
2005 Paul Konerko CHW 40 0.375
2005 Adam Dunn CIN 40 0.387
2004 Adrian Beltre LOS 48 0.388
2004 Albert Pujols STL 46 0.415
2004 Adam Dunn CIN 46 0.388
2004 Barry Bonds SFG 45 0.609
2004 Manny Ramirez BOS 43 0.397
2004 Jim Thome PHI 42 0.396
2004 Jim Edmonds STL 42 0.418
2004 Paul Konerko CHW 41 0.359
2004 David Ortiz BOS 41 0.38
2003 Jim Thome PHI 47 0.385
2003 Alex Rodriguez TEX 47 0.396
2003 Barry Bonds SFG 45 0.529
2003 Richie Sexson MIL 45 0.379
2003 Javy Lopez ATL 43 0.378
2003 Albert Pujols STL 43 0.439
2003 Frank Thomas CHW 42 0.39
2003 Carlos Delgado TOR 42 0.426
2003 Jason Giambi NYY 41 0.412
2003 Sammy Sosa CHC 40 0.358
2002 Alex Rodriguez TEX 57 0.392
2002 Jim Thome CLE 52 0.445
2002 Sammy Sosa CHC 49 0.399
2002 Barry Bonds SFG 46 0.582
2002 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 43 0.391
2002 Lance Berkman HOU 42 0.405
2002 Shawn Green LAD 42 0.385
2002 Jason Giambi NYY 41 0.435
2001 Barry Bonds SFG 73 0.515
2001 Sammy Sosa CHC 64 0.437
2001 Luis Gonzalez ARI 57 0.429
2001 Alex Rodriguez TEX 52 0.399
2001 Shawn Green LAD 49 0.372
2001 Jim Thome CLE 49 0.416
2001 Todd Helton COL 49 0.432
2001 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 47 0.381
2001 Richie Sexon MIL 45 0.342
2001 Phil Nevin SDP 41 0.388
2001 Manny Ramirez BOS 41 0.405
2001 Troy Glaus ANA 41 0.367
2000 Sammy Sosa CHC 50 0.406
2000 Barry Bonds SFG 49 0.44
2000 Jeff Bagwell HOU 47 0.424
2000 Troy Glaus ANA 47 0.404
2000 Vladimir Guerrero MON 44 0.41
2000 Richard Hidalgo HOU 44 0.391
2000 Gary Sheffield LOS 43 0.438
2000 Frank Thomas CHW 43 0.436
2000 Jason Giambi OAK 43 0.476
2000 Jim Edmonds STL 42 0.411
2000 Todd Helton COL 42 0.463
2000 Carlos Delgado TOR 41 0.47
2000 Alex Rodriguez SEA 41 0.42
2000 Tony Batista TOR 41 0.307
2000 Dave Justice CLE/NYY 41 0.377
2000 Ken Griffey Jr. CIN 40 0.387
1999 Mark McGwire STL 65 0.424
1999 Sammy Sosa CHC 63 0.367
1999 Ken Griffey Jr SEA 48 0.384
1999 Rafael Palmeiro TEX 47 0.42
1999 Chipper Jones ATL 45 0.441
1999 Greg Vaughn CIN 45 0.347
1999 Carlos Delgado TOR 44 0.377
1999 Manny Ramirez CLE 44 0.442
1999 Jeff Bagwell HOU 42 0.454
1999 Shawn Green TOR 42 0.384
1999 Vladimir Guerrero MON 42 0.378
1999 Alex Rodriguez SEA 42 0.357
1999 Mike Piazza NYM 40 0.361
1998 Mark McGwire STL 70 0.47
1998 Sammy Sosa CHC 66 0.377
1998 Ken Griffey Jr SEA 56 0.365
1998 Greg Vaugn SDP 50 0.363
1998 Albert Belle CWS 49 0.399
1998 Vinny Castilla COL 46 0.362
1998 Jose Canseco TOR 46 0.318
1998 Juan Gonzalez TEX 45 0.366
1998 Manny Ramirez CLE 45 0.377
1998 Andres Galarraga ATL 44 0.397
1998 Rafael Palmeiro BAL 43 0.379
1998 Alex Rodriguez SEA 42 0.36
1998 Mo Vaughn BOS 40 0.402

Batista and Canseco both did it in the AL. Sammy Sosa hit 40 home runs for the Cubs in 1996 with an on-base percentage of .323.

Howard does have company on the all-time list of the seasons where a player has hit at least 48 home runs with an on-base percentage under .340. But not a lot — Andre Dawson hit 49 home runs for the Cubs with an on-base percentage of .328 in 1987. A player has hit 48 or more in a season 71 times.

This suggests it’s unlikely the Phillies will add Nomar Garciaparra or pitchers Will Ohman or Joe Beimel.

This says the A’s are also interested in Nomar.

Carlos Carrasco thinks he has a good shot to be the Phillies’ fifth starter.

Todd Zolecki, who is now writing for MLB.com and previous scribed the Zo Zone and Phillies Zone, is now back at it with The Zo Zone, but at a new location. It’s all a little complicated, but his blog is now here.