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Phillies nuggets: Ryan Howard to finish 2016 shy of 400 home runs

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Prior to the 2016 season, I noted that Ryan Howard was on-pace to fall just short of 400 career home runs with the Phillies. As we enter the final full month of the season -- and what's sure to be the final full month of Howard's time in Philadelphia, Howard falling short of 400 home runs, and a very special moment with the club, is becoming a reality.

Despite the fact that he's hitting under .200 in 2016, Howard's power stroke has remained at the same level that it's been at the past two seasons. Howard hit 23 home runs in both 2014 and 2015, and enters the final month of the season with 20 home runs, meaning he at least has a chance to top 23 home runs and hit his most home runs since 2011, when he hit 33 home runs. 

While manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet that Howard may see a reduced role this month, which could keep him from topping 23 home runs, it won't make a difference in his pursuit of 400 career home runs. Howard enters the month of September 23 home runs away from 400, meaning that he could shatter Sammy Sosa's MLB record of 20 home runs in a single month and still fall short of 400 home runs. 

Had Howard not torn his Achilles in the 2011 NLDS, an injury that changed the course of his career, he probably would easily have surpassed 400 home runs by now and may even have ended up hitting 500 career home runs. Heck, even if he had a massive decline after 2013, if he hadn't been limited to 151 games (and 25 home runs) between 2012 and 2013, largely because of the aforementioned injury, he easily could have hit 35 or more home runs in addition to the ones he already hit, which would have put him over 400. 

Perhaps the silver lining is that Howard hit .250 in July and .314 in August, which may at least get him an invite to Spring Training with a club in 2017. If Howard is able to make a club out of Spring Training and hit in the neighborhood of 20 home runs, he will likely surpass the 400 home run mark. Unfortunately, Howard won't accomplish that feat with the Phillies, as they will buy him out of his $23 million option for 2017 following the season. 

The nuggets

  • After posting a 0.00 ERA in July, former Phillies closer Ken Giles had an ERA just above two and seven saves in August. Meanwhile, Vince Velasquez's ERA has spiked to 4.21 and Mark Appel had season-ending elbow surgery in June. The Phillies may still end up winning this trade, but it will take years to decide, something that some didn't seem to grasp in April.  
  • In a perfect world, Roman Quinn will have a long, healthy career playing for World Series contending Phillies teams. But given the seemingly constant health problems that he's had in the minor leagues, it's hard to envision that actually happening. 
  • The Phillies called up Darin Ruf, among others, as rosters expanded for September. As much of a lock as Howard is to be bought out of his sixth year option, that's how much of a lock Ruf is to be non-tendered after this season. 

Comments

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Coqui

I think Ruf could have a Matt stairs type of career if giving the chance. Hes been hitting well in AAA.

Lou

He was in decline prior to the injury, his hitting approach got worse with age, and he never adjusted to the ways pitchers attacked him and teams positioned against him. This is a very nice fantasy what if, but it does not look at what was going on via his career trajectory.

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