Once one of baseball’s most feared power hitters, Ryan Howard has struggled in recent seasons. In fact, the 2006 National League MVP didn’t play in the majors in 2017 and is presently unsigned. But as spring training approaches, Howard is not ready to call it a career.
“I’m still active, so we’ll see what happens,” Howard said, per TMZ Sports. “Right now, we’re kinda in the belly of the beast.”
When addressing retirement rumors, Howard, 38, said emphatically “kill that noise.”
Howard’s career can be divided into two parts. Through 2011, he was a star. He won the 2005 National League Rookie of the Year, won the league’s MVP a year after, and finished in the top-10 in MVP voting in six straight seasons. From his September, 2004 debut through 2011, Howard produced a .275/.368/.560 slash line while hitting 268 home runs. He was also a driving force for a team that was one of baseball’s best.
But on the final play of the 2011 NLDS, Howard tore his Achilles tendon on a groundout. His career has never been the same. From 2012-2016, Howard slashed at .226/.292/.427 with 96 home runs. Howard’s downfall coincided with his team’s, as the Phillies have not had a winning season since 2011, either.
Howard spent the 2017 season with the Triple-A affiliates of the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies. Over those two stops (which totaled only 27 games), he hit .189/.208/.367 with four long balls.