Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage, and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s OK, though. We’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network, as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
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The Braves released Ryan Howard earlier this week, and given his signing was a surprise in the first place, it feels like this is the end of his MLB career. He's 37 years old, and at this point, basically a designated hitter who can't hit. Hopefully, though, the late-career version of him, struggling on some bad Phillies teams, isn't the one people remember. Howard might have been known to many mostly as a contract to be made fun of, but there's a reason the dude got paid and became an MLB star in the first place.
Howard ended up with 382 homers in the majors despite not playing his first full season at that level until he was 26. He was basically a dinger-swatting force of nature from 2006 through 2011, batting .274/.369/.559 with 262 of his career homers. He wasn't the absolute best and most important hitter in the league, like some made him out to be courtesy his gaudy RBI totals, but his 139 OPS+ over that time period was 11th in the majors (min. 3,000 plate appearances), sandwiching him between Alex Rodriguez and Joe Mauer.
That placement works out pretty well for our purposes, too: Howard was treated as if he were A-Rod by some thanks to the aforementioned RBI, but really, it turns out he's more of a Mauer. Mauer has seen his career spiral since getting a major contract, he's no longer a great fit for his position, and he's kind of taking up space and plate appearances on a team trying to find what it's going to be. That should sound pretty familiar to Phils fans.
Both players began to see their performance decline at 32: Howard was below league average from 2012 through 2016, age 32 through 36, and while the younger Mauer hasn't seen his numbers slip quite as much overall, it's still early in 2017.
Both players, though, are worth remembering for the wonderful play of their past, and it's unfortunate that their contracts worked out/are working out like this. Mauer still has time to try to turn things around, but for Howard, this seems like the end of the road.
- Matt Harvey’s partying has turned into another episode of LOL METS, and Grant Brisbee wrote about how to stop that.
- You've seen Albert Pujols struggle out of the gate on the reg as an Angel, but he seems to be heating up in May once again. Pujols hit career homer number 596 on Tuesday and is now hitting .294/.333/.529 in May.
- Howard might not have anything left to give on the baseball field, but he has earned the right to be wrong about himself.
- Will Leitch wonders how we'll remember Howard.
- Bartolo Colon faced the Astros on Wednesday, which by itself isn't noteworthy. What is, though, is what the Astros lineup looked like the first time Colon faced them back in 1998. The original Killer B's, Moises Alou, Brad Ausmus... check this box score.
- Lance Berkman's MLB career wouldn't even begin until the next season! He retired years ago!
- Oakland and the A's have to sit around waiting for the Raiders to stop playing at O.co, which doesn't seem right.
- Don't worry. The Matt Harvey saga has reached the point in the story where fingers are being pointed at a woman.
- Emma Charlesworth-Seiler is 22 and was hired to be an umpire in the Gulf Coast League. Lindsay Berra has more on the MLB hopeful, who would be the first woman umpire in the bigs if she makes it there.