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This is likely the end for Ryan Howard

Wednesday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at Ryan Howard’s release, Bartolo Colon being impressively old, and the natural conclusion of the Matt Harvey saga.

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

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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.