Phillies legend Ryan Howard announces retirement from baseball


After spending 13 years in the major leagues, longtime Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard announced his retirement from baseball Tuesday morning.

Phillies fans woke up Tuesday to surprising yet expected news: Ryan Howard is retiring from baseball. He announced it in a Player’s Tribune article detailing the highlights of his career, from his major-league debut to a private moment on the mound with two outs in the ninth in Game Five of the World Series.

Philadelphia drafted Howard in the fifth round of the 2001 draft from Missouri State University. He slowly climbed to the majors before a monster campaign in 2004, hitting 46 home runs and driving in 131 runs in 131 games between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Howard made his debut at the end of 2004 with a September call-up. His first home run came as a pinch-hitter in an 11-9 win over the Mets in Howard’s sixth career game. Jim Thome was still holding down first base, so Howard returned to Triple-A in 2005.

Howard didn’t stay in Scranton for long as Thome dealt with injury most of the year. Howard more than took advantage of the opportunity, hitting .288 with a .924 OPS, 22 home runs, 63 runs batted in, and 177 total bases in 88 games. He received 19 of 32 first-place votes to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

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Seeing that his replacement arrived, Thome agreed to a trade to the White Sox during the offseason to both be closer to his father and clear the way for Howard. What followed was one of the greatest offensive seasons in the team’s history. In 2006, Howard hit 58 home runs, drove in 149 runs, had 383 total bases, and a .313/.425/.659 line. His 58 home runs became a franchise record. He led the league in home runs, RBI, and total bases.

Howard earned his first of three All-Star appearances, winning the Home Run Derby. After the season, Howard took home the Silver Slugger and NL MVP award, beating Albert Pujols with 20 first-place votes.

Howard went on to be one of the most feared hitters in the National League for the next few years. He led the league in home runs and RBI again in 2008, playing in all 162 games. Pujols got his revenge, beating Howard for NL MVP this time around.

During the 2008 NLCS, Howard picked up six hits, one double, and drove in two runs. His power didn’t fully come out until the World Series, when he hit three home runs, including two in Game Four. Howard went hitless with a walk in Game Five, but it didn’t matter as we all know how that game ended.

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Howard remained productive in 2009, 2010, and 2011, earning All-Star appearances the first two years. The last play of the 2011 season became an infamous moment as Howard tore his Achilles tendon running to first base for the last out of the NLDS. Howard was never the same player afterward, and the Phillies haven’t returned to the playoffs since then.

Injuries kept Howard out of half of the 2012 and 2013 seasons. When Howard returned full-time in 2014, he led the league with 190 strikeouts while hitting just .223. Howard’s decline coincided with the decline of the team, making his five-year, $125 million contract all the more glaring.

Howard played 112 games in his final season as a Phillie in 2016, hitting 25 home runs with a .196/.257/.453 line. He was worth -1.6 wins above replacement that year. By the end of the season, he was platooning with Tommy Joseph at first. The team acknowledged Howard wasn’t going to return after the year with a heartfelt ceremony prior to the last game of the season.

Howard signed minor-league deals with the Rockies and Braves in 2017, hoping to crack the major leagues again. However, it was clear he was cooked, posting a .575 OPS in Triple-A with the two clubs.

Altogether, Howard finished his career with 382 home runs, 1194 RBI, a .258/.343/.515 line, and 1475 hits. He owns four of the top seven single-season home run totals in franchise history. All-time in franchise history, he is sixth in slugging percentage, seventh in games played, and second in home runs to Mike Schmidt.

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Howard is eligible for Hall of Fame induction in 2022 along with Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeria, and Alex Rodriguez. Howard’s overall case for the Hall of Fame will be hampered by his unproductive final seasons and low career wins above replacement total. That being said, he could easily be one of the next players inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.