After averaging 46.7 home runs and 141 runs batted from 2007-2009, not factoring his ridiculous 58 HR, 149 RBI 2006 season, Howard hit just 31 HRs last year with 108 RBI.

While those are still solid numbers, they clearly aren’t the type of numbers that made him a star.

I know he was limited to 143 games and 550 at bats because of a sprained ankle, but his slugging percentage (.505) and OPS (.858) were career lows. He hit a home run every 17.7 at bats, which is a far cry from his career 12.8 mark.

Could this be the beginning of a downward trend?

I say “not so fast.”

He’s only 31 years old. If he were a few years older, I would be very concerned with his power drop, but he’s still plenty young to mash with the best of him. Plus, it’s not like his HR total was in the high thirties and low forties.

He hit between 45 and 58 HRs the four previous seasons. He had between 136 and 149 RBI. Those are ridiculous numbers.

While Jayson Werth is gone, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have a chance to be in the lineup a ton more this year. J-Roll was limited to 88 games and Utley was limited to 115.

Losing two dynamic players like them will have an adverse effect on your RBI total.

If you look at the monthly breakdown of Howard’s numbers, you’ll see he had just one bad month, which came in August. He was limited to just one HR and four RBI. Every other month, Howard had at least 16 RBI, including three with 20+.

If you want Howard, it’s going to cost you. His average draft position, according to Mock Draft Central, is 16. That’s a decent risk, considering how deep the first base position is.

That said, there aren’t many players with legitimate 50 HR, 140 RBI potential.

I don’t think Howard is on the decline yet. I think he rebounds this year and hits 40+ HR with 120+ RBI.

What’s your take?

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