Ryan Howard‘s Achilles injury appears to be serious, and if he is forced to miss a big chunk of the 2012 season, the Philadelphia Phillies will have to find a way to replace him.

Here are three reasonable options not named Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder that could fill in for Howard.


John Mayberry Jr.

Whenever Howard would have a day off or play DH in an American League ballpark, it would be either Mayberry or Ross Gload who would replace him at first base.

Mayberry is not only eight years younger than Gload, he hit much better than him in 2011. Mayberry is the clear internal option here.

In 104 games, the 27-year-old hit 15 homers with a slugging percentage of .513. Oddly enough (or not so oddly, depending on who you are), that’s a higher slugging percentage than Ryan Howard’s .488 this year. It was a career low for Howard, but impressive for Mayberry nonetheless.

Not only did he out-slug Howard, but Mayberry had a much better strikeout rate and even walked at a decent rate. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Mayberry was a better overall hitter than Howard this season.


David Ortiz

He hasn’t actually played first base full-time, since, well, since ever. But it’s first base and Ortiz has played there on occasion. It shouldn’t be that bad of a transition with a full round of spring training games.

For those wondering where this puts Howard when he’s back to full strength, it’s only a short-term solution. Ortiz is 35, and a one-year contract would be the only way to do this. Signing him to anything longer would be a mistake.

But in Ortiz the Phils would be getting a year-long replacement who just hit .309 and slugged .554 with 29 homers in 146 games. 

He’s a good fit for the middle of that lineup if the team thinks he can handle first well enough.


Michael Cuddyer

If the Phillies wanted to stay away from a short-term signing yet still find a way to fill Howard’s spot, this might be a way to do it. 

It doesn’t have to be Cuddyer, but signing a left fielder would be smart. Players often make the transition between left field and first base much easier than any other two positions. Cuddyer has even played a little first base in his career.

After Howard comes back, the Phillies wouldn’t have to worry about having two first basemen signed to long-term deals. Cuddyer would move back to the outfield. They would have a bit of a log-jam there, but that’s a more flexible situation.

Cuddyer hit .284 with 20 homers last season.


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