Ranking the NL East: First Basemen

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Sep 8, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman

Ryan Howard

(6) hits an RBI single during the fourth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

4. Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies)

Not long ago, Ryan Howard was considered by many to be not only the best first basemen in the NL East, but also one of the best first basemen in all of baseball. But Howard’s career has been in rapid decline in recent years and the former All-Star and NL MVP is no longer a Top-3 first baseman in the NL East.

After hitting 33 home runs and driving in 116 runs in 2011, Howard’s numbers have never been the same and he’s only played more than 80 games once.

Howard, 35, missed a lot of time in 2012 and 2013, playing in only 71 and 80 games, respectively. During those two years, the Phillies’ first baseman hit just 25 home runs and only drove in 99 runs.

Howard managed to play a full season in 2014 and he improved with the bat, though his batting average and strikeouts are a concern. In 153 games with the Phillies last season, Howard hit .223 with 23 home runs and 95 RBIs while striking out 190 times.

Even if Howard manages to stay healthy in 2015, it’s possible that he won’t see regular playing time with the Phillies and they may very well trade him before the season starts. But as he showed last season, Howard still has the ability to drive in runs and could still be productive in 2015.

Given his dramatic decline in recent years, however, it looks like Howard’s days of dominating NL East first basemen are over.

Next: Number Three