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Mike Schmidt Retired When He Couldn't Play Anymore

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A propos of nothing, I'd like to point out that Phillies legend and slugger Mike Schmidt retired when he couldn't play anymore.

That's pride [messing] with you, Ryan.
That's pride [messing] with you, Ryan.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As we all ponder a Phillies off-season wondering what it must be like to be unfireable and standing to earn $60 million dollars for being terrible at our jobs, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on one of my saddest days as a Phillies fan, May 29, 1989.

You all know it by heart.


"*ahem* Some eighteen years ago, I left Dayton, Ohio with two very bad knees...[pause]...and a dream to become a Major League Baseball player. [pause] I thank God that dream came true."

With that, it was over. Seventeen years of the greatest play from third base in the history of baseball. Five hundred forty-eight home runs.Ten Gold Gloves. Three NL MVP awards. A World Series title, finally.

In 1989 when Mike Schmidt retired, his wRC+ was 85.  Ryan Howard's was 88 -- in 2012. Howard dead-cat bounced last year, but he was at 93 this year, and he was as "healthy" as he is going to get.  Schmidt's fWAR in a fractional season for 1989 was an atrocious -0.5 over 42 games. Howard's fWAR this year was -0.4. For the last three years combined, it has been a total of -1.1.  If you take out Howard's defense (by making him a DH) he maybe is a zero to one fWAR player.

Schmidt was the highest-paid player in MLB when he signed his last big contract in 1982. That eroded with salary inflation, but he wasn't making nothing when he hung  it up.  On the other hand, he wasn't owed $60 million dollars over two years. Would Schmidt have retired, being owed a like amount of money in that time and place? Who knows?

Look, the Phillies gave Howard this monstrously stupid contract. It is not Howard's fault for taking the money. But if I hear anything from him about "being a good teammate" or anything along those lines over the next two years, I might choke on my vomit.

Howard's second half was not awful, though Ben Revere posted a higher OPS. So did Jimmy RollinsHoward was 15th among qualified MLB first basemen in OPS in the second half. Remember though, that OPS is all his is being paid for -- not defense, not running. And that 15th place finish is for his "good half". In the first half, he was 33rd in MLB among 1B with at least 200 plate appearances and generated -0.5 fWAR.

The point of that first half for Howard, where he put up -0.5 fWAR?  Go back and compare it to Mike Schmidt's "first half" in 1989 when Schmidt was so embarrassed by his performance that he realized that he had to retire:

  • wRC+: 88 vs. 85
  • fWAR: -0.5 vs. -0.5
  • SLG: .381 vs. .372
  • OBP: .300 vs. .297
  • wOBA: .298 vs. .295

Which one is which? Does it matter? Howard is on the left.

We love you Ryan. We do. But you are hurting the team. How much money is enough? Is the $130MM you have already earned enough money for doorknobs? Sure, that extra $60MM would be great, and you have no legal obligation to turn it down.

Still, I'm not going to take it well if I hear any "proud ballplayer, good teammate" cards get played by you over the next two years.  Look, I don't boo. I don't. But if you pull that, and you are sticking around for the $60MM, I'm going to let you have it. I bet I'm not alone.  The millions of fans that come to see the Phillies mostly would get fired for sucking at their jobs, too, and they may also harbor some ill will for seeing someone stick around just for the money.

Please remember that I am also booing Amaro, so don't take it all to heart.

It's time, big guy. It's time. But you already know it.