273 days after tearing his Achilles tendon, Ryan Howard returned to the field. On the second pitch he saw, he doubled to deep center field. The Big Piece was back.

Except he wasn't. Watching him lumber those 180 feet from home to second made it quite obvious that his return was not going to be what we were hoping for. He was never a great runner, but this was hobbling at its worst. How could someone running that awkwardly generate enough bat speed and body torque at the plate? Or contribute on the base paths? Or get to balls in the field? Or plant to throw when needed? In other words, was Ryan Howard back too early from this major injury?

As fans, we have to hope the answer to that question is a clear yes because his performance for the rest of the 2012 season was pretty horrendous. In 292 plate appearances, he posted a 91 OPS+, an 87 wRC+, and a -1.0 fWAR. He struck out in an amazing 33.9% of his at-bats and walked in only 8.6% of his plate appearances (both career worsts). Those are not numbers you want from someone earning $25 million per year.