By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s hard to watch.

Over the course of a decade, Ryan Howard has gone from baseball’s most feared hitter to the worst player in the game.

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Howard, the 2006 NL MVP and two-time home run champ (2006, 2008), is now hitting an abysmal .159/.227/.365. He has just one hit in last 20 at-bats and is 5 for 52 (.096) in May. Howard’s wins above replacement (WAR) is -1.0, fourth-worst in Major League Baseball.

Is this the end for the 36-year-old first-baseman?

“Well you know what, that’s not for me to say Angelo,” Pete Mackanin told Angelo Cataldi on Wednesday’s 94WIP Morning Show. “I don’t even want to conjecture that. On the other hand, the results, the numbers tell you something about a guy and we’re just going to have to try and get those numbers up. If the numbers don’t come up than that very well might be the case. However, he’s still going out there and trying his best so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Listen: Pete Mackanin on the 94WIP Morning Show


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Howard’s heir apparent at first-base is 24-year-old slugger Tommy Joseph, who has been impressive since joining the Phillies 12 days ago. In just eight major league games, Joseph is hitting .304/.320/.609 with two home runs, three RBI’s, and a double.

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“This guy has got a great swing path,” Mackanin said of Joseph. “He looks like a veteran hitter at the plate. He hit the ball right on the nose four times last night. He’s just putting some swings on the ball.”

The Phillies are finishing a three-game series at the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday afternoon and the interleague play has allowed Mackanin to use Howard as the designated-hitter, while Joseph plays first. Mackanin admits the situation is difficult to manage.

“Well I’ve been speculated about that myself on a daily and nightly basis,” Mackanin said. “I’m pulling like hell for Howie because I want him to get to where he could be. On the other hand, once again, I can’t deny a player who’s putting swings on the ball like Tommy Joseph has been. I can’t deny him playing time either. So, it’s going to be a touchy situation going into Chicago and I’ll probably give Tommy a little better look.”

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It’s an unfortunate situation for Howard, a fan-favorite and arguably the most valuable player of the Phillies’ 2008 World Championship team. Still, throughout his decline on the field, his character and attitude has never wavered.

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“He’s been great, he really has been,” Mackanin said of Howard’s attitude. “I can’t say enough good things about him in that respect. I’m just pulling for him and I hope that he comes through, but like I said Angelo, Tommy Joseph is getting closer to being in there a lot more.”