Over the last five seasons, Ryan Howard has averaged 149 starts each season at first base. They haven’t all been pretty. From booting grounders to throws into left field, Howard has struggled with his defense over the course of his career.
After 19 errors in 2008, he arrived at spring training early in 2009 to work with then third base coach Sam Perlozzo on his defense. Although he improved in 2009 and 2010, he has taken a giant leap forward this season.
From 2006 to 2010, Howard has averaged 14.6 errors per season (about one error per 10 starts). This year, through 54 games, Howard has not made a single error.
Adrian Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche (who have only made double-digit errors once in their careers) and Joey Votto are the only other everyday first basemen with at least 40 starts this year to remain without an error.
The season is now one-third over, but at this point in the season, Howard would be among the contenders to capture the National League Gold Glove at first base.