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Ryan Howard and Dallas McPherson

Prior to the 2005 season, National League MVP Ryan Howard was on a shockingly similar line of development to that of Dalas McPherson.

The synchronicity of their accolades, not to mention their nearly-xeroxed minor league offensive production numbers should give pause to anyone who would write off Dallas McPherson just yet.

Early in the 2005 season, McPherson fell to back injuries caused by a bone spur in his hip socket. Meanwhile a healthy Howard soared. Injuries again stopped Dallas in 2006 while Howard made history, chasing Roger Maris.

A look at the numbers along the developmental progression is startling...

Howard: Born November, 1979
McPherson: Born July, 1980

Howard: Freshman 1st team All-America 1B
Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year
McPherson: Summer League First-Team All-American UT

Howard: Signed with Phillies July 2, 2001
McPherson: Signed with Angels June 18, 2001

Howard: Baseball America 2nd team Minor League All-Star 1B
High A All-Star 1B
Florida State League Most Valuable Player
Florida State League All-Star 1B
McPherson: Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star 3B
California League All-Star 3B
Anaheim Angels Minor League Player of the Year

Howard: Eastern League Rookie of the Year
Double-A All-Star 1B
Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star 1B
Philadelphia Phillies Minor League Player of the Year
Eastern League All-Star 1B
Eastern League MVP
McPherson: Triple-A All-Star 3B
Baseball America 1st team Minor League All-Star DH
Texas League All-Star 3B
Anaheim Angels Minor League Player of the Year

R. Howard: 1,847 AB, 552 Hits, 106 Doubles, 110 HR, 245 BB, 583 K
McPherson: 1,825 AB, 550 Hits, 116 Doubles, 108 HR, 232 BB, 540 K

R. Howard: .299 BA, .386 OBP .547 SLG, ops = 933
McPherson:.301 BA, .385 OBP, .578 SLG, OPS = 963

Howard: 09/01/04
McPherson: 09/10/04

2005 Major League Averages:
R. Howard: 88 Games .288 BA, .356 OBP, .567 SLG, OPS=923, .320 K per AB (1)
McPherson: 61 Games .244 BA, .295 OBP, .449 SLG, OPS=744, .312 K per AB

2006 Major League Averages
R. Howard : 159 Games .313 BA, .425 OBP, .659 SLG, OPS=1084, .311 K per AB (2)
McPherson: 40 Games .261 BA, .298 OBP, .478 SLG, OPS=776, .348 K per AB

(1)= NL ROY
(2)=NL MVP

My conclusion is that Dallas' weakened Major League stats (after an eerie five year parallel development with Ryan Howard) are because of injuries and not any fundamental inadequacy on the part of McPherson.

Were he pain free it would not be inconceivable - in fact in a perfect, pain-free world it would be inevitable - for him to be an above average major league player - and at a defensively more demanding position than Howard. In 804 innings at 3rd base, McPherson has made 10 errors, with a fielding percentage .002 below the league average.

It is not a stretch to STILL consider Dallas McPherson a top prospect - albeit one with bad luck on the big stage so far. But bad luck can only last so long and all indications are that a healthy McPherson would produce at near All-Star numbers.