Christopher Howard (Germany)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 190 lb.
Christopher Howard is the brother of Philipp Howard. As a teenager, he was a head coach of a team in Germany's top league.
Christopher Howard made his debut in Germany's top league when he was only 15, hitting .200/.304/.250 for the Gauting Indians in 2004. He was 2 for 29 with 3 walks and 11 strikeouts in 2005 and had 7 passed balls in 11 games at catcher. In 2006, Howard joined his brother in jumping to the Regensburg Legionäre; Christopher was 3 for 12 with a walk. In '07, Howard returned to Gauting and emerged as a key performer, batting .333/.394/.567 and throwing out 36.1% of would-be basestealers (best in the southern Bundesliga-1). He was among the league leaders in homers (4, tied for 4th; tied with Simon Gühring for the most by a German native), doubles (9, tied for 4th) and slugging (11th). He represented Germany in the 2007 European Junior Championship, going 6 for 21 with a walk, 2 doubles, 4 runs and 3 RBI.
Howard hit .299/.415/.379 for the 2008 Indians despite being hampered by a knee injury during the early part of the campaign. His 23 RBI were 5th in the southern Bundesliga-1 but first by someone not on the Heidenheim Heideköpfe and third among native Germans behind Gühring and Robert Gruber. The 19-year-old was Gauting's manager for a spell, when their head coach left a short while into the season and until they found a replacement. He attended the MLB European Academy that year.
Howard rejoined his brother in 2009 when he signed with the Legionäre. He hit .235/.350/.441 in an off-year, though he tied for 5th in the league with three homers. His .992 fielding percentage was second-best among catchers, behind only Will Lintern. He was 3 for 9 with two walks, a hit-by-pitch and two runs in the 2009 European Cup. In the 2009 Baseball World Cup, he made his debut for the German national team as a pinch-hitter for Sascha Lutz late in a romp over China. He drew a walk from Zibo Zhang and scored on a Dominik Wulf double. He was retired in his other two at-bats in the Cup.
In 2010, he batted .387/.442/.594 with 28 RBI and 36 runs, fielding .991. He split catching and DH with Czech national team regular Petr Čech, the two switching off between those positions. He was 8th in the league in average (between his brother and Gruber), tied Gruber for 6th in RBI, tied Sam Whitehead for 6th in hits (41), tied Matti Emery and Matt Vance for second in doubles (11), was 4th in runs, 5th in slugging (between Jakub Voják and Marvin Appiah), 10th in OPS and first in fielding percentage at catcher (.991). He hit .327/.375/.442 with 11 RBI in 13 postseason games as Regensburg won the title. He was the main DH for Germany (Gühring did the catching) in the 2010 European Championship as they won the Bronze, their first European Championship medal in 35 years. He hit .263/.300/.632 with two homers and six RBI in six games. Only Ludwig Glaser (9) had more RBI for Germany and only Wulf had a better slugging percentage. Oddly, though, all six RBI came in one game on two hits - two three-run dingers against Greece, one off Max Warren and one off A.J. Brack.
The Starnberg native slipped to .269/.356/.321 in 2011, fielding .979, again splitting catcher and DH with Čech. He threw out 27.8% of those who tried to steal, second in the league behind Kyle Botha. In the postseason, he was better at .333/.422/.462 with 8 RBI in 11 games. In 2012, he hit .315/.400/.483 with 27 runs and 27 RBI in 24 games, splitting C/DH with Čech for the third year. He tied Glaser for 6th in RBI and tied Mike Larson for 7th in runs. He handled 122 chances error-free to lead the league in fielding and also led in runners caught stealing (41.2%, .5% ahead of Gühring). In the 2012 European Cup, he produced at a .313/.476/.624 clip with five walks in five games. He had the game-winning hit against CB Barcelona, singling off Jorge Balboa to score Vance. He was among the Cup leaders in slugging (2nd, .208 behind Dwayne Kemp), OBP (tied for 6th with William Bergolla), doubles (2, tied for second), homers (1, tied with Glaser and Rodney Gessmann), total bases (10, tied for second with Glaser and Oscar Angulo, five behind Kemp) and walks (tied for 5th with Maxime Lefevre and Ennio Retrosi). He was a solid performer in the 2012 European Championship, going 5 for 14 with two doubles, a triple, walk, two runs and six RBI. He was a part-time DH with Kai Gronauer handling the catching.
In 2013, Howard hit .274/.35/.488 for Regensburg. He tied Emery and Kyle Waddell for 7th in home runs (4) and led in percentage caught stealing (36.4%, 4.3% ahead of Gühring). He fielded .983 and was now a full-time starter, with Čech having returned to the Czech Republic. He hit .286/.444/.571 with four runs and six RBI in five games in the 2013 European Cup but allowed nine steals in nine tries. He tied for second in the event in both home runs (1) and RBI (even with Nick Nosti and Juan Carlos Infante, two shy of Wesley Connor) while placing fifth in slugging (between Francesco Fuzzi and Martin Laube).
Playing mostly DH for Regensburg in 2014, he put up a .303/.422/.667 batting line and drove in 23 runs in 21 games. He was 5th in the league in slugging. He hit .400/.455/.550 in the 2014 European Cup with 4 runs, 5 RBI and three doubles in five games. He tied Johannes Jung for 7th in average, was 10th in OBP, tied Glaser and Gianison Boekhoudt for 7th in runs, tied Jung for 5th in hits (8), tied for 6th in RBI, tied Urving Kemp for second in doubles and tied for 5th with 11 total bases. Representing Germany at the 2014 European Championship, he hit .263/.364/.368 as their DH, but with only two runs and no RBI in six games; he did have a three-hit contest against Belgium.
Howard had another fine season in 2015, batting .306/.405/.486 with 29 RBI in 28 games. He again was a C/DH, this time alternating the roles with Gronauer, who had joined Regensburg. He tied Troy Weinert for 8th in the southern Bundesliga-1 with 5 home runs, tied Mike Durham for 7th in RBI and was 6th with 18 walks. He had no errors in 185 total chances, leading the league's catchers in both fielding percentage and runners caught (35.7%; no one else topped a quarter among the qualifiers). He hit .292/.424/.396 in the postseason.
In March 2016, he was once again in a German uniform, this time for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. He was 3 for 9 as Germany's starting DH (German-born, American-raised Bruce Maxwell had been brought in to catch) but the team fell in two games due to pitching struggles.