The Phillies have not seen hitters like Mike Schmidt or Pete Rose since 1990 and 1983 respectively. They wait no more as we have another pair of amazing hitters that my generation’s children wish they would have seen in their prime: Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Moment #10 will be dedicated to Ryan Howard and his history making first two seasons.
Howard saw some playing time while Jim Thome was still in town, playing a majority of the games at first base. It wasn’t until an injury to Thome in 2005 that people got a taste of Howard’s potential.
In 2005, Howard replaced Thome and played in 88 games total, hitting 22 homers with a .288 average. He also recorded 63 RBI’s and 52 runs scored, sweltering numbers for half a season, especially by a rookie. He would win Rookie of the Year and Jim Thome would be traded along with $22 million in cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two pitchers. It was Howard’s time to shine.
In 2006, Howard made history. No player in the National League has ever won Rookie of the Year and then followed it up with an MVP award. Only one player has done it in the history of the game and that was Cal Ripken Jr., winning the ROY in 1982 and MVP in 1983 for the Baltimore Orioles.
Howard’s season was highlighted with 2 ridiculous homers, the first being the first ever to be hit into Ashburn Alley in center field which traveled 496 feet and the other was the first home run hit into the 3rd deck, a 381 foot shot.
Howard finished his MVP campaign with a .313 batting average, 58 homers and 149 RBI’s. He shattered Schmidt’s record in Philadelphia of 48 homers. He beat out Albert Pujols in the MVP balloting, who argued that he should have won because his team won the World Series and the Phillies missed the playoffs. Unfortunately for Pujols, post season doesn’t mean a thing to the regular season.
Howard’s power numbers never died off but his batting average sure did drop. He’s a career .270 hitter which is not bad just as long as he hits 40 homers a year. He is going to keep doing this for a very long time we hope, especially batting behind a guy who gets on base like Utley.