Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Phillies = First Place, Ryan Howard = MVP

(AP Photo/John Amis)
The Phillies are back where they belong. Thanks to a huge day at the plate by Ryan Howard, the Phillies beat the Braves 8-7, and, with the Mets losing again, vaulted back into first place in the NL East. The Phillies have now won 5 games in a row while the Mets have now lost 4 of their last 5. Seems a lot like 2007, doesn't it?

Howard went 4 for 5 in tonight's contest, including the game winning home run in the 8th inning. Howard also his career-high 3rd triple of the season and drove in 3 total runs in the game. It's now time to add Ryan Howard's name to the NL MVP discussion. In a year where no one seems to be a run-away choice for the award, how can you not consider a guy who leads the majors in homers and RBIs by a wide margin? Howard's 45 homers put him ahead of Adam Dunn by 8 and his 136 RBIs put him ahead of Justin Morneau by 10. The knock on Howard is the strikeouts (190) and the batting average (.249) but he has been much improved at the plate since the All-Star break, hitting .262 and striking out once every 3.4 at bats, which is an improvement over his first half where he hit .234 and struck out once every 2.8 at bats. Plus, Howard is a top player on a team that looks like they are headed for the playoffs.

I'm not saying that Ryan Howard should win the MVP if the season ended today, but at this point his name has to be entered into consideration. Most "experts" think that Chase Utley is the better candidate from the Phillies, but he has had too many long stretches where he looks normal, and his batting average will end up below .300. Albert Pujols seems to be the experts choice right now for MVP, but his team isn't even going to make the playoffs. Howard's numbers make him an unconventional choice, but since there isn't a clear cut winner, it might be a season where an unconventional pick makes sense.

The Phillies are back where they belong and Ryan Howard should be back where he belongs: amongst the best in the league.

1 comment:

IFChris said...

I'm right there with you on Howard: