Ryan Howard needs one home run to reach the arbitrary ceiling of 40. Next stop, Phillies history.
Pitchers cannot see his eyes under the shadow of his crimson helmet, but they know the menace is watching. He grips the black beacon and wields it skyward. This is the instrument of a ceremonial death, laid bare before the rapid blow.
All the uncertainties surrounding Ryan Howard have been compromised. Doubts about his bat speed proved inaccurate. Experts failed to account for the size of the bludgeon, perhaps the most massive and feared instrument in baseball. Hence, the frequency of balls catapulted to the peasantry in left field.
Howard is one of the game's most unique specimens. With every swing, he reopening studies of baseball physics. Nearly every home run is preposterous.
He can just as easily get around on a left-hander as he can a right-hander, a fact that would have never been realized if Jim Thome was still wearing red pinstripes. Howard’s 10 home runs and .883 OPS in 125 at bats against southpaws is truly astounding. Against right-handers, it’s reached a point where it’s no longer advisable to face him.
Pitchers in general no longer know how to work him. He’ll burn you for a double on a good pitch out of the zone. He’ll hit savvy pitchers just as easily as Jeff Weaver. He can run – and as we’re starting to see – he can field.
Howard is far from one dimensional. In fact, he's closer to becoming a Triple-Crown winner than a one-trick pony. He's even hitting close to .300. But his specialty will always be the majestic long ball, belted at a Ruthian rate of one in every 10 at bats (39 in 390 AB). When he hits them, they win. After last night, the Phillies are 21-12 in games he goes yard (and it should have been more).
1st in HR (39)
1st in RBI (101)
1st in HR ratio (10)
3rd in slugging (.627)
T-3rd in multi-hit games (39)
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