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August 8 2007

Ryan Howard continues to hit home runs at a rate that puts him among baseball's elite.  While he may become the best power hitter in the game, he's never going to be the all-time leader in home runs.  He's probably never going to be close. 

He simply got to the majors too late.  At this point in his career he's hit about the same number of home runs with the Phillies (114) as he did in the minor leagues.  Howard has 111 minor league home runs, including 37 at Double-A Reading in 2004.  Jim Thome was playing first base for the Phils in 2004.  If you've forgotten 2004, it's the year the Phillies didn't win the World Series.  Chase Utley and, I'm really not making this up, Shawn Wooten, played more innings at first base than Howard did for the Phils in '04.  Two years later Howard was league MVP.

If you were going to make a list of the decisions that have hurt the Phillies the most in the last 20 years it would take a while.  But I think you'd wind up with leaving Howard in the minors for as long as they did near the top.

Early in his career, Howard is hitting home runs at a rate that surpasses, and in many cases, blows away the rate of the elite hitters of the day and of baseball history.

 

Career
Player HR PA PA/HR
Barry Bonds 756 12513 16.55
Babe Ruth 714 10616 14.87
Hank Aaron 755 13940 18.46
Alex Rodriguez 500 8278 16.56
Sammy Sosa 604 9819 16.25
Ryan Howard 114 1521 13.34

The problem, of course, is that he turns 28 in November. 

Here's what Barry Bonds, the guy who is second on the list of active home runs leaders behind him and Alex Rodriguez had done through their 27-year-old season (Howard's current season):

 

Through age 27 season
Player HR PA PA/HR
Barry Bonds 176 4255 24.17
Sammy Sosa 171 3680 21.52
Alex Rodriguez 345 5687 16.48

Alex Rodriguez, as you have no doubt noticed, has been busy.  If Howard hits 386 home runs over the next ten seasons, he'll have as many as A-Rod does today.

Sosa and Bonds were already ahead way ahead of Howard.  If you give Howard 20 more for this season he ends his age 27 season at 134, 42 behind Bonds through age 27 and 37 behind Sosa through age 27.  Not to be forgotten is that, as many have noted, Sosa and Bonds picked up their home run paces dramatically after age 27.  Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 in 664 plate appearances, or one every 9.94 plate appearances.  In 1998, Sosa hit 66 in 722, one for every 10.94 plate appearances.

Howard is tied for 97th on the list of active home run hitters.   He has as many as Brad Wilkerson.


August 8 2007

Ryan Howard powered the Phils past the the Marlins last night.  He hit two home runs, including a mammoth shot to the opposite field, and the Phillies rolled to an 11-1 win.  In 116 career at-bats against the Marlins, Howard is hitting 371/535/793 with 13 home runs. 

The Phillies beat the Florida Marlins last night, winning 11-1 to improve to 59-53 on the year.  The Phils are in third place in the NL East, a half game behind the Braves and four behind the NL East leading Mets.  The are two games behind the Padres for the Wild Card (the Braves are the only team besides the Padres ahead of them for the Wild Card).

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits and three walks.  One of the hits went for extra-bases, a leadoff home run by Hanley Ramirez.  He struck out five. 

Moyer pitched well, but faced a Marlins' lineup that featured Cody Ross in center, Jason Wood at first and Todd Linden in left field.

Hanley Ramirez hit Moyer's first pitch of the game out to left, putting the Marlins up 1-0.  Moyer walked the next two batters, Dan Uggla and Miguel Cabrera.  It put men on first and second with nobody out for Miguel Olivo.  Olivo hit a ball that hit Uggla between second and third.   Uggla was out and Olivo safe at first with a single.  With men on first and second and one out, Cody Ross hit a ground ball to short.  Rollins threw to Iguchi at second for the first out, but Ross was safe on an error on Howard's failed attempt to catch Iguchi's relay.  Cabrera went to third.  Jeremy Hermida grounded to second to end the inning, leaving runners stranded on first and third. 

Jason Wood and Todd Linden singled back-to-back to start the second.  It put runners on first and second for pitcher Rick Vandenhurk.  Vandenhurk bunted hard to first and Howard threw to third, forcing Wood at third.  Ramirez followed with a single in front of Rowand that loaded the bases.  Uggla hit a soft line drive to Iguchi at second for the out and Moyer struck Cabrera out looking to end the inning.  Huge strikeout for Moyer to get Cabrera with the bases loaded to end the frame.

Moyer threw a 1-2-3 third, fourth and fifth.  Hermida walked with two outs in the sixth, but Moyer struck out Wood for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh and gave up a leadoff double to Linden, but got the next three.

He returned for the eighth and got a brilliant diving catch in Roberson in center for the first out, robbing Cabrera of extra-bases.   Olivo singled before Ross flew to left for the second out.  Hermida walked to put men on first and second, but pinch-hitter Alfredo Amezaga  flew to right for the third out.

Durbin pitched the ninth as well, giving up a leadoff single to Linden but getting the next three.  Durbin earned his first career save by throwing three innings.

The Phillies' lineup against righty Rick Vandenhurk went (1) Rolllins (2) Iguchi (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Werth (7) Ruiz (8) Nunez.  Nice to see Werth in right, even against the righty.  Nunez plays third with Moyer on the mound and hits eighth as Ruiz comes into the game 3-for-his-last-4 with three doubles.

Rollins walked to start the first and took off for second on the pitch that Iguchi hit to short.  Short was vacated.  Iguchi had a single and Rollins went to third.  Burrell popped to third for the first out.  Howard smashed a double-play ball to second, but he busted it down the line and Uggla was slow at second.  The Marlins only got one out -- Howard was safe and Rollins scored to tie the game at 1-1.  Howard was balked to second and Rowand and Werth both walked, loading the bases for Ruiz, who flew to center to end the inning.  Not a good at-bat for Burrell to make the first out of the inning with men on first and third.

Nunez walked to start the second and Moyer bunted him to second.  Rollins and Iguchi both went down to leave him stranded.

Burrell struck out to start the third, but Howard walked and Rowand was hit by a 1-2 curveball.  Werth singled on a line drive into right and Howard scored to put the Phils up 2-1.  Second time on the night Howard had done a nice job on the bases after beating out the double-play in the first to get the Phils a run -- he read Werth's ball well and slid in just ahead of the tag at the plate.  With runners on first and third, Ruiz singled to right.  Rowand scored to put the Phils up 3-1 and Werth went to second.  Nunez was next and he doubled to center.  Werth scored and Ruiz went to third.  4-1.  Vandenhurk balked again and Ruiz scored and Nunez went to third.  5-1.  Moyer doubled to left, making it 6-1 as Nunez scored.  Rollins and Iguchi again went down to leave the runner stranded at second.

Howard and Rowand homered back-to-back with one out in the fourth to extend the lead to 8-1.  Werth walked but Ruiz and Nunez went down behind him.

Iguchi singled with two outs in the fifth, but Burrell struck out behind him.

Howard started the sixth with another home run.  This one was down the line in right after the first one had gone way out to the opposite field.  9-1.  Rowand was hit by another pitch and went to second on a wild pitch before Werth walked.  Ruiz moved Rowand to third with a fly ball to center.  Nunez hit a ground ball to third and Cabrera's throw to first was wild.  Rowand scored to make it 10-1 and Werth went to third.  With men on first and third and one out, Helms hit for Moyer.  Moyer had thrown 92 pitches on a hot night.  Helms flew to right for the second out, Werth scored from third to make it 11-1.  Rollins popped to short to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh and eighth.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Iguchi was 2-for-5.

Burrell was 0-for-5 and struck out twice.  He's 2-for-his-last-13 with five strikeouts.  He struck out twice in a game just twice in July -- he's struck out twice in two of his last three.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a walk and two home runs.  He has 32 on the year.  Great job running the bases in the first and again in the third.

Rowand was 1-for-1 with a walk and a home run.  He was twice hit by a pitch.

Werth was 1-for-2 with an RBI and three walks. 

Ruiz was 1-for-5 and left six men on base.

Nunez was 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI and walk.  First extra-base hit for Nunez since June 26.  First RBI since June 17.  He better be good defensively.  He is -- especially compared to Helms and Dobbs, but he's not good enough to play as much as he does for the Phillies at third base.

Kyle Lohse (6-12, 4.51) faces lefty Dontrelle Willis (7-11, 4.91) tonight.  Lohse went just one inning in his debut with the Phillies on Thursday against the Cubs before Jacque Jones lined a ball off his arm and Lohse had to leave the game.   While with the Reds, he pitched against the Marlins on July 20 in Florida and allowed seven runs over 6 2/3 innings.  Only four of the runs were earned.  Cabrera and Uggla both homered against him in that game.  Willis has made three starts against the Phils this year, going 2-0 with a 4.82 ERA.  The last and most memorable of Willis' starts against the Phils on May 24 when Willis helped to flame an on-field incident by gesturing to the Phillies' bench while walking on the field after the fourth inning.

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