Over the last five seasons, Ryan Howard has averaged 149 starts each season at first base. They haven’t all been pretty. From booting grounders to throws into left field, Howard has struggled with his defense over the course of his career.
After 19 errors in 2008, he arrived at spring training early in 2009 to work with then third base coach Sam Perlozzo on his defense. Although he improved in 2009 and 2010, he has taken a giant leap forward this season.
From 2006 to 2010, Howard has averaged 14.6 errors per season (about one error per 10 starts). This year, through 54 games, Howard has not made a single error.
Adrian Gonzalez and Adam LaRoche (who have only made double-digit errors once in their careers) and Joey Votto are the only other everyday first basemen with at least 40 starts this year to remain without an error.
The season is now one-third over, but at this point in the season, Howard would be among the contenders to capture the National League Gold Glove at first base.
Watch out! Ryan Howard is heating up. Howard, much maligned for his poor batting average this season, has caught fire. He has been the Phillies most valuable player over the past two weeks and will be relied on heavily if the Phillies want to keep the Mets and Marlins in their rear view window.
For Howard, the proof is in the numbers:
Since June 27 (13 games):
.353 average, 8 HR, 18 RBI
This recent surge should not come as a surprise. As the Philadelphia Daily News wrote today, ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’.
In Howard’s two previous seasons in the big leagues, he has played his best late in the season.
In 2006, he went into the Mid Summer Classic with a .278 average and 71 RBI. He finished the ’06 campaign batting .313 with 58 HR, 149 RBI and a National League MVP.
In 2007, Howard’s average jumped 12 points in the second half of the season en route to a division championship.
Back to present day, National League All-Star game manager Clint Hurdle has an available spot on his roster for Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium due to Alfonso Soriano’s injury. Is Howard All-Star worthy?
Bill Conlin is on the Howard bandwagon. He thinks Howard’s offensive production is well worth his astronomical strikeout total.