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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ryan Howard Will Win the 2009 NL MVP...Book It!

The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies have had some questions going into the season. Not so much in the form of who will be on the roster, or the moves they’ve made, but regarding the guys they have, their stars in fact. Will Jimmy Rollins have a resurgence year after an average 2008? Is Chase Utley fully recovered from his hip injury? But neither of those questions is as big as Ryan Howard and how the best power hitter in the game today will do after a big contract, after the World Series?
Not that his skills will really be called into question, because we all know what he can do (hit home runs) and can’t do (field worth a lick), but his desire to lead this team back into the playoffs to defend their title, the first time any Philadelphia player has had to since 1984. Well, to start the answer off we’ll look at the Phillies Spring Training. Howard came into camp in the best shape ever and it showed on the diamond, knocking in 10 home runs in the month of March. And, in my simpleton opinion, this should be only a prelude for what people can expect in April. Even though he has struggled during the early months in previous years he is ready to put together the most complete season of his still young major league career.
A 0 for 4 with 2Ks performance in the first game of the year is not a great start but it’s too early to assume the worst. That being said, his performances that last few years have indicated that his offensive prowess is unmatched save one, Albert Pujols. I think that the Pujols MVP last year bothered Ryan. That he forced his will upon his opponents in order to take the Phillies to the top of the NL East, and not winning was a quiet but personal disappointment.
After his first MVP award in 2006, Howard was battling contract issues every offseason and these were distractions that took away from his conditioning. He became less disciplined at the plate and his production actually dropped in 2007 and 2008, in comparison to his MVP year anyway. Yet despite this, he was still among the most valuable players in the league, finishing 5th in voting in 2007 when the award went to Jimmy Rollins, and 2nd to Albert Pujols in 2008. And last year, it was most likely his .251 average that tipped the scales to the Cardinal.
Pujols remains is main competition but you may also consider Manny and Hanley Ramirez to be in the mix as well. This does not include Ryan’s teammates, who have collected their own share of MVP votes. But, barring injury, it will be Howard who prevails in ’09 as he and Albert go at each other in the statistics. Back in mid-Feb I predicted that he was going to hit a mere .252/48/144, and I’ll stick with the power numbers, but expect a thirty to forty point jump in the batting average as he sends the ball into the stratosphere nearly fifty times this season. Think I’m wrong…..I don’t think so. Ryan Howard will be the 2009 NL MVP….you can book it.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, on a team with twelve guys (or something like that) hitting 30+ homers, I'm sure Howard is the MVP....