Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Ryan Howard looks like his old, dominant self through nine spring training games. Howard is batting .417 (10-24), with 3 home runs and 10 runs batted in (through the 5th inning of the March 3rd spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays). Sure it’s only 24 at bats, and spring training at bats no less, but you have to have hope. At least that’s what Barack Obama told me.
Ryan Howard’s regular season batting average won’t even sniff .300, let alone the .417 clip he’s hitting now. The Minnesota Twins weren’t even putting the shift on for Howard, which will surely happen in the regular season, since Howard is a dead pull hitter.
It’s not the stage that makes Howard’s spring training encouraging; it’s the fact he is healthy enough to get out on the field with Major League caliber players and take over the game. Just like he used to.
The Phillies don’t need Ryan to bat .300, they need Ryan to do what he’s done well historically: hit homers and drive in runs. Howard is prolific in both categories: In his career since 2006 Ryan Howard has never (besides the 2012 season) finished outside of the top 4 players in RBI’s (1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 4th, 3rd) or the top 8 in home runs (1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 8th, 6th).
Howard has the power to carry the Phillies offense on his back for a month at a time. His health is a key variable that the Phillies did not it have last season. Charlie Manuel is hoping a resurgent season from Ryan Howard will manifest into a playoff appearance in 2013.