If spring training stats are any indication, the Philadelphia Phillies could be looking at a return to power hitting and run production for both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Over the course of 23 games and 70 at-bats, the 33-year-old Howard has been everything the Phillies could have hoped for this spring. His seven home runs and 16 RBI are tied with Domonic Brown for the team high. These numbers are also good enough to have Howard tops on the major league leaderboard in home runs and fourth in RBI.
In addition, Howard has scored 14 runs, hit five doubles and has worked out an average of .329 and an OPS of 1.064, his best spring numbers since 2009. It is worth noting that after the 2009 spring where Howard hit 10 home runs and 24 RBI, that he went on to smash 45 home runs and 141 RBI, while playing in 160 games during the regular season.
Utley meanwhile is having a great spring as well, impressing the Phillies’ with his ability to play in most of the team’s preseason games.
Overall, he has accumulated 55 at-bats and has hit four home runs and 14 RBI, good enough for third best on the team. Also, Utley has scored nine runs, worked out nine walks and has two stolen bases. His spring average is .291 and his OPS is .945. Overall, these are Utley’s best stats since 2007, which was a regular season that saw the second baseman earn All-Star distinction and compete for an MVP award.
So what to make of all of these numbers?
A couple things actually, the first of which being that both super stars seem to be fully healthy and recovered from injury. This wasn’t as a big concern with Howard, who was expected to have a full recovery, but for the team and fans just to be able to see Utley taking ground balls and fielding consistently, is a positive sign for the season.
The second positive to gain from the spring stats is that both infielders appear to have regained their power, which for years has been the reason why the Phillies have been so successful. Howard could hit anywhere from 30-40 home runs this year and Utley might top 20 if he stays healthy. Ultimately, if both of these guys as well as Brown can keep up their power from the spring, the Phillies will be back in their comfort zone and the area where they have been most successful, that being reliance on the long ball.
Heading into the 2013 season, these stats are clearly encouraging. While one must keep in mind it is spring training, both Howard and Utley seem to be fully recovered from their injuries and prepared to have bounce back years. And if both sluggers can do this, there is no reason to think that the Phillies won’t be competitive in the NL East this season.