Three balls. Two strikes. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. One run down. You’ve played the scenario out in your head hundreds of times as a kid. Maybe you were Ken Griffey Jr. Maybe you were Michael Jack. Hank Aaron. Brooks Robinson. Whoever. You know the situation – we all dream of being in that spot as a kid and launching a longball deep into the lights like Roy Hobbs once did. It didn’t happen that way.
Ryan Howard had an opportunity to send the Phillies to a Game 7 with the swing of a bat. It didn’t come off his shoulder.
Howard’s 2010 season will always be remembered as a disappointment because of that moment, fair or unfair. Overall, it was a huge disappointment, even before he was unable to come through when they needed him the most.
Check these numbers out: .276 avg, 47 home runs, 138 RBI, .944 OPS
That’s Ryan Howard’s career average over roughly six seasons in the league. Needless to say, he didn’t come close to those power numbers in 2010. Really, it was a product of a dysfunctional offense from head to toe, although Howard didn’t help the cause much himself.
Howard’s .276/31/108/.859 stat line was by far the worst of his short, but illustrious career. At one point during the season, Howard went 15 games without a home run. He had only two (two!) multi-homer games. His OPS crept above .900 for just a short period before spiraling into the mid .800’s.
A freak ankle injury took Howard out of 16 games, but lets face it; he wasn’t the same guy before the DL stint. Save for a super hot start to the season, he was unable to put together stretches of brilliance like we’d seen in the past. Even his normally fantastic September was sub-par by his standards. Howard hit only seven homers during Sept/Oct, a month in which he previously hit 52 through his first five-plus years in the league.
Something just was not right. Then the postseason came.
Howard’s playoffs were forgetful, to be nice. Everyone points to his .303 playoff average, but come on. Don’t be blind. Howard was downright awful with the stick and the glove. He did not have one RBI in the postseason. He struck out 17 times in 33 at-bats. He had only four extra base hits. All unacceptable.
Then came that final at-bat when he could have re-written the story of his season, and to a certain degree, his entire career. It didn’t work out that way. And in summation, it was by far Ryan Howard’s worst season start to finish.
PAT GRADE: 7.4/10
NICK “THE BEERMAN” STASKIN: 6.9/10 – Howard just never seemed to hit a groove this year. The power numbers weren’t really there, and in the blink of an eye he forgot how to take a walk. It is alarming to wonder what kind of production awaits us as he has already cashed in one a megadeal that could be crippling.
Tomorrow: Chase Utley