And for the second straight season, they were able to reach that goal thanks to the booming bat of Ryan Howard.
The hulking first baseman batted a sizzling .352 with 11 home runs, 32 RBIs and 26 runs scored in 25 September games, leading the Phillies to a 17-8 finish and the National League East division crown. For his efforts, he was selected by fans in an online vote as the winner of the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Presented by Pepsi.
Howard’s timely hitting was put on full display from Sept. 11-18, when he led the Phillies to successive sweeps of the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves. He racked up a dozen RBIs in that seven-game span, with his most memorable ones coming in the form of a two-run, eighth-inning homer that lifted his club to an 8-7 win over Atlanta on Sept. 16. The win pushed the Phillies into first place for the first time in September, a half-game ahead of the New York Mets.
Howard also drove in 14 runs over a seven-game span from Sept. 7-14, a stretch that concluded with a two-run blast vs. Milwaukee in a game Philadelphia would eventually go on to win.
The outstanding finish left the super slugger with a Major League-leading 48 long balls and 146 RBIs, numbers that place him among the favorites for NL Most Valuable Player honors.
Howard becomes the sixth and final winner of the 2008 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Presented by Pepsi. Earlier winners include Carlos Quentin of the Chicago White Sox, who took home the award in May; New York Yankees Chien-Ming Wang (April), Jason Giambi (June) and Mike Mussina (July); and Milwaukee Brewers ace CC Sabathia (August).
Also up for September consideration were Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Carlos Delgado of the New York Mets, Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros, Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians and Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The MLB Clutch Performer of the Month Presented by Pepsi winner is selected by the fans from a list of six nominees chosen by a special editorial panel from MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball. Each month, fans can visit a microsite powered by MLB.com specifically created for the Clutch Performer Platform, pepsiclutch.mlb.com, to vote for the nominee they believe was the best Clutch Performer.
From Oct. 1-19, fans have the opportunity to vote on the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi winner at MLB.com, and the award will be presented during the postseason. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees was named the inaugural recipient of the 2007 MLB Clutch Performer of the Year Presented by Pepsi. (H/T Phillies.com)
To say that this one came in as a complete surprise, as far as I’m considered, and since it was voted by other major league fans, makes this even sweeter than Howard winning the Player of the Month Award. Nice going, Big Guy.