Howard’s end: Slugger NLCS MVP
Two homers, eight RBIs help Phils reach World Series
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
10/22/09 12:02 AM ET
PHILADELPHIA — For the first time in nine playoff games, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard did not to get a hit or an RBI on Wednesday night.
He did pick up another trophy, though. Howard was named the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series after the Phillies wrapped up the pennant with a 10-4 victory over the Dodgers at Citizen’s Bank Park.
“It’s definitely something special,” Howard said. “To be able to go out there and just contribute, try to do my job to the best of my ability and to get recognized for it right now, it’s something special.”
Howard had a relatively quiet night on Wednesday, going 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored. But he did plenty before this game, including setting a Major League record with at least one RBI in eight straight games over one postseason.
For the series, Howard was 5-for-15 with five runs scored, two home runs and eight RBIs. Only four players in League Championship Series history have driven in more than eight runs in an LCS of five games or less.
Don Baylor had 10 in five games for the Angels in 1982, Tom Brunansky had nine for the Twins in 1987 as did Graig Nettles in three for the Yankees in 1981 and Matt Williams for the Giants in 1989.
Howard also has 14 RBIs in nine games this postseason. With the World Series on the horizon, Howard has a shot at the all-time postseason record of 19, set in 1997 by Sandy Alomar Jr., for the Indians and since tied by Scott Spiezio for the Angels in 2002 and David Ortiz for the Red Sox in 2004
“It’s been a good feeling,” Howard said. “Just been up there and been relaxed and not trying to do too much, just trying to get good pitches and hit them, basically, just trying to keep everything simple.”
“The playoffs are a whole different animal. I mean, you’re one of eight teams that are left, and you’re going for the gold. It’s a completely different animal from the regular season, and you just know that in order to get to where you want to be, you’ve got to step your game up and you’ve got to be on your ‘A’ game and just go out there and get things done.”
Howard did just that in crucial moments for the Phillies. He had a two-run double in Game 1, a solo home run for the Phillies only run in Game 2, a two-run triple that was the first big blow in an 11-0 win in Game 3 plus an RBI on a grounder and a two-run home run in the first inning in Game 4.
All this is coming from a guy who has led the National League in RBIs in three of the past four seasons. All he needs now is a big World Series to finish off what has been a fabulous season. Howard hit .279 with 105 runs scored, 45 home runs and 141 RBIs during the regular season.
The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 but Howard certainly didn’t sit around all winter basking in the glory. He remains the biggest bat in a lineup that led the National League in runs scored and home runs.
“Ryan Howard just from start of the season until now has gotten much better in the way … his approach at the plate,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
“My focus was, hey, we just won, and I want to do it again,” Howard said. “I just wanted to make sure I got myself in good shape coming into this year and being ready for this year and not being complacent. So I went and took the initiative and started working out with Sammy [Perlozzo] on my defense and started working out, changed my diet, tried to drop some weight and just be in good shape.”
He has stayed in good shape. Now he has another trophy and a second straight trip to the World Series coming his way. H/T Phillies.com
Congrats on winning the honor this year, big guy.