The Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard has had a great second half of the year that has understandably generated a lot of talk about him being a possible NL MVP front-runner.
Howard could very well end up with 50 home runs, 150 RBI season that drives the Phillies into the postseason. He has silenced his critics, cutting down on strikeouts and starting to again get the big hits that make the difference for the Phillies down the stretch.
Howard has done of incredible job lately of giving the people what they want- the power that can drive a team through September.
But by no account is Ryan Howard the MVP of the National League, even if the Phillies go to the World Series. Don't think for a second that the Baseball Writers Association of America will hand the award to Howard for the second time in three years.
The fact of the matter is it's the whole season that counts, not just the second half.
Often the stretch run is a more important time for a player to show his worth, but in order to win MVP you have to play well the entire season. Howard's first half was nothing short of abysmal. He didn't even break the Mendoza Line for good until May 22, and that is inexcusable. His average won't climb any higher than .260. So far, September is the first month in which he hasn't had more strikeouts than games played.
Howard's terrible play early in the season can't be canceled out by his hot September. While he has been up and down this season, there is another player in the NL who has been scary good all season—and his name is Albert Pujols.
The Cardinals will probably miss the playoffs, but Pujols is still leaps and bounds over anybody else in the NL. Pujols' current stats are downright amazing: a .354 AVG, 34 HR, 104 RBI, .459 OBP, .604 SLG, and he's only struck out 55 times—all this includes time on the DL.
Howard, on the other hand has put up the following: .248 AVG, 45 HR, 138 RBI, .337 OBP, .534 SLG, and 190 strikeouts.
Pujols has been relatively consistent this year. September marks the first month where he hasn't batted over .300, instead putting up a .281 average.
Pujols has been an incredible, all-around threat this season that does much more than hurt you with the long-ball. Wherever Howard ends up in the final vote, it certainly won't be ahead of him.
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