Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Howard Making History?

Ryan Howard's two home runs and five RBIs in the team's 6-2 victory over New York give him 34 homers and 104 RBIs for the season. It's the fourth consecutive year he has at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, something only Hall of Famer Chuck Klein has achieved in team history.

That's just the start of what could be a season for the ages for Howard. In Major League history, just five players have been their league's single-season leader in home runs and RBIs more than twice, and the list is a Who's Who of the all-time greatest.

Mike Schmidt ('80, '81, '84, '86) and Hank Aaron ('57, '63, '66) are the only National Leaguers with more than two such seasons, while Ted Williams ('42, '47, '49), Hank Greenberg ('35, '40, '46), and Babe Ruth ('19, '20, '21, '23, '26, '28) did it in the AL. That's it. No Albert Pujols--he hasn't done it even once--no A-Rod, no Bonds, McGwire, Mays, Musial, heck, even no Hack (Wilson).

Howard, of course, led the NL in homers and RBIs in 2006 and 2008. He's currently third in both HRs (behind Pujols with 40) and RBIs (trailing Prince Fielder with 110) but is riding one of those scorched-earth hitting tears that would allow him to catch both players by season's end. He has eight homers and 22 RBIs in his last 11 games.

He's also heading into what historically has been his hottest month. Howard has more HRs and RBIs in September than any other month. He totaled 11 homers and 32 RBIs last September; Pujols had eight and 27, while Fielder collected 6 and 21.

Can Howard do it? Absolutely. Remember, Howard already is the fastest Major Leaguer to 100 and 200 career home runs. With 40 games remaining, he could potentially finish with 45 homers, 150 RBI, and a place in history.

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