Howard was the Template:Mlby National League MVP. Howard is the fastest player to reach both the 100 and 200 home run milestones in Major League Baseball history, passing the marks in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
Due to Howard's reputation as an extreme pull hitter, opposing managers often utilize an unusual infield shift with him at the plate, with the third baseman playing shortstop, the shortstop playing second base, and the second baseman playing in shallow right field.
Howard played for Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) from 1998–2001. Howard finished his collegiate career with 50 home runs, 183 RBIs and a .335 career average in 172 games. He was the 1999 Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year. Missouri State Retired his number on December 18, 2010.
Minor league yearsEdit
Selected in the 5th round of the 2001 draft, Howard quickly ascended the Phillies' minor league system, earning consecutive [[wards in the Florida State and Eastern leagues (Template:By and Template:By), respectively. Howard also set the single-season home run record for the Reading Phillies, with 37 in 102 games. On July 31 he was promoted to triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He became just the fifth minor league player since 1956 to hit at least 46 home runs. While doing this, he impressed scouts enough that general managers of several teams tried to lure the Phillies' Ed Wade into trading him, as Jim Thome was blocking his path to the majors.
2004 – September call-upEdit
On September 1, Howard made his first Major League plate appearance, striking out against Jaret Wright in a pinch-hit at-bat (for Vicente Padilla) in a 7–2 loss to the Atlanta Braves. On September 6, Howard logged his first Major League hit in a single at-bat in a 3–1 loss to the Braves; on September 8, he recorded his first multi-hit game with a double and a single in a 4–1 win over the Braves. On September 11, Howard hit his first Major League home run off Bartolome Fortunato, driving in his first RBI and scoring his first run in an 11–9 win over the New York Mets.
Howard had 42 plate appearances in 19 games with the Phillies in 2004. He posted a .282 batting average with two home runs and five RBI; he also hit five doubles, drew two walks, and was hit by a pitch. Between playing for the Double-A Reading Phillies, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons and the Philadelphia Phillies, Howard hit 48 home runs, which was tied for the highest total in organized baseball in 2004 along with Adrián Beltré of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2005 – Rookie of the YearEdit
On May 15, Howard recorded his first three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a double, two singles, and a run-scored in a 4–3 win over the Cincinnati Reds. On August 23, he recorded his first four-hit game, going 4-for-5 with a double, a home run, two singles, three RBI and three runs-scored in a 10–2 win over the San Francisco Giants. On July 1, Howard became the Phillies' everyday first baseman when slugger Jim Thome was sidelined for the season with an elbow injury.
Howard led all major league rookies with 22 home runs and posted a .288 average and 63 RBI in just 312 at-bats and 88 games. He hit 11 home runs and 27 RBI in September and October. Howard finished his rookie season with 17 doubles, two triples, 52 runs scored, and 100 strikeouts and 63 runs batted in as the Phillies battled the Houston Astros for the National League wild card until getting eliminated on the last day of the season. Howard was rewarded for his effort by being named NL Rookie of the Year, the fourth Phillie to win the award.
After the Template:By season, the Phillies faced a dilemma involving Thome and Howard. Both were very talented and proven power hitters; Thome was the biggest free agent player the Phillies signed prior to the 2003 season, but Howard was the reigning Rookie of the Year and a promising young player. Before the 2006 season, Thome was traded, along with $22 million cash, to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Aaron Rowand, and pitchers Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Haigwood in order to make room for Howard.
2006 – MVP seasonEdit
On April 23, Howard became the first player to hit a home run into Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park. The home run traveled 496 feet and was hit off Sergio Mitre of the Florida Marlins. It was the first of two Howard would hit in the game, the first multi-home run game of his career. He also became the first player to hit a home run into the third deck of the park in right field when he connected off Mike Mussina on June 20, a 437-foot long-ball that was again his first of two home runs. To honor the home run, the Phillies painted a white H on the seat where the ball was caught. Howard collected seven RBI on the two home runs and a triple in the 9–7 loss, becoming the first Phillies batter to drive in seven runs since pitcher Robert Person on June 2, Template:By.
Howard was named to his first All-Star game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh as a reserve first baseman, by the player ballot. He participated in the Century 21 Home Run Derby prior to the game, and won the contest with a total of 23 home runs, defeating the New York Mets' third baseman David Wright in the final round. Howard was the second consecutive Phillie to win the Derby, with Bobby Abreu hitting a record 41 home runs in 2005.
From August 25 to August 29, Howard hit home runs in four consecutive games; on the 29th, Howard hit his 48th home run of the season to tie Mike Schmidt for the Phillies single-season record. Two days later, on August 31, Howard hit a home run into the upper deck of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to surpass Schmidt as the Philadelphia Phillies single-season home run record holder.
On September 3, Howard went 4-for-4 with three home runs and a single in an 8–7 win over the Atlanta Braves, to become the first Philadelphia Phillies batter and the 24th player in Major League history to hit 50 home runs in a season. Reaching 52 home runs in the game, Howard also broke Ralph Kiner's Template:By record for home runs in a sophomore season, becoming just the second batter to hit 50 home runs in a second season. On September 5, Howard was named the NL Player of the Month for August. His 41 runs batted in were the most any player had in one month since Frank Howard had 41 in July Template:By. With 14 home runs, he also set new franchise records for both statistics in the month of August. On September 22, Howard became the 8th player in history to hit 58 home runs in a season, belting a three-run round-tripper off Florida Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. The same day, Howard was awarded the third annual Mike Schmidt Most Valuable Player honor by the Philadelphia Baseball Writers Association of America
On October 2, Howard was named the NL Player of the Month for September. Howard, who also won the award in August, became the first player since Albert Pujols in May and June 2003, to win the award back-to-back.
2006 season awardsEdit
On November 8, Howard was named by his fellow major league players as the Player of the Year and the National League Outstanding Position Player in the 2006 Players Choice Awards balloting. He succeeded Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones, the 2005 winner of both awards. On the same day, following a 5–3 win over Nippon Professional Baseball that capped a five-game international sweep by the MLB in the Major League Baseball Japan All-Star Series, Howard was named the Series MVP; he hit .558 with eight runs, three doubles, four homers and eight RBI. On November 10, Howard was awarded the National League Silver Slugger Award at first base.
On May 9, Howard hit his 4th career grand slam against Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Medders when he came into the game as a pinch hitter for Wes Helms. On May 13, Howard was placed on the disabled list with a left quadriceps strain after missing five straight games. Howard fielded grounders for about 45 minutes before the Phillies game with the Toronto Blue Jays on May 20. Howard returned to the lineup on May 25, after a rehabilitation assignment with the class A Lakewood team as a designated hitter. He hit a home run in his first at-bat there. On May 27, he hit two home runs in a win that helped the Phillies sweep the Braves.
On June 27, Howard hit a 505-foot home run, and became the fastest player in Major League Baseball history to hit 100 home runs. The accomplishment was achieved in only 325 games, 60 games fewer than the 385 games that Ralph Kiner needed to hit his first 100 home runs from Template:By to Template:By.
Though Howard did not compete in the 2007 MLB All-Star Game, he was chosen to compete in the 2007 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby for the second straight year in order to defend his title. However Howard only hit 3 home runs in the first round and did not advance.
After coming back from the DL, Howard had a "power surge," as he quickly climbed to second on the home run leaders list in the National League. On July 25, Howard hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning to give the Phillies a victory over the Washington Nationals.
On September 27, he established a new major league record by striking out for his 196th and 197th time, breaking the old record of 195 (he tied it on September 23), set by Adam Dunn in 2004. He ended the season with 199 strikeouts, striking out an NL-highest 37.6% of the time.
His final 2007 season totals were a .268 average, with 47 home runs and 136 runs batted in, helping the Phillies win the National League East title on the final day of the season to earn their first postseason berth since the 1993 World Series. The Phillies were swept by the Colorado Rockies (who had won a one-game playoff against the San Diego Padres for the NL Wild Card) in the 2007 National League Division Series; Howard homered off Jeremy Affeldt in Game Two, but also struck out seven times in his other 11 at-bats.
On February 21, Template:By, Howard won an arbitration case against the Phillies, and was awarded $10 million, the most ever for a victorious player and tied for the most ever awarded. The Phillies had offered $7 million to Howard in salary.
Howard began the 2008 season in a slump, finishing the month of April with a batting average of just .172 and going 2-for-25 to close out the month. He fared better in May, averaging .238 with ten home runs and 30 RBI for the month, and finishing out May just north of the Mendoza Line with an overall batting average of .205. Howard hit his 15th home run of the season in a 7–3 loss to the Florida Marlins on May 30; Chase Utley having hit his 15th longball on May 25, the two became the first pair of Phillies to hit 15 home runs each before June.
On June 13, Howard hit two home runs and drove in five in a 20–2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. This included the second of a first-inning set of back-to-back-to-back Philadelphia home runs. It was the seventh time that the Phillies had hit three consecutive home runs, the first since May 18, Template:By, and the fourth occurrence by any team in the 2008 Major League Baseball season. On June 16, Howard again hit two home runs and drove in four in an 8–2 win over the Boston Red Sox for his 15th career multi-homer game; the four-day span between multi-homer games was the shortest of his career. In stark contrast, Howard went 0-for-4 the next night with four strike outs in a 3–0 loss for his tenth career golden sombrero. Howard drove in his 100th run of the 2008 season on August 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking his third consecutive season with at least 100 RBI.
He finished the season with 146 RBI and a .251 batting average. Historically speaking, this was a statistical aberration, and is by far the lowest batting average ever for any season in major league history in which a player topped 130 runs batted in. His contributions again helped lead the Phillies to the division title and the post-season. Against Milwaukee in the first round he batted a mere .182 average and only batted in one run. Things picked up as he delivered with a .300 batting average against the Dodgers in the next round although he only delivered 2 RBIs and still remained in his home run drought in the post-season. However as the Phillies advanced to the World Series he finally started delivering significantly with 6 RBIs, .286 batting average, and 3 home runs (which tied Donn Clendenon's 1969 World Series record for most home runs in a five-game Series) – two of which came in game 4 (which also drove in 5 RBIs) as the Phillies took a commanding 3–1 series lead. The Phillies eventually won the series in 5 games to bring the Phillies their first World Series championship since 1980, and Philadelphia their first major sports championship since 1983; he finished second in the voting for the 2008 NL MVP award, behind Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.
On February 8, the Phillies and Howard agreed on a 3-year, $54 million contract that bought out his remaining three years of salary arbitration eligibility. In spring training, Howard led all players in home runs, with 10.
On May 4, Howard hit his second grand slam of the year, the seventh in his career, against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. On May 30, he hit his third grand slam of the season off of Washington Nationals pitcher Shairon Martis. The grand slam landed in the third deck in the first row above the Powerade sign in right field at Citizens Bank Park, and was estimated at 475 feet. The grand slam put Howard ahead of Mike Schmidt, who had 7 grand slams in his career, putting him first all-time in Phillies franchise history.
On June 20, Howard was checked into the hospital early that morning with a 104 degree fever, but pinch-hit later that day, hitting a home run. A month later, against the Florida Marlins on July 16, Howard hit his 200th career home run, making him the fastest player ever to that mark. It took Howard 658 games to reach 200 long-balls, beating out the previous titleholder, Ralph Kiner (706 games).
In August, Howard hit 11 home runs with 33 runs batted in, after just six the month before. His batting average in the month was .299, raising his overall average to .275. He was named the National League Player of the Month for these achievements. On October 3, Howard hit his 45th home run of the season and became only the fourth player in Major League Baseball history (joining Babe Ruth from 1926–1931, Ken Griffey Jr. from 1996–1999, and Sammy Sosa from 1998–2001) to amass at least 135 RBIs and 45 home runs in four consecutive seasons.
Howard ended the season tied with Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder for the major league lead in RBIs with 141, and led all major league first basemen in errors, with 14. In Game 4 of the 2009 National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, Howard hit a game-tying double with two outs in the top of the ninth off of closer Huston Street. Howard scored the winning run on a Jayson Werth single. After tying Lou Gehrig's record for the most consecutive postseason games with an RBI, Howard won the NLCS MVP award on October 21. However, Howard struggled against the New York Yankees during the 2009 World Series, surpassing Willie Wilson's record by striking out 13 times in the series.
On April 26, Howard signed a 5-year, $125 million extension with a club option to the contract he inked before the 2009 season. He was also the first designated hitter in a National League ballpark during a regular-season game when the Phillies played as the road team against the Toronto Blue Jays in Citizens Bank Park on June 25. Major League Baseball moved the interleague series to Philadelphia due to the G-20 Summit taking place near the Rogers Centre in Toronto. On August 1, Howard sprained his ankle while returning to second base on a baserunning play, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. On September 8, Howard hit his 250th home run in only 855 games, which made him pass Ralph Kiner as the quickest player in history to reach that milestone. On September 18, Howard hit his 30th homer of the season, setting a franchise record with five consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons. He had been tied with Chuck Klein, who had four consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons from 1929 to 1932. Howard was listed with teammates Chase Utley, Jamie Moyer, and Roy Halladay as one of the few active players that is likely to be considered for the Hall of Fame.
Howard has a fraternal twin brother named Corey, as well as an older brother and a sister. He claims to be the smallest of the Howard sons. His favorite baseball team growing up was the St. Louis Cardinals. He has a son. Howard graduated from Lafayette High School (Wildwood, St. Louis County, Mo.) in 1998, where he played trombone. While attending Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) he became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc and his line name was "Blue Hurt".
Major league and franchise recordsEdit
|Set while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Walks in a nine-inning game (NL)||5||Template:Mlby||tied, numerous others||July 30, 2006|
|Home runs by a Phillies batter, single season||58||Template:Mlby||Mike Schmidt, 48 (Template:Mlby)||49th on August 31, 2006|
|Home runs in a sophomore season||58||Template:Mlby||Ralph Kiner, 51 (Template:Mlby)||52nd on September 3, 2006|
|Intentional walks to a Phillies batter||37||Template:Mlby||Jim Thome, 26 (Template:Mlby)||27th on September 13, 2006|
|Fewest games for 100 home runs||325||Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby||Ralph Kiner, 385 (Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby)||100th on June 27, 2007|
|Home runs in first 1,000 career at-bats||85||Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby||Cecil Fielder, 76 (Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby)||77th on September 24, 2007|
|Fewest games for 150 home runs||495||Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby||Eddie Mathews, 569 (Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby)||150th on July 2, 2008|
|Strikeouts by a Phillies batter||199||Template:Mlby||tied himself (Template:Mlby)||199th on September 27, 2008|
|Career grand slams by a Phillies batter||9||Template:By–Template:By||Mike Schmidt, 7 (Template:By–Template:By)||8th on May 30, 2009|
|Fewest games for 200 home runs||658||Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby||Ralph Kiner, 706 (Template:Mlby–Template:Mlby)||200th on July 16, 2009 |
|At least one RBI in consecutive postseason games in the same year||7||Template:Mlby||Iván Rodríguez (Template:Mlby)|
Bernie Williams (Template:Mlby) (6 all)
Carlton Fisk (Template:Mlby)
|October 18, 2009|
|At least one RBI in consecutive postseason games||8||Template:Mlby||tied, Lou Gehrig (Template:Mlby and Template:Mlby)||October 19, 2009|
|Most strikeouts in a World Series||13||Template:Mlby||Willie Wilson, 12 (Template:Mlby)||November 4, 2009|
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