No person in his or her right mind would make the above trade (if they had Howard), but at one point in the slugger’s minor league career, it almost came to fruition.
While Howard was enjoying success in the Florida State and Eastern Leagues in 2003 and 2004, rumors circulated that Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ed Wade was going to trade the young prospect to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Benson. Teams usually quickly debunk rumors, but this particular one had legs, because fellow first baseman and savvy veteran Jim Thome was blocking Howard’s road to the major leagues.
Thankfully for the city of Philadelphia, Wade never pulled the trigger and now Howard is a cornerstone at first base for the Phillies. And after just 42 plate appearances in ’04, Howard emerged as a player with an enormous upside in ’05.
After Thome suffered an elbow injury in July, one that would sideline him for the entire second half of the season, Howard went on to hit .288 with 22 home runs (which led all rookies) and 63 RBI. Howard was a shoe-in for National League Rookie of the Year, making him only the fourth Phillie to win the prestigious award in the history of the club.
In ’06, Howard continued his climb to stardom, joining Cal Ripken Jr. as the only other player in baseball history to win the Rookie of the Year and M.V.P. awards in successive seasons. His 58 home runs led the majors that season, and his .313 batting average ranked him eighth in the NL.
On top of being named M.V.P. in ’06, Howard also received the NL Hank Aaron Award and was selected as The Sporting News Player of the Year. He added to his already impressive ’06 accolades with Player of the Year (voted on by the players themselves) and the NL Outstanding Position Player in the Players Choice Awards balloting.
Now in his third full year in the majors, Howard eyes a postseason for the Phillies in ’07. Even though Philly started off a dreadful 4-11 this season, the club has since rebounded and likely will be in the hunt for the NL Wild Card.
Sometimes it’s the moves general managers don’t make that have the most impact on their clubs. At only 27, Phillie fans have plenty to look forward to in Howard, thanks to Wade not trading the potential superstar for a journeyman pitcher back in ’04.
ESPN.com Player Page: Ryan Howard
Player profile on Ryan Howard, as well as season and career stats and photos.
Official site of the Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard
Multimedia highlights on Ryan Howard, as well as stats and a bio.
CBSSportsline.com: Ryan Howard
Fantasy baseball analysis, player updates and stats.
FOX Sports.com: Ryan Howard
Scouting report, stats and small player profile.
News and Commentary
Howard beats out Pujols to win NL M.V.P. award
After an astonishing 2006 season, Ryan Howard topped St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols for the National League M.V.P. award. Winning the award is one thing – beating out a superstar like Pujols is quite another.
Street wins AL Rookie of Year; Howard wins NL
Ryan Howard took home the National League Rookie of the Year honor in 2005, along with the Oakland A’s Huston Street, who took home the American League’s version of the award.
Ryan Howard, No Asterisk
In this article by the New York Times, columnist Michael Sokolove dives into Ryan Howard, the art of Ryan Howard’s swing and how the slugger plays the game.
Howard makes a memory
In April 2006, Ryan Howard hit the longest home run in Citizens Bank Park history.
Howard receives honor
In September 2006, Ryan Howard earned the Mike Schmidt Player of the Year Award, given by the Philadelphia Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards.