Where has Paul Jolovitz been for the last month?

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Ryan Howard has been hitting like a Player of the Month candidate, yet not everyone has taken notice.

I heard this last night while driving and it took some effort to avoid losing control of the car:

(paraphrasing)

You know why I didn't talk about Ryan Howard possibly coming back after his two-home run game? It's only one day! I won't even begin to say the first word about Howard coming back until he does it for a week or a month.

and

There are words and commas in life, and that game was a comma.

and

His average is up, and that's nice, but he gets paid $25 million [actually $20 M this year] to hit home runs, not hit for a high average.

The source of these pearls was one Paul Jolovitz on WIP. For the record, over the last month (since May 24th), Howard has hit:

.337/.405/.587 (.991 OPS)

For the month of June in particular, Howard is a viable Player of the Month candidate, hitting:

.357/.442/.643, for a 1.085 OPS and .451 wOBA

This is where he ranks in the NL so far in June:

2nd in OBP
6th in Slugging Pct
3rd in OPS
4th in wOBA

Yes, he has only had 3 home runs and 15 RBIs (still 9th best in the NL), but he's been one of the best hitters in the league, and quite frankly I'd be surprised if he has another month as good as this for the rest of the year. The month that Mr. Jolovitz is looking for as evidence has actually already happened.

Now Mr. Jolovitz seems to be among the more thoughtful sports talk show hosts, and has been known to speak with some intelligence on other matters. So what is happening here? It can't be that there is just so much happening on the Philadelphia sports scene, that Howard's hot hitting over the past month-plus somehow escaped notice.

The issue may be the laser-like focus on home runs, at the exclusion of all other contributions. Maybe Jolly thinks that the Phillies care (or should care) how Howard generates production. Or that opposing teams care how they get runs scored against them. That if Howard generates that production by getting walks, singles, and doubles, that's it's somehow less objectionable to the other team than if he generates the equivalent production by hitting home runs.

There is a general over-reliance among many fans and those in the media on players' "roles" and that they really only have to excel in those specific jobs and that it's much less important what they do in other aspects: leadoff hitters need to get on base, and it doesn't matter how much power they have. Cleanup hitters are supposed to hit home runs and drive in runs, and getting on base is not important. In reality, while every player has roles they play more often than others, everyone in the lineup is responsible for generating offense in all types of situations.

Of course, even through Howard's hot streak, issues remain: his defense is average at best, base running is awful, and even at the plate he is nearly useless against lefties.

But it's not really going to get much better than the last month, and unfortunately Mr. Jolovitz missed it.

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