After last Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Houston Astros, Ryan Howard appeared miffed.
The target of much criticism this season (most of it directed at his play on the field, and deserved), Howard seemed to be concerned that people were focusing too much on his present struggles and not on his past success.
"You know, I think you guys forget what I’ve done," Howard said. "You guys look at what’s going on right now. People forget what I’ve done."
Last week, I wrote that Howard's legacy should be safe. He is a Phillies hero, one of the main men responsible for the team's second world championship, in 2008, and in the end he'll be remembered more for his successes than his failures.
Apparently, Howard was intent on creating some new memories for everybody on this homestand, notching three huge blows against both the Houston Astros and on Sunday against the New York Mets.
Yesterday, as the team came back from a 6-1 deficit to tie the game at 6 in the 9th, Howard stepped up with runners on first and second, two out, and did this.
Against Houston on Thursday, with the Phillies trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the 8th, he delivered again, this time with the bases loaded and two out.
And his week started off on the right foot, on Tuesday against the Astros, with the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 15th and runners on first and second with, once again, two out.
For the week, Howard hit .259/.310./519 with two home runs, one double and nine RBIs, with a wOBA of .363 and an ISO of .259. Also...
Ryan Howard now leads the majors with 3 walk-off hits this season, leading Phillies to win over Mets— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 10, 2014
Ryan Howard has been doing this to opposing pitching lately: https://t.co/VtshA7s7gA— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) August 10, 2014
Howard's overall numbers still aren't pretty, and there isn't a whole lot he can do to make them pretty at this point, hitting .218/.298/.376 with a wOBA of .297 and an ISO of .158. But this homestand sure has been a lot of fun (with one more game against the Mets to go), although the celebration needs a little work.
The Phillies’ celebration pile needs some work. http://t.co/wK1HHODxv0— Dan McQuade (@dhm) August 10, 2014
Somewhere, Brad Lidge is smiling. Payback, Big Piece.
It's impossible not to be happy for Howard, who has had a rough go of it since injuring himself on the final play of the season in 2011. And while everyone hopes Howard can still find some consistency in his power game over the last month-and-a-half, it's important to note that he has had hot weeks like this in 2014, and been unable to sustain them.
From April 11 to April 23, Howard hit .333/.396/.667 with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs in 12 games (48 plate appearances).
From May 4 to May 25, Howard hit .176/.269/.265 with 1 HRs and 8 RBIs in 18 games (78 plate appearances).
From June 16 to June 26, Howard hit .326/.404/.565 with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs in 11 games (52 plate appearances).
From June 27 to August 3, Howard hit .135/.244/.207 with 2 HRs and 13 RBIs in 28 games (127 plate appearances).
Clearly, sustaining a hot streak for anything longer than a fortnight has been something of a struggle for Howard, and it's not a new phenomenon. In order for any real confidence to be garnered about Howard's future, he's going to need to put together a solid month of production at least, something along the lines of his .255/.333/.469 slash line from April of this year, in which he hit 5 HRs and had an OPS of .803.
Since then, his OPS per month was .657 in May, .711 in June, .542 in July and .605 so far in August (not counting yesterday).
It's impossible not to root for Ryan Howard. Anyone rooting against him probably loves hurricanes and darkness. This past week was one of the best of his career, and came at a time of heightened tension and criticism.
Fans could get used to the new walk-off Big Piece.