Some people say that the 2006 MVP should have gone to another player. Chase Utley. Albert Pujols. But it didn’t. The man who won the 2006 MVP award was Ryan Howard.
The sheer force of Ryan Howard's gargantuan home runs cannot accurately be measured in speed or total distance, only by the gasps from those who witnessed such a spectacle.
2006 was ten years ago. Ten! At the end of his MVP season, this was his batting line:
.313/.425/.659 with 58 home runs. The most amazing things about that, to me, is that he was getting on base at a .425 clip. There’s a version of Ryan Howard that did that. Also: 58 home runs! That’s like someone telling you that ice cream is now going to be 50% tastier AND it’s fat free. That’s the Ryan Howard we had in 2006.
This is the season where he hit home runs 49, 50, and 51 in one game, off one pitcher, at home. (We’ll get to that later in our countdown.) This is the season where this happened:
Let’s talk about that video for a second. First off, Howard still hits home runs exactly the same way he did back then. A mighty jack, and then he uses he backswing to look at his home run. And then there’s Brett Myers and Ryan Madson absolutely losing their minds when Howard hits it to the upper-upper deck. Madson is so excited he nearly vomits all over himself. Then Joe Torre is so angry he might start chomping on the fence in front of him. AND THEN RYAN HOWARD TRIPLES. Of course, most of this clip is scored to the magnificent sound of Harry Kalas. (We miss you, Harry.)
This feels so long ago, and it really is. We’ve seen a lot of Ryan Howard since then, and we’ve been through a lot with him. He’d have another three injury-free years before second base would fell him in 2010. And then in 2011 we all know what happened. After his achilles injury, he was never really the same.
It’s insane to think that his 2006 MVP came just a year after he was voted Rookie of the Year. This was peak Howard, and I miss him.