In a career that already has been highlighted by winning a World Series title, NL Rookie of the Year, 2006 NL MVP, and the fastest player to reach 200 homeruns, Ryan Howard is a fan favorite in the eyes of a typical Philadelphia Phillies Phan. He is a hero in the eyes of kids. Heck, he is even still his parents little boy in their eyes, but the one thing that I constantly look at, and am constantly reminded of by Howard is, a great first basemen, but not better than Albert Pujols.
When All-Star voting comes around, Pujols is the guy that starts, not Howard. When MVP voting comes around, even if Pujols’ team doesn’t make the play-offs, and Pujols has a great season, it does not matter if Howard single handedly got the Phils back into the NL East race, Pujols will get the award every time. Howard just is not on the same level as Pujols, no matter how well he performs.
But there is one more first baseman, who has blasted himself onto the scene of the great first baseman.
That man is Prince Fielder. Fielder draws a more reasonable comparison to Howard. Both are amazing homerun hitters, who are not great at defense, but get the job done, and do not hit for average.
While you may think that Howard is a better first baseman overall, you may want to take a closer look at the stats over their careers.
Howard has an overall better OPS, and Slugging percentage, but Fielder has a better batting average, and will have Howard beat in driving in runs by the end of the season as well, than Howard did in his first five years as a pro. Howard is only beating Fielder right now by 64 RBI’s.
Fielder does boast a better average than Howard at .304, compared to Howards .266, and has Howard in just about every other category as well except homeruns, and both are tied with 26 a piece.
Keep in mind that Fielder is only 25, and burst onto the scene when he was 21. Howard did not get to the bigs until he was 24.
Howard may be the fastest guy ever to 200 dingers, but Prince is coming after him like Jessica Simpson was after Tony Romo once upon a time.
So far in Fielder’s short career, he has 140 total homeruns. Howard has Fielder beat there, but not by a lot. Through Howard’s 5th year, he recorded 177 total homeruns. Fielder has 140 and counting.
While Fielder is a longshot to beat Howards mark this year, Howard only has Fielder beat at hitting homeruns during the regular season. Fielder crushed Howard at the Homerun Derby this year. The final result of that was Fielder taking first place, and Howard not even making it to the final round.
While Howard does boast a Homerun Derby title, a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP title, and a championship ring, Fielder is right on his tail, and the competition between the two should be interesting for the next five years, when both players will be in their prime.
There are baseball critics in the world who prefer to base their opinion on stats, and that is fine, but I like to base mine on performance, and the number of achievements that player has earned.
In this case, with all stats placed aside, Howard is the better first baseman in this argument. Howard has single handedly gotten the Phillies into the play-offs the past two years, by having miraculous August and September months.
Fielder has yet to lead the Brewers to anything, and needed the help of C.C. Sabathia just to get his team to the play-offs last year.
Having Cole Hamels helped get the Phils that World Series ring, but they never would have gotten to the play-offs without Howard leading the way in the late summer months.