Ryan Howard was the offensive catalyst that helped bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia. With 382 home runs, he finishes his Phillies career behind only Mike Schmidt in that category.
There is no doubt Ryan Howard is among the top 10 hitters in Phillies history, but that does not push him over the hump into the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame is watered down by many across the sports landscape. We fight for our childhood heroes who were the soundtrack to our summers, but not everyone can fit into Cooperstown. At some point, you must draw the line. And Ryan Howard falls just short of that line.
Had “The Big Piece” never torn his achillies or dealt with other related injuries, this conversation could be entirely different. Howard would easily have 450 home runs and possibly 1500 RBIs.
But the achillies injury did happen. You can speculate on what could have been until the end of time, but Ryan Howard failed to keep his numbers above that golden line.
Ryan Howard is currently tied at 67th all-time in home runs with 382. That is a very impressive number, and should be celebrated by him and the fans. However, you can not create an argument for the Hall of Fame by saying that he had more home runs than Yogi Berra, Craig Biggio, or Joe DiMaggio. Those three Hall of Famers were supported by their home run numbers, but other factors such as championships and hits are the reason those three are Hall of Famers.
If we were to set Craig Biggio as the gold line that players must cross to enter the Hall of Fame, than we’d be celebrating Raul Ibanez, Greg Luzinski, and Pat Burrell’s inductions into Cooperstown.
Runs batted in create the same argument, especially with Biggio lingering in the cellar of his Cooperstown peers. Ryan Howard is 157th all-time in RBIs with 1194, ahead of Biggio, Tony Gwynn, and Joe Morgan. If Howard had continued his pre-injury trend and sat among the likes of Mickey Mantle and Jim Rice, the argument is there.
Even outside the boxscores, the awards and personality are impressive. Winning Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in consecutive years, Howard is only one of three players (Cal Ripken Jr. and Dustin Pedroia) to ever do so.
At the time, he was also the fastest player to reach 100 career home runs.
While everything looks great at first take, the deeper you go the story becomes clear. Ryan Howard ultimately falls short of the Hall of Fame. He’ll get his votes when his name appears on the ballot, and he may hang on for a couple of years, but ultimately he falls short of baseball immortalization.