Beyond the Stat Line
Statistics alone do not show the impact Howard had. While Utley was on a Hall of Fame path of his own before injuries plagued his career as well, he was able to see better pitches as a result of Howard protecting him in the lineup.
The 2008 World Series will always be remembered for the pitchers among other factors. Hamels with his MVP performance, Joe Blanton with a home run, Jamie Moyer pitching while sick in his last chance at a ring, Brad Lidge completing the perfect season (if you don’t count the All-Star game), Ruiz’s walk-off, and the rain which delayed Game 5.
It is almost fitting that the other players and moments have taken the spotlight away from the performance Howard had. This would be a common trend throughout his entire Phillies career as he almost became the outcast of that team in the eyes of the fans. A player who had a significant impact, but fans felt could have done more.
Howard may receive the most criticism of the core players, other factors may cloud our memories of Howard being arguably the most feared hitter in the MLB from 2006-2009. However; one thing is for certain. Howard was the glue that held that offense together, and while it is not wise to deal in hypotheticals, it is hard to imagine the Phillies would have had the sustained success they did without him.