Earlier, Craig wrote about Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard complaining that he’ll see less playing time against right-handed pitching in favor of the younger Tommy Joseph. It’s unfortunate considering Howard’s legacy with the Phillies, but it really does make sense from a team standpoint to phase in younger players who can help the team in the future. Howard will be a free agent after the season as the Phillies will almost certainly buy him out for $10 million rather than pick up his 2017 club option for $23 million.
Despite a meager .195 batting average and -1.2 WAR, Howard has shown signs of life in his bat, as he has 20 home runs despite taking only 301 plate appearances this season. As a percentage of plate appearances, his 6.64 percent home run rate is his highest since 2008, when he hit 48 home runs and helped the Phillies win the World Series.
Coincidental with today’s Howard news, Major League Baseball uploaded a few classic Howard home run videos to its YouTube channel. One of those videos featured a majestic blast into the third deck in right field at Citizens Bank Park off of then-Yankee Mike Mussina on June 20, 2006. Since today is a very slow day for baseball, I figure we can take some time to travel down this road.
According to ESPN’s Home Run Tracker, if the ball continued on its flight uninterrupted, it would have landed 441 feet from home plate. Howard has certainly hit plenty of longer home runs, but this was more impressive because of its height. I can’t seem to find any official information on the matter, but he may be the only hitter to ever hit a home run into the third deck at Citizens Bank Park. The only other hitter who I remember coming close was Barry Bonds, who hit career homer No. 713 off of Jon Lieber. I was at the game that night and remember it like it was yesterday.