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Ryan Howard

I was recently taken to task for suggesting Ryan Howard was every bit as valuable as the other National League MVP candidates. While I still feel he deserves consideration for his regular season contributions, Howard has been anything but valuable during the Phillies postseason run. In 27 at-bats, the Phillies clean-up man has only five hits, zero home runs and just two RBI. He’s also struck out seven times, something that shouldn’t surprise considering his lack of discipline at the plate.

Fortunately for Howard, his lack-of-hitting hasn’t hurt the Phillies and after Monday’s 1-4 contribution, it’s obvious the team is just waiting for Howard to explode:

“Howard got a huge hit last night,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We forget that … [It] set the stage for Victorino to hit a two-run homer.”

Manuel mentioned Carlos Ruiz and his hit just ahead of the go-ahead rocket by Stairs.

“Those are contributing,” Manuel said. “Howard contributed.”

Before Game 3, Manuel talked about how Howard was trying hard and was overanxious and not following the ball, not really seeing it out of the pitchers’ hand. But after Game 4, a basic 1-for-4 night with a walk gave the manager a chance to say something nice.

And if Stairs can get his place in Phillies history stamped with one swing, Howard obviously has the same chance.

As long as the Phillies keep winning, Howard’s postseason batting inefficiencies shouldn’t be an issue besides the requisite disappointment stemming from wanting your players to do well. Although, if he finds himself in a game-winning situation and fails to deliver, it’s easy to imagine his plate patience being taken to task.