But is he the MOST valuable? It depends on your definition of “value” is. If it calls for ignoring stats like home runs and RBI in favor of batting average, then no, Howard is not the most valuable. However, with the Phillies leading the NL East — for now — and his MLB-leading 45 home runs and 136 RBI contribution to said lead, he certainly deserves some consideration. Yes, Howard’s batting average has been lower than you’d want during the season grind, but in the last week or so, Philadelphia’s hammer is hitting .455 with four dingers and 11 runs knocked in.
Howard’s recent tear has helped push his batting average to the .250 area for the first time this season. On the other hand, Howard is again threatening to exceed 200 strikeouts with only 74 walks. Obviously, you’d like to see his patience at the plate improve — as well as his eye — but consider this: if you knew every time you made contact with the ball, it had a chance to leave the yard, patience and plate discipline may not be your biggest virtues either.