Statcast: Howard's homer leaves bat at 108 mph
Phillies first baseman finding groove at plate
DENVER -- Ryan Howard obliterated a baseball in the third inning Wednesday night at Coors Field.
He sent a 1-1 slider 454 feet to center field for a solo home run in a 4-2 victory over the Rockies, giving the Phillies seven wins in their last eight games. Statcast™ data said the ball left his bat at 108 mph, making it one of his hardest hit balls of the season.
"I'm trying to get into [Giancarlo] Stanton range," Howard said.
It was Howard's longest home run since he hit one 465 feet in August 2011, according to ESPN. In October of that year, Howard ruptured his left Achilles in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
"I felt like I hit it pretty good," he said. "I got the sweet part of the bat on the ball. It had some good backspin on it."
Howard also singled and scored in the first inning and doubled in the seventh inning to finish the night 3-for-5. He is hitting .292 (28-for-96) with five doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 18 RBIs and a .961 OPS in 27 games since April 19. From April 21 through Wednesday, the only hitters with more home runs than Howard are Bryce Harper (11), Stanton (10), Ryan Braun (10), Mike Trout (nine) and Todd Frazier (nine).
Howard is averaging a home run every 3.375 games since he hit his first home run of the season. If he can maintain that pace through the season's remaining 120 games, he would finish with 35 home runs.
Howard has not hit 30 or more home runs in a season since he hit 33 in 2011.
"It would be great to get back to that kind of flow," the slugger said.
Teams needing a first baseman or designated hitter might take notice. The Phillies have tried to trade Howard in the past, but found scant interest. First, Howard had $60 million remaining on his contract, which expires following the 2016 season. Second, he posted a .720 OPS from 2012-14.
Howard looks like a much different hitter lately.
"I mean it's not doing a whole lot different than the first month, it's just finding real estate out there," said Howard, referring to his .175 batting average and .464 OPS through April 19.
Said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg: "He's having good swings. He crushed that ball to center tonight. There was no help at all on that. If anything, it was fighting against the rain at the time. Just looks like he's real comfortable at home plate and getting real good contact on his pitches."