A New Strike-Out King: Ryan Howard
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard has been a beast at the plate, hitting 47 HR & 136 RBI this year (giving him 105 HR & 285 RBI in his first two full seasons in the majors!). He also accomplished another amazing feat this season, one for which he is now enshrined in the record books; the single-season strike-out record (199). Adam Dunn must be feeling a little sigh of relief, since he previously held the top two spots for single-season strike-outs, with 195 (in '04) and 194 (in '06).
Last season, on average, Howard struck out every 2.66 at-bats. This season, that average jumped to every 3.21 at-bats. I'm sure that the Phillies' batting staff will be working with him to reduce those numbers for next season, but hopefully his long-ball production won't suffer as a result.
Despite Howard's spectacular HR & RBI display, it seems like his strike-outs & mediocre batting average have weighed on his card values. His 01 UD Prospect Premiers XRC ended the season averaging around $20 TAC, down from $22 in August & $26 in July. His 03 Bowman's Best Auto RC averaged $371 in September, down from $400 in August & $388 in July. With the Phillies on the brink of elimination in the NLDS, I don't expect Howard's cards to rebound this year (unless they can pull-off a miraculous comeback, led by Howard's big bat).