Longtime Philadelphia Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard, announced his retirement from Major League Baseball on Tuesday. Howard posted a letter on the Players Tribune website in an essay titled, “Thank You, Philly.” Howard spent his entire 13-year Major League career with the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League.
Howard hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2016. Last season he attempted a comeback and spent time with the Minor League affiliates of the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves. The big first baseman has been a free agent since November, and it didn’t appear as if any team was going to give him another chance this season.
The Philadelphia Phillies selected Ryan Howard in the 5th round of the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft. He made his debut on September 1, 2004, in a game against the Atlanta Braves. Howard would go on to play 19 games in the final month of the 2004 season, hitting .282 with two home runs. Howard had a little chip on his shoulder following the draft. He had this to say about his draft status:
” I was perceived as a first-third round pick. I kind of had a tough junior year and fell to the fifth round. At that time, it was motivation.”
Howard, 38, played in just 88 games in the 2005 season, but it was enough to win the 2005 Rookie of the Year Award in the National League. He posted a .288 batting average that season and also hit 22 home runs and posting 63 runs batted in. Howard was a three-time All-Star selection at first base in the National League.
Numerous Awards for Howard
One year after winning the Rookie of the Year Award, Howard was chosen as the Most Valuable Player in the National League in 2006. Howard played in 159 games and hit 59 home runs and drove in 149 runs for the Phillies. He posted a .425 on base percentage that season as he started piling up the walks. From 2006-2011 Howard averaged 44 home runs and 133 runs batted in each season.
Monster 2008 Season
In 2008 Howard led the Major Leagues with 48 home runs and 146 runs batted in while helping the Phillies win the World Series that year. It was the first World Series title for the Phillies since 1980. A year later Howard was named MVP of the National League Championship Series, but the Phillies lost in the World Series to the New York Yankees.
Howard posted a career batting average of .258 and collected 1,475 career hits. He belted 382 home runs and drove in 1,194 runs during his 13 seasons with the Phillies. He was one of the most feared power hitters during his entire playing career.
Howard Struggled to Stay Off DL
Injuries played a huge role in the last five years of his playing career. Howard suffered a torn achilles tendon on the last play of the National League Division Series in 2011, and he was never the same player. He suffered through leg, knee, and achilles tendon issues for the remainder of his playing days.
Howard joins fellow Phillies teammates Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino as players who have retired from baseball this season. Another teammate, Chase Utley, has announced that he plans to retire at the end of the 2018 season.