Howard's big numbers not enough

Howard's big numbers not enough

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Howard's smiling mug and name sits atop the National League leaders in home runs and RBIs.

Yet you won't find it on the NL All-Star team. Perhaps the Philllies' slugging first baseman found his groove too late, and as a result will join Reds outfielder Hank Sauer, who was the last player to lead his league in homers and RBIs at the break and not make the All-Star team. That happened in 1948, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I'm part of history," Howard said with a laugh after hitting two homers in Thursday's win over the Cardinals.

Howard's 28 homers lead the Major Leagues and his 84 RBIs are tops in the NL. Sauer was batting .275 with a league-leading 24 homers and 64 RBIs in '48, but the NL starting outfield had Philadelphia's Richie Ashburn and St. Louis' Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter, and reserves Tommy Holmes, Ralph Kiner and Bobby Thomson.

Howard was most likely a victim of his low batting average and high strikeout totals -- .236 and 126, respectively, entering Saturday's game. Howard struggled for most of the All-Star voting process, reaching a season-low .163 on May 7. He's ripped nine homers during a 14-game hitting streak. He's also hit .333 with runners in scoring position.

He also has four home runs in the past three games.

"It's unfortunate that he wasn't able to get in," said Pat Burrell, who also didn't make the NL team despite worthy numbers. "To lead the league in homers and RBIs and not have a chance to go is too bad. But that's the way the system is. I guess it has less to do with the actual numbers and more to do with whatever else matters. It's too bad for Ryan."

The Phillies are just fine with Howard batting for them.

"He's a run producer, how can you possibly overlook that?" manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's got [126] strikeouts, but at the same time, those [home runs and RBIs] are hard numbers to pass up."

"Find somebody that has produced more runs than him. That's hard to do. Would you take him out of your lineup? He does about twice as much as other guys do. That's one thing about this game. Nobody can take away your performance on the field. It sits right there in front of you. The numbers tell the story."

Pitching matchup
PHI: RHP Adam Eaton (3-7, 5.20 ERA)
Eaton is coming off a rough outing Monday against the Mets, in which he allowed eight runs -- six earned -- in a career-low 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed 10 hits and a walk. He'll try his luck against a struggling D-backs team. He is 3-5 with a 4.23 ERA in 14 career starts against Arizona.

ARI: LHP Randy Johnson (5-7, 5.18 ERA)
Johnson was back in vintage form Sunday against the Padres, allowing just one run on three hits, striking out 10. The Big Unit picked up his first win since May 16 after losing his previous six starts. After working on mechanics with pitching coach Bryan Price, Johnson is just 11 wins away from 300. Against the Phillies, Johnson is 10-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 19 starts.

Tidbits
Greg Dobbs has 18 pinch-hits this season, the most for a Phillie since Dave Philley had 18 in 1958. ... The Phillies will host Italian Heritage Day on Saturday. ... Four Phillies Minor Leaguers are scheduled to participate in the XM All-Star Futures Game: shortstop Jason Donald, outfielder Greg Golson, catcher Lou Marson and right-hander Carlos Carrasco. Right-hander Antonio Bastardo was also selected, but won't play due to injury. ... Phillies Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts and Steve Carlton are scheduled to participate in the All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade on Tuesday. ... Chase Utley has stolen 16 straight bases. He hasn't been caught since May 1. ... Infielder Mike Cervenak made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the 11th inning and lined out to left.

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Up next
• Sunday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 9-6, 3.18) vs. Diamondbacks (Brandon Webb, 13-4, 3.27), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday-Wednesday: All-Star break

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.