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Detractors can't admit Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard is a gamer

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The statistics are clear, when Ryan Howard is in the lineup the Philadelphia Phillies win far more games than they lose. And if other people attempt to dispute that reality, then just ask them how many playoff games have taken place during the past two seasons when 'The Big Piece' has mostly been missing?

This 10-year veteran is the Phillies' second-best home run hitter (311 career home runs) of all-time. Philadelphia's greatest slugger never needs to be mentioned by name, because everyone knows who stands by the iconic number 548.

Howard was 'the' game-changer on Charlie Manuel's team for many seasons. But, the necessary use of the 'was' is what detractors often seize upon.

At 34, number 6 is hardly washed up. If he were 44, this story wouldn't have been written.

Howard proved himself forever when he demolished major league pitching from 2006-2011. He crushed 262 home runs, knocked in 796 runs and generated a .929 OPS during that six-year span. And those three 2008 World Series' taters that he slammed also built his credentials as a big-game player. However, anyone who witnessed the obviously injured big man giving everything he had during the past two regular seasons reconfirmed that he's a legitimate gamer.

As long as Howard is able to maintain his physical health this season, no one will care how much money he's being paid. All real baseball fans will also cheer the 30-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI's that he likely produce during the course of a full 2014 season.

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