Originally posted on Philly Sports World  |  Last updated 5/3/12

The Philly Phace Off is Philly Sports World’s new weekly Thursday feature. Every Thursday, Rob and Wayne will debate a topic. Your job is to be the jury. You read both sides and then decide who wins by voting in the Phace Off Poll. This week Rob and Wayne debate who means more to the Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard or Chase Utley.

Rob’s Side
Once in a generation, a player becomes the definition of a sports city. Not necessarily by his words or his personality, but by the attitude that he exudes on the field.

Chase Utley is that man in Philadelphia.

He is without a doubt the most important component needed for the Phillies. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ryan Howard and his power numbers. Utley just brings stability to the middle of the infield and the top of the lineup. Getting him back would mean bring familiarity back to the hitting rotation.

This team thrives when Jimmy Rollins leads off, Chase Utley send him into scoring position, and Hunter Pence brings them both across the plate. While The Big Piece may bring a jaw-dropping factor to Citizens Bank Park with some towering long balls, he also carries a very high strikeout rate. At this stage of the season, the Phillies are in desperate need of baserunners. Chase Utley’s OBP is far superior to that of Ryan Howard. There are plenty of position players that can plug the gap at first base while still contributing on the offensive side. There is a reason that we picked up Jim Thome in the off-season, and you also have players like Laynce Nix and John Mayberry to take reps. Nobody can provide the swagger and hustle that Utley brings to the table. He is the guy that can carry the spark that ignites this team to once again become “World F***ing Champions.”

I also don’t mind seeing Utley’s wife playing with orphaned puppies in a tanktop on a hot summer day. Can Ryan Howard provide comparable eye candy? I didn’t think so.

Wayne’s Side
This, to me, is a no-brainer. The Philadelphia Phillies currently rank 12th in runs scored in the National League and 25th overall in MLB. Their 12-12 record is not so much a reflection of their pitching as it is their overwhelming lack of ability to produce runs. Hunter Pence has tried to plug the hole in the middle of the lineup vacated by Ryan Howard and his torn Achilles’ tendon, but he’s not the guy.

The Phillies do indeed miss the swagger of Chase Utley, and saying that you can plug any player in at first base is also pretty much true. Ryan Howard has never been a Gold Glove 1st baseman, so he’s certainly not here for his defense, even if it has improved dramatically in the past several seasons. No, Ryan Howard is here because of his ability to produce runs at an alarming and historic pace. No one in baseball has produced more runs than Ryan Howard over the past 6 years. From 2006-2011, Ryan Howard has driven in 796 runs. Even Albert Pujols (708) and Prince Fielder (646) pale in comparison.

I fully understand that he strikes out too much, and that he may not be Mr. Philly grit like Chase Utley is perceived to be. I’ll even give you that he has come up small in a couple of instances in the postseason when it really mattered. However, I will say unapologetically, that the Phillies would probably not have gotten to the playoffs as many times as they have without Ryan Howard’s bat.  He has carried them on his back down the stretch on more than one occasion.

Ryan Howard is very good at his job, and his job is to drive in runs. Sure would be nice to have a guy in the lineup to give the Phillies 12-15 more RBIs right about now wouldn’t it?

Oh yeah, and Ryan Howard is engaged to an Eagles’ cheerleader. Eye candy? Really?

Who’s side are you on? Vote now in the Phace Off poll!

Similar Posts:

  • Can the Phillies Compete without Howard (and Utley)?
  • Like It or Not, What You’ve Seen is What the 2012 Phillies Are
  • Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Chase Utley Soon to be Clearwater Bound
  • Phillies Need a Leg to Stand On
  • Will Ryan Howard Play This Year? J-Roll Doesn’t Think So

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