The Philadelphia Phillies had a big decision to make at the end of the 2005 season. With a logjam at first base, it looked like they would have to trade popular but injured star Jim Thome or powerful youngster Ryan Howard. Eventually, they chose to deal Thome and keep Howard.
Thome played pretty well for the Chicago White Sox the next season, but the choice to keep Howard paid off big time. In his first full season in the major leagues, the big first baseman hit .313 and led the National League with 58 home runs and 149 runs batted in. His tremendous year earned him the NL MVP award - the first by a Phillie since Mike Schmidt won it in 1986.
Improving upon those numbers might be difficult, but Howard is still several years shy of his 30th birthday. If he improves his discipline at the plate - he struck out 181 times in 2006 - he should be a Triple Crown threat for years to come.
Collectors have taken to Howard as the power hitting poster boy for the "post-steroid" era of Major League Baseball. He doesn't have a lot of 2003 rookie cards, appearing in only a handful of Topps and Donruss brands, but his most valuable by far is his lone autographed rookie: Bowman's Best # RH. He also has a popular pre-rookie card, Upper Deck Prospect Premieres # 62, from his draft year of 2001.
Ryan Howard 2003 Rookie Cards
- Bowman Draft # 138
- Bowman Chrome Draft # 138
- Bowman's Best # RH - autographed
- Diamond Kings # 195
- Donruss Elite Extra Edition # 47 - #'d to 900
- Topps Pristine # 188
- Topps Total # 952