Ken Griffey Jr. was in line to be the one to break Hank Aaron's home run record.
Injuries derailed that journey for Griffey once he moved on to play in Cincinnati.
Alex Rodriguez is the next presumed heir apparent to break the home-run record, now owned by Barry Bonds.
It still remains to be seen whether A-Rod has the ability to shatter Bonds' record, as some still believe he could reach 800. Yet with all that hangs around him, Rodriguez is more likely to fall short of 763 home runs than to surpass it, as is anyone else.
Howard became the fastest player to reach 200 home runs, while Pujols has accumulated 353 in his nine major league seasons.
Both are 29 years of age, while Howard is just two months or so older than Pujols.
By the examples set by Griffey Jr. and Rodriguez, breaking the all-time home run record is a marathon more than a sprint.
The man previously responsible for becoming the quickest to 200 homers was Ralph Kiner, who after 10 seasons left baseball with 369 long balls.
Barry Bonds didn't hit for 40 home runs in a single season until his eighth season, yet Ryan Howard has yet to hit for less than 47 homers in his short career.
Howard is sprinter straight out of the gate, while Bonds took his time, staying near the middle of the pack. Some sprinters have the ability to keep their pace, while others fade back into the pack.
Will the numbers begin to fade for Howard? Certainly not yet, they won't.
The only thing against Howard is that, well, he's 29. That wouldn't be such a negative point in his case to break the record except you have to consider the fact that he is currently playing in just his fourth full season in the majors.
Blocked by Jim Thome, Howard was unable to make his way into the league until the age of 25, and didn't play for a full season until he was 26. Bonds emerged at the young age of 22, and Pujols entered at 21.
The loss of three or four valuable years will prove to be costly in his mission to surpass Bonds.
If you take Howard's average home runs per season (49), and multiply it by 10 (estimated years of play left), and then add it onto his current total, he still falls short of 763.
Playing until the age of 40 is extremely difficult, especially for sluggers. But even for those home run hitters who manage to play until 40, their numbers almost always decrease in their final seasons.
The fact of the matter is, it is almost certain that he will not hit 49 home runs for the next ten seasons, and even if he does, it won't be enough.
If Ryan Howard had made his way to the big leagues just a few years earlier, his outlook on the possibility to break the record would be much brighter.
It is much too early to tell if anyone will be able to pass Bonds in the near future, especially Howard. The record has been broken just twice since Babe Ruth established his 714 career home runs.
An injury, or simply just an irreversible slump could signal the end of anyone's journey to be the home run king, which is why the record is so rarely even come close to.
Howard has the ability to hit 500, and possibly even 600 homers, but 763 would take a miracle.
Albert Pujols is the prototypical player to pass Bonds, but it is also too early to judge whether he has it in him.
With 30 home runs in each of his first nine seasons, Pujols has the consistency and the flat out ability to be the record holder. He has as likely of a chance as anybody ever has at the age of 29. But then again, so did Griffey Jr.
Talk to me when he reaches 700.
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