Phillies legend Ryan Howard nearly lost an MLB record to Mets 1B Pete Alonso.
The three-time All-Star got off to a fast start — particularly in his first full season (2006) following the trade of eventual Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome to the Chicago White Sox. That year, he earned All-Star, Silver Slugger, and prestigious MVP honors.
It was in late May 2007 that the “Big Piece” played in his 300th game. By then, the 27-year-old had slugged an impressive 91 home runs — the most in MLB history through that many games.
Fourteen years later, Howard’s record nearly was matched and/or bested this week by a National League East division rival.
Fellow first baseman Pete Alonso, of the New York Mets, appeared in his 300th career game Tuesday evening opposite the Cincinnati Reds. His first-inning home run against Wade Miley not only marked his 19th blast of the 2021 season, but the 88th of his career.
Although the two-time Home Run Derby champion finished three home runs shy of tying Howard’s record, it is noteworthy that he came close — hence logging the second-most career home runs ever through 300 games.
Without a doubt, Howard’s Achilles injury at the end of the 2011 NLDS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was devastating. It essentially made him an entirely different player for the last five seasons of his career. In his final 545 games over this stretch, Howard hit just 96 home runs. In slightly more than 1,000 games to start his career (2004-11), the St. Louis native slugged 286 blasts.
The Phillies and Mets were rivals battling for postseason positioning back in 2007, and fittingly are doing the same now. Eerily enough, the John Middleton-led organization has not appeared in the postseason since Howard’s injury. If history repeats itself, the Phillies will put together a late-season rally and best the Mets for the division title once again.