The New York Yankees have been blessed with some of the greatest players in the world putting on the pinstripes. So it begs to question: who was the most magnificent Yankee of all time? Let’s look at the two most formidable Yankees of the ’20s and ’30s, Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig?
What Could Have Been
Lou Gehrig’s life and career were cut short by the disease he’d be named after. Now, he was 36, so it’s circumspect to believe that he’d last as long as Ruth did (who played till he was 40). But he certainly could have given Ruth a run for his money in several main categories. Except for home runs. Ruth definitely would have still held onto that.
Ruth had a career batting average of .342, Gehrig with .340. Ruth had 2,873 career hits, averaging 186 a season. Gehrig had 2,721 averaging over 200 hits per season. Ruth struck out 1,330 times in his career, Gehrig, only 790 times. Gehrig hit more doubles, triples, and averaged nine home runs fewer than Ruth did, and had twice as many MVPs as the Sultan of Swat.
Ruth still holds career records in slugging, OPS, and OPS+ and hit over 200 home runs more than Gehrig. If Gehrig had the option to play 2-3 full seasons after 1938, he’d had passed Babe Ruth for most RBI’s.
Are Things Skewed Toward Ruth?
Gehrig spent his entire career in the live-ball era, something that Ruth can’t say. But Ruth was a two-way player, finishing with a 94-46 career record, adding 20 more WAR points to his resume than Gehrig, who was a career first baseman.
But, the legend was a STUD offensively. Offensively, Ruth had a WAR over 162 while Gehrig was at 112. Statistically, all things point to Ruth being the better player over Gehrig.
But statistics don’t always paint a complete picture. We’re still talking about two human beings who happened to be giants of the game of baseball. And unfortunately, we who were born past 1939 will never have gotten to see these men play. All we’ll have are the highlight reels that would serve as the basis for what would become SportsCenter’s top 10 plays.
Let’s appreciate the fact they both happened to be Yankees.