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  • If Gehrig Lived......

    If Lou hadnt gotten ALS (maybe it would have become Catfish Hunter disease) and had continued with his career what do you think his finally stats would have been? How much farther up your various all time lists do you think he would have ranked? Obviously his legacy would be much different, but do you think he would have remained one of the most famous players of all time?

    My thoughts are he would have played 4 more years, which would make him 39 when he retired. His BA probably would have gone down a little from .340.
    Hits - His last 3 full years had him declining from 205 to 170 I figured he probably would have averaged around 150 for his last four years. This would give him 3321 career hits instead of 2721 and move him from 52nd to 8th 2 hits ahead of Paul Molitor. He would have retired in 5th behind Cobb, Speaker, Anson and Wagner.

    HR - his last 3 once again declined from 49 to 29. If he averaged 23 for his last 4 years which may be a little high I admit, would bring him to a total of 585 which currently put him in 5th, but he would have retired in 2nd to only the Babe.

    RBI - His last 3 saw a drop from 159 to 114. If he dropped down to average as low as 75 RBI a year for the last four he would become the All Time leader in RBI.

    Personally I have Gehrig as the best first basemen already so that can't change. But, on the overall list I have him 5th behind Ruth, Aaron, Mays and Cobb. I would probably move him ahead of Mays and Cobb if he had been able to play the last four years.
    Lets Go Yankees, Valley Cats, Dutchmen, UT Spartans and ECU Pirates.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Biggtone23
    If Lou hadnt gotten ALS (maybe it would have become Catfish Hunter disease) and had continued with his career what do you think his finally stats would have been? How much farther up your various all time lists do you think he would have ranked? Obviously his legacy would be much different, but do you think he would have remained one of the most famous players of all time?
    Don't forget, if he wouldn't have suffered the illness then his 1938 season at least would have been better than it turned out. At the time of his decline, people were surprised at how quick it came. Players got old and slowed down but the thing with Gehrig's demise was how quick it came due to the ALS. The 1938 season -the one before he quit in 39- was a study in a man losing a battle to ALS.
    Lou Gehrig was known as a man who prided himself on staying in shape. At the end of one season back in the late 20's, the Babe and Lou were both asked by reporters what they would be doing in the offseason. The 'married' Babe replied 'a lot of 'what-not' with a wink of an eye. The 'still living at home with his parents' Lou replied, 'I'm gonna play a lot of basketball to stay in shape.' Oddly enough, both were telling the truth. :noidea

    Moreover, if not for the ALS he would have been able to play until the war years. He would have had the advantage of being too old to be drafted but and yet still vigorous enough to do well in the War Time version of MLB.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-01-2006, 03:31 PM.
    Johnny
    Delusion, Life's Coping Mechanism

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    • #3
      Are you aware that his entire 1938 last full season was in a slump since spring training? His disease affected ALL of 1938, not just the last half. I don't think he was ever over .300 from the beginning.

      So I think, if one wants to speculate how he'd have done if he hadn't gotten sick, we need to not count his 1938 stats. They were totally affected by his disease.

      Bill Burgess

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      • #4
        His 1938 season was almost definitely affected by the disease. Had he not been maligned, his numbers in 1938, at age 35, could have been very close to his number in 1937 (.351, 37, 159, 177 OPS+). What Gehrig was able to do in 1938, despite the fact that his body was betraying him and he was dying, is still amazing and a testament to just what a tremendous talent Gehrig was.

        Including 1938, I believe Gehrig could have had at least a few more very good, if not great years, and finished with 600+ homeruns, 3500+ hits, and still be the career leader in RBI and Runs by huge margins. Throw in a .340 BA, an OPS+ in the 170s, and Gehrig certainly would have a very good argument for one of the three best hitters ever (with Ruth and Williams). I already consider him the third best hitter ever, but I think others would be more certain of it with the aid of the higher career numbers that would have come if Gehrig was able to play out the rest of his career.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by [email protected]
          Are you aware that his entire 1938 last full season was in a slump since spring training? His disease affected ALL of 1938, not just the last half. I don't think he was ever over .300 from the beginning.

          So I think, if one wants to speculate how he'd have done if he hadn't gotten sick, we need to not count his 1938 stats. They were totally affected by his disease.

          Bill Burgess
          Completely agree.

          His '38 season, to me, is one of the most remarkable feats ever on a baseball field. Imagine fading in ability and not knowing the reason why. You see the pitch, and your brain tells your muscles to react to the pitch, but the nerve connections are delayed. The long flyout to center would have been a homer had you started your swing just a split second sooner. The ball you think you "got into" was now just a long fly ball. Something just doesn't feel right. It makes my eyes water just picturing Gehrig trying to toy with his swing, using a lighter bat; not knowing what was going on. This guy was a friekin' stud as a human, forget ballplayer.

          Just before '38, he mentioned that he had a 5 year plan, so maybe we could go on that.

          During that season, I think he played the majority of it with a broken thumb, or some other finger. He would take the cast off for the games, and then put it back on. If I had Luckiest Man with me, I could be more accurate, but this guy was just beyond words as a human.

          I would give him '38 and '39 at his 162 game avg, and then a slow 3 year decline, but maybe he would have hung in longer than 5 years.

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          • #6
            I find this to be a rather useless exercise in evaluating Lou Gehrig, but yeah, there's a very good chance he would have become the all time leader in RBI if not for the disease. Of course, to me that would mean nothing.

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            • #7
              While it all seems morbid to think of how good a player would have been if he were not struck down before his time (I mean, while at it, let's try to figure out how many hits Roberto Clemente would have had, or how many wins Darryl Kile would have amassed, or how many Homers Tony Conigliaro might have had if he wasn't beaned?). I do think it is a good guess he would have gotten the RBI record.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Gamingboy
                While it all seems morbid to think of how good a player would have been if he were not struck down before his time (I mean, while at it, let's try to figure out how many hits Roberto Clemente would have had, or how many wins Darryl Kile would have amassed, or how many Homers Tony Conigliaro might have had if he wasn't beaned?). I do think it is a good guess he would have gotten the RBI record.
                This is an argument people have made before when we have these type of discussions. First, you are right, but I think it's a huge stretch to mention guys like Kile and Conigliaro. This is because neither or Conigliaro were anywhere close to being as good as Gehrig and certainly for nowhere near as long as Gehrig. Gehrig had a long proven track record, and thus it is more reasonable to project for him given that we know he did it for several seasons; we don't have such track records for Conigliaro and Kile.

                Clemente is a better example. He was probably in the beginning of his decline period when he died, so he probably had a few more years left in him, including a couple of good seasons. However, one thing about him is that he was having trouble staying on the field in his last five seasons, never appearing in more than 138 games, and he appeared in only 102 in his last season. So his days as a full-time player were probably behind him when he died. So I would guess 3,400 hits would be a reasonable estimate for Clemente.

                Nevertheless, Gehrig's example is still a little different because Clemente while a great basehitter, was nowhere near as dominant an all-around hitter as Gehrig. Projecting Gehrig last few year's of baseball is to project truly prodigious numbers only reached by a select few. And numbers, that given his long and consistent track record of dominantion, given his age, and his given his mammoth production the year before the disease really started taking its toll, are very reasonable for Gehrig. I think a lot of people when assessing Gehrig think that he had a good long career already and that his early exit does not really affect his career numbers that much, but he still likely had some good years left in him.

                Another player I think this exercise is fun for is Ted Williams, for many of the same reasons as Gehrig. If Williams had played through the war, his numbers in just about every category would be amazing.

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                • #9
                  I think Gehrig would played into his forties. He would have been 38 when Pearl Harbor occurred so he probably would have never had to worry about being drafted, even in 1944 and 1945 when most draft deferments were being cancelled.

                  I also don't think he would have had adeep decline because of the wartime pitching of 1944 and 1945. Maybe he could have helped lead the Yankees past the Browns in 1944.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
                    Completely agree.

                    His '38 season, to me, is one of the most remarkable feats ever on a baseball field. Imagine fading in ability and not knowing the reason why. You see the pitch, and your brain tells your muscles to react to the pitch, but the nerve connections are delayed. The long flyout to center would have been a homer had you started your swing just a split second sooner. The ball you think you "got into" was now just a long fly ball. Something just doesn't feel right. It makes my eyes water just picturing Gehrig trying to toy with his swing, using a lighter bat; not knowing what was going on. This guy was a friekin' stud as a human, forget ballplayer.

                    Just before '38, he mentioned that he had a 5 year plan, so maybe we could go on that.

                    During that season, I think he played the majority of it with a broken thumb, or some other finger. He would take the cast off for the games, and then put it back on. If I had Luckiest Man with me, I could be more accurate, but this guy was just beyond words as a human.

                    I would give him '38 and '39 at his 162 game avg, and then a slow 3 year decline, but maybe he would have hung in longer than 5 years.
                    I 6think Gehrig's 1939 season is even more remarkable than his 1938 season.

                    I also think that Gehrig's 5 year plan would have been affected by the war. I think, barring injury, Gehrig would played for the duration.

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                    • #11
                      I think Lou would have lasted until he was 40-41. Why not? But I also think the era for big stats ended after 1938, and his stats would need to adjust for that.

                      I think it would be a neat thing for some member to project Lou's numbers out to where they might have ended up. And while they're at it, do DiMag, Williams, and anyone else who got messed up by heaven.

                      There is no doubt Lou would have claimed the RBI record. And I have no doubt his playing through injuries brought on his disease.

                      Bill Burgess

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by [email protected]
                        There is no doubt Lou would have claimed the RBI record. And I have no doubt his playing through injuries brought on his disease.
                        I don't know much about the disease other than what it does to someone once the onset begins, so I'm wondering how playing through injuries brought on the disease? I was under the impression that it was a genetic disease?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DoubleX
                          I don't know much about the disease other than what it does to someone once the onset begins, so I'm wondering how playing through injuries brought on the disease? I was under the impression that it was a genetic disease?
                          I know as little about his disease as any other civilian. But Randy once posted how many injuries he played through, and I just can't believe that much abuse can go without having its effect, even if we can't see the cause/effect relationship. Maybe some things are too subtle/indirect to discern at our present level of medical knowledge.

                          Just musing personal opinions here, not showing off my medical chops

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                          • #14
                            --I'm pretty sure XX is right. Gehrig would have suffered the same fate had he been an accountant.

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                            • #15
                              Without having any medical knowledge whatsoever, I suppose its possible that the stress Gehrig placed on his body caused the disease to come on sooner; but then again, being in such great physical condition probably actually helped him fight off the effects of the disease longer than the average person could. Anyway, I agree with Mark. From what I know, Gehrig would have succumbed no matter what he was doing. If anything, his physical condition might have had something to do with the timing.

                              Anyone with some medical knowledge about the disease want to chime in?
                              Last edited by DoubleX; 04-01-2006, 09:54 AM.

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