The New York Yankees have had their fair share of sluggers and offensive stars throughout their rich history.
Who was the best between Ruth and Gehrig?
The answer is not difficult, but both men had things working on their favor.
Let’s review their respective cases.
The Case For Lou Gehrig
Gehrig wasn’t called “The Iron Horse” for nothing.
He played an incredible 2,130 consecutive games without missing one, a record that stood until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in the nineties.
And he had many reasons to sit, and elected not to do it.
As this article of the LA Times suggests, Gehrig broke every finger at least once, and X-rays showed he had 17 hand fractures that healed themselves without medical attention over the years.
He also suffered other injuries, including concussions.
When in severe pain, he played the first inning and was then removed from the game (to preserve his streak) on more than one occasion.
Lou Gehrig voluntarily benches himself for the good of the team ending his consecutive game streak at 2130, May 2, 1939. pic.twitter.com/dfxoaheVlU
— Baseball In Pics (@baseballinpix) May 2, 2021
But he was a true horse, and it was especially sad to see him suffer so much with the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an illness that forced him to retire in 1939 and to an early grave, in 1941.
Gehrig also achieved something Ruth didn’t: a Triple Crown.
He also won the MVP award twice, and the Babe won it once.
For his career, Gehrig hit .340/.447/.632, with 493 home runs, 1,888 runs, and 1,995 RBI.
The Case For Ruth
Ruth has a legitimate case to be considered the greatest player baseball has ever seen.
During a time in which home run leaders hit 10, maybe 15 homers, he hit 54 during his first season with the Yankees, in 1920: he was a man amongst boys.
Ruth’s career line (.342/.474/.690) is better than Gehrig’s, and he achieved many more Wins Above Replacement (WAR): 168.4 to 116.3 (FanGraphs’ version).
Seventy years ago tomorrow the greatest all around player in baseball history passed. Babe Ruth hit .342 – slugged .690 ( all time high) and hit 714 home runs . Oh by the way, he won 94 games and 7 more in the WS. All time WAR leader 182.5
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) August 15, 2018
Ruth bopped 714 home runs, scored 2,174 runs, and drove in 2,217.
Oh, and he was one of the best left-handers in baseball during his time with the Boston Red Sox, before being sold to the Yankees.
In 1,221.1 career innings, he had a brilliant 2.28 ERA.
Ruth was baseball’s first mega star, and his impact in the game is often underestimated.
He led the American League in home runs a whopping 12 times.
Gehrig is a respected figure in baseball, a true gentleman, and one of the sport’s true icons.
His streak of 2,130 consecutive games played was one of baseball’s most amazing records.
But no player in history had the kind of offensive impact Ruth had in the 1920s and 1930s.
He helped change the game in what it is today: centered about power and home runs as the two quickest shortcuts to run production.
Both men have a plaque in Monument Park and have their numbers retired by the Yankees: no one can use Gehrig’s number 4 or Ruth’s number 3.
Choosing between the two is also tedious because they were both entirely different human beings and had different approaches to life.
But on the field, there was no one like Babe.