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Appreciating The Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig's Yankee hit record is about to be broken. So we don't forget how great he was, here are some stats to boggle the mind and illuminate the intellect:

  • Gehrig has the fourth highest OPS+ ever (179). He trails only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Barry Bonds.
  • He has the third highest slugging percentage ever (.632).
  • The fifth highest on-base percentage ever (.447).
  • The seventh highest single season slugging percentage (.765 in 1927), trailing only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.
  • He set the (still standing) American League single season record for RBI with 184 in 1931.
  • He's fifth all-time in career RBI (1995).
  • He led the league in games played seven times, RBI five times, OBP five times, total bases four times, runs four times, OPS+ three times, SLG twice and BA once.
  • Won two MVPs and finished in the top five nine times.
  • Hit .361/.477/.731 in 34 postseason games.

He was probably the greatest first-baseman that ever lived. And just imagine if he hadn't been struck down by ALS... instead of being a top 10 all-time hitter, he'd be in the top four. He could have amassed 600 homers (he finished with 493), maybe 2500 RBI, and certainly would have topped 3000 hits.

Not only was he a great player, but, for most of his career, an incredibly healthy one. After all, he set the consecutive games played record (2130), which stood for 56 years. Only cruel fate would strike down a man known as 'The Iron Horse' with a debilitating disease.

His #4 was the first retired by the Yankees and any baseball team. No one wore #4 before Gehrig, and no one has worn it since.

I haven't even touched on his famous July 4th speech lest we forget everything he did before that.

We should be glad to have a player of Derek Jeter's caliber on the brink of breaking Gehrig's record. He is worthy of it.