Question: what kind of guy runs into a concrete wall at full speed? Answer: the same kind of guy that "fractured his skull running into an outfield wall on one occasion, was temporarily paralyzed on another, and was taken off the field on a stretcher a record 11 times... [was] once given his last rites in the ballpark" (per wikipedia). In 1943 Reiser did what a lot of American ballplayers did around that time and joined the Army, where I'm certain he found plenty of new and exciting things to run into. Like, tanks, for instance.
|hey Pete Reiser, I dare you to run into that.|
When Pete returned from the service, he struggled to provide the level of production he had years earlier. He was still a valuable asset to the Dodgers, when healthy, as his rate stats were still favorable. But years of running into walls and tanks, German civilians, and just about whatever, had taken their toll. The end result was a rapid plummet in playing time and overall value in wRAA.
PETE REISER CAREER
But, unlike the cases for Fosse and Ankiel, I'd be willing to invest a bit into the assumption that Reiser's could have been an historic career were it not for his injuries. His rookie season is truly historic. Among all positional players in the live ball era, Reiser's 1941 season ranks 21st by wRAA for players before their age-23 season.
TOP OFFENSIVE SEASONS AGE 22 OR YOUNGER
One by one, moving from the top of this list down we see Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer, and two very almost Hall of Famers in Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. Until finally we reach a far less familiar name in Hal Trosky. Trosky is one of the more glaring omissions from MLBN's list as arrested potential in the history of baseball.
Unlike the speedy outfielder Reiser, Trosky was a slugging first baseman who carried his early production with him through the course of the next six seasons. At which point, Trosky left the game. His Baseball Page tells us why:
Afflicted with severe headaches for the first time in 1939, the slugging first baseman spent much of the year playing in discomfort. Although only 26 years of age, Trosky found it increasingly difficult to bring with him to the park each day the intensity and energy he needed to perform at his usual level... The frequency and severity of Trosky’s migraines increased in 1941, leaving him almost powerless at the plate against a blurry white apparition he said sometimes looked “like a bunch of white feathers.”Trosky left for his farm in Iowa during the war, and was ultimately deemed "unsuitable for military service" due to his chronic headaches. He attempted two comebacks after the war, but neither was very successful. In his prime, however, he was a legitimate masher.
HAL TROSKY CAREER
|162 Game Avg.||162||691||621||100||188||40||7||27||122||3||3||66||53||.302||.371||.522||.892||130||324||2||3|
|CLE (9 yrs)||1124||4853||4365||758||1365||287||53||216||911||21||18||449||373||.313||.379||.551||.930||135||2406||17||15||24|
|CHW (2 yrs)||223||894||796||77||196||44||5||12||101||7||5||96||67||.246||.328||.359||.687||97||286||26||1||1|
EDIT: Fangraphs just made what I really wanted to do here a lot easier. Notice where Trosky ranks among all 1B up until their age 28 season:
TOP TEN 1B THROUGH AGE 27 SEASON