Feller missed all of the 1942-1944 seasons serving in the US Navy. He returned for the last month and a half of the 1945 season still in the prime of his career. The three seasons of 1939-1941 and 1946-1947 years represented Feller's best five of his career. He won 20 or more games every season and averaged 262.2 strikeouts per year.
Feller's 266 wins rank him 37th in the history of the game. His 2581 career strikeouts currently rank him 26th all time. How many wins and K's would he have had if he had not missed nearly four years due to the war? It may not be fair to say because it is impossible to prove. But the time he missed was right in the center of the prime of his career. He was 23 when he enlisted and he did not return to the big leagues until he was 27.
He won a total of 122 games in the seasons of 1939-1941 and 1946-1947. He struck out a total of 1311 batters during that time. Like I said before, he averaged 262.2 Ks per season during that time. If you multiplied that by the four seasons he missed, it comes out to 1049, which may have been added to his career total. If you minused the 59 Ks he had in 1945, he could have finished his career with 3571 strikeouts, which would have ranked him much higher than he finished. Feller would currently be 8th All Time in K's in between and Don Sutton (3574) and Gaylord Perry (3534). Of course, when he retired, he would be the all time leader in Ks, passing Walter Johnson and his 3509.
Dividing the 122 by the five seasons comes out to 22.41 wins. Multiplying by the four seasons missed gives him 98 more wins. The 98 wins would have given him 359 for his career is you subtracted the 5 wins he got in 1945. That would put him at 8th all time, between Kid Nichols (361) and Greg Maddux (355). Warren Spahn (363) finished his career after Feller, making Bob 7th all time when he retired.
Obviously, I was having some fun with the hypothethicals. No question Feller showed the better man he was enlisting the day after Pearl Harbor. Feller would not have cared about the numbers and where he finished. He knew he was one of the best pitchers this game had ever seen. He struck out hitters in an era where hitters would do anything to make contact with two strikes. His strikeout totals were unprescedented. Happy Birthday to Bob Feller, an American hero.