How Good Was Babe Ruth Compared To Other Players During His Time?
Babe Ruth, also known as “The Great Bambino,” is arguably the greatest baseball player of all time. He was dominant in the early 1900s and would still be dominant in the game today. He brought a skillset that had never been seen before in Major League Baseball. So, just how good was Babe Ruth? Read on to find out.
Babe Ruth’s Multi-Position Advantage
Outside of Babe Ruth’s incredible hitting statistics, he was able to bring something to the team that no one else could bring. He was able to produce as both an elite hitter and pitcher. The two-way player has been rare in baseball, as there have only been a handful of players who could pitch and hit during the same season for their ball club, such as Shohei Ohtani and Bullet Rogan.
Not only was Babe Ruth the best hitter in baseball during his early days, but he was also a dominant pitcher. In 1916, he started the second-most games in the MLB and recorded the third-lowest ERA (earned run average).
Ruth threw four pitches, including two fastballs, a curveball, and even a knuckleball. Unfortunately, Ruth only pitched consistently from 1915-1919, as he became a purely dominant hitter for the rest of his career.
Babe Ruth’s Batting Dominance
Babe Ruth was not only a dominant hitter in the early 1900s, but his batting statistics are dominant on an all-time scale as well. Ruth broke a record and established himself quickly when he entered the league. In 1919, Ruth homered 29 times, which set a new record in the league.
What is even crazier about that statistic is that Ruth’s 29 home runs were more than any team’s hit count combined that season. In 1920, perennial players such as George Sisler and Cy Williams almost reached 20 home runs in the season, which ranked top five in the league; Babe Ruth homered 54 times.
Ruth had power that was unheard of during this time period. He was not only dominant in 1920 but for many years after that. From 1918-1931, Ruth led the league in home runs during 12 out of 14 seasons. He had four seasons with over 50 home runs, including one season where he reached 60. From 1917-1933, Ruth only had one season where his batting average was under .300, which has only been done by a handful of Hall of Famers in their careers, such as Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.
Unfortunately, batting awards were not created during Babe Ruth’s time, but if they had been, he would undoubtedly have multiple MVPs and multiple batting titles under his belt. In translation, Babe Ruth was far and away the most dominant hitter in his time period.
How Did MLB Pitchers Succeed Against Babe Ruth?
In retrospect, there was really no way to defeat Babe Ruth on a consistent basis, so MLB pitchers had to improvise. From 1920-1933, Ruth led the league in walks for 11 out of 14 seasons. Pitchers were so scared to pitch to him that giving him a free base almost once per game was more beneficial in their eyes than actually pitching to him.
In 1920, Ruth totaled 150 walks, which was 53 more than Tris Speaker, who ranked second in the league in walks. Even when Ruth wasn’t hitting home runs, he still created fear in the opposing pitchers’ eyes and forced them to create a special game plan just for him.