COG Round 96 Results: Sultan swats competition

In a no-doubt vote, Babe Ruth far outdistanced all competitors to earn induction to the Circle of Greats with the highest ballot share yet recorded. Ruth achieved mythical stature in baseball and as a cultural icon to a degree that none before or since have approached. Ruth’s impact on the game was immense and permanent, ushering in the live ball era with feats of power hitting never before imagined.

More on Ruth after the jump.

Ruth was playing for his hometown Baltimore Orioles of the International League when he was purchased by the Red Sox together with teammates Ernie Shore and Ben Egan. Later in that 1914 season, Ruth made his major league debut, starting and winning against Cleveland. Ruth would be a mainstay in the Red Sox rotation for the next three seasons, logging over 800 IP with a 65-33 record and a 2.02 ERA (134 ERA+). Ruth proved equally potent at bat, compiling 5.6 batting WAR in only 397 PA over those three seasons (by way of comparison, there is only one season since 1901 with as high a WAR total in fewer PAs, just last year when Steve Pearce reached 6.0 WAR in 383 PA). That offensive prowess compelled Boston to use Ruth more as an everyday player in 1918 and 1919, though he still logged almost 300 IP for those two seasons with a 22-12 record and 2.55 ERA.

Ruth’s 1919 campaign was his first qualified season as a batter during which he led the majors in Runs, HR, RBI and total bases despite appearing in only 130 games. His 29 home runs set a new single-season record, a mark that would be his alone for over 40 years. Ruth’s century totals in Runs, RBI and BB to go with a 1.000 OPS was a 20th century first, a combination he would repeat 10 more times. The Yankees took note of this prodigious young talent, prying Ruth away from Boston for the then spectacular sum of $100,000.

As a Yankee, Ruth switched to everyday play and turned in a season that dwarfed his dominating campaign of the year before. Ruth almost doubled his home run total to 54 while posting 1.379 OPS and 255 OPS+ scores, all new single-season records. Thus began a stretch of 13 seasons that included eleven campaigns (1920-21, 1923-24, 1926-32) exceeding 500 PA in which Ruth never fell below 120 runs, 120 RBI, 40 home runs, 1.100 OPS or 190 OPS+ (and fell below 110 walks only once). Ruth posted league-leading totals in HR, SLG, OPS and OPS+ in all but the last of those 11 seasons, as well as a league-leading walks total in all those seasons save the 1929 campaign. Needless to say, such dominance by one player for such an extended period has not been witnessed since.

To give some perspective on Ruth’s dominance and how his achievements have withstood the test of time, here’s a table showing how long Ruth held various single-season and career records.

Ruth Records

Ruth also turned in legendary post-season accomplishments, appearing in 10 World Series, 7 times for the winning side. Ruth’s 0.87 ERA was the World Series career record for starting pitchers in 30+ IP until eclipsed by Harry Brecheen‘s 0.83, with those two plus Sherry Smith the only starters below 0.90 until Madison Bumgarner last year demolished that mark (for now) when he passed 30 career IP in the WS with a 0.27 ERA as a starter. Included among Ruth’s starts was a 14-inning CG, still a WS record, and a run of 29 consecutive scoreless innings, unsurpassed until Whitey Ford‘s 33 goose eggs in 1960-62. As a batter, Ruth’s .625 BA in 1928 was the WS record (min. 12 PA) until eclisped by Billy Hatcher in 1990, while he and teammate Lou Gehrig posted the two best SLG and OPS scores in that same series, with Gehrig’s marks still the WS standards and Ruth’s surpassed only by Hatcher’s 1990 OPS and Hideki Matsui‘s SLG and OPS in 2009. Ruth’s four multi-HR games, including two with 3 jacks, and his 5 consecutive multi-hit games are all World Series records, while his 15 home runs and 22 extra-base hits were career WS standards until surpassed by Mickey Mantle.

The 38 year-old Ruth closed out the 1933 season by taking the mound for the Yankees and collecting a complete game win in which his 6th inning home run provided the margin of victory. In so doing Ruth joined a host of pitchers (including HOFers Walter Johnson and Dazzy Vance) to homer in the final pitching start of their careers. Quiz: which player logged over 1000 IP after homering in the final start of his career?

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30 Comments on "COG Round 96 Results: Sultan swats competition"

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Dr. Doom
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Vote update! * indicates actively on the ballot; # indicates un-elected player who is off the ballot Craig Biggio – 763 Eddie Murray – 731 Roberto Alomar – 725 John Smoltz – 658 Kenny Lofton – 608 Ryne Sandberg – 607 *Harmon Killebrew – 555 Edgar Martinez – 507 Lou Whitaker – 493 *Kevin Brown – 422 Whitey Ford – 382 Bobby Grich – 376 Sandy Koufax – 375 *Roy Campanella – 349 Tony Gwynn – 346 Willie McCovey – 336 *Dennis Eckersley – 317 *Dave Winfield – 311 #Minnie Minoso – 309 Juan Marichal – 268 Tom Glavine –… Read more »
Joseph
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I’m guessing that so much has been said and written about Ruth that nobody has anything to add.

I will say that even though I wasn’t born until 20 something years after he retired, I probably would not have been a baseball fan if it were not for him. He was a giant mythical figure who, along with Mickey Mantle and the Yankees in general, dominated my budding baseball fan experience as a kid.

MikeD
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Ruth is to baseball what the Beatles are to rock. The debate begins at #2.

Lawrence Azrin
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@18;
Babe
I don’t know – did Ruth ever have all FIVE of the Top-5 Billboard chart singles in one week? :).

(Billboard Top-100 singles, April 4th, 1964):

No. 1 – BEATLES “Can’t Buy Me Love” (from #28 the week before)
No. 2 – BEATLES “Twist and Shout”
No. 3 – BEATLES “She Loves You”
No. 4 – BEATLES “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
No. 5 – BEATLES “Please Please Me”

Artie Z.
Guest
Singles never were Ruth’s strong suit … he only had 1517 in his career, good for 199th place all-time. And he never had a season where he finished in the top 10 in singles, let alone the top 5. On the other hand, Pat, Bob, Bill, and Ed Lennon had: -0.5, -1.2, -0.4, and -0.6 WAR. Dick, Ray, Charlie, and Chick Starr had: 1.1, 4.6, 0.2, and -0.2 WAR. The Harrison’s (Rit, Tom, Chuck, Roric, Matt, Josh, and an unknown first name) had: -0.0, -0.0, -0.4, 3.1, 9.1, 7.8, and -0.0 WAR. And there are no MLB McCartneys. Until Matt… Read more »
Dr. Doom
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… of course, giving credit for (George) Martin helps get things a little closer, as still-active Russell Martin has 32.4 WAR by himself. Adding (Billy) Preston doesn’t really help much, either, as there’s only one LAST name Preston, and he only played one year in the 19th century. Of course, if we can count the FIRST names of Preston and Martin (and Harrison, I would think would have some, too), that would go a long way to making some progress.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@21/AZ;

I guess that The Babe was more an albums guy?

I sort of remember a quote of his “If I just wanted to hit singles, I could’ve batted .600.”

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Billy Shears (who replaced McCartney after the car accident) is represented by

(George) Shears: -0.6 WAR
________________

However, Thurman Munson was The Walrus:

45.9 WAR
________________

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@21/AZ, 22/DD;

If you _really_ want to stretch this, you could throw in Mike Epstein, for the Beatles manager Brian Epstein (12.7 WAR, 1966-1974 – on the 1972 WS winners the Oakland A’s)

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

All the Sheridans and Sutcliffes add 39.7 more WAR to our ConFab.

oneblankspace
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Ringo (Frank Ringo) was a backup catcher in the ’80s with -3.0 WAR… (Quakers, Athletics, Allegheneys, Wolverines, Cowboys across 4 seasons)

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/ringofr01.shtml

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Doug,

One minor correction – Ruth walked only 72 times in 1929, interrupting his string of ‘120 runs, 120 RBI, 40 home runs, 110 WALKS, 1.100 OPS or 190 OPS+’ from 1926-1932. Why he declined to only 72 walks in 1929 (still good for 10th place in the AL), when he led the AL in walks every other full year from 1920-1933 with totals from 114 to 170 (and was 2nd in 1919 and 1922), has never been explained.

Otherwise, a fine illustration of the degree of Ruth’s incredible dominance.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@4/Doug; You’re welcome. I’m interested in the sub-subtangent of great players having off-years in their prime. That is, if you can call Ruth’s 1929 season of a .345/ .430/ .697 slash line and 46 HR, 154 RBI and 121 runs in 587 PA, good for a 9.6 WAR, an “off-year” because of the 72 walks… For instance – Mike Schmidt in 1978; this was his only (non-strike) season between 1974 and 1987 with less than 33 HR (21), .523 SLG (.435), 87 RBI (78), and most importantly an OPS+ less than 141 (122). What happened? – minor injuries? season-ling slump?… Read more »
Brent
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So, when I put Mike Schmidt and 1978 into a Google search, one of the hits I got was for a book entitled Mike Schmidt: Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame Third Baseman by William Kashatus. According to the book, a couple things happened to Schmidt that year that could contribute to the bad year. First, he was born again in January. There apparently were quite a few remarks by fans and sportswriters at the time that he lost some of his fire when he gained religion. Obviously, he didn’t believe that but some others did. A more likely source of his… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest

@6/Brent;

Thanks for your research. I looked at Schmidt’s 1978 Game Logs, but he did not miss any games in April, though he missed a few games at the end of May and also some at the end of June. He also started out hitting very well, with an OPS above 1.000 till May 5th and over .900 till May 18th.

So maybe he had an injury that lingered, but it happened later in the year.

Brent
Guest

As for Ruth, the only tidbits I could pull off the internet for 1929 and him are the following:

1) His estranged first wife died in a fire at some point that year
2) He married his 2nd wife early in the season
3) Miller Huggins died late in the season.
4) He hit his 500th career HR that year.

Whether any of those things could possibly have something to do with his sudden lack of patience at the plate is something I cannot divine.

Richard Chester
Guest

My first thought was that Ruth was in a rush to reach HR #500. He started the 1929 season with 470 HR. He hit his 30th HR in game #85 of that season. He had 49 BB at that time, a BB/G ratio of 0.58, far below his career ratio of 0.82 at the time. But for the remainder of the season that ratio actually dropped to 0.46, so that sort of washes out my theory.

Artie Z.
Guest

Also, I found that Joe Kelley had 100 R, RBI, BB, and a 1.000 OPS in 1894. Unlike Ruth, he didn’t lead the league in anything. Billy Hamilton (the original) almost pulled off the feat that year as well, scoring 198 runs and walking 128 times with a 1.044 OPS. However, his 90 RBI fell a little short.

Hamilton is the only player with 100 R, BB, and SB with a 1.000 OPS in the same season. Henderson achieved the three century marks in three different seasons but his highest OPS in those seasons was 0.835.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@10/AZ; 1894 is by far the highest-scoring year in NL history; 7.10 R/G vs. the historical average of 4.42 R/G, with a slash line of .309 BA/ .379 OBP/ .435 SLG/ .814 OPS. No wonder Kelly’s 165 Runs (2nd), 111 RBI (not in top-ten), 107 BB (2nd) and 1.104 OPS (4th) in 1894 didn’t lead the NL in anything. Subtangent – I’ve always wondered why it was 1894, and not 1893, that was the highest scoring single year. I know that the pitching distance was changed before the 1893 season, but that does not explain this: 1893 – 6.57 R/G… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
Some really eye-popping numbers on that team. Six of the eight starters and 3 of the 4 subs had OBP’s of .399 or higher and one of the other 3 (a starter) was .375. The back up shortstop hit .345 and slugged over .450 and one of the backup catcher hit .395 in 100 PA’s. Often slammed HOF pick Tommy McCarthy scored 118 runs & drove in 126 with an OBP of .419 and a slugging % just shy of .500 and only managed an OPS+ of 109. Even Hugh Duffy’s monster season of 237 hits and 374 bases in… Read more »
Lawrence Azrin
Guest
@28; In the 1968 AL (3.42 R/G), the 1894 NL average OBA of .379 would rank 4th, and the 1894 NL average SLG of .435 would rank 11th. Do I have to mention that _no one_ had a BA as high as .309 in the AL in 1968? Yaz led at .301 (he was below .300 from July 11th to Sept. 10th), which was ridiculed as “a travesty” and “an embarrassment” by many old-timers who grew up in the high-scoring 20s/30s. Yaz also finished 2nd in runs scored, with 90 – no one scored 100 runs in the AL that… Read more »
Richard Chester
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For the quiz question I found Lee Smith. He homered in his last career start on 7-5-82 and had 1000+ IP after th
hat.

Richard Chester
Guest

Quiz: I found Lee Smith who homered in his last start on 7-5-82 and pitched 1000+ innings after that.

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