So I’m a nerd who occasionally (and with more frequency lately) just pulls up player pages at Baseball-Reference.com to revel at stats. I’ve already subjected you to one of these types of posts on tax evader, adulterer, cheater and insane OBP-er Barry Bonds.
The other day I looked up Babe Ruth and here’s a few fun facts you probably hadn’t thought of in a while or don’t know:
Babe Ruth led the league in homeruns in 1918 with a magical 11 bombs for the Red Sox.
His OPS+ the next year was 219, beginning a stretch where he OPS+ed 200 or higher in 11 of 14 years.
Though not a perfect stat, OPS+ is a fairly accurate comparison of a player’s individual worth compared to others who played the game at the same time.
I guess we already inherently knew that Ruth was a full 100-percent better than anybody in the game during his era, but seeing it in numbers is just astounding.
In 1923 Ruth won the American League MVP award after posting a .393/.545(!)/.764 line, with 41 home runs, a 238 OPS+, 131 RBI and 151 runs. His Wins Above Replacement* (Baseball-Reference version) that year was 14.7, which is insane (for a little reference, Barry Bonds’ best from his totally-clean 2000-2004 run was 12.5).
*And to be clear, WAR, nor OPS+ nor any of the advanced stats were anywhere near being a stat during Ruth’s era.
The funny thing is Ruth never won another MVP. At first I just sat there, my mind boggled. Then I noticed that until 1930, previous winners were ineligible for the award. Socialists.
He had strong a case in 1931.
That year The Babe put up .373/.495(league leading)/.700(league leading), with 46 home runs, 163 RBI and 149 runs (league-best 11.4 WAR). He finished fifth in the AL MVP voting*, behind, most egregiously, Earl Averill (.333/.404/.579 with 32 HR in almost 100 more at-bats).
*Lefty Grove won that year with a 2.06 ERA and ridiculous 1.077 WHIP in 288 2/3 innings pitched, good for an ERA+ of 220. He had a 31-4 record (pitcher W-L means little, if anything, when evaulating how good a pitcher is. But it did mean a bit more back then because there were far more complete games).
The next year he had a great season, but was definitely outdone by Jimmie Fox. From there he was good and then sputtered at the end, eventually being played by John Goodman in a movie I remember enjoying as a kid.
That’s all I got.
To sum up this post: Babe Ruth was good at baseball.