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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Top 5 MLB Hitters in History Part 3

#5 Willie Mays
#4 Rogers Hornsby

#3 Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth is generally considered the greatest hitter of all-time, but that is highly overblown in my opinion. Of course The Babe was a great hitter, but he also benefited greatly from new rules in the MLB. The MLB adopted a new baseball that flew out of the park with much greater ease in 1920 and thereafter. This coincided with Ruth's ascension to greatness after he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920. Another rule change in 1920, and thereafter was tossing out baseballs after they became scuffed, muddied, and discolored from being used. Before 1920, MLB games where generally played with just one or two baseballs. This obviously led to balls becoming disfigured and discolored, even lopsided. This made it harder to see the baseball, and even harder to hit the ball with any kind of power. Another rule that benefited Ruth and the rise of the Homerun; was the outlawing of the spit ball and other doctoring of the baseball by pitchers.

After the previous paragraph disparaging Ruth, let's discuss how good he was. When Ruth retired in 1935 he was the MLB'S all-time leader in HR with 714. He was also the MLB'S all-time RBI leader with 2213. The Babe, is also number 1 all-time in offensive WAR with 151.3 win shares. Ruth was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936 with his name appearing on 95.1% of the ballots cast. This was the first class of the Hall of Fame, and only Ty Cobb finished ahead of Ruth on the ballot.

Babe Ruth's average 162 game season looks like this; 544 At bats, 141 runs scored, 186 hits, 33 doubles, 9 triples, 46 HR,  143 Runs batted in,  8 stolen bases, 133 walks, 86 strikeouts, .342 batting average, .474 on base percentage, .690 slugging percentage, and 375 total bases.

Ruth is; third all-time in HRs with 714, second all-time in RBI's with 2.213, third all-time with 2,062 walks, and fourth all-time with 1,356 extra base hits. Babe's career batting average of .342 is good for tenth all-time. Ruth led the American League in offensive WAR ten different seasons, and finished in the top ten 16 times.

Babe Ruth is one of the top hitters of all-time as his statistics show. He definitely benefited greatly from playing in New York. He received more media coverage than any other MLB player at the time and possibly of all-time. Almost all of that coverage was favorable, as media back then covered up any transgressions he committed, and glorified/portrayed him as a mythical like man in pinstripes. He also benefited from playing in a park that was tailor made for him and his swing. At his home park, Yankee Stadium, it was just 295 feet down the right field line. Right Center at Yankee Stadium was just 350 feet away from home plate during Ruth's time. All in all the Babe was a great player, but he is not the best hitter of all-time.

top 5 hitters in MLB history part 2


  1. The Babe may not be the best "hitter" of all time but he is the best MLB player of all time. He hit for power and average plus he was a pretty good left handed pitcher. Your correct he did benefit from the rule change in 1920 as did all players. It took the death of a great second baseman- Ray Chapman- in 1919 to finally get owners to penny up and buy more than a couple balls per game. I agree with you that Cobb is the greatest hitter of all time.
    Tim K

  2. Hey Uncle Tim. Thanks for reading. I can not argue too much with your point about the Babe. Even-though I think he is a bit overrated, I would agree that he is the best all around player. I wish I could back in time to watch both players. Hope everything is going good on your base. Take Care, Mike