In Search of a Modern Babe Ruth

Babe Ruth is a unique hitter in the history of the game. No one before or since has dominated Major League Baseball quite like he did. Sure, Aaron and Bonds hit more home runs. Williams may have rivaled his production. Musial, Cobb, and Mays rose to majestic heights in their day. But Babe Ruth was the man in ways none of them were. Over his career, 3.5% of all home runs hit in the Majors were off of his bat. In the 1920s, 4.7% of all home runs hit in MLB were his. One in every 10 AL round trippers hit that decade were Ruth's. Over his career, Ruth had more home runs in a season than another entire team 90 times (and 4 more where he equaled another team's combined total), including 1920 when his 54 home runs were more than all but 1 of the other 15 teams in the Majors.

Where are we ever supposed to find another hitter like that?

The fact is, we're looking so hard at the Bondses and Pujols and A-Rods, scrutinizing the modern game's greats, that we missed him. Back in the late-70s and through most of the 80s, we had a hitter like that, and almost no one seemed to notice. Someone who dominated the league with 7.2% (and that's in the expansion era!) of all MLB production in his dominant stat. Someone who, in 11 short but brilliant years, outproduced 125 entire teams, and twice outproduced every single one of the other 25 teams in MLB.

By now, you are no doubt racking your brain for the identity of this spectacular hitter. How could you have missed production like that? I'll be honest with you: I don't understand how he slipped through the cracks of history either. Because the simple fact is, no one has ever reached on Catcher's Interference quite like Dale Berra. Not even the Babe. Maybe it was his pedigree that made him great (as a young child, he groomed his swing clipping the mitt of his dad Yogi in the backyard of their New Jersey home), or maybe it was just the late, dragging swing that led the shortstop to a career .236/.294/.344 slash line. Whatever it was, he made an art of hitting the wrong object with his bat, and for that, he became his generation's Babe Ruth.


Benny Berrafato said...

This is...this is spectacular.

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