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Old 08-20-2019, 02:56 PM   #8
3fbrown
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Babe Ruth

In actual baseball history, the identity of the greatest hitter of all time can be a contentious topic. You have to consider peak vs. career statistics, the home ballpark effects, the quality of the opposition during the time they played, etc. In the Replay League, this question is extremely easy - the greatest hitter of all time was Babe Ruth, and it isnít close.

Though stats are a little rough from this era, I can speak to Ruth a little more closely because he played his entire career for my Boston Braves. Back in OOTP5, the AI was not nearly as sophisticated, and SP Babe Ruth was good, but not a top draft pick. I got him roughly midway through the first round, about where he should have gone based on his pitching talent. I then vowed to let him pitch until he clearly needed to switch to hitting. I kept this promise, and the switch happened in 1918, about the same as in real life. He hurt his arm in 1917 which reduced his pitching talents, so the move was obvious.

How can I say so confidently that Ruth was the greatest hitter in RL history? Well, we can start with the 10 consecutive MVP awards he won from 1918-1927. At no time was anyone else in his league. He was so dominant that he even won most of the NL Player of the Month awards - rarely was anyone better than him, even over a one month time span. And itís not like he stopped being good after 1927. His OPS was over 1.000 for the next three years as well, ending with 1.135 in 1930. He then slowed down for the next three years before retiring after 1933.

Five of the top 10 seasons in OBP belong to Ruth, as do six of the top eight seasons in slugging. He slugged over .700 five times. He holds the single season and career records for OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS. He also holds the single season record for walks and RBI, and of course the season and career marks for WAR, though WAR calculations are not great pre-1948.

Which was his greatest season? Maybe 1921, when he hit .374/.496/.761 with 42 doubles, 53 HR, had 156 runs and RBI, and walked 130 times. Or maybe it was 1925, when he hit .357/.526/.767. That year he drew 174 walks, hit 43 doubles and 50 HR, drove in 157 runs and scored 139 times. Neither of those seasons were his best in doubles (45), HR (57), or RBI (162), but both were more than 12 WAR.

As for his career totals, he hit .334/.450/.630 with 528 doubles, 584 HR, 2795 hits, 1915 runs, 2024 RBI, and this is all while pitching full-time during his first three years. He only ranks 73rd in games played for his career. And to make this all the more impressive, he played his entire career for the Boston Braves, meaning that his home games were played in cavernous Braves Field. It was particularly tough on LH hitters - it reduced HRs for lefties by 50%. This means that had Ruth played in a neutral field, he should have had 33% more HRs, which comes out to 779. And everything else would have been bigger too.

So while Ruthís career totals have been surpassed for most counting stats, it is clear that he has no peer in RL history. The Braves have had the most success of any franchise in RL history. While Iíd like to claim credit for that success, the truth is that lucking into Ruth was a substantial fraction of it.
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