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Thread: Why didn't Babe Ruth pitch more?

  1. #1

    Why didn't Babe Ruth pitch more?

    I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me has the answer to this, but I was thinking about the scenario-

    Ruth could have ended up with 500-600 home runs and also 200-250 wins as a pitcher. Insane.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by massa1177 View Post
    I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me has the answer to this, but I was thinking about the scenario-

    Ruth could have ended up with 500-600 home runs and also 200-250 wins as a pitcher. Insane.
    because the stress would have been too high. pitchers need rest.

    Also the babe is the best example why the DH sucks. if he was drafted in 1990 by the yankees he would probably have ended his career without a HR and never become a hitter.
    I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and cant run, most of the time hes clogging up the bases for somebody who can run. Dusty Baker.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by massa1177 View Post
    I'm sure someone more knowledgeable than me has the answer to this, but I was thinking about the scenario-

    Ruth could have ended up with 500-600 home runs and also 200-250 wins as a pitcher. Insane.
    Thats asking too much of the human body. Pitching in a rotation, even if stretched to say even every 7 or 8 days and position playing on days off. Add to that all day games then in the heat of the day.
    Not much chance to rest.

  4. #4
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    Ruth did complain of being tired in 1918. Of course, chasing women and boozing while sleeping only 4 hours a night will do that to a guy. But that war-shortened season was his most impressive season to me. I.e, Ruth pulled it off nicely, in my opinion. How does a pitcher that wins 13 games in a war-shortened season also lead the league in slugging pct, OPS, and even much more impressively, extra base hits? I am dumbfounded when I think about that. Of course, he probably would have had to reduce his womanizing and drinking by 90 percent to keep that up. I.e, he would have had to live more of a Lou Gehrig lifestyle to keep that up. And that wasn't the Babe.

    I think the most comparable pitcher to Ruth in recent times is Tom Glavine. Tom Glavine could never string together an impressive ERA+ run. His career best was 168 and his best 5 year run was 137. Ruth's ERA+ from 1915-1918 was 132. But Glavine, Like Ruth, had a very good winning pct during his prime. He seemed to win the close games more often than not. They both were gamers. Ruth's postseason pitching was legendary.

    In today's game, I'd have Ruth pitch every 5-6 days while having him DH on his off days. Imagine a 15 game Glavine type pitcher with 40 HRs?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by pheasant View Post
    Ruth did complain of being tired in 1918. Of course, chasing women and boozing while sleeping only 4 hours a night will do that to a guy. But that war-shortened season was his most impressive season to me. I.e, Ruth pulled it off nicely, in my opinion. How does a pitcher that wins 13 games in a war-shortened season also lead the league in slugging pct, OPS, and even much more impressively, extra base hits? I am dumbfounded when I think about that. Of course, he probably would have had to reduce his womanizing and drinking by 90 percent to keep that up. I.e, he would have had to live more of a Lou Gehrig lifestyle to keep that up. And that wasn't the Babe.

    I think the most comparable pitcher to Ruth in recent times is Tom Glavine. Tom Glavine could never string together an impressive ERA+ run. His career best was 168 and his best 5 year run was 137. Ruth's ERA+ from 1915-1918 was 132. But Glavine, Like Ruth, had a very good winning pct during his prime. He seemed to win the close games more often than not. They both were gamers. Ruth's postseason pitching was legendary.

    In today's game, I'd have Ruth pitch every 5-6 days while having him DH on his off days. Imagine a 15 game Glavine type pitcher with 40 HRs?
    At times pointed out that Ruth's pitching numbers after his first 4 seasons 1914-1917 were showing a decline.
    I don't think that had to do with him being less effective in 1918 and 1919. Common sense in those seasons on some days of rest he was a position player. 1918 added to his pitching 13 games at first base and 59 games outfield. 1919 111 games in the outfield. Can we imagine a modern day pitcher adding 100+ games in the outfield and pitching. Also in 1919 he started 17 games and completed 15.

    1919 was some year, pitching 9-5 and leading both leagues in a ton of offensive stats.
    No way to tell what might have been had he stayed on the mound but to say he was losing it in 1918 and 1919, his decline understandable, position playing on many days between pitching starts

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by pheasant View Post
    Imagine a 15 game Glavine type pitcher with 40 HRs?
    Is it conceivable that if someone came up with Ruth's ridiculous talent for both hitting AND pitching that he'd be used in that fashion, though? Everything is totally specialized today.

    Some on this board have said that a Ruth *couldn't* happen today because of the degree of specialization. I wonder about that.....

  7. #7
    On reading a good number of box scores, Babe seemed to be able to really do some good pitching when needed, pitching out of jams.
    1915-16-17 leaders in walks Joe Bush 330 and right behind him Babe Ruth with 311, his one short coming, putting men on, yet low ERA for those three seasons third behind only Grover Alexander and Walter Johnson, two of the greatest.

    Probably negated those high walk numbers by his low H/9 Inn., damage control.
    Best, lowest H/9 Inn. over the three seasons, Ruth 6.64, Johnson 6.94 then G. Alexander. Ruth pitched close to 300 innings less than the two greats but does not change the fact that he was very stingy on allowing base hits per game.
    Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 05-04-2012 at 08:03 PM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by pheasant View Post
    In today's game, I'd have Ruth pitch every 5-6 days while having him DH on his off days. Imagine a 15 game Glavine type pitcher with 40 HRs?
    Sounds phenomenal. But that's assuming you were aware that Ruth could hit which is not at all a given on a DH team.

  9. #9
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    Fascinating to think about. But probably true that in today's specialized game, with or without the DH, manager's might never have discovered the hitting prowess, or even allowed the thought that their best pitcher should be a hitter. You see today a good hitting pitcher be taken out for a pinch hitter, even when teams have short benches, and even when the pinch hitter is only marginally better than the pitcher he's pinch hitting for.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by csh19792001 View Post
    Is it conceivable that if someone came up with Ruth's ridiculous talent for both hitting AND pitching that he'd be used in that fashion, though? Everything is totally specialized today.

    Some on this board have said that a Ruth *couldn't* happen today because of the degree of specialization. I wonder about that.....
    I agree. It couldn't happen today, mainly because owners are too conservative with their pitchers nowadays. They don't want to overwork their pitchers, which makes sense. I'd be the same way in the vast majority of instances. As an owner, I'd take more chances like that only if I had a small market team trying to survive. I believe that Clemens and Maddux could have tossed 300 innings a season in the modern game. But owners realized that the probability of an injury goes up somewhere around 110+ pitches in a game and 250+ innings in a season. Many pitchers from the past simply burnt their arms out. There have been some good hitting pitchers recently. Carlos Zambrano actually swings the bat like a power hitter. If he got more at-bats per season, I believe that he could get into a groove and really smash the ball. As it is, he has 23 HRs in 668 career at-bats. Give Zambrano 300-400 at-bats per year and I see him slugging well over .500. I think he is a slightly watered down version of Babe Ruth. He's a good pitcher with a powerful bat. Ruth was a very good pitcher with an extremely powerful bat.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by sgb View Post
    Fascinating to think about. But probably true that in today's specialized game, with or without the DH, manager's might never have discovered the hitting prowess, or even allowed the thought that their best pitcher should be a hitter. You see today a good hitting pitcher be taken out for a pinch hitter, even when teams have short benches, and even when the pinch hitter is only marginally better than the pitcher he's pinch hitting for.
    Except that most two way players show that talent in college or high school prior to the draft. If Ruth had grown up today, and found baseball, he'd have showcased both of those talents at those levels and major league scouts would have made their mind up on what his best role was. As great a pitcher as Ruth may have been, his talents as a hitter dwarf anything else. If a current day scout couldn't see that, they wouldn't be doing their job.

    As for Ruth pitching and playing a position, like others have said, it wouldn't have helped him either way. The wear and tear of pitching, the dedication required to both crafts, it would not have lasted very long before both sides of his game suffered. The decision to make Ruth exclusively a RF was perhaps the best decision any club has ever made.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe33 View Post
    Except that most two way players show that talent in college or high school prior to the draft. If Ruth had grown up today, and found baseball, he'd have showcased both of those talents at those levels and major league scouts would have made their mind up on what his best role was. As great a pitcher as Ruth may have been, his talents as a hitter dwarf anything else. If a current day scout couldn't see that, they wouldn't be doing their job.

    As for Ruth pitching and playing a position, like others have said, it wouldn't have helped him either way. The wear and tear of pitching, the dedication required to both crafts, it would not have lasted very long before both sides of his game suffered. The decision to make Ruth exclusively a RF was perhaps the best decision any club has ever made.
    Thats the bottom line, remember the question was, why didn't he pitch more. So we can't toss in the DH, it has to be looked at as the game was played in his time. No DH, so he would have to take the field in between pitching starts. Can't believe and player could do that over a length of time and do well in both.It would probably effect, hurt his pitching more than his hitting.

  13. #13
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    Another great hitting pitcher is Micah Owing. He has a career line of .283/.310/.502, 106 OPS+, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 14 doubles, 2 triples, 8 BB, 72 K's in just 219 PA. When he was with the D-Backs I believe he actually pinch hit a few times. He got a few a big a huge pinch hit HR's as well. He's a big guy, in a Babe Ruth kind of way.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...=.jsp&c_id=mlb

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=4510951
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by csh19792001 View Post
    Is it conceivable that if someone came up with Ruth's ridiculous talent for both hitting AND pitching that he'd be used in that fashion, though? Everything is totally specialized today.

    Some on this board have said that a Ruth *couldn't* happen today because of the degree of specialization. I wonder about that.....
    probably the decision pitcher or player would have been made in A ball and he would have only done once.
    I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps, but the guy who walks and cant run, most of the time hes clogging up the bases for somebody who can run. Dusty Baker.

  15. #15
    Reminds me of the Pirates selection of John Van Benschoten in the 2001 draft, widely considered a better hitting than pitching prospect. Fair or not, I remember comparisons being made to Mark Teixeira with the bat.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by sgb View Post
    Fascinating to think about. But probably true that in today's specialized game, with or without the DH, manager's might never have discovered the hitting prowess, or even allowed the thought that their best pitcher should be a hitter. You see today a good hitting pitcher be taken out for a pinch hitter, even when teams have short benches, and even when the pinch hitter is only marginally better than the pitcher he's pinch hitting for.

    In the statistical look I've done though, nobody in history hit anywhere near what Ruth did in games in which they pitched. He had over a 150 OPS+ when he pitched and I have trouble finding anyone better than 100. Also someone on another thread did reasearch of 1915-1918 and when his innings were down he had better than a 200 OPS+ for those 4 years, and when he pitched more it was around 140.

  17. #17
    I think the better question is, if Ruth had stayed pitching, would he have gone on to become one of the best pitchers ever? Someone at the level of a Walter Johnson/Greg Maddux/Lefty Grove? Or perhaps a notch below that? Or perhaps a solid HOF quality pitcher like a Curt Schilling?

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by fenrir View Post
    I think the better question is, if Ruth had stayed pitching, would he have gone on to become one of the best pitchers ever? Someone at the level of a Walter Johnson/Greg Maddux/Lefty Grove? Or perhaps a notch below that? Or perhaps a solid HOF quality pitcher like a Curt Schilling?
    Ruth was a pretty good strikeout pitcher finishing in the top 10 twice, so he probably would have done well with the live ball. He was also in great physical shape at least as late as 1927 as seen by his defensive ratings in all metrics. My best guess is that he would have pitched at, or a little better than his 1916/1917 rates through 1927, and been good until at least 1930. That would mean that starting in 1918 I'd expect 23+ wins, and ERA+ of 140+ and 320+ innings pitched for the next decade.

    That would put him through 1927 with about a 310-160 record, 4000 innings and about a 140 ERA+ with about 2000 strikeouts. 3 more good years and you get maybe 350-190, 133 ERA+ 4700 innings and 2400 Ks. People may doubt this but he was 21 and 22 in 1916 and 1917. We also know that he had all time great physical longevity in the game of basball.

    But I want to stress two things: he was such a good hitter that he would have been noticed today had he been in the NL. We are talking about a pitcher with a a 160 OPS+ even when he was pitching a lot. That would be better than a .420 OB% and .530 slugging percentage today. Second, his hitting during his pitching years was much better when his pitching workload was significantly reduced. His pitching was better when he played in the field less.

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