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Would Babe Have Hit 104 Home Runs?

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  • I got to this thread late and haven't read all the posts. Here are some quick thoughts: Pitching is pitching. I don't believe pitchers of today are any more skilled then pitchers of the '20's.

    I work in minor league baseball. When some of those kids are first signed out of high school or college they have yet to begin a regular pro level weight program. I have seen kids who were barely six feet tall without much of a developed body, yet threw 96 mph. If kids of that size can throw that hard then pitchers of the '20's could.

    Pitchers of eighty years ago, I believe, could throw just as hard as today's. However I don't think they threw as hard consistently because they went nine innings.

    There were some differences in training from the '20's threw the '60's, but not many. So why could Jim Maloney, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller or Allie Reynolds be able to throw hard yet not someone as say Waite Hoyt or Dazzy Vance.

    And I don't completely buy the fact that pitchers throw more pitches now then they do then. In the '20's and before hurlers threw sliders. They didn't call them that. They were usually called a "nickel curve" because of the smaller break. And I'm sure pitchers threw a split finger fastball. Pitchers certainly threw forkballs. The difference is that forkballs are thrown deep between your first two fingers and a splitter is thrown at the end of them.

    There is no way, IMO, that from 1870-1920 pitchers didn't experiment with different grips on the ball and weren't able to throw the same pitches as today (slider, splitter). Or that a pitcher never happened to throw a forkball at the end of his fingers, even by accident, rather than deep in the fingers.

    Pitching is pitching. A curveball is thrown the same way now as it was then. As for velocity and movement, it all has to do with arm action.... arm speed.....arm angle...... how and where you hold the ball....where the ball is released.....how the waste rotates.....how high your leg is kicked.....bascially, it's natural. And the actions become muscle memory.

    My grandfathers and uncles saw many players from the '20's through the '90's play. I also had the opportunity to interview former Indians pitcher Mel Harder (who pitched from 1928-1947) in 2000. Harder said the same things I just said. He said on average pitchers probably throw harder today because relievers can come in and just gear it up for an inning. He couldn't do that over nine frames. He swore noone could throw harder then Feller, Reynolds or Lefty Grove. My grandparents also said there was no obvious difference between watching a game then and now, other than body type.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
      My true feelings are exactly what I said. My true feelings are that unless you genuflect at the altar of Babe Ruth you will get blasted for not loving the deity. Babe Ruth was a great player, perhaps the greatest player of all time. But unless you say that at all times and don't talk about the possible smudges at the elbow and behind the ears you will be accused of heresy. For whatever reason players of old need to come off as even more pure then Lancelot.

      Anyway as to the first paragraph. The problem is of course integration. Every other power period possible has integration. So every other possible power player (outside of Ruth's era that is) had to deal with integration and the problems of separation and quality of opposition.
      If anyone were to go back on my posts over the years on this board you will see that I have said more than a dozen times integration has has raised the level of the game and that the gap between Babe and the rest would not be as great if he played while the game was integrated.

      As for pitching that debate can go on for all time. I think the overall pitching in todays game is higher but who decides to what degree and how would that effect Ruth's numbers. Some of that is offset by the fact that the umps in the last 15 yeras have decided that the strike zone is no higher than a few inches above the belt, thats not what the book says. The high hard borderline pitch has been taken away from the pitcher,the pitch that tied up Mantle, Aaron, killebrew and some others from years ago.Todays hitter have some things going for them just as Ruth did.

      As for the long ball Ruth did hit 10 home runs off of Walter Joihnson and 9 off of Lefty Grove two of the best. He never hit against Johnson after 1927 and he never faced Grove until 1925.


      When I see posts saying Ruth if in todays game would be a Jim Thome type hitter............... well what is there to say.That did appear on this board on another thread a while back.

      We can't just keep taking away from a player because he played in a different era. Same with his pitching. So his ERA would have gone higher had he pitched after 1920 the live ball era. Well, so would the league overall. All I can say with all pitchers pitching under the same conditions that Ruth was pitcher only 1915-16-17 there were only two better, Alexander and Johnson two of the greatest.

      Pitched on a good team, check his ERA. Runs scored run support, how many of the Bosox runs did he need to win. In 1916 in 18 games where he pitched a complete game he gave up more than two runs one time and that was 4 runs in one game. Did he give up more in some other games sure he did over 5 a half dozen times but overall he could have gotten by with the Bosox scoring two or three runs or even one run.

      Posts always trying to take away from his hitting and pitching. Same old story, he was great but not that great then they go on to try and tell why he wasn't as great as he looked. Like this guy had all the advantages, all the more favorable playing conditions.
      Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 09-21-2007, 05:18 AM.

      Comment


      • [QUOTE=lollar;1008768]I got to this thread late and haven't read all the posts. Here are some quick thoughts: Pitching is pitching. I don't believe pitchers of today are any more skilled then pitchers of the '20's. QUOTE]

        EXACTLY--

        players work out now to "keep up with the Jones". In Ruth's time it wasn't necessesary, no one did. some running and excercises in the spring and away they go. Ballplayers then were brought up on baseball from a young age, unlike now when MOST don't touch a bat or glove until later on.
        So many other sports to play leaves much learning to do by the time a career in baseball is what they want. The major calling for most kids even just 50 years ago was baseball and plenty of it. The time was not split with other sports. Kids brought up from a very young age in whatever endeavor, usually out shine others that were not as teens and adults.
        This was common with the old time players. They were, if anything, more skilled than today's crop not worse, That goes for pitching too. Had they known the variety of pitches they would excel now. Their talent was probably greater than now because organized baseball was everywhere. The talent POOL hasn't changed but much of it goes to other sports now, BASEBALL not other sports got most of it in Ruth's time.
        Unorganized baseball was rampant, try to find a sandlot game now. After Little League started, sandlot ball persisted in a big way-- for a time
        Last edited by elmer; 09-21-2007, 05:33 AM.

        Comment


        • I agree Elmer. I had a seasoned minor league manager (and former big leaguer) tell me that when he was managing in 2000 they couldn't order enough baseball's for BP because of all the homeruns they would hit. This season I don't think there were more then 10-15 hit out by our team in BP all season. The coach said it's because he doesn't see the players being as good as they were even seven years ago!

          He said with all the other sports and computers, kids just don't play and practice the game as much and aren't as good.

          Our pitching coach pitched in the bigs for a time in the 60's and said he didn't see as many arm problems in his six yrs in the bigs then we had in one season. He said the weightlifting makes the pitchers too tight and wound together - not what you need as a pitcher.

          As for why pitchers don't throw 300 innings he thought it was two-fold. First he said they threw everyday between starts. He may take an occasional day off, but always threw. Second, he believes it's mental. He knew he was supposed to go nine, and if he didn't he felt he let the team down. Mentally believing you have to go nine is the biggest difference of all, in his opinion.

          Comment


          • Just throwing this out here

            1. Barry Bonds* (36) 6.50 2001 L
            2. Mark McGwire (34) 7.30 1998 R
            3. Mark McGwire (35) 8.00 1999 R
            4. Mark McGwire (32) 8.10 1996 R
            5. Barry Bonds* (39) 8.30 2004 L
            6. Babe Ruth+* (25) 8.50 1920 L

            The top 5 slots are taken by players 32 and over. 39-year-olds were done in Ruth's time. Foxx was essentially gone by 34. Looking at the Murderer's Row, Gehrig was finished by 35 (but because of a massive tragedy), Meusel by 33, Combs by 34, Joe Dugan by 31, Lazzeri by 33, Hoyt's last good year before falling off the ship was at 28, with a one year resurgence at 34. Only Herb Pennock, Babe Ruth, and to a lesser extent Urban Shocker had careers that extended past age 36.
            Originally posted by Cougar
            "Read at your own risk. Baseball Fever shall not be responsible if you become clinically insane trying to make sense of this post. People under 18 must read in the presence of a parent, guardian, licensed professional, or Dr. Phil."

            Comment


            • Wow.. How good do you think this guy is? Don't know who said it, but whoever said averaging 60-70 HR's a year and topping out at 100... Who are you kidding? I understand people think he's the greatest ever, but come on.. IMO Bonds is better, but that is besides the point. If he was half as good as you guys claim, that must have been a hell of an era. If only anyone in today's game could compete. This isn't boxing.

              Comment


              • Can't say I'm surprised that comment came from a 14 year old.

                Comment


                • Bonds TWO careers --- pre 1999 and post 1999
                  Home Runs, Bases on Balls , On base Pct. -- two different people
                  When others retire at 38-40 he still hits a home run every 12 at bats at age 43.

                  slg pct before - 1999. .556

                  slg pct - 1999 - present. .713

                  HR per at bat before 1999. 16.1

                  Hr per at bat 1999 - present. 9.2

                  Bonds +

                  http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/21951

                  Study: Steroids boost HR totals
                  Posted: Friday September 21, 2007 06:12AM ET
                  Steroids can help batters hit 50 percent more home runs by boosting their muscle mass by just 10 percent, a U.S. physicist said yesterday. Calculations show that, by putting on 10 percent more muscle mass, a batter can swing about 5 percent faster, increasing the ball's speed by 4 percent as it leaves the bat. Depending on the ball's trajectory, this added speed could take it into home run territory 50 percent more often, said Roger Tobin of Tufts University in Boston.

                  http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...DTL&type=chart
                  Last edited by elmer; 09-22-2007, 05:51 AM.

                  Comment


                  • Well, it may add 10 homers a year....not 50.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                      My true feelings are exactly what I said. My true feelings are that unless you genuflect at the altar of Babe Ruth you will get blasted for not loving the deity. Babe Ruth was a great player, perhaps the greatest player of all time. But unless you say that at all times and don't talk about the possible smudges at the elbow and behind the ears you will be accused of heresy. For whatever reason players of old need to come off as even more pure then Lancelot.

                      Anyway as to the first paragraph. The problem is of course integration. Every other power period possible has integration. So every other possible power player (outside of Ruth's era that is) had to deal with integration and the problems of separation and quality of opposition.
                      There is no harm in having an opinion, even though careful studying of numbers, events, and accomplishments, strongly suggests to any open minded person, that he is the greatest player of all time. You certainly come off more level-headed than the type who posted earlier, that Ruth was some party animal who would have drank or drugged himself out of the game, had he played today. Just nonsense. Clearly someone who hasn't researched the different phases and the growing Ruth experienced during his life, both as a person and player. All that partying allowed him to play in the bigs for over twenty years. Through 1973 only sixty-one of ten thousand ballplayers had played twenty full seasons in the majors, and twenty of those sixty-one were pitchers. Of the men on major-league rosters in 1915, Ruth's first full season, only three played after 1934 and none after 1935. From '20-'34 Babe's schedule called for 2,310 games. He appeared in 2,083. Throw in the exhibition games and his percentage gets even higher. The majority of the exhibition games were scheduled with clauses in place, which promised Ruth would be on the field. Off days didn't exist for a guy like him. All that partying affected him a great deal, huh.

                      As for the integration thing Ubi, I would say that his gap over the next few guys would shrink but over the league as a whole, not a lot. The integration scenario is all just guessing, but when you consider the fact that Ruth did face the best Negro League pitchers and he was still the same Ruth, I think you can safely assume that his raw numbers wouldn't change much. Perhaps a lower batting average, but no pitcher, no matter the color or ability was going to keep Ruth in the yard. He was that unique. And that isn't a statement made from any altar. It's truth, which is all that we should strive to uncover. Ruth had his faults like everybody else. He wasn't a god. More truth. Don't ya love it.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by elmer View Post
                        Bonds TWO careers --- pre 1999 and post 1999
                        Home Runs, Bases on Balls , On base Pct. -- two different people
                        When others retire at 38-40 he still hits a home run every 12 at bats at age 43.

                        slg pct before - 1999. .556

                        slg pct - 1999 - present. .713

                        HR per at bat before 1999. 16.1

                        Hr per at bat 1999 - present. 9.2

                        Bonds +

                        http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/21951

                        Study: Steroids boost HR totals
                        Posted: Friday September 21, 2007 06:12AM ET
                        Steroids can help batters hit 50 percent more home runs by boosting their muscle mass by just 10 percent, a U.S. physicist said yesterday. Calculations show that, by putting on 10 percent more muscle mass, a batter can swing about 5 percent faster, increasing the ball's speed by 4 percent as it leaves the bat. Depending on the ball's trajectory, this added speed could take it into home run territory 50 percent more often, said Roger Tobin of Tufts University in Boston.

                        http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...DTL&type=chart
                        Being stronger will certainly lead to more bat speed, which will lead to more distance off the bat. Then there are other advantages that go beyond that surface distance effect. Improved eyesight as it relates to depth perception, the confidence which comes from knowing you have an edge, and being able to wait on the pitch longer, because of the quicker bat speed, before making a decision on whether to swing or not. That, I think, is the biggest advantage because it improves everything. Hitters today enjoy a very friendly environment with the comfort at the plate, small zone, small parks, and harder balls and bats. A shame that some feel the need to reach for an even bigger edge.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948 View Post

                          As for the integration thing Ubi, I would say that his gap over the next few guys would shrink but over the league as a whole, not a lot. The integration scenario is all just guessing, but when you consider the fact that Ruth did face the best Negro League pitchers and he was still the same Ruth, I think you can safely assume that his raw numbers wouldn't change much. Perhaps a lower batting average, but no pitcher, no matter the color or ability was going to keep Ruth in the yard. He was that unique. And that isn't a statement made from any altar. It's truth, which is all that we should strive to uncover. Ruth had his faults like everybody else. He wasn't a god. More truth. Don't ya love it.
                          True but again who would the black pitchers be replacing and what kind of damage did Ruth do to them? Home runs are a finicky beast even for one who racked up 700+ homers in his major league career. If the worst pitchers were responsible for say 80 of Ruth's homers and these guys were replaced with the best black pitchers at the time and it dropped those homers to 40 then you are looking at a high 600 amount for Ruth with an appreciable drop in SLG and in all probability OBP and AVG. Would he bat .200 against the best black pitchers? Of course not, but would he bat as well as against the worst white pitchers? Again I would say of course not, so then it becomes a matter coming to some sort of conclusion on how bad the worst white pitchers were and how good the best black pitchers were.

                          Comment


                          • Short answer: Ruth playing today would hit 66 or 67 HRs in his best season, playing in a neutral park.

                            So how the heck did I come up with that? I attempted to translate his 1927 season to a post-1993 environment. I made the following adjustments:

                            1. The change to a 162-game season would add some plate appearances. I chose 705 as a likely figure for a number three hitter.

                            2. Ruth would definitely strike out more frequently today. Comparing non-pitchers only, 2006 AL batters struck out 2.6 times more frequently than 1927 AL batters. How much would Ruth's strikeouts go up? Probably by about 50%. It wouldn't be 160% because a large part of the league increase is due to many free-swinging batters trying to put the ball out of the park. In Ruth's day there were far more contact hitters and few power hitters. A lesser portion of the increase is due to modern power pitching and the practice of bringing fresh arms into the game in the later innings.

                            3. Ruth would probably walk a bit less. Pitchers today generally have better control than those of the 1920s. And it has been pointed out that Ruth would sometimes go after pitches well outside the strike zone. While Ruth had a very good batting eye I don't believe he had the great plate discipline of a Ted Williams. Ruth walked a lot because pitchers were avoiding him.

                            4. Once I account for strikeouts and walks I know how many times the ball is put in play. For 705 times at the plate I am giving Babe 115 walks and 146 strikeouts. That leaves 444 balls in play, not much different from the 451 he put in play in 1927. The great question now is how many of those would leave the yard. In 1927 13.3% of the balls he put in play were homeruns. I believe a small increase is justified. I am bumping that up to 15% because today's ballparks are a bit smaller and today's ball is likely a bit livelier than even the rabbit ball of the 1920s. I am assuming that Ruth would not be on steroids

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
                              Short answer: Ruth playing today would hit 66 or 67 HRs in his best season, playing in a neutral park.

                              So how the heck did I come up with that? I attempted to translate his 1927 season to a post-1993 environment. I made the following adjustments:

                              1. The change to a 162-game season would add some plate appearances. I chose 705 as a likely figure for a number three hitter.

                              2. Ruth would definitely strike out more frequently today. Comparing non-pitchers only, 2006 AL batters struck out 2.6 times more frequently than 1927 AL batters. How much would Ruth's strikeouts go up? Probably by about 50%. It wouldn't be 160% because a large part of the league increase is due to many free-swinging batters trying to put the ball out of the park. In Ruth's day there were far more contact hitters and few power hitters. A lesser portion of the increase is due to modern power pitching and the practice of bringing fresh arms into the game in the later innings.

                              3. Ruth would probably walk a bit less. Pitchers today generally have better control than those of the 1920s. And it has been pointed out that Ruth would sometimes go after pitches well outside the strike zone. While Ruth had a very good batting eye I don't believe he had the great plate discipline of a Ted Williams. Ruth walked a lot because pitchers were avoiding him.

                              4. Once I account for strikeouts and walks I know how many times the ball is put in play. For 705 times at the plate I am giving Babe 115 walks and 146 strikeouts. That leaves 444 balls in play, not much different from the 451 he put in play in 1927. The great question now is how many of those would leave the yard. In 1927 13.3% of the balls he put in play were homeruns. I believe a small increase is justified. I am bumping that up to 15% because today's ballparks are a bit smaller and today's ball is likely a bit livelier than even the rabbit ball of the 1920s. I am assuming that Ruth would not be on steroids

                              Steve have you done any research on the control issue. I don't see how that statement can be made or proved, that todays pitchers generally have better control than the pitchers of the 1920s. Also I don't think we should limit the comparison of Babe Ruth then and if playing today to just that one season 1927. A bigger sample is needed, say like 1920-1935 compared to 1990 to 2005.

                              You've omitted a very important factor here. The strike zone of the 1920s compared to the strike zone of the 1990s to the present. I doubt anyone who has watched this game would debate the fact that the strike zone of the 1990s to the present is the lowest ever, take your pick even far lower than the 1950s or 1960s, advantage hitters.

                              Todays pitcher have been squeezed on the verticle portion of the strike zone. Pitches only a few inches above the belt are now almost always called a ball. Thats not what the rule book says, you can look that one up.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                                True but again who would the black pitchers be replacing and what kind of damage did Ruth do to them? Home runs are a finicky beast even for one who racked up 700+ homers in his major league career. If the worst pitchers were responsible for say 80 of Ruth's homers and these guys were replaced with the best black pitchers at the time and it dropped those homers to 40 then you are looking at a high 600 amount for Ruth with an appreciable drop in SLG and in all probability OBP and AVG. Would he bat .200 against the best black pitchers? Of course not, but would he bat as well as against the worst white pitchers? Again I would say of course not, so then it becomes a matter coming to some sort of conclusion on how bad the worst white pitchers were and how good the best black pitchers were.
                                You are attempting to make this way too simple. In matters of Ruth, it just isn't. Careful studying of him would allow you to understand just how unique he was. He was going to hit homers off whoever was put in front of him. Righty, lefty, black, white, spitball, knuckleball, big parks, small parks, world series or meaningless exhibition games in the smallest town. Just didn't matter. Again, I believe his batting average would go down due to the better pitching and the occasional play made by faster infielders/outfielders. But in terms of power? No chance that gets affected imo.

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