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  • Originally posted by gator92 View Post

    Your logic, if I understand it correctly, is that "because others are as strong or stronger than Ruth, and they don't hit 500 foot homers, then he couldnt have either." Am I misunderstanding you, or is that it? If that's it, I have to disagree...
    First, I was referencing Ruth supposedly hitting a 535 foot homer with Aaron Ward's bat.

    Players are not just stronger- they're better in every aspect than they were in 1923. And the equipment is much better. There is a confluence of facts which make long blasts more likely than ever. The relative K and HR rates over the past twenty years, compared with the 20 years Ruth dominated the game, speaks volumes. Not to mention there are 30 teams, a talent pool 10 times what it was in his time.

    What I'm saying is that Jenkinson was perhaps intellectually dishonest to extrapolate/interpolate hard data based nearly on 100% conjecture and observer speculation. Kinda the exact opposite of what you do on your website.

    Is it possible that he hit over 50 homers over 500 feet, yet not a single player- this from a pool biggest, strongest, fastest, most diverse, and well conditioned and trained- has done so over the last 1.4 million plate appearances? Of course it is possible.

    Now, cognizant of all the factors in play here....how likely is this coming from an unbiased and rational perspective. You're seem like a scientist, and not a legend builder and book propagator.

    Not to mention steroids. Take Barry as an example. After age 36, the guy puts on 30-40 pounds of muscle and starts hitting tape measure shots he never approached in his natural physical prime.

    I read this in 2007:
    Late in the first half of the 2000 season, Bonds hit a HR off the Angels' Seth Etherton which was measured at 493 feet. It was not aided by wind. Prior to that date, Bonds had never hit a HR over 450 feet, except for three which were substantially aided by wind. Since that day, Bonds has hit about THREE DOZEN MORE of over 450 feet, sans wind.
    Last edited by csh19792001; 02-06-2012, 10:13 PM.

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    • Bonds' distances 1999-2005, courtesy of Stats, Inc.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
        There is a confluence of facts which make long blasts more likely than ever.
        I don't know that this is true, though. I've already described how wind has largely been removed from major league baseball, due to the growth of cities, and the vertical growth of newer ballparks. I think (could be wrong, though) that the baseballs are more consistent today, and thus there's less likelihood of a "cannonball" ending up in the pitcher's hand. Hitters universally use lighter bats to maximize contact, but at the expense of "speed off the bat".

        Those are some real factors that weigh against the overall increase in muscular strength that exists today. Furthermore, I'm not a kinesiologist, nor do I play one on TV, but as far as I can tell, there is not a direct, monotonic relationship between muscular strength and bat speed, i.e. being stronger does not necessarily mean you can generate higher bat speed. You've got to concede the importance of technique (confession time: although I'm bigger than Tiger Woods, he can outdrive me), and once you concede that, I don't see why you wouldn't be willing to admit the possibility that players from long ago might have had superior technique to most, if not all, modern players. Ever been to Fenway Park? Go look at the Red Seat in the right field bleachers where Ted Williams (aka the Splendid Splinter) hit one (witnessed by thousands of people and one broken straw hat); every visiting left-handed hitter tries to get one up there during BP, and no one ever comes close. That was in 1946, more than 65 years ago...
        ESPN Home Run Tracker
        Home run distances for every home run hit in MLB

        http://www.hittrackeronline.com

        Comment


        • Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
          Players are not just stronger- they're better in every aspect than they were in 1923. And the equipment is much better. There is a confluence of facts which make long blasts more likely than ever. The relative K and HR rates over the past twenty years, compared with the 20 years Ruth dominated the game, speaks volumes. Not to mention there are 30 teams, a talent pool 10 times what it was in his time.
          A lot of these things cut both ways, also. Pitchers are stronger, and throw a greater variety of breaking pitches. Bullpen usage is much greater, meaning hitters face fresh relievers more, and starters are more at liberty to throw with max effort. The greatly increased talent pool includes pitchers as well. Something you don't mention is the growth of other non-baseball athletic endeavors in the USA which draw off a lot of superior talent to other sports. The guy I mentioned earlier, Nick Williams, also plays football and runs track.

          Not to mention steroids.
          Which also are taken by pitchers, apparently.

          I'm not saying that everything ever written about Ruth was true (although let me stipulate that I do believe that Bill Jenkinson has faithfully reproduced the contemporary reports from Ruth's day - which is all he can do, not having been alive for any of it any more than you or I). However, just because some Ruth stories may be exaggerated doesn't negate the overwhelming weight of evidence in support of his dominance in terms of home run distance - when you hear about some no-name guy in New Mexico who supposedly hit a bajillion foot home run "measured" by broken branches in a tree down the street from the park, you can laugh it off, but Ruth hit gigantic homers in every park he ever played in. He hit balls out of Tiger Stadium out towards center field. Reasonable people can argue over whether a ball landed in the front or the back of the lumber yard, but there's a bedrock minimum distance when you exit the park in that direction.

          Jenkinson is not making this stuff up!
          ESPN Home Run Tracker
          Home run distances for every home run hit in MLB

          http://www.hittrackeronline.com

          Comment


          • I have read hundreds of the same articles (first hand accounts) found as 'sources' listed in Mr. Jenkinson's books pg. 382-395 in 'The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs' and Pg. 308-324 in 'Baseball's Ultimate Power.
            They lead me to agree completely with their application in the books. In but few instances where they did not, he always had additional sources not accessible to me to fortify his research.

            Comment


            • Ruth had the benefit of literally teeing off against the pitchers of his day. He would not be afforded the same benefit if he played today. He would be forced to use a much lighter bat and shorten his swing, which would dramatically reduce his HR distances. He batted like he was playing softball back in the day against 85-95 mph pitches and sharp-breaking curves. That is very impressive, don't get me wrong. I got cut from my High School team playing against 78 mph fastballs and dinky curves swing a 28 ounce bat. But nowadays, he'd face a wide variety of pitches from 90-100 mph. I believe that pitchers are about 5 mph faster than before to go along with a much bigger variety of pitches. Like I mentioned before, I see him hitting 430 ft blasts with 32 ounce bat rather than 500+ blasts with a ridiculous 42 ounce bat. I don't buy the 532 ft blast with the 32 ounce bat. But there are too many stories of his other blasts. I do believe that most of them happened. There were too many writers back in the day witnessing thoses blasts.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by gator92 View Post
                I don't know that this is true, though. I've already described how wind has largely been removed from major league baseball, due to the growth of cities, and the vertical growth of newer ballparks. I think (could be wrong, though) that the baseballs are more consistent today, and thus there's less likelihood of a "cannonball" ending up in the pitcher's hand. Hitters universally use lighter bats to maximize contact, but at the expense of "speed off the bat". Those are some real factors that weigh against the overall increase in muscular strength that exists today. Furthermore, I'm not a kinesiologist, nor do I play one on TV, but as far as I can tell, there is not a direct, monotonic relationship between muscular strength and bat speed, i.e. being stronger does not necessarily mean you can generate higher bat speed. You've got to concede the importance of technique (confession time: although I'm bigger than Tiger Woods, he can outdrive me), and once you concede that, I don't see why you wouldn't be willing to admit the possibility that players from long ago might have had superior technique to most, if not all, modern players. Ever been to Fenway Park? Go look at the Red Seat in the right field bleachers where Ted Williams (aka the Splendid Splinter) hit one (witnessed by thousands of people and one broken straw hat); every visiting left-handed hitter tries to get one up there during BP, and no one ever comes close. That was in 1946, more than 65 years ago...
                If I read correctly, are you saying that could have some effect on the long drives hit today, may take some of the distance away, could be.

                Also, many hitters now used "cupped bats" been around since the 1970s.
                A bat can be cupped no deeper than one inch and no wider than two inches.
                The idea, to make the bat lighter on the barrel end with out making the barrel smaller in diameter, obviously you don't want to lose anything in measurement where you make contact with the ball.
                Have no figures on how much the average cup reduces the weight of the bat, some say .4 ounce and some as hih as .8.

                Could that be effecting the distance on some of todays long drives. The batter can bring the bat around a bit faster but is losing some weight on the business end of the bat. If we want to get technical, I may be stretching this a bit, some may dispute it but the cup is close to a corked bat. I did say close, the difference is the cup of course is no where as deep as a corked bat and is not filled with any material and most of all legal.

                But the goal is the same, make the barrel lighter with no loss in diameter of the barrel.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 02-07-2012, 07:37 AM.

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                • Ruth's swing anylized

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1tgPPlqDtI
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBmB--g0_U8
                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bUvU4gH1GI

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                  • a long bat 35" would send the ball farther, Frank Howard
                    used a 37" bat.

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                    • Originally posted by gator92 View Post
                      Ever been to Fenway Park? Go look at the Red Seat in the right field bleachers where Ted Williams (aka the Splendid Splinter) hit one (witnessed by thousands of people and one broken straw hat); every visiting left-handed hitter tries to get one up there during BP, and no one ever comes close. That was in 1946, more than 65 years ago...
                      Many times. Last time I was there i sat about 10 rows down in section 42.

                      You kinda just made my point for me. That home run was only hit what, 465 in reality? With a stiff wind it landed 502 from home plate. Maybe Ruth hit 50+ home runs 500 feet, using your rigorously scientific/valid/reliable methodology, but there are far more reasons to believe it isn't scientifically true. Jenkinson's conclusions are skewed by hero worship. His work is much more a hagiography than a factually oriented, serious biographical piece of literature.

                      I love lore, man, but there's no reason to propagate conjecture as fact to prop up a guy who played nearly a century ago. (Although hype sure sells books, and who can blame him for wanting to sell as many books as he can).
                      Last edited by csh19792001; 02-07-2012, 04:40 PM.

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                      • The other side of the Babe, some small ball. I do have a couple of dozen game recaps where he would lay one down now. and then. Bill Jenkinson has 40 plus safe bunts with dates.

                        You never heard of a "Ruth Shift", thats because some teams made that attempt for a few games, Philadelphia and Cleveland and found unlike todays sluggers with a shift on he would just hit to the opposite field.
                        In one game with the Indians and the shift on he was 3 for 4. one bunt single down third, one single and double down the left field line. They were no accidents, on second after his double he pointed at the vacated left side with a big grin.
                        He took what you gave him, you don't see that any more.
                        Batting practice here.
                        Attached Files

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                        • ON that note...baseball fans-especially die hard fans- are notorious for bloviating about our heroes of yore. I'm very guilty of it myself. My friends laugh at loud when I even suggest that Ruth or Cobb were probably the greatest players in history. In any athletic endeavor using objective metrics, the greatest today make the guys from 75+ years ago look like high schoolers.

                          My friend laughed out loud last time we had this conversation about Ruth/Cobb being the greatest. He said (paraphrasing): "You can't be serious...you ever even SEEN film of those guys running? Puny untrained white guys who smoked and drank all the time? I saw Babe Ruth take three steps before hitting a pitch, for chrissake!!"

                          Yes, baseball is far more complicated than track, and sure, guys today have a ton of advantages in training, nutrition, etc. etc. etc. But we can't use a time machine and move guys 25, 50, or 100+ years in time. How great they were then, against that level of average competition is not anywhere close to what guys face today. At least, all the objective evidence points that way.

                          Suspension of Disbelief, folks. We're sentimentalists and waxing nostalgic here, for the most part. Everything rational points to Ruth, Wagner, Cobb wouldn't be nearly as dominant today. Not even remotely close. We worship these guys, but in all honestly, they're vestiges.

                          Comment


                          • This discussion makes me think of a thread we had that was so revelatory some of our most staunch old-timers changed their entire view of how much players have improved.

                            I'm going to bump that thread up now so it doesn't vanish into oblivion. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite posts from that palaver.

                            Premise of the thread: Warren Spahn or Walter Johnson: Who was greater?

                            Originally posted by Metal Ed View Post
                            It depends on what you mean by greater. I could easily make a case for Spahn being better, if we are talking about skill. Walter Johnson has the higher value, Spahn was more skilled.

                            Walter Johnson or Warren Spahn.... to me this is like Babe Ruth vs. Ty Cobb.

                            Clearly, the Babe had a higher mathematical value than Ty Cobb (OK, Cobb had a higher offensive Win Shares total, but Babe crushes him in Win Shares/per game). But who was better? Well, in terms of value at the time that they played, the Babe. But I would argue that this was only because the Babe played under the one set of circumstances that were ideally suited to maximizing the value of his particular skill set. Cobb's skill set was easily greater, but he didn't have the luck of having the perfect set of circumstances like the Babe did. Babe's skill set was morelimited than Cobb's. But the Babe played under conditions that maximized the value of his more limited skill set. Under a different set of conditions, Ty would've been better.

                            There is no question whatsoever that Walter Johnson was a more valuable pitcher than Spahn.... in fact, there is little doubt Walter was a more valuable pitcher than anybody who ever lived. But that is because the game was working for him. Imagine the situation. Here Johnson is throwing 95-100 mph. Hardly anyone else in the league at the time could even crack 90 mph. And they didn't have batting machines feeding them 100 mph color-coded tennis balls all off season long. When Johnson pitched, the hitters were seeing something they had never seen before, and were hopelessly overmatched. There was simply not enough time in a 2 hour game to adjust their bat speed - not when only a handful of pitchers in the league were even within 5 mph of Sir Walter.

                            The hitters' precious reflexes simply hadn't had the opportunity to be honed and sharpened against a steady diet of 95-100 mph offerings.

                            And that was all Johnson had - speed and control. He didn't master his curve until well into his later years, when time had robbed him of some of his speed. And his curve was never thought of as being amongst the best in the world.

                            Like Babe Ruth, Johnson was a beneficiary of circumstance. He played in an era of 160 lb. hitters whose mechanical skills were nowhere near those of later generations. He played in Griffith Satdium, a pitcher's paradise. He threw a ball so lifeless and so dead, to hitters so weak, in a park so big, in a generation so bereft of uppercuts, that it didn't matter if he left it right in the middle of the plate - it was simply not going out of the park. Rarely could the poor hitter even manage to center the ball on the sweet spot of the bat. That's what happens when your reflexes have been sharpened against 75-85 mph fastballs for your whole career but you suddenly are asked to adjust to a 95 mph fastball.

                            Put him in a different environment, and watch him squirm. Can you imagine a starting pitcher with only one good pitch in the modern game? He'd have to develop a better breaking ball and/or change-up. A lot of BB fans like to just assume that he would've. Why simply make that assumption? Is that a fair assumption? Has every pitcher who needed a good second pitch been able to develop one? Well, no. Not at all. Some do and some don't.

                            Warren Spahn had far more skills than Johnson. He just didn't play in an environment that exploited his skills like Johnson did. Spahnie had a good fastball, not as good as Johnson's, but good. He had better breaking balls and many more types of breaking balls. And he had a phenomenal change-up. He was smart, cunning and knew how to pitch. Every pitch had a purpose, everything had a design. Walter Johnson was an idiot savant for his time. There was no thinking necessary for him. The only thinking he had to do was to decide whether to throw the fastball, or the really fastball.

                            Under different sets of circumstances, Spahn could easily have been better. If I had my choice right now in 2005 between the two of them - which one I think could better adapt their games to the modern era - it would be Spahn. Let today's hitters tee off on Sir Walter's straight-as-an-arrow, you-know-what's-coming-because-it's-all-he-has 95 mph fastball; it's nothing that about 30 or 50 other guys in the league don't have. Today's hitters would have a much more difficult time adjusting to Spahnnie's change, slider and curve.

                            That'll be two cents please.

                            Comment


                            • Here's another post specific to Babe that I thought people might enjoy:

                              Posted by AG5500:

                              It was the same baseball that had been in use since 1911. NL president Heydler investigated the issue in the early 1920s; he found no change in the physical makeup of the baseball.

                              However, after Russ Ford introduced the scuff ball - and the pitch was widely adopted in the AL in 1913 and the NL in 1914 - batting averages dropped. Batting averages around 1919-1921 were about the same as the 1911-12 level, when the "juiced" ball was introduced and scuffing was rare.

                              And thus I posed these questions to Bill: If the home run revolution was going to come along anyway, why didn't it start in 1911 or 1912, when the "juiced" ball was first used? After World War I, why didn't the number home runs start to increase in the National League at the same time it did in the American League? The giant leaps in Slugging Average and home runs started in the AL in 1919, but not in the NL until 1921, even though the leagues were using the same ball.

                              The way I see it, Ruth was able to hit all those home runs because he came into the major leagues as a pitcher. A position player with Ruth's swing would have been coached out of using it. In the teens, everybody in baseball "knew" that a swing like Ruth's wasn't any good; you might hit a couple more home runs, but your batting average would plummet from all those fly ball outs. Since Ruth was a pitcher, the coaches didn't pay much attention to his swing.

                              Then, at the start of the 1918 season, the Red Sox had to fill two holes in their outfield. Tilly Walker had been traded to Philadelphia, while Duffy Lewis was off to war. The Red Sox filled them in with Amos Strunk and George Whiteman.

                              Whiteman is one of baseball's record holders; he still holds the record for most lifetime minor league games played. As a major leaguer, however, he was somewhat of a liability in the outfield. Which is why, during the middle of the season, the Red Sox decided to shift Babe Ruth to the outfield.

                              There was no time to work on adjusting Ruth's swing. Ruth being Ruth, he would have been resistant to major changes in his swing during 1919's spring training.

                              As it turned out, Ruth proved everybody in baseball wrong. One could hit a lot of home runs and hit for a high average with a swing like his. Only after this was demonstrated would the home run revolution come about. The players that Bill Burgess has mentioned as proving the home run revolution was "inevitable" have one thing in common - they were in college and the minors after Ruth demonstrated that his swing would work, and thus wouldn't have been coached out of using it the way deadball-era position players were.

                              I also noted that both Rogers Hornsby and Oscar Charleston started to hit home runs in the early 1920s. However, neither started to hit all those home runs until after Ruth demonstrated that going for home runs was a valuable strategy; they certainly didn't do it before Ruth did. Therefore, I believe that, lacking Ruth's example, neither of them would have changed their swing. Likewise, lacking Ruth's example, later power hitters would have been trained to hit for average instead.

                              In that case, the situation would have been similar to that in 1911 and 1912: higher batting averages, more runs per game, but no giant leap in home run totals. (Note that NL offensive totals in 1920 were similar to those from 1911-1913, although the total number of NL home runs in 1920 was slightly less than the number in any of those three seasons in the 1910s.)

                              -------

                              Revolutions are not necessarily inevitable. It was generally thought throughout the 1930s and 1940s that power hitters needed to use big, heavy bats. In the 1950s, Ernie Banks tried using a light bat - and he could get away with it because middle infielders weren't supposed to be power hitters. Ernie Banks ended up hitting a lot of home runs with his lighter, thinner bat, demonstrating that the conventional wisdom was wrong. Note that players at traditional power hitter positions - 1B and OF - would have been stopped from using the lighter bats then. Without Banks, there wasn't any guarantee that lighter bats would have been used to increase home run totals. Likewise, without Ruth, there wasn't any guarantee that the home run revolution would have happened.
                              Last edited by csh19792001; 02-07-2012, 05:18 PM.

                              Comment


                              • [QUOTE=SHOELESSJOE3;1977260]The other side of the Babe, some small ball. I do have a couple of dozen game recaps where he would lay one down now. and then. Bill Jenkinson has 40 plus safe bunts with dates.

                                Yes,Bill Jenkinson has the bunt total at 43,but he mentions that no record was kept of the number of bunts for the 1923 season.Considering the fact that Ruth hit a career high of .393 that season,it wouldn`t be surprising if he got 7 or so in `23.There is some interesting footage of the`26 WS on YouTube that shows among other things,Ruth apparently slicing a drive to left field.If you look carefully you will also catch a glimpse of the Babe choked-up on his bat by several inches in another at bat during the film.Liked your posting of Goose Goslin with his "zebra" bat.So far I`ve run into a brick wall on google trying to find out if that bat is in somebody`s collection,or whatever became of it.Seems to have been common for players back in the 20`s and 30`s, with nicknames, to have the whole name signature on their Louisville Sluggers.Leon "Goose" Goslin,George "Babe" Ruth,Lewis (Hack)Wilson,etc.Thankfully no ''Columbia" Lou or "Bucketfoot'' Al.
                                Last edited by Nimrod; 02-07-2012, 06:10 PM.

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