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Better Than the Babe

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  • Chris, nice writeup. You (as well as Leecemark and ElHalo) contributed some really thoughtful and interesting stuff. I bet you wish you could write about baseball in English class , because you'd get nothing but A's.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by [email protected]
      Randy,

      I don't have quotes to pull out of a hat on cue, but I remember reading about this a good deal. Huggins/Barrow were obtuse. They were very shrewd and cunning people. Barrow had not only managed Boston, but he had also managed Detroit in 1903-04 too. So they were pretty sharp guys. They were out to win games, and whatever helped them to do that, they'd do.

      And just because Babe played CF a few times could be attributed to not having faster guys at the moment.

      It was also known that fleet Earle Combs would assist both Bob/Babe in he could reach a ball before them.

      If you think it's silly to move Babe to the smaller field, imagine how much more shallow it would be to use the sun field as a reason. Have you ever heard of moving Mantle, DiMag, Mays, Cobb, or Speaker to save their eyes? Their eyes were no less valuable, but they played the large CFs because they could cover the territory.

      Few know it, but I am really into sports writers. I remember reading sports writers talking about it. Those who liked him and were his friends, and wouldn't have stabbed him in the back by trashing him.

      If I can find anything on it, I'll get back to you.

      Bill
      Ok Bill. Sounds good.

      I just find it amusing the lengths the people will go to knock on Babe. To chisel away at the statue, no matter how pointless the issue. If he indeed got moved, it says more about the coaching than him. He was more than capable of playing in a larger field. He was nowhere near the slug that he is being portrayed as. Pretty frustrating, but oh well, believe what you must.

      If in the process of this exercise, Mark had come to realize that Mays was better than Ruth, then that's gravy. Some of the reasons he gave though, make absolutely no sense and show a true lack of knowledge concerning Babe.

      The only player I could see a case for over Babe, is Cobb. Much of what made Cobb so great wasn't based on anything pure. He made himself into what he became. Without his internal fire, he would have been nothing more than an average player based on raw talent alone. He wasn't satisfied with that though, and his career reflects that.

      People like to say that others weren't trying for the longball when Babe was playing in the early years. This is true, but does it matter? Even if they were trying, what kind of numbers would they have put up, and how much would their BA have suffered because of it. Nobody brings up that Cobb was the only one doing what he was doing. Much of his greatness comes from him being unique to the times, much like Babe was. Do we discount Cobb's greatness because nobody else was taking that approach? Why should we? He did it, and to assume that others would have done it at the same height it ridiculous imo.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by 538280
        Ruth was a better hitter than Schmidt. In fact, he was a better hitter than anyone who ever lived. I'm not disputing that. What I am saying is that other than that, Schmidt has every advantage. And Ruth's hitting value isn't as far ahead of Schmidt as you might think.

        Ruth played right field his whole career, which is of course an offensive position, even more so in that era. Schmidt played third base which for his time was pretty much neutral.

        Ruth's relative line in his prime years (1920-1929) versus the other RFers in the leauge was 111/128/158. Schmidt's line compared to other 3Bmen was 101/116/144. Ruth's still ahead, but the difference isn't humungous anymore, and Ruth does benefit from playing in an easier league to dominate, especially for him, since Ruth was one of the only guys going for HRs.

        [Still a big gap between Ruth and the league and Schmidt and the league, Ruth still far ahead. We keep hearing about the home runs and Ruth being so far ahead of the league because he was the forerunner of the long ballers. OK I'll give you that one but look at Ruth's and Schmidts batting average versus the league average.

        Ruth-------.342
        League----.288 Ruth + 54 over the league

        Position---.299 Ruth + 43 over position

        Schmidt----.267
        League---.264 Schmidt + 3 over the league
        Position--.264 Schmidt + 3 over the league

        Not even close. Especially when you consider Ruth swinging from the heels and most of his competition was made up of contact hitters, going the plate with one thought in mind make contact, shorten up with two strikes, don't strike out. Even with Ruth's long balling and the leagues making contact he] separates himself from the rest of the league in batting average by such a wide margin, Schmidt barely over the league average] SHOELESSJOE3
        [/B]

        Schmidt played in a fully integrated, fully advanced league, where scouting was high and players were physically much better. Despite the high level of competition, he was able to dominate his league as Ruth did. Mike was one heck of a home run hitter but theres more to being a great hitter than hitting home runs.

        Where do you see Schmidt dominating his league as Ruth did, am I missing something.
        Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-20-2006, 08:44 PM.

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        • Josh Gibson

          I am going to go back to the original purpose of this thread: construct a persuasive argument for someone who could be considered to be better than Babe Ruth. Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner seem like obvious choices. I could also see making a very strong case for Bonds, but the steroids issue would convolute the argument. So, I am going to make an argument for: Josh Gibson!

          Now, of course, we don't have the concrete statistics for Gibson like we have for his Major League contemporaries, but it is our duty as baseball scholars to not ignore him in spite of these extremely regrettable circumstances.

          Gibson was known as the "Black Babe Ruth", but, from what I have read and heard, it seems perfectly plausible that Ruth should be called the "White Josh Gibson". For fifteen years, Gibson was arguably the the best power hitter AND contact hitter in the Negro Leagues. His career average is reported anywhere between .350 and .384. He earned four batting titles and nine home run titles during his career. He (again, reportedly) hit .400 twice.

          Not only did he hit home runs, he hit MASSIVE home runs. He reportedly hit 84 one season, and 500 foot blasts were not uncommon for the slugger. He supposedly hit nearly 800 homers during his legendary career. Gibson was half of what I consider to be undoubtedly the most talented battery in baseball history, with, of course, Satchel Paige being the pitcher.

          Both Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson were so-so in the field, but I would probably give the edge to Gibson defensively. First of all, he played a more difficult position, catcher, while Ruth was "hidden" in right field. Gibson was also known to have one of the greatest arms of all the catchers to ever play the game.

          The biggest knock against Gibson (besides perhaps the lack of statistical data) is the fact that he didn't measure his abilities against white players. I consider this to be a double-edged sword, however, as you can make a similar complaint against Ruth- he never had to hit a fastball off of Satchel Paige.

          In summary, while it is difficult, perhaps impossible to prove, Josh Gibson dominated offensively in a very similar fashion that Babe Ruth did. Given his slight edge defensively, Gibson deserves consideration for the top slot.

          Mark

          Comment


          • I hit 16 homers last season in 40 semi-pro games. Does that mean I have a case? Just playin'. Seriously though, from what you had to go on, pghfan, well put together post. Nice job. Long live the "White Josh Gibson !"

            Comment


            • ALBERT PUJOLS

              Just look at their numbers in their first 5 seasons. No comparison!!

              Comment


              • Originally posted by 538280


                Ruth played right field his whole career, which is of course an offensive position, even more so in that era. Schmidt played third base which for his time was pretty much neutral.
                .
                Whats the difference if you play the outfield, third base or first base and your close or over 200 pounds, big enough to be a home run threat. Your putting too much into the neutral position. I don't dismiss that thought but don't give it too much weight. Some of the best home run hitters in the modern history played these three positions. There have been some big third and first basemen, it was the middle infielders that were smaller on average and even that has changed in recent years.

                Comment


                • It makes no difference. It means something in positional adjustments if you're talking about a players value, but not their actual greatness. As if somehow, when Schmidt stepped to the plate, he reminded himself "ok, I'm a third baseman that plays a neutral position, don't try to hit a HR."

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
                    I hit 16 homers last season in 40 semi-pro games. Does that mean I have a case? Just playin'. Seriously though, from what you had to go on, pghfan, well put together post. Nice job. Long live the "White Josh Gibson !"

                    I have no problem with kidding around, but sometimes I really feel like Josh Gibson's career gets the short end of the stick, so to speak. People see these outrageous numbers and just brush them aside as myth. I find it hard to believe that these stats are just completely fabricated. Exagerrated- perhaps. But I have little doubt that Gibson hit above .350 and that he could hit the ball as long as anyone, ever. We have to look at the facts, and those, admittedly, are quite blurry. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to display Gibson as what he is: the greatest catcher of all-time, and, depending on how much you believe the stats, anywhere from the greatest hitter of all time to at least a top ten talent.

                    In my mind, it may be hard to say he is the greatest player of all time, but I think that he is easily the greatest catcher of all time because he is far and away the best offensive catcher, if these stats are even somewhat accurate.

                    It has been well documented that, since the integration of baseball, black players have more than held there own. Sosa/McGwire, Mays/Mantle, etc, etc. I just don't see why it isn't at least POSSIBLE that Gibson was Ruth's offensive equal.

                    The fact that we have no concrete stats for Gibson does NOTHING as to whether he was a better baseball player than Ruth- it only makes it more difficult to compare the two players.

                    Mark

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Pghfan987
                      I am going to go back to the original purpose of this thread: construct a persuasive argument for someone who could be considered to be better than Babe Ruth. Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner seem like obvious choices. I could also see making a very strong case for Bonds, but the steroids issue would convolute the argument. So, I am going to make an argument for: Josh Gibson!

                      Now, of course, we don't have the concrete statistics for Gibson like we have for his Major League contemporaries, but it is our duty as baseball scholars to not ignore him in spite of these extremely regrettable circumstances.

                      Gibson was known as the "Black Babe Ruth", but, from what I have read and heard, it seems perfectly plausible that Ruth should be called the "White Josh Gibson". For fifteen years, Gibson was arguably the the best power hitter AND contact hitter in the Negro Leagues. His career average is reported anywhere between .350 and .384. He earned four batting titles and nine home run titles during his career. He (again, reportedly) hit .400 twice.

                      Not only did he hit home runs, he hit MASSIVE home runs. He reportedly hit 84 one season, and 500 foot blasts were not uncommon for the slugger. He supposedly hit nearly 800 homers during his legendary career. Gibson was half of what I consider to be undoubtedly the most talented battery in baseball history, with, of course, Satchel Paige being the pitcher.

                      Both Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson were so-so in the field, but I would probably give the edge to Gibson defensively. First of all, he played a more difficult position, catcher, while Ruth was "hidden" in right field. Gibson was also known to have one of the greatest arms of all the catchers to ever play the game.

                      The biggest knock against Gibson (besides perhaps the lack of statistical data) is the fact that he didn't measure his abilities against white players. I consider this to be a double-edged sword, however, as you can make a similar complaint against Ruth- he never had to hit a fastball off of Satchel Paige.

                      In summary, while it is difficult, perhaps impossible to prove, Josh Gibson dominated offensively in a very similar fashion that Babe Ruth did. Given his slight edge defensively, Gibson deserves consideration for the top slot.

                      Mark
                      This one has been beat to death, but it keeps coming back. With all due respect to Josh Gibson we do not have enough accurate stats to go on. It was a shame that skin color alone robbed him of his chance to play MLB, the history of MLB would have been greatly enriched, I'm sure he would have made his mark on the game.

                      I choose to go with facts rather empathy and emotions, he never played MLB and we have no way of knowing what numbers he would have put up. The fact that it was not his own fault that he never played MLB is a sad one but still a fact.

                      What does it tell you about the level of pitching overall when we hear that Gibson hit as many as one hundred possibly two hundred more home runs than Ruth, Aaron and Bonds and died before he was 37 years old. Is it because he at times played close to 180 games in some season. Or that some of his numbers came from exhibition games, if true how much value do they have.

                      Do you know that lean pitching staffs in black baseball made it neccessary at times to use infielders or outfielders as starting pitchers. Do you know that black teams at times would use the same pitcher to pitch two games in one day.

                      Not to diminish Josh or any black player, some as good as white MLB and better than others, just not enough facts or enough info on the level of pitching day to day in black baseball.
                      Last edited by SHOELESSJOE3; 03-20-2006, 09:29 PM.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Pghfan987
                        I have no problem with kidding around, but sometimes I really feel like Josh Gibson's career gets the short end of the stick, so to speak. People see these outrageous numbers and just brush them aside as myth. I find it hard to believe that these stats are just completely fabricated. Exagerrated- perhaps. But I have little doubt that Gibson hit above .350 and that he could hit the ball as long as anyone, ever. We have to look at the facts, and those, admittedly, are quite blurry. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to display Gibson as what he is: the greatest catcher of all-time, and, depending on how much you believe the stats, anywhere from the greatest hitter of all time to at least a top ten talent.

                        In my mind, it may be hard to say he is the greatest player of all time, but I think that he is easily the greatest catcher of all time because he is far and away the best offensive catcher, if these stats are even somewhat accurate.

                        It has been well documented that, since the integration of baseball, black players have more than held there own. Sosa/McGwire, Mays/Mantle, etc, etc. I just don't see why it isn't at least POSSIBLE that Gibson was Ruth's offensive equal.

                        The fact that we have no concrete stats for Gibson does NOTHING as to whether he was a better baseball player than Ruth- it only makes it more difficult to compare the two players.

                        Mark

                        Yeah. Too bad this is even an issue.

                        Let's say that in 1925, all of the best NL talent replaced the worse ML talent. Now we have a league full of great players. I think everything would get advanced. Scouting, preparation, technique. They would all become even better players then they were, having to compete against the very best. They would have been pushing themselves to the brink at all times. Pitchers could no longer pick and choose what spots to "coast," in, and hitters would need to take more notes and study pitchers tendencies a bit more. I really don't think that the elite hitters would be affected all that much, just like I don't think the elite former NL hitters would become worse by facing better white ML pitching.

                        It sucks we don't have legit numbers for Gibson. Often, pitchers would lay the ball in for him just to see how far he could hit it. And by all accounts he did not let them down. The number of games, the competition, the field sizes, it's all just too sketchy to give him a solid ranking imo. We can say that it's reasonable he would be among the great hitters, but to make a case for him over Ruth is a bit of a reach when no player before or since has been his equal.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Pghfan987
                          It has been well documented that, since the integration of baseball, black players have more than held there own. Sosa/McGwire, Mays/Mantle, etc, etc. I just don't see why it isn't at least POSSIBLE that Gibson was Ruth's offensive equal.
                          I think Ruth might be stretching things. I often think of Gibson as about equal offensively to Foxx or Mantle. Which still makes him one of the greatest players of all time, and easily the greatest catcher. It puzzles me how people call Charleston better... if you take Mickey Mantle's bat and attach it to an even halfway decent defensive C... well, how do you really do better than that?
                          "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

                          Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

                          Comment


                          • I suppose it all depends on how much of the stats you believe. I tend to believe that Gibson was a legitimate Top 5 slugger of all-time. I am basing this as much on the testimony of baseball players as I am by his "stats".

                            Again, though, I don't think it is equitable to say "we don't have the stats, therefore we can not make a case." Does that mean that Gibson's all-time rank should be "N/A"? He seems to be somewhere around 15-20 on a lot of lists. On mine, he just happens to be closer to #5.

                            We are used to have stats be the somewhat objective medium with which both sides can argue a point. We do not have that luxury in this case, so, sadly, it does come down to more subjective measurements.

                            I don't think that I am just a gullible kid listening to fairy tales- I believe that Gibson was a legitimate superstar who could have tore up the Major Leagues had he had the chance. We'll never know.

                            Again, I would like to reiterate this point which may have been missed. The fact that we do not have stats for Gibson has NO BEARING on whether he was better than Ruth or not, it only makes it more difficult for US to determine who was greater.

                            I can see how one would be skeptical. But, at the same time, I don't see how someone can ignore the POSSIBILITY that Gibson was Ruth's offensive equal. Because "no one else was as good as Ruth" does not make sense logically, as that would have no bearing one way or another on my case because if I was saying that Gibson was as good as Ruth, then I was saying that Josh was better than all of the other hitters, too.

                            I know that many people here are broken because we can't type up a seven page numerical spreadsheet to come up with the "right" answer. All we can do is imagine, and I imagine that Gibson was the real deal. Black players have proven to be equal to their white contemporaries since integration- I think it is safe to assume that some black players were equal to their white contemporaries before integration, too.

                            Mark

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by 538280
                              I
                              Ruth was a better hitter than Schmidt. In fact, he was a better hitter than anyone who ever lived. I'm not disputing that. What I am saying is that other than that, Schmidt has every advantage. And Ruth's hitting value isn't as far ahead of Schmidt as you might think.

                              Ruth played right field his whole career, which is of course an offensive position, even more so in that era. Schmidt played third base which for his time was pretty much neutral.

                              If Ruth played in Schmidt's era, his rel. SLG compared to position would probably be lower, and his OBP may be as well because the pitchers wouldn't be so terrified of pitching to him.
                              Ruth is miles ahead of Scmidt as a hitter, all around hitter. Think of all the hitters in the game since modern times and only four hitters carried a higher lifetime average than Ruth did, Cobb, Hornsby, Speaker and Williams. OK now we hear how most of the high averages were put up in the 1920s and 1930s. Did Ruth have an advantage over hitters back then. what advantage did he have over all hitters modern times say 1900 to 1940. He had none, in fact he was going for the long ball and for most of his career he was in competition with contact hitters, they had the advantage if your talking batting average.

                              One of three hitters with 700 home runs and in the top 5 in career batting average modern times, Ruth is on another planet. Not enough competition back then, take Ruth and his numbers into any era and they stand up. What would more competition do to Ruth's career numbers, it would mean nothing. It would only mean he would not have been as dominant

                              Schmidt was one of the great home run hitters in recent years, as an all around hitter he's not on the same page as Ruth

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Pghfan987
                                Again, though, I don't think it is equitable to say "we don't have the stats, therefore we can not make a case." Does that mean that Gibson's all-time rank should be "N/A"? He seems to be somewhere around 15-20 on a lot of lists. On mine, he just happens to be closer to #5.



                                I know that many people here are broken because we can't type up a seven page numerical spreadsheet to come up with the "right" answer. All we can do is imagine, and I imagine that Gibson was the real deal. Black players have proven to be equal to their white contemporaries since integration- I think it is safe to assume that some black players were equal to their white contemporaries before integration, too.

                                Mark
                                No debate on that, I'm sure there were black ball players back then the equal and better than some white MLB players. I also agree that a case can be made for Josh, Satchel and other great ballplayers. I can see them put on the list of all time greats but the lack of stats and not knowing enough about the day to day level of competition makes it difficult to give them a specific number in the ranking.

                                Do they make the list yes, what is their rank on the list, I can't say for sure.

                                Comment

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