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  • Sadaharu Oh Vs Babe Ruth

    I was thinking about this the other day. Sadaharu Oh was incredibly dominant in the Japanese major leagues similar to how Ruth was during his MLB career. Why is it widely assumed that Ruth is the best player ever, but Sadaharu Oh barely gets any credit? How do we know that MLB during Ruth's career was of stronger quality than the Japanese major leagues when Sadaharu Oh played?

    I'd be interested to see what people with far more knowledge than me about baseball and stuff like league quality has to say. Based strictly on stats, Sadaharu Oh seems nearly on par with Ruth.
    Last edited by fenrir; 05-29-2012, 04:31 PM.

  • #2
    I've asked this question before. Why do Negro Leaguers like Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige get ranked among the greatest players ever at their position but Sadaharu Oh gets no recognition at all among first basemen (other than from Jim Albright )? As great as Oh was I don't think his accomplishments are quite on par with Babe Ruth. Ruth slugged .690 for his entire career. To me that is the most insane, unbreakable career hitting record in baseball. Oh slugged over .700 NINE TIMES, plus he had a .690 season. But Oh ended up with "only" a career .634 slugging percentage.

    Fellow BBF poster Jim Albright has done quite a bit of wonderful research into Oh's career. One could argue hat Oh's domination of his leagues is on par with Ruth's domination of the American League.

    http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/an...lbright12.html
    http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/an...lbright13.html
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 06-28-2013, 04:25 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
      I've asked this question before. Who do Negro Leaguers like Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, and Satchel Paige get ranked among the greatest players ever at their position but Sadaharu Oh gets no recognition at all among first basemen (other than from Jim Albright )? As great as Oh was I don't think his accomplishments are quite on par with Babe Ruth. Ruth slugged .690 for his entire career. To me that is the most insane, unbreakable career hitting record in baseball. Oh slugged over .700 NINE TIMES, plus he had a .690 season. But Oh only up with "only" a career .634 slugging percentage.

      Fellow BBF poster Jim Albright has done quite a bit of wonderful research into Oh's career. One could argue hat Oh's domination of his leagues is on par with Ruth's domination of the American League.

      http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/an...lbright12.html
      http://baseballguru.com/jalbright/an...lbright13.html
      Thanks for the links you posted, I will read them. I still would like to hear an argument from people, specifically those who believe Ruth is the greatest player ever, as to why his stats should be taken at face, where as Sadaharu Oh's shouldn't. He may fall short to Ruth, but he's at least on par with Gehrig, or even Ted Williams. Why is it presumed that the quality of competition when they played was superior to the quality of the Japanese major leagues when Oh played?

      Comment


      • #4
        I'll add this. If there was a Negro League ballplayer or a 19th Century ballplayer with the career stats and accomplishments of Sadaharu Oh many people would argue that this player is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ballplayer of all time.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          that is like asking Ichiro vs A-rod or something

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't think you can rank Oh anywhere near Ruth, because that would assume that they played in leagues of comparable quality. Which they didn't.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by fenrir View Post
              I was thinking about this the other day. Sadaharu Oh was incredibly dominant in the Japanese major leagues similar to how Ruth was during his MLB career. Why is it widely assumed that Ruth is the best player ever, but Sadaharu Oh barely gets any credit? How do we know that MLB during Ruth's career was of stronger quality than the Japanese major leagues when Sadaharu Oh played?
              I'd be interested to see what people with far more knowledge than me about baseball and stuff like league quality has to say. Based strictly on stats, Sadaharu Oh seems nearly on par with Ruth.
              I doubt very much that Japanese league when Oh played was on the same level as MLB in Ruth's time.
              But I do agree that Negro League players seem to get more ink than Oh does. Oh played in a league far more organized than the league early blacks played in and with more accurate stat keeping.
              Picture this, Oh playing in MLB when Ruth played and Ruth playing in Japanese ball in Oh's time. I can't prove the outcome because it never happened but I'm betting that Ruth would shine more than Oh with that switch.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't think pre WW2 MLB was much better than japanese baseball in the 70s but still I don't consider japanese baseball players for the greatest ever. japanese league is not bad but somewhere we have to draw a line. when japanese baseball why not dutch baseball? or cuban baseball? or some indy league

                I think we should just consider MLB players. I wouldn't even consider Negro league players who have not played in the majors.
                I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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                • #9
                  For many Negro Leaguers, at least there is some record of head to head competition against Major League players...I guess there were a few exhibition games for Oh in Japan, though I don't think he ever played in the US. Another thing to remember is that the parks in Japan during Oh's career generally had short fences compared to ML parks, although this also led to a strong emphasis on breaking pitches and keeping the ball down in Japan. There were a fair number of marginal ML players who went to Japan later in Oh's career and had dominant seasons, although some of them were also complete busts...this still tends to suggest that the ML was a superior league at the time. Bob Horner played part of a season in Japan not long after Oh retired and pretty much owned the league, and he sure wasn't that dominant in Atlanta.
                  You could extend the original argument to Pacific Coast League players, some of whom preferred to play in the West and probably made better money out there. But, there is enough evidence from players switching between leagues to show the PCL was likely not as strong as the MLs.
                  One very odd thing from Oh's career is that he was generally not considered to be the best player in Japan...that was typically his teammate Shigeo Nagashima, third baseman for the Tokyo Giants, the "Burning Man". Nagashima was probably a better defensive player than Oh and hit for average and power, but not quite at Oh's level. He had a reputation for being a great clutch hitter, partly because he hit a huge HR to win a game for the Giants just before the Emperor was scheduled to leave.

                  Perhaps Oh would get more respect if he had also been a great pitcher like Ruth?
                  "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fenrir View Post
                    I was thinking about this the other day. Sadaharu Oh was incredibly dominant in the Japanese major leagues similar to how Ruth was during his MLB career. Why is it widely assumed that Ruth is the best player ever, but Sadaharu Oh barely gets any credit? How do we know that MLB during Ruth's career was of stronger quality than the Japanese major leagues when Sadaharu Oh played?

                    I'd be interested to see what people with far more knowledge than me about baseball and stuff like league quality has to say. Based strictly on stats, Sadaharu Oh seems nearly on par with Ruth.
                    Although it may seem absurd at first you raise a very interesting and valid point. It is quite possible that the MLB league quality in the 1910's, 20's, & 30's were compared to the JL league quality in the 1950's, 60's, 70's, & 80's. I would be inclined to believe that MLB league quality was higher in the 1930's than JL in the 1950's, however I would be inclined to believe that the JL quality was higher in the 80's than MLB in the 1910's or 1920's. I think Oh would have been one of the stars in the MLB had he played in Ruth's era. Had he played for the Phillies in the Baker Bowl he would have put up Kleinesque numbers for two decades straight no doubt.

                    That being said, Oh never dominated the JL league like Ruth did the ML.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joltin' Joe View Post
                      Although it may seem absurd at first you raise a very interesting and valid point. It is quite possible that the MLB league quality in the 1910's, 20's, & 30's were compared to the JL league quality in the 1950's, 60's, 70's, & 80's. I would be inclined to believe that MLB league quality was higher in the 1930's than JL in the 1950's, however I would be inclined to believe that the JL quality was higher in the 80's than MLB in the 1910's or 1920's. I think Oh would have been one of the stars in the MLB had he played in Ruth's era. Had he played for the Phillies in the Baker Bowl he would have put up Kleinesque numbers for two decades straight no doubt.

                      That being said, Oh never dominated the JL league like Ruth did the ML.
                      I wonder if Oh would have had numbers at least similar to someone like Jimmie Foxx if he had a chance to play in MLB.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                        For many Negro Leaguers, at least there is some record of head to head competition against Major League players...I guess there were a few exhibition games for Oh in Japan, though I don't think he ever played in the US. Another thing to remember is that the parks in Japan during Oh's career generally had short fences compared to ML parks, although this also led to a strong emphasis on breaking pitches and keeping the ball down in Japan. There were a fair number of marginal ML players who went to Japan later in Oh's career and had dominant seasons, although some of them were also complete busts...this still tends to suggest that the ML was a superior league at the time. Bob Horner played part of a season in Japan not long after Oh retired and pretty much owned the league, and he sure wasn't that dominant in Atlanta.
                        You could extend the original argument to Pacific Coast League players, some of whom preferred to play in the West and probably made better money out there. But, there is enough evidence from players switching between leagues to show the PCL was likely not as strong as the MLs.
                        One very odd thing from Oh's career is that he was generally not considered to be the best player in Japan...that was typically his teammate Shigeo Nagashima, third baseman for the Tokyo Giants, the "Burning Man". Nagashima was probably a better defensive player than Oh and hit for average and power, but not quite at Oh's level. He had a reputation for being a great clutch hitter, partly because he hit a huge HR to win a game for the Giants just before the Emperor was scheduled to leave.

                        Perhaps Oh would get more respect if he had also been a great pitcher like Ruth?
                        Fair enough, you make some good points.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dude Paskert View Post
                          For many Negro Leaguers, at least there is some record of head to head competition against Major League players...I guess there were a few exhibition games for Oh in Japan, though I don't think he ever played in the US. Another thing to remember is that the parks in Japan during Oh's career generally had short fences compared to ML parks, although this also led to a strong emphasis on breaking pitches and keeping the ball down in Japan.
                          Oh played 110 games against major leaguers which is far more then number of games played by most of the Negro League stars. Plus Oh faced far tougher major league competition than the Negro Leaguers did. Oh didn't face traveling All-Stars "teams" that had 1-2 All-Stars and a bunch of scrubs.

                          From Jim Albright's research:
                          Oh played 110 exhibition games against major leaguers, either in October or November or during spring training. He had 338 at bats and hit for a .260 average with 88 walks for a .413 on-base percentage. He also slugged 14 doubles, no triples and 25 homers among his hits, for a .524 slugging average. (I’ll list the pitchers he took out of the park below). These numbers include a 6 for 54 in 1971 against the Orioles, and an 0 for 12 in 1960. We won’t make any discount for the 1971 performance, as it may or may not represent a slump, but it would be appropriate to eliminate the 1960 results, since we do not project Oh to have been ready for the majors at that time. If you eliminate the 1960 results, his average will rise to .270, his on base percentage to .414, and his slugging percentage to .543. It is likely this performance came at least mostly in parks which were not of major league dimensions. However, it is a dominant performance against pitching which appears be above the average of pitching he would have faced in the majors, for reasons which will be demonstrated when we list the MLB pitchers Oh hit his homers against.

                          The pitchers (and the year) Oh hit his homers off of were (lefties are denoted with an asterisk[*], and if a pitcher gave up multiple homers to Oh, the number appears in parentheses): Hank Aguirre, 1962*; Nick Willhite, 1966* (2); Alan Foster, 1966; Joe Moeller, 1966; Jim Brewer, 1966*; Steve Carlton, 1968*; Dick Hughes, 1968; Nelson Briles, 1968; Ray Washburn, 1968; Larry Jaster, 1968*; Wayne Granger, 1968; Frank Reberger, 1970; Frank Linzy, 1970; Pat Dobson, 1971; Jim Palmer, 1971; Dick Hall, 1971; Jerry Cram, 1974 (2); Jerry Koosman, 1974*; John Matlack, 1974 (3)*; Tom Seaver, 1978; and Tom Hume, 1978. Further, the same data tells us Oh was pulling even this group of pitchers: 4 to left, 1 to left center, 3 to center, 5 to right center, and 12 to right.

                          If you looked at the teams Oh played against, you’d think he should have faced some pretty good pitching. The teams Oh and the Giants faced, when their various records are weighted by games against Oh and the Giants, is 92-70 when projected to a major league schedule. They had three league champions among them. The list of pitchers Oh homered off of supports the belief he was facing good major league pitching. For those of you who need more proof, let’s look at the median (the middle of the group) pitchers Oh homered against. Since we don’t have the full record, it only seems fair to be conservative in our estimate. We’ll use the pitcher’s ERA the actual year the homer occurred unless the pitcher had less than 50 IP. In that case, we take the ERA for both the season the homer occurred and the next season as well. Oh hit two against guys with ERAs of 5 or more, and there were only 4 more homers off of a pitcher with an ERA over 4. Anyway, the median lefty yielding a homer had a 2.92 ERA, the median righty yielding a homer had a 2.80 ERA, and the overall median pitcher yielding a homer had a 2.85 ERA. The average ERA was 3.55 in the majors during the period 1962-1975, and the lowest it got for any season for the whole majors was 2.98 in 1968. Thus, one can reasonably say in the exhibitions against major leaguers, Oh got his homers off a better than average group of major league pitchers. When all factors are considered, this segment of data outweighs the All-Star data and keeps Oh’s record the way we would expect a HOFer’s record in his circumstances to be.
                          There were a fair number of marginal ML players who went to Japan later in Oh's career and had dominant seasons, although some of them were also complete busts...this still tends to suggest that the ML was a superior league at the time.
                          This only shows that the modern major leagues are stronger than the Japanese leagues. This is no way shows that the major leages of the 1920's-30's was stronger than Japanese baseball of the 1960's-70's.

                          Bob Horner played part of a season in Japan not long after Oh retired and pretty much owned the league, and he sure wasn't that dominant in Atlanta.
                          Not true. In Horner's one season in Japan he hit 31 HR and 73 RBI. He got off to a hot start hitting 6 HRs in the first four games but then the Japanese pitchers adjusted to him. Horner had a great year but I wouldn't say he "owned the league". He had some dominajnt years in Atlanta by the way. But Bob Horner is irrelavent. The question is being addressed in this thread is not whether 1980's Japanese baseball was equal to the 1980's major leagues. The question being asked is whether the Japanese baseball of Sadaharu Oh's time was equal to the major leagues of Babe Ruth's time.

                          One very odd thing from Oh's career is that he was generally not considered to be the best player in Japan...that was typically his teammate Shigeo Nagashima, third baseman for the Tokyo Giants, the "Burning Man". Nagashima was probably a better defensive player than Oh and hit for average and power, but not quite at Oh's level. He had a reputation for being a great clutch hitter, partly because he hit a huge HR to win a game for the Giants just before the Emperor was scheduled to leave.
                          That is simply not true. Though Nagashima was more popular due to his more outgoing personality Oh was always considered the greater player. Oh was nine MVP awards in his 22 year career. Nagashima won five MVP awards, two of which came before Oh blossomed into a baseball superstar. Part of the reason Nagashima was more popular was because Oh was only half Japanese. but even with that Oh was considered as the far greater player.
                          Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 05-30-2012, 09:58 AM.
                          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Some quotes from major leaguers who saw Oh play in person and/or played against him. (All these quotes are from Jim Albright's research efforts)

                            Davey Johnson (the only man to have been a teammate of Oh and Aaron)[from the Sporting News, January 7, 1978, page 37]: "Oh would have hit 700 homers over here. He would be a good hitter anywhere in the world. Quality is still quality."

                            Davey Johnson again, this time from Deford’s Sports Illustrated article: "You couldn’t find a better [fielding] first baseman"

                            Tom Seaver: "He sure hit me. He was a superb hitter. He hit consistently, and he hit with power. If he played in the United States, he would have hit 20-25 home runs a year, and what’s more, he’d hit .300. He’d be a lifetime .300 hitter. He had tremendous discipline at the plate. He knew the strike zone extremely well . . . .He could pull your hard stuff, and you couldn’t fool him off-speed."

                            Hal McRae: "Oh had tremendous patience as a hitter . . . He had good power. I don’t know how many he would have hit here . . . start with 20 (a year) . . . at least. He was a great all-star. He’d have been a Hall of Famer."

                            Pete Rose: "There’s no question in my mind he wouldn’t have hit 800 home runs if he’d played here, but if he played in a park tailored to his swing, he’d have hit his 35 [homers] a year. . . He’d hit .300, I’ll tell you that."

                            Don Baylor: "Oh could have played anywhere at any time. If he played in Yankee Stadium, being the left handed pull hitter he is, I have no doubt he’d hit 40 home runs a year."

                            Frank Howard: "You can kiss my ass if he wouldn’t have hit 30 or 35 home runs a year and hit anywhere from .280 to .320 and drive in up to 120 runs a year. The point being, he rates with the all-time stars of the game."

                            Greg Luzinski: "There’s no question he’d have been a great player in the United States, that he was a super talent."

                            Brooks Robinson: "He could have played right here in the big leagues with the best players in the world. He would have hit here. Not as many home runs, but he would have hit his share and hit for average. He was just an outstanding hitter."

                            Frank Robinson: "I’m sure he would have hit in the 30’s (of homers per year) and probably in the low 40’s. . . . Thirty home runs a year add up to over 600 home runs, and he’d do that if he played the same number of years here that he played there."

                            Don Drysdale: "He would have hit for average and power here. In a park tailored to his swing, there’s no telling how many he would have hit. . . . He was always ready for anything we threw him. We were all impressed."
                            Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 05-30-2012, 10:35 AM.
                            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh led his league in the following (From Jim Albright's research):

                              18x in Walks
                              15x in Home Runs
                              14x in Slugging percentage
                              13x in Runs Scored
                              13x in RBI
                              5x in Batting Average
                              3x in hits
                              1x in doubles

                              20-time All-Star
                              2-time Triple Crown Winner
                              9-time MVP
                              9 time gold Glove winner (in the last nine years of his career)

                              Oh is the career leader in HR, runs, RBI, walks, OBP, SLG%, TB, 3rd in hits and doubles. He career totals lead by the following: 311 runs scored, 211 homers, 182 RBI, 547 total bases, 43 points of slugging average, and 915 walks.

                              So would this be considered "domination"?
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                              Comment

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