Bookmarking for later. I read a book on Ruth recently by a guy who spent years researching every one of Ruth’s home runs and fly balls. He proved, actually proved, that in today’s parks Ruth would have ended up with a career 1,000 plus home runs, and would have hit 102 in 1922 alone. In every park he played in, and those parks were like pastures with the fences so far back that Hank Aaron would have had only half the home runs he ended up with, Ruth had the longest home run in every park’s history. Seriously, Ruth, somehow, was so far ahead of anyone else in the history of the game that it’s so overwhelming that it’s seldom talked about. In the 1910’s he was the best pitcher in the game, and his team removed him from the mound so he could play the outfield and hit every day. That alone is overwhelming, the best pitcher in the game, removed from the mound!
1) Ruth's home parks were anything but pastures . . . for him. Fenway Park wasn't that difficult for a lefthanded hitter to hit in, it merely came to look that way with the advent of the famous left field wall. For his first three Yankee seasons, their home park was the Polo Grounds---they were tenants of the New York Giants---and the Polo Grounds had the shortest foul lines in baseball on both sides. Ruth didn't exactly have to pump full power to hit them out in the Polo Grounds even if he did have a few long blasts. (He never reached the dead center field bleachers on either side of the elevated clubhouse in that yard, though---that feat wouldn't be done until a) Luke Easter, in a 1940s Negro Leagues game; b) Joe Adcock, of the Milwaukee Braves in the late 1950s; and---and on back-to-back nights yet---Lou Brock and Hank Aaron in 1962.) Yankee Stadium in fact was built to accommodate Ruth's power, with that famous shorter right field porch, though nothing anywhere near the shortness of the Polo Grounds' foul line dimensions. (Ruth probably should have been grateful for that cavernous center field spread in the Polo Grounds and that just-as-crazy left-center-field in Yankee Stadium; they probably helped him collect more triples with his opposite-field hits than his actual speed---in a word, he ran like a cement mixer with two flat tires, though they say when he was a real young sprout he could haul it a bit---would have allowed.)
2) Seriously, Ruth, somehow, was so far ahead of anyone else in the history of the game that its so overwhelming that its seldom talked about. Are you kidding me? It was always talked about, and for years after Ruth's career ended, for years after his death in 1948. A lot of it was quite hyperbolic, but it's just not true that Babe Ruth's actual or alleged distance from everyone else in the game "is seldom talked about," even now, even with some debunkings of his mythology.
3) In the 1910s he was the best pitcher in the game, and his team removed him from the mound so he could play the outfield and hit every day. Babe Ruth wasn't the best pitcher in the game, but he was no questions asked the best pitcher on the Red Sox---at least after the Sox disposed of Carl Mays (their best pitcher in 1917-18) and you eliminated Bullet Joe Bush (their second-best pitcher in 1918) or Herb Pennock (their best pitcher in 1919).
Ruth was actually a good number three starter who had, regardless, comparatively low strikeout totals, a very lame strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a walks/hits-per-inning-pitch rate (1.55 in 1919, a whopping raise from his 1.06 over 1917-18) that might make him a number 3-5 starter in today's game. He looks better than he really was, mostly thanks a) to his 1917, when he led the team in wins (by two, over Mays), and b) his performance in the 1918 World Series, but Babe Ruth wasn't close to the best pitcher on his own teams, never mind the league, never mind the game.
Who were the best pitchers in the game in the 1910s? Arguably, by season, they were:
1910---Jack Coombs.In case you were wondering further, Johnson had both the most wins in any season in that decade (36) and for the entire decade (265), not to mention the most strikeouts by season (313, in 1910) and for the decade (2,219). Smokey Joe Wood had the best winning percentage in any season in that decade (.872, in 1912) and for the entire decade (.680).
1911---Grover Cleveland Alexander.
1915-17---Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Babe Ruth was a good pitcher who had his moments approaching or meeting greatness, notably in the 1918 World Series. But in fact the Red Sox resisted Ruth's move to everyday play in the outfield because they needed him on the mound that much more, especially after losing Carl Mays. The Red Sox were a potent and pennant-winning team before him as well as with him; he was no questions asked the best player in the game for the final two seasons of the 1910s. Without just him alone, the Red Sox could have survived and thrived; it took Ed Barrow's soon-to-come raiding of Red Sox talent, when he moved later to the Yankee front office, to begin the zombiehood of the Red Sox in earnest.
None of which makes him any less Babe Ruth, of course.