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Thursday, February 07, 2019

Babe Ruth is the Greatest Player Ever?—?But He’s Far From the Best

Yet another list to argue about.

“Johnson threw 346 innings in 1913, using soft baseballs the color of John McGraw’s teeth…”

gehrig97 Posted: February 07, 2019 at 04:18 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: a-rod, babe ruth, mickey mantle, mike trout, rickey henderson, willie mays

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   1. Cleveland (need new name) fan Posted: February 07, 2019 at 07:54 PM (#5813507)
I don't know why I ever read these kinds of articles. They're just clickbait. They basically all have the same problem in that they never define their terms or provide criteria for making their rankings. So it just ends up as a guy pulling a list out of their ass and thinking it means something.

At a minimum, you need to identify if you are taking Babe Ruth as is with a time machine or assuming Babe Ruth grew up in this era with all the training and coaching available today.
   2. gehrig97 Posted: February 07, 2019 at 08:40 PM (#5813520)
The article decouples player skill from advances in technology and strategy.
   3. bbmck Posted: February 07, 2019 at 11:00 PM (#5813554)
"Bill James, who has thought more about how to quantify and contextualize player performance than the next best two people combined"
Nice insult to Pete Palmer and/or Allan Roth.

Walter Johnson's 15 pitching WAR in 1913 is the 7th highest, his 16.4 WAR is the sixth highest.

Stephen Jay Gould used BA to evaluating hitting because he has no idea of the basics of the game. He would have written that .500 OBP or 1.250 OPS would never happen again in his 1996 book and of course been incorrect. Just because he used an utterly meaningless stat it's still factually correct but the greatest hitting peak in MLB history came after he wrote a book explaining that outliers wouldn't occur in the future. Gould writes about the right tail and standard deviation shrinking which should also apply to a statistic which is actually relevant to baseball performance but Gould couldn't grasp the incredibly complex concept of a Walk or HR since he only possessed a PhD from Columbia.

"integration was a seismic change"
No, it was very gradual, non-whites continued to represent a very small portion of the players, a merger with a Negro league would have been seismic, 10% non-white 10 years after integration. Typical career length accounted for vastly more turnover than integration.

"Ruth, of course, is by any rational measure the greatest player to ever step on a field.", "Ruth occupied a place in the popular imagination never again reached by an American athlete."
I pick Jackie Robinson as greatest, please explain how this isn't a rational position. Far more has been written about Jackie than someone whose largest contribution outside of baseball is providing the financing for No, No, Nanette.

"With a career OPS+ of 179, Gehrig was roughly 79% more productive than a league-average hitter. Pujols, over the course of his career, has been about 52% better than an average hitter."
Just not at all correct.

"You’ll notice only four players place among in the top-10 on both lists: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, and Mickey Mantle."
I noticed that Babe Ruth is Top 10 on both lists.
   4. AndrewJ Posted: February 08, 2019 at 08:28 AM (#5813591)
Far more has been written about Jackie than someone whose largest contribution outside of baseball is providing the financing for No, No, Nanette.

Urban legend. Frazee used the money from the Ruth sale to finance a stage play, which, several years later, was turned into the musical "No, No, Nanette"...
   5. SandyRiver Posted: February 08, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5813722)
"Ruth, of course, is by any rational measure the greatest player to ever step on a field.", "Ruth occupied a place in the popular imagination never again reached by an American athlete."
I pick Jackie Robinson as greatest, please explain how this isn't a rational position. Far more has been written about Jackie than someone whose largest contribution outside of baseball is providing the financing for No, No, Nanette.

IMO, a rational case could be made for both, depending on how one defines "greatest." However, there's an apples/oranges factor to consider. As I see it, Ruth brought about the greatest change in how MLB was played, while Robinson (and Rickey) brought about the greatest change in who played in MLB. Greatest effect on the nation's social fabric? Jackie. Greatest effect on the manner in which one particular sport was played? The Babe.
   6. Morty Causa Posted: February 08, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5813726)
Ruth gave more value relative to his time and place than any other player did in their time and place. Plus he encapsulated and was the epitome of a revolution in the game and how it was played.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 08, 2019 at 01:08 PM (#5813729)
IMO, a rational case could be made for both, depending on how one defines "greatest." However, there's an apples/oranges factor to consider. As I see it, Ruth brought about the greatest change in how MLB was played, while Robinson (and Rickey) brought about the greatest change in who played in MLB. Greatest effect on the nation's social fabric? Jackie. Greatest effect on the manner in which one particular sport was played? The Babe.

This. You can consider yourself my Spokesman for this thread.
   8. Jack Sommers Posted: February 08, 2019 at 06:01 PM (#5813831)
If anyone ever puts me in a time machine I'm taking stat cast equipment with me.

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