Also considered: Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Harry Heilmann
Babe Ruth. The Great Bambino. The Sultan of Swat. America’s first superstar. The man dominated any room he ever walked into, and he also dominated any ball field he walked onto.
There isn’t a lot to debate when it comes to Babe outside of whether or not you think he is the greatest player to ever play. So I’m just going to give you the jaw-dropping statistics he put up in the decade from 1920 until 1929 and let you determine the latter for yourself.
Keep in mind Ruth missed a large portion of 1925 with a stomach ache. So any time you see ‘nine seasons’ just know that ’25 was the reason it wasn’t ten. The man was incredible:
- Nine seasons over .300 Average
- Five seasons over .500 OBP (.488 for the decade)
- Seven seasons over .700 SLG (.740 for the decade)
- Nine seasons over 1.000 OPS (1.229 for the decade)
- Eight 100+ RBI seasons
- Eight 100+ Runs seasons
- 82 Triples (Whaaat? That’s right.)
- 88 Stolen Bases (he stole home 10 times in his career)
And now for the home runs…
- Eight Home Run titles
- Eight 40+ HR seasons
- First player with 3 HR in a World Series game
- 467 HR (still the record for most by any player in a decade)
- 1927, Babe (60) out homered every single team as a whole (!)
- 102.4 WAR
- 10.2 WAR/year
(.355/.488/.740, 1,734 H, 467 HR, 1,335 RBI, 1,365 R)
*These numbers only reflect the seasons between 1920-29*
He was a monster. The epitome of a superstar. The way he played and carried himself reflected this perfectly. What these numbers don’t show you is how great of a pitcher he was early on in his career. 107 complete games, 94-46 record, and career 2.28 ERA (Clayton Kershaw’s is 2.43 for a little perspective). He could do it all. And still holds the all-time records for career slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. None of which seem to be in much jeopardy since Bonds retired.
‘If I’d just tried for them dinky singles I could’ve batted around .600′
The shame of this all is that Rogers Hornsby won’t get his moment in the sun here. (’20 – ’29: .382/.460/.637, 2,085 H, 250 HR, 1,153 RBI, 1,195 R, 93.1 WAR) Pretty insane stuff from possibly the greatest 2nd baseman to ever play the game.
Babe Ruth comes in as the third selection to my Player of the Decade team. Continue to check back in as I will continue revealing my choice of players each day. Tomorrow will be the 1930’s, and maybe a little bit of debate for once?