July 30, 2003
Barry vs. the Babe

Barry Bonds, whose many skills do not include tact, generated some controversy at the All-Star Game when he talked about eclipsing Babe Ruth.

The San Francisco slugger leads the majors with 30 home runs at the All-Star break and has hit 643 in his career, putting him just 17 shy of matching his godfather -- Mays -- for third on the all-time list.

"Willie's number is always the one that I've strived for," Bonds said before Tuesday's All-Star Game.

"And if it does happen, the only number I care about is Babe Ruth's. Because as a left-handed hitter, I wiped him out. That's it. And in the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I'll take his home runs and that's it. Don't talk about him no more."

This generated the predictable outraged response from the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, as well as from some sportswriters. Adrian Wojnarowski's overly emotional but totally unconvincing response is typical.

Bonds does have his defenders, such as the Dallas Morning News' Kevin Blackistone, who makes a provocative case.

The greatest compliment that can be paid a baseball player is to call him "the only man," as in: Hank Aaron is the only man to hit as many as 755 home runs in a major league career. Or as can be said of first baseman and new Hall of Famer Eddie Murray: He is the only man to have 3,000 hits and 500 home runs as a switch hitter.

In fact, the only other men to have as many hits and home runs in a career are Aaron and Willie Mays, both one-time Negro League players.

Babe Ruth was once an "only man." He was once the only man to have hit as many as 60 home runs in a season. He lost that designation over two generations ago and now stands behind four players on that list, which is topped by Barry Bonds.

Ruth was once the only man to have knocked in as many as 2,213 runs in a career. Aaron left him behind in that category, too, almost a generation and a half ago.

In fact, Ruth was once the only man who could, without question, be called the greatest offensive weapon the game has ever seen.

He isn't anymore. He hasn't been for quite a spell. The biggest record he has left is career slugging percentage. It is time to take a deep breath and move on. Earth won't careen into the sun.

The simple fact is black baseball players such as Aaron, Mays, Murray, Rickey Henderson and, yes, Bonds have erased many of the most revered offensive records in what was once America's pastime. These marks, established by Ruth and Ty Cobb, were thought carved in stone. Home runs. RBIs. Walks. Runs scored. Stolen bases. Season slugging percentage. Black players hold them all now.

Yet, those black players aren't afforded nearly the reverence, if any at all, of the folks whose records they obliterated.

Blackistone is, I think, more right than wrong in what he says, but he's far too casual in his insistence that Ruth has been eclipsed. He makes a common error in argument-by-statistics, which is that he doesn't present enough context to the stats he's giving.

I'm not going to get into the serious stathead world of Equivalent Averages and Value Over Replacement Players, both of which are heavy-duty stats that try to even out differences in era and ballparks. I'm not qualified for that, and it wouldn't change anyone's mind anyway. I just want to point out that we've got a fruit basket of numbers here, and we need to sort through them a bit more carefully.

Since Blackistone mentions Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, the other two sluggers that Bonds is chasing, let's take a closer look at them. There's a key difference in the career stats of Aaron, Mays, and Babe Ruth, and it can be summed up in four numbers:

Name Games At-bats HRs
Aaron 3298 12,364 755
Mays 2992 10,881 660
Ruth 2503 8,399 714

Aaron and Mays played far more games than Babe Ruth did, mostly because Ruth spent his first four seasons as a pitcher. Both had many more at-bats than the Babe did. Ruth hit a home run in 8.5% of his at-bats, while Aaron and Mays went yard 6.1% of the time.

To put it another way, how would the career numbers stack up if Mays and Ruth had had Aaron's 12,364 at-bats, assuming that they hit home runs at the same rate over the extra time?

Name Projected HRs
Ruth 1051
Aaron 755
Mays 750

The thing about Babe Ruth is not only that he hit a ridiculous number of home runs, it's also that he hit an even more ridiculous number than his contemporaries. The Babe out-homered whole teams many times. Someone on ESPN.com (it might have been Rob Neyer, I can't find it any more) once determined that if every season had been as homer-happy as 1998 and Ruth had hit them at the same relative rate to the rest of the league, he'd have wound up with over 2000 for his career. He really was a giant among Lilliputians in his time.

(Astute statheads may be grumbling at this point about Aaron and Mays playing in the pitcher-dominated 1960s, and how they might have done in a more offense-friendly era. I acknowledge the dissonance but cannot give you a good answer. I recommend pestering someone at the Baseball Prospectus.)

Now let's add Barry to the mix. As it happens, his stats through 2002 are a pretty decent match for the Babe's.

Name Games At-bats HRs
Aaron 3298 12,364 755
Mays 2992 10,881 660
Ruth 2503 8,399 714
Bonds 2439 8,335 613

Name Projected HRs
Ruth 1051
Bonds 909
Aaron 755
Mays 750

Bonds goes deep 7.4% of the time, meaning the advantage is still Ruth's.

Of course, there is a player who does outdistance the Babe by this measure. Any guesses who?

Name Games At-bats HRs
Aaron 3298 12,364 755
Mays 2992 10,881 660
Ruth 2503 8,399 714
Bonds 2439 8,335 613
McGwire 1874 6,187 583

Name Projected HRs
McGwire 1165
Ruth 1051
Bonds 909
Aaron 755
Mays 750

Yep, Mark McGwire, who merits not a mention in Blackistone's column (how quickly they forget) despite his record-setting 9.4 HR percentage. I will not be uncharitable and suggest that had McGwire been as healthy as Aaron (and mind you, staying healthy is a skill as much as it is luck) and shattered Aaron's career record as many expected him to do before his sudden retirement, Kevin Blackistone would have muttered dark imprecations about steroids and asterisks. Feel free to do so yourself, however.

Someone once said that statistics are like a string bikini: What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is crucial. I believe the record shows that Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and that he doesn't get the recognition he deserves for it. I believe that Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, as great as they were, are also often sold short. I believe that Babe Ruth is still the pinnacle to which everyone aspires and against whom everyone will be measured. And I remain confident of the Earth's ability to maintain its orbit. I hope Kevin Blackistone does as well.

UPDATE: In the comments, Joe asks for the same comparison with plate appearances (at-bats plus walks, hit by pitches, sacrifices and sac flies) instead of just at-bats. I aim to please:

Name PA HR HR % Proj HR
Aaron 13940 755 5.4 755
Mays 12493 660 5.3 736
Ruth 10617 714 6.7 937
Bonds 10417 613 5.9 820
McGwire 7660 583 7.6 1061

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 30, 2003 to Baseball | TrackBack

Yeah, but did they do it with a raging hangover? Babe Ruth did.

Posted by: hamletta on July 30, 2003 6:22 PM

Ruth against Mays or Aaron or Bonds or McGwire is an impossible comparison. The easiest way to compare players from different eras is to look at their numbers compared to the league average. The problem with that when using Ruth's numbers is that he caused a paradigm shift. All apologies to Bill James, but prior to Ruth, it was thought that trying to hit home runs was an inefficient strategy. Ruth showed that it wasn't--and in fact, for the best hitters, a "take and rake" strategy was the most effective to take. Thus, comparing Ruth, who really WAS playing a different game, to the league average during his career is a pointless exercise. It simply tells you that he was playing a different game than everybody else.

Which might well make him the greatest player ever to play the game (I think he was), but then, that's not really an empirical question, is it?

One stathead qualm. Using AB/HR is a fundamentally flawed measure. It disregards the fact that Ruth and Bonds walk a TON, and Mays and Aaron don't. Use PA/HR.

Posted by: Joe on July 30, 2003 6:58 PM

I agree with you Joe, which is why I always refer to so-and-so as "one of the greatest". At gunpoint, I might pick Mays as #1 based on extra value for speed and defense, but that would be a coerced opinion.

Don't forget Mickey Mantle in the all-hung-over team, Hamletta. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 30, 2003 7:24 PM

The funny thing about comparing Bonds to Ruth is that Ruth won 18, 23, and 24 games as a pitcher for Boston while hitting over .300 in two of those three seasons (1915-17). I'd like to see Barry go out and win that many games as a pitcher and then see if he wants to compare himself to the Babe. by the way, Ruth also pitched a complete game win in 1933, and several other appearances as a pitcher for the Yankees.

I also would like to see Bonds play in the "dead-ball" era as Ruth did in the first five seasons of his career when he hit only 20 (leading the AL in 1918 with 11). In the end, Ruth could have either been a home run king or a 300 game winner if he wanted to. I don't know of anybody else that could make that claim.

I do, however, that Willie Mays was the best all around baseball player of all time, however, most "old-timers" I have spoken to (I used to volunteer in a nursing home, so when I say "old-timers", I mean it".), think that if Mantle had not stepped on the sprinkler in 1951 and taken better care of himself, 73 home runs in a season would simply be a good year.

As for today's ballplayer's I think Valdimir Guerrero is the best all-around man today. A solid defensive outfielder with some speed who can hit for both average and power (anyone who saw that blast Monday knows how much power he has). Put him in San Francisco and 73 home runs won't be the record for long.

Posted by: William Hughes on July 30, 2003 7:55 PM

I'll refrain from any comparisons, but as a longtime and long-suffering Dodgers fan I have to express horror at the idea of Guerrero in a Giants uniform.

Posted by: Linkmeister on July 30, 2003 8:08 PM

William - Ruth's pitching is often ignored. He probably would have been a Hall of Famer as a hurler if he'd stayed that course.

As for today's players, I think the list begins with A-Rod. Vlad is a monster (though he needs to work on his plate discipline) and someone is going to make him very, very rich this offseason.

Linkmeister, if the Dodgers are smart, they'll be among those sending Brinks trucks to Vlad's house. Lord knows they could use his bat.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 30, 2003 8:25 PM

Vladimir may yet live Mickey Mantle's dream. At his contract signing, he may say to the owner: Hi, partner! (or Hola, compadre!) ;)

Posted by: William Hughes on July 30, 2003 8:38 PM

I've always maintained that Ruth was the greatest ever, precisely because of his pitching adding to his hitting. I'm glad to see that other people agree.

Say, d'ya think the Mets are dumping salary now in order to free up Fred Wilpon's checkbook to put out for Vlad? Oh, that thought'll cheer me up for a while.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on July 31, 2003 12:36 PM

I'll probably run these numbers further on my blog . . .

1. Batting Average:

Babe Ruth - .342 Career average.

Barry Bonds - .295 career average, 16 consecutive seasons batting below .342, 1 season batting above .342.

2. Slugging Average:

Babe Ruth - .690

Barry Bonds - .595 career average, 15 consecutive seasons slugging below .690, 2 seasons slugging above .690.

3. On Base Percentage:

Babe Ruth - .474

Barry Bonds - .428 career average, 15 consecutive seasons w/OBP below .474, 2 seasons w/OBP above .474.

Posted by: Crank on July 31, 2003 1:04 PM

With the Mets' luck, they would sign Vlad and turn him from a Triple Crown Threat to a guy hitting below .200 with 0 homers. ;)

Shea Stadium is not a hitters park, so I can't see Vlad going to the Mets. On the other hand, they are willing to spend money so anything is possible.

Posted by: William Hughes on July 31, 2003 3:09 PM

Ruth beats them all in one category: Pitching. I know, I know it's a broad category. Look, IP: 1221.1, W-L record 94-46, and ERA 2.28 .

Posted by: GNR on August 12, 2003 9:34 PM

I totally agree with you Joe. Bonds might get the homerun record of 756 but the name Babe Ruth will be linked with baseball (side by side) forever. Not only will Bonds not be the best home run hitter of all time, he isn't the best home run hitter of this generation (McGwire).

Posted by: James on September 4, 2003 8:18 PM

I totally agree with you Joe. Bonds might get the homerun record of 756 but the name Babe Ruth will be linked with baseball (side by side) forever. Not only will Bonds not be the best home run hitter of all time, he isn't the best home run hitter of this generation (McGwire).

Posted by: James on September 4, 2003 8:19 PM

I'm kind of partial to Austin Kearns

Posted by: C. Deskins on November 18, 2003 9:12 PM

I agree, Vlad IS the man, but if he had more plate discipline his numbers wouldn't necessarily go up. Thats what makes him Vlad, his aggressiveness and his ability to hit not only mistake pitches, but show-me pitches as well...plus against todays watered down pitching, can you blame him for hackin' :)

Its great for baseball fans to discuss players and stats, baseball being the one game where stats are supposed to mean something. When it comes to Bonds and Ruth however, there are Ruth's numbers and everyone else's. Before his skull grew 2 hat sizes, and he put on 40 pounds of muscle "naturally", Bonds was (and still is) a below .300 career hitter who had the advantage of artificial turf most of his career, and was an average power hitter. Strapping on body armor, and swinging a triple dipped in lacker 29 ounce bat at a rock hard ball thrown by watered down pitching in tiny ballparks does not a great hitter make.
Ruth's true greatness, setting the pitching aside, was his ability to transform the game into something it was not, and did not want to become until the financial ramifications were realized. Parks such as Cleveland Municipal, Sportsman Park, Shibe Park, Tiger Stadium, Comiskey Park, Fenway, Capital Field, Yankee Stadium and Griffith Stadium were pastures compared to todays cozy hitter friendly money makers that allow a middle infielder to get fooled on a 2-1 changeup and front foot a homer the opposite way. As far as I'm concerned there should be seperate categories for eras in the record books and either way the asterisk should still remain next to Maris' 61 in a 162 game season.
Babe was more than just a ballplayer he was an icon who truly understood and appreciated his role as hero to America. Its a shame that more Americans today are subjected to Bonds and what he stands for as opposed to players who played when it truly was a game.

* 2 legs of the triple crown 7 times (Bonds - 1)
* more RBI than games played 6 times (Bonds - 0)
* 350+ TB in a season 9 times (Bonds - 2)
* 175+ Hits in a season 7 times (Bonds - 1)
* .450+ OBP in a season 11 times (Bonds - 6)
* 130+ Runs in a season 9 times (Bonds - 0)

162 game averages
Ruth .342 -- Bonds - .297
Ruth 46 -- Bonds - 41
Ruth 143 -- Bonds - 110
Ruth 186 -- Bonds - 131
Ruth 86 -- Bonds - 87
Ruth 133 -- Bonds - 131

I'd take Ruth, Mays, Cobb, Wagner, Williams, Gehrig, Henderson, Speaker, Aaron, and Foxx ahead of Bonds on a top 10 position player list no matter how many pop flies he hit over the fences.

Posted by: Randy on April 24, 2004 3:02 AM


Ruth .393 .378 .378 .376 .373 .372 .359 .356 .345 .341

Bonds .370 .341 .336 .328 .312 .311 .308 .306 .303 .301

Ruth 60 59 54 54 49 47 46 46 46 41

Bonds 73 49 46 46 45 42 40 37 37 34

Ruth 171 164 163 154 153 146 142 137 137 131

Bonds 137 129 123 122 116 114 110 106 104 103

Ruth 205 204 200 199 186 184 173 172 172 156

Bonds 181 167 159 156 156 155 152 149 149 149

Ruth 177 163 158 158 151 150 149 143 139 121

Bonds 129 129 129 123 122 120 117 111 109 109

Ruth 457 417 399 391 388 380 379 374 365 348

Bonds 411 365 336 330 322 318 311 295 293 292

Ruth .847 .846 .772 .764 .739 .737 .732 .709 .700 .697

Bonds .863 .799 .749 .688 .677 .647 .624 .617 .615 .609

Ruth .545 .532 .516 .513 .512 .495 .493 .489 .486 .463

Bonds .582 .529 .515 .461 .458 .456 .446 .440 .438 .431

Ruth 170 150 145 144 142 137 137 136 130 128

Bonds 198 177 151 148 145 130 127 126 120 117

Ruth 93 90 89 87 81 81 80 80 76 68

Bonds 102 93 93 92 88 87 83 83 82 79

Out of 100 possible stats, Bonds leads Ruth in Eight. Five of which are for Walks in a year.

Posted by: Randy on April 26, 2004 8:29 PM

Hey Charles, above Joe requested a comparison of actual plate appearances. They didn't count sacrifice flies until 1954. So there's no telling what Babe's HR/AB ratio would be if those plate appearances never counted, and I'm not sure if they gave players the RBI for making an out back then. Just something to keep in mind.

Posted by: Randy on April 26, 2004 11:44 PM

I was trying to compare: Barry Bonds, Mark Mcqwire
& Sammy Sosa to Babe Ruth for the 60 homers in 154 games in 1927. Barry Bonds had 67 in 2001, Sammy Sosa I believe 58 in 1998; But I can't find Mark Mcqwire's homers in 154 games for his 1998 season.

Posted by: Peter B. Gudeman on May 2, 2004 12:58 PM

babe is the best to ever play the game-no doubt about it

Posted by: clemens on May 30, 2004 8:37 PM

Get over yourselves. I can't beleive some of what I'm seeing here "Put Vlad in San Francisco and.." He's in the stingyest ballpark in the country. SBC park with it's impossibly high walls, deep alleys and wind make it the hardest place for a lefty to hit a HR in history. Go check your stats on that. Quite unlike Yankee stadium. I like how all of these stat lists conveniently leave out stats like steals, and Barry's numbers for 2003 and 2004. No mention of 30-30, 40-40, or 500-500. I can just see Ruth's fat butt plugging around the basepaths like Charlie Chaplin. Real fearsome. Talk about 'roids all you want, but Barry was leading the NL in HRs even in his "smaller" days in 1993, and was always in the hunt. Oh, and all of these stats about his sub-300 average. Look out folks, it's up to .299. What are you going to say when it's over 300 at the end of next year? The bottom-line is, no one has ever done what Barry has done, given the 1 or 2 pitches per game he actually gets to seing at. Not even Ruth.

Posted by: Chris on July 6, 2004 7:33 PM



.863 (2001) -- league average .445 -- .418
.799 (2002) -- league average .423 -- .376
.749 (2003) -- league average .436 -- .313
.688 (2000) -- league average .450 -- .238
.677 (1993) -- league average .412 -- .265


.847 (1920) -- .387 -- .460
.846 (1921) -- .408 -- .438
.772 (1927) -- .399 -- .373
.764 (1923) -- .388 -- .376
.739 (1924) -- .396 -- .343

Posted by: Randy on July 11, 2004 7:42 PM

Its better to look at 162 game averages for stats, it gives a better measure of a players greatness, but seriously how can you argue with these career numbers?

.690 SLG

.474 OBP

.342 B.A.

506 doubles

136 triples

714 HR

Even if you take Ruth's 162 game averages, and compare them to great players, it's still amazing at the dominance.
For example:
Ruth's 162 game average for total bases was 375 hitting that many or more 8 times during his career.

Mays had 375 or more total bases in a season TWICE during his entire career. Here are some others.

Williams - 0
Bonds - 1
Mcgwire - 1
Sosa - 4
Mantle - 1
Aaron - 1
Foxx - 3
Gehrig - 5
Hornsby - 4
Wagner - 0
R. Jackson - 0
Mel Ott - 0
Mike Schmidt - 0

Granted total bases aren't the most important or impressive stat, but any of Ruth's 162 game average stats and its boggling how dominant even those are over other greats throughout their entire careers....

Even if you leave out the bats which are harder and lighter, the hitters backdrop, the watered down pitching, the helmets and body armor, and the rock hard baseball..... JUST consider how long the fences were back in Ruth's time and theres no telling how many more HR Ruth would have had they not been pastures.
Of his 506 doubles, at least 100 would have been HR, and of his 136 triples, at least 50-60 would have been HR. Then theres the numerous fly balls that the fielder had time to run back on and camp under considering how high of a fly ball Ruth's swing produced. Theres at least another 50 over the course of his entire career. We're lookin' at around 900 HR in 8399 AB or one HR every 9 AB.

Posted by: Randy on July 11, 2004 7:43 PM

Had the awards existed, and had the competition for batting titles not been so stiff, Ruth would have won the following awards during his career.....

Cy Young Award - 1916
Cy Young Award - 1917 (Eddie Ciccotte might have won as well)

Rookie of the year - 1915 as pitcher (18-8, 16 CG, 2.44 ERA) and hitter, (.315, 4 HR, 10 2b, in 92 AB)

Batting titles

1924 - .378 (did win)
1920 - .376
1921 - .378
1923 - .393
1926 - .372
1931 - .373

At least one gold glove

All star game MVP

World Series MVP


6 RBI TITLES (4 second place finishes)



_________RUNS PRODUCED_______

RUTH______(RBI + R) - HR________BONDS

1921 - 289______________1996 - 209
1931 - 266______________1993 - 206
1927 - 262______________1998 - 205
1930 - 254______________2001 - 193
1928 - 251______________2000 - 186
1923 - 241______________1991 - 186
1920 - 241______________1990 - 185
1926 - 238______________1997 - 184
1929 - 229______________2002 - 181
1924 - 218______________1995 - 180

________XTRA BASE HITS_________





RUTH - 11



RUTH - 13



RUTH - 11



RUTH - 11



RUTH - 10



RUTH - 6



RUTH - 13
BONDS - 11



RUTH - 11



RUTH - 9

Posted by: Randy on July 11, 2004 7:46 PM

A few comments that need to be made. As it has been said before, SBC park is a pitchers park, as was candlestick park, also a notorious "graveyard" for the long ball with strong winds from the bay, both of which would automatically deflate bonds' statistics a decent bit. If you look at Yankees stadium, back BEFORE the renovation, take a glance at the home run alleys: right field was 304 feet and left field was 298. Also, look at the line-up that ruth played with....they had LOU GEHRIG, a hall-of-famer and one of the all-time greats, in most of the relevant top ten career totals, thus giving Ruth more protection as well as helping to boost ruth's statistics. Now Ruth could also pitch. Fine, but think about it this way...was Ruth more important to his team as a pitcher or a hitter...as a pitcher he was much closer to earth, and his were helped a bit by the fact that the era was the "dead-ball era"...so the real argument should be between Ruth the outfielder and Bonds the outfielder. Ruth, whose arm was probably decent considering he was a pitcher, was an average outfielder, while Bonds has been called the greatest defensive leftfielder ever, winning 8 consecutive gold gloves during the 90's. Also, Bonds's speed, as displayed by basestealing, is far better than Ruth's. The Babe's base-stealing percentage is barely above 50% of 240 attempts. Bonds' is nearly 80% out of 644 attempts (he has 504 stolen bases, currently) which makes him one of the great base-stealers off all time, let alone of this era where base-stealing has become quite rare.
And the most important difference in the era's has to do with race - Ruth played when only white people were allowed to participate while Bonds plays with the best athletes around, REGARDLESS of race. Thus the Babe will have to do with being the greatest player of the "Segregated Era".....now, after all of this "evidence", does it prove Bonds is better than Ruth? No, more or less all of this is speculation. In fact, in my opinion I think Willie Mays and Ted Williams were bigger individual contributors than Ruth or Bonds, although not by much. Retort!

Posted by: anonymous on July 16, 2004 8:06 PM

bonds is the best in history no doubt about it

Posted by: daniel on September 8, 2004 12:04 PM

Barry Bonds is the greatest slugger of all time. I don't think he is the best hitter. I'd have to give that to Ted Williams. I don't think he is the best overall. I'd have to give that to his godfather, Willie Mays. But power hitter, definitely Bonds. You can make arguments about the mound, or the strike zone, or the watered down pitching, but I'd have to disagree. The addition of African-Americans and Latinos to baseball has changed the game forever. I think, to compare Ruth to the others of his time, and that be the main basis of why he's the best is ridiculous. The hitters weren't as strong, period. He seemed to be SO great because he was a strong man. He could hit it out.

The pitching now a days is better. There are relievers, and closers. Specialized pitchers who throw one-two innings. A player faces three pitchers a night (avg.). Ruth didn't have to worry about a new pitcher coming in at the seventh and then again in the ninth. No, he got to hit off of a pitcher weather he was struggling through the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th. No matter what in most cases. So, personally, i don't think the pitching was as good as it is now. Pitchers now are stronger, throw harder. They spend hours perfecting technique. They constantly condition. They train. How many pitchers back then knew what we know now? All of the wasted effort those pitchers put into flailing arms and rocking way back. I think if those pitchers lived now, and had the training we have now, they could be as good as the Pedros and Randys. But I don't think their natural ability was superior to the conditioned trained arms of today. It's impractical, illogical.

I'm not saying they weren't good compared to who they played against, but not compared to today's pitchers. And same goes for Babe. Compared to who he played against, he was a god. Leaps and bounds above the rest. But if you put him up against pitching of today, I think he'd be above average at best. He'd see things he never saw before. Sharper curveballs. Faster fastballs. Circle-changes. He'd be lost. I love the legend of the Babe, and what he did for baseball. But i don't think he can compare to Barry Bonds, or even Mark McGwire. I'd guess that he would have Todd Helton numbers. Very good, but not the best. And that's just hitting, he would be low on defense and REALLY low on baserunning.

Posted by: Brendan on September 9, 2004 4:49 PM

Babe is better than Bonds.

I have heard many arguments about this debate and many of the people say you cant compare stats. Then how the hell are you supposed to compare, to their contemporaries. We all now how badly Ruth outhomered the rest of the league. Either way you look at it, Babe is far ahead.

Another argument is about pitching. People say Bonds is a better hitter because pitching is tougher than in Ruth's day. Those same people say you can't use Ruth's pitching stats to rate him better than Bonds because pitching was weak in Ruth's day. If the pitching was so weak, wouldn't it makes Ruth's pitching stats all the more incredible?

In Ruth's day, the same ball was used until it was hit out of play. Many times a ball was scuffed and when a ball is scuffed, it has extra movement, making it tougher to hit. Spitballs and other similar pitches that are outlawed today were legal as well. If you try to use this against Ruth in any way, it will backfire. Try using it against his pitching stats and say it would better his stats. Then you must realize that he faced the same conditions as a hitter, making it tougher for him to hit making his batting stats more incredible (if that's possible) than they already are. See, I told you it would backfire on you.

Posted by: Mike on September 14, 2004 9:35 PM

It was already said that Ruth played in an era where the long ball was thought to be counter productive. Pitchers would pitch for the strike out or for a defensive play. What would Bonds' numbers be if he got challenged? I know the stats above put Ruth above Bonds in this scenario and ruth leads him in every category, but Bonds has admited that early in his career he was more interested in stolen bases. Now that his age prevents him from stealing bases as often, he is more focused on home runs. This makes the percentage compairison moot. This also accounts for his phisical size. I don't know if steroids were involved but, all the seroid users I have seen get their size quickly. Bonds has an insane workout regiment that has shown him bulking up over the past 5+ years. Lets see where he is at the end of his career. I think Bonds will be the guy kids talk about on the little league field as I did about Ruth. This will be the true measure of Ruths legacy. Aaron was in the wrong place at the wrong time for the history books and that is a shame.

Posted by: Kevin on September 15, 2004 7:18 PM

if ruth had the advances in physical fitness and the knowledge of nutrition along with personal trainers as every major sports player has, ruth would be in just as good of shape if not better allowing him to play longer.

Posted by: Mike on September 15, 2004 9:22 PM

If Barry had an eye like the terminator he would not miss anything.

Posted by: Kevin on September 16, 2004 1:45 PM

You can't compair "what if's". If Ruth was wearing Nike's he would have stolen more bases. If Ruth had better bats he would have done better. If the ballparks were smaller he would have had more homeruns. The man could hit the ball, preiod. Bonds can hit the ball, period. At the end of Barrys career we can then compair them. Records are made to be broken. When their broken, is up to fate.

Posted by: Kevin on September 16, 2004 1:56 PM

What I'm sayin is that Ruth's numbers with, all of the disadvantages he had compared to todays game, are more remarkable than what Bond's is doing now. You could say that Ruth had protection in the lineup with Gehrig but its Bonds' own fault he doesn't. He drove Kent out of town who was an above average hitter. I know he is no Gehrig but it is better protection than what he has got now. Another reason is that the Giants don't have the money to go and get better players because Bonds in making 20 mil/year. It's his own fault he has no protection.

Posted by: Mike on September 18, 2004 2:38 PM


Sorry about the yelling but please look at the numbers posted by Randy. The Babe leads in so many more categories.

I think it's important to state that when we talk about Barry we are really only thinking about the player we've seen in the last five years,

Barry was an excellent player the first fourteen years of his career, but now... WHO IS THIS GUY???

He averages about 32 homers the first fourteen years of his career then suddenly hits 73.
That's 41 more than his average total.

Doesn't that sound odd?

Also, while 73 is impressive, what does it mean when the next guy hits 64?

Posted by: chaplin on September 18, 2004 8:58 PM

The major difference between Ruths era and Barrys, The pitchers had pride and threw to Ruth. If Bonds sees more pitches this argument dosent exist. When the next guy hits 64 homeruns it means the pitchers need to throw better. Look over the last 30 years and you will see a pattern of strong pitching with weak hitting. Then as the hitters get better the pitching suffers. This point in history has a few standout pitchers with a bunch of throwers. Take a look at how Clemens, Johnson and Wells throw to Barry. They go after him. Just about EVERYONE ELSE thows around or intentionally walks him. And as far as kent goes, it was his fat head that sent him to the Astros. He wanted to be the star of the team and couldent with Barry around. Barry had nothing to do with getting him traded. Most of what I read here is just echoing the east coast media bias against, not just Barry, but all west coast baseball. Ricky Ledee was quoted as saying, before he got to San Francisco he thought Barry was a jerk. Since he has joined the team, Barry has been the best friend he has. Barry may not like the media but he has his reasons. He just wants to do his job. If the pitchers could take a little more pride in their game Ruth would be a fond memory.

Posted by: Kevin on September 20, 2004 1:46 PM

Then how do you explain Ruth being 3rd all time in walks just 200 behind Bonds. Ruth was walked just as often then as Bonds is now.

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 2:56 PM

Ted Williams was walked more than either of them. The only reason Ruth is considered better than Williams is because Williams lost 5 of his prime years to war so his stats are lower. Williams could have easily hit 700 HR. You could make a much better case for Ted Williams than you ever could for Bonds.

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 3:11 PM

I should say that Williams was walked more often, not more.

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 3:13 PM

Bonds still has two years on his contract. He has said he wishes to continue after that. Bonds could easily have 1000 more walks than Ruth by the end of his career. He will probably retire somewhere around 2007 or 2008. With 200+ walks per year where does that put Ruth. And again with Willams, saying he would have over 700 home runs, is playing the "what if" game. You can't compair what if's. Bonds has 2070 walks in 18 seasons (through 2003) compaired to Wiliams' 2021. Ruth has 2062. Williams was walked less than either of them. I am also sure that Williams or Ruth was not walked intentionally simply because of who they were. They were great hitters so pitchers were careful. Pitchers are flat scared to pitch to Bonds.

Posted by: Kevin on September 20, 2004 4:22 PM

Let's put Barry's walks in perspective.

Barry has had such giants of the game as; Bobby Bonilla, Marquis Grissom, J.T. Snow and other forgettable players batting after him.

Years ago they would walk Babe Ruth to get to this guy you may have heard about... LOU GEHRIG!!!

Think about it, you walk Babe Ruth to get to the greatest RBI machine in baseball history.

A guy who has had over 170 RBI's THREE TIMES, including an American League record of 184. His RBI's per year is staggering and you walk The Babe to pitch to him.

There is no fearsome player who bats after Barry that's why it's so easy to let him walk to first.

It doesn't sound as impressive when you say pitchers fear Bonds so much they intentionally walk him to get to J. T. Snow.

Now..say...Pitchers fear Ruth so much they intentionally walk him to get to Lou Gehrig.

It puts things in perspective, doesn't it?


Posted by: chaplin on September 20, 2004 5:59 PM

How many intentional walks did Ruth have? Everybody talks about the number of Bonds' intentional passes with awe and amazement. Why would Former players and veteran analists be so amazed at this if Ruth was treated the same? Please let me know where you are getting the reports that Ruth was intentionally walked as much as Bonds. Also, having LOU GHERIG behind Ruth would have given him MORE pitches to hit. That means more strikes not balls. Chaplin just proved my point that pitchers were CAREFUL when they pitched to Ruth which accounted for his walks. Having average players behind Bonds means you can ignore the BEST ant try for a double play with the average.

Posted by: Kevin on September 20, 2004 6:25 PM

I didn't sat Ruth was intentionally walked as much as Bonds. What I said was Ruth was walked as often as Bonds. We will never know how many IBB Ruth had because IBB were not kept very well and there is hardly any video.
If you look at at-bats and games, Williams has far less than either player and is only about 300 behind Bonds. I was not comparing totals but rather how many walks per at-bat and games. I didn't do calculations but just by looking at the numbers, you can see how frequently he was walked. Same goes for Ruth. He has less at-bats and games played and is 200 walks behind Bonds. Once agian, I am stressing frequency, not totals. They were all walked with about the same frequency.

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 8:13 PM

You don't think the Giants org is trying to get Bonds protection. They don't have the money because Bonds is eating too much payroll. It is his own fault. He won't take a paycut to help himself or his team.

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 8:18 PM

Kent doesn't seem to have a problem not being a star in Houston so I can't stomach Kevin's argumnent about it being Kent's fault for his release unless I see some articles about the subject. There is Clemens, Bagwell, Biggio, Beltran and Pettite and Kent seems very happy where he is. I may be wrong and it could have been Kent's fault but with his demeanor where he is it is kind of hard to believe. Just show me some evidence it is his fault for being released by the Giants

Posted by: Mike on September 20, 2004 8:55 PM

Clemens and Pettite are not the defensive or offensive superstars that Kent wants to be. Bagwell, Biggio and Beltran are not even half the superstar that Bonds is. Kent wanted credit for his accomplishments which were overshadowed in San Francisco. The year he won his MVP all the discussion in the media was that Bonds should have won (and a good arguement can be made that he should have). Kent was upset that he did not stand out. His own ego caused his distain for Bonds not Bonds' attitude. Anyone that follows the Giants will tell you the same. As far as the payroll goes, sure Bonds is getting the most on the team but the Giants are also paying for SBC Park out of their own pockets. If MLB had helped out at all, the Giants would have gotten Guerrero or Sheffield easily. I don't blame Bonds for getting as much money as he can. Thats the american way. The Giants have been a consistant team since Bonds arrival. They have been in contention almost every year since 1993. So not having a superstar bat behind Bonds hasn't hurt them at all. Name one other team, beside the Yankees who have unlimited funds and the Braves that play in a weak small market division, That can say that.

Posted by: Kevin on September 21, 2004 2:36 PM

"On the field, we're fine, but off the field, I don't care about Barry and Barry doesn't care about me. Or anybody else," Kent told Reilly. "He doesn't answer questions. He palms everybody off on us, so we have to do his talking for him. But you get used to it. Barry does a lot of questionable things ... I was raised to be a team guy, and I am, but Barry's Barry. It took me two years to learn to live with it, but I learned." - Jeff Kent, Sports Illustrated.
Does a content "team guy" criticize a "teammate" in a national publication, or does this sound like a guy that is upset that Bonds gets more attention. Bonds didn't ask Kent or anyone else to answer to the media for him. Kent was upset at the media for asking him to talk about about Bonds and not himself.

Posted by: Kevin on September 21, 2004 3:04 PM

Kent didn't criticize the team, he criticized Bonds. Those comments don't show that Kent was upset about not being noticed because he won the MVP over Bonds. That shows his acheivements being recognized. What his comments show is that Bonds is an ahole who doesn't care about his teamates. Did you see the faces of his teamates when he hit his 700th HR. I saw 1 smiling face and it was Schmidt who Bonds has praised all year. Schmidt hugged him while the rest of the team high fived him and sat back down. It seems to me that Schmidt is Bonds' only friend on the team. Kent is the only teamate of Bonds who has had the courage to speak against him. What Kevin said about Ledee thinking he was a jerk before being traded and now the two of them being friends I have a hard time believing because I saw Ledee's face when Bonds hit 700 and he was not smiling. The reason Ledee won't badmouth Barry now is because he doesn't want to create tension in the clubhouse. I watched Ledee play in Philly and he was always the quiet guy on the team who tried to avoid confrontations.

Posted by: Mike on September 21, 2004 4:02 PM

By commenting on Bonds' attitude toward his teammates and the management is way off the subject of this forum. I assume that there are no further points that can be made for Ruth. This forum was a fun diversion for my down time at work.

Thank You

Posted by: Kevin on September 21, 2004 4:08 PM

There are plenty of more arguments for Ruth. What makes him the best is that no other player has dominated his era like Ruth. You could say that he played before integration and not against the best of the time. But, now the Japanese players are coming over, the best from their league and only Ichiro and Sasaki (Mariner's former closer) succeded to a degree that is admirable. Godzilla has had success with hitting homeruns but his average is around 250. That doesn't sound like success. My point is that even if the league was integrated, most of the higher performing negro league players may not have been able to compare the best of that time. There would have been some that would have made a difference and I am not refuting that.

Posted by: Mike on September 23, 2004 9:10 AM

Japanese players have nothing to do with Bonds Vs. Ruth. And to say that Bonds is not dominating this era is absurd. This current series with the Astros proves that. They had a rookie on the mound on tuesday night, He pitched to Bonds every at bat. All the relievers thet came in, pitched to Bonds. It worked, they got him out. Last night Roy Oswalt, a veteran 18 game winner, threw one pitch to Bonds which turned out to be a tripple. Bonds didn't see another pitch the rest of the night. That never happened to Ruth. Why did a tripple scare a veteran like Oswalt? If thats not dominance in this era I don't know what is.

Posted by: Kevin on September 23, 2004 12:02 PM

And to comment on Ruth not playing against the all the best players of his era. Bonds Is.

Posted by: Kevin on September 23, 2004 2:23 PM

How do you know that Ruth didn't scare pitchers? You have no proof. I know Ruth scared pitchers and that is because of his walks. Ruth was the career leader in walks for 70 years before Henderson broke is all-time mark. He as often as anybody in history with the exception of Ted Williams. That shows pitchers were afraid of pitching to him. And my comment about Japanese players does have to do with Ruth vs Bonds just like the Negro League players argument so many of you make against Ruth. It show there are better players in the world so Bonds isn't playing against the best of his time. They probably won't make as big an impact as blacks but they will make an impact and when players from Japan, China and Europe and the rest of the world start coming over and playing in the US, there will be a big change. In 50 years, there will be another player being called the best ever because people will be saying that Bonds didn't play against the best of his time. You yourself are playing the "what if" game saying Ruth's numbers would not be as impressinve IF he played against Negro League players. Stop being a hipocrit.

Posted by: Mike on September 25, 2004 7:46 PM

I did some calculations comparing walks and HR to plate appearances because I think it is better than comparing them to AB.

Ruth walked in 19.4% of his PA and homered in 6.7% of his PA

Bonds walks in 19.8% of his PA and homers in 6.1% of his plate PA

Bonds has a slight edge over Ruth in walks, .004%.
Ruth has a slight edge over Bonds in HR, .006%.

Put into consideration Ruth did this in an era where power was rare and there should be no argument.

Posted by: Mike on September 25, 2004 8:01 PM

Again I remind you that bonds has at least three or four more years to play. At this point in his career he is only getting better. Ruth may not have a "slight edge" when it is all said and done. Also, I never brought up the argument that ruth didn't play against the best of his time, you did. I am not a hypocrite and I do not play the "what if" game. Take a look back at my posts and you will see this. This last post is the first time that you brought numbers into your argument. Thats a start. But I lost respect for your opinion when you said Bonds was an "ahole". Your views are based on emotion not knowledge. In your mind, you do not like Bonds therefore he cannot be better than Ruth.

Bonds is playing against the best of his time. In Ruths day the Negro League players were not allowed to play with whites. This is very different from the foreign leagues of today. MLB will let anybody that can play the game into the league. The foreign leagues may have their own rules when it comes to free agency but if a player wants to try out for MLB they can.

"Ruth did this in an era where power was rare...". Good point. Power was rare, therefore pitchers could go after hitters by throwing strikes. This was the mind set that those pitchers came in with. Ruth would have been thrown to by pitchers that had confidence in their stuff on teams ran by managers that had confidence in their pitchers. Ruths walks were a result of pitchers being careful, not scared. This does not happen to Bonds. When Bonds is walked intentionally the call comes from the manager. When he is pitched around, it's usually the pitchers choice. When a manager tells a Cy Young winner to walk Bonds, that's saying the best pitcher in the game cannot be trusted to get him out. That's domination that is unpresidented in baseball history. That is why Bonds is the best.

You are on the right track when you bring stats into the debate. But when you direct your negative comments towards me, it shows that your position on this issue is very weak. Do your homework and come back with something useful.

Posted by: Kevin on October 5, 2004 4:56 PM

You're right and I am sorry about the comment towards you. I have just been stressed with all of the work I have had and let a little of my frustration slip out into our arguments. I also understand that this is an argument between ability and not attitude so I will do my best to stay on topic. Sorry.

Yes I did bring up Ruth not playing against the best of his time but I am just making a point. It is a "what if" and I know you don't play that game but, in my opinion, it is the only plausible argument you could make against Ruth.

What I am now focusing on the protection Ruth had. Yes he had Gehrig but not until 1925. By that time Ruth already had 284hr. I have not found when Gehrig began batting behind Ruth so I will keep researching. And don't forget about his pitching years. A "what if", i know, but it must be put into consideration just as the lack of pitches Bonds sees is.

Posted by: Mike on October 12, 2004 9:11 PM

Lou Gehrig did bat behind Ruth for most of his career.

Posted by: Mike on October 27, 2004 8:49 AM

Bonds has also had 3 more seasons as a hitter than Ruth. Bonds has had 19 seasons while Ruth only had 16. To put into perspective, in those 16 seasons as nothing but a hitter, Ruth hit 688 HR. I did not include 1914-1918 even though in 1918 Ruth hit 11 HR in 95 games but pitched in 17 games that season. I also did include his final year in 1935 in which he only hit 6 HR in 28 games. It took Bonds 3 more seasons to hit the number that Ruth did.

I also want to point out the fact the Bonds was never compared to Ruth until he hit 73 in '01. He was an above average but by no means the greatest hitter of his time let alone ever. Since when does it take only one season to be considered the greatest of all time?

Posted by: Mike on October 27, 2004 9:03 AM

Babe Ruth is and will be for years to come the greatest baseball player in history. All the others that superficially broke his records have asterisks next to their records explaining all those extra games it took to do it.

Posted by: Don on October 28, 2004 3:20 PM

Not to mention the better equipment, advancements in nutrition and fitness, lower mounds, watered down pitching, smaller strike zone, and protection on the arms and legs.

Posted by: Mike on October 29, 2004 8:32 AM


Posted by: Lennie on December 5, 2004 10:44 AM

What was said in the radio commentary when Babe Ruth hit homerun number 60 in 1927?

Posted by: Joel De La Torre on January 26, 2005 2:53 PM

Gehrig did not bat behind Ruth until 1927, when he was moved ahead of Bob Meusel to 4th in the Yankee lineup where he remained for the rest of Ruth's career. In fact 1927 was the year the Yankees introduced numbers on the back of uniforms. Your number was where you batted in the lineup. The Yankees also came up with Pinstripes in the early 30's because ownership wanted Ruth to appear slimmer than he was.

The point is this. From 1927 to 1933 Ruth led the league every year in walks except for 1929, all this with Gehrig batting behind him. He was and will always remain the most feared hitter of all time. Think about the 60 HR in 1927 for example. Hitting them in the pre-altered parks that a decade earlier would yield only 10-12 HR to the league HR leader, Ruth outhomered every team in the AL, something he also did in 1920. In 1927 with Gehrig batting behind him and keeping pace in HR up until the last month of the season, Ruth led the league in walks. He had 24 more HR than the entire White Sox team, 31 more than the entire Washington team, 32 more than the entire Boston team, and 34 more than the entire Cleveland team. He wasn't just outhomering teams, he hit more than twice as many as three entire teams.

Posted by: Randy on January 27, 2005 9:41 PM

there is only one thing to say . The Babe was is and always will be the greatest ever . period.
Just imagine the Babe on steriods and hitting these superballs they have today with these juiced bats in a bandbox for ballparks against pitchers that really shouldnt even be in the big leagues..case closed, dead issue..

Posted by: jason on February 8, 2005 5:00 PM

Barry faces tougher pitching, specialized pitching. Barry's contemporaries include foreigners, blacks, and people from the west coast. Babe didn't face difficult pitching, and didn't have contemporaries that were as good as Bonds. Bonds took steroids for 3 weeks in 2003, in which it was applied through a cream. He also alledgedly didn't know it was steroids. Speaking about bandbox ballparks, how about Ruth's short porch. Pitchers that shouldn't be in the big leagues? The average athlete/pitcher is head and shoulders above those from Ruth's day. They train harder. They are raised playing baseball. They are specialized at an early age to play different positions. Another thing that is different, world wide communication. You have people in Africa, South America, and Asia watching the MLB on TV and playing baseball in the streets. The vast majority of people Ruth played against came from the east coast. East of the Mississippi. No blacks either. So, let's compare that to today. If there was parameters like that on MLB now. Who would be excluded? I'll name some: Bonds, Sammy, Tejada, Big Unit, Pedro, Vlad, Pudge, Manny, Soriano, Pujols, Ortiz, O.Perez, Jason Schmidt, etc. The list goes on and on.

Posted by: Brendan on March 25, 2005 3:18 PM

It is because of Babe Ruth that players today hit homeruns. He showed everyone that homeruns help win games and bring in the crowds. He changed baseball more than any other player changed any sport. He is the best all time because no one has ever changed a sport like he did (and because he is the most feared hitter to ever step up to the plate. who else can lead the league in walks for 6 of 8 full years with LOU GEHRIG batting behind them? Only 1...BABE RUTH)

Posted by: Mike on April 6, 2005 8:31 PM

Brenden, you claim you know that Bonds used steroids for 3 weeks? And you know this information how? Hmmm... lets see.. HGH, cream and clear. And he didn't know what that was? Did he start to question things when suddenly had a size 8 1/2 hat size? Did he begin to question what it was when he slugged over .700 for the FIRST time in his career, in 2001, in his mid to late 30's. The bottom line is, you're can't be stupid enough to believe he didn't know what it was.
Check some parks when Ruth played, they weren't all short porches. Even the ones with shorter right field lines, had nets or walls put up that needed to be cleared for a HR. The other dimensions of those parks were pastures, so it pretty much evens out. And besides, pitchers weren't serving pitches up to Ruth. The strike zone was much bigger... ya know, all those balls that Barry takes, and waits for that one on a tee? Well those BALLS would be strikes in Ruth's day.
And as far as blacks not playing. Ruth didn't set the rules, he just dominated unlike no other. The game has become easy for EVERYBODY today, thats why its more difficult to dominate. Ruth would have hit anyone well, it wouldn't have mattered the pigment of their friekin' skin. Thats a lame argument. Ruth was Ruth for a reason... he just wasn't getting "lucky" off lesser talent. He was one of a kind. Which is what the tests proved at Columbia University in the 20's... that he was exactly that. One of a kind.
Open your eyes, and see the truth man. How can you be a Barry fan? Before steroids, he was a hall of fame player, but nowhere near in the same breath as Ruth, Mays, or any of them. And he's STILL NOT in my opinion.

Posted by: Randy on April 9, 2005 11:46 PM

Wasn't Bonds' knee surgery supposed to be routine and now he has had three and may miss the entire season. I have only explanation as to why Bonds' knee is breaking down...STEROIDS.

Posted by: Mike on May 24, 2005 3:33 PM

I feel the need to stop a few stereotypes about the times Ruth played in

1-In the 1920s, white people made up 94% of the population of the US. the talent pool that the white leagues had to choose from was far larger than the talent pool of blacks. While players like Satchell Paige, Pops Lloyd, Oscar Charleston, Chino Smith etc. would have obviously made names for themselves in the majors back then if given a chance, de-segregated leagues would've only had a marginal effect on the likes of Ruth and others.

2-Light skinned hispanics WERE allowed to play in baseball back then, Ruth wasn't only going against caucasions.

3-You could make the arguement that pitching of Ruth's era was better than pitching today. Did pitchers have speed back then? Walter Johnson in 1914 was clocked by the US Military using a pendulum divice at pitching over 100 mph. For those of you who argue "well Bonds plays daily against closers and setup men", the reason why these guys became setup men and closers in the first place is because they weren't good enough to be starting pitchers. Nobody starts off as a closer, they become closers because they weren't reliable as starters.

and as for intentional walks:

4-IBB wasn't a real stat until the late 50s i believe, but independent researchers proved that Ruth was intentionally walked ATLEAST 90 times in 1923, and Ruth had 170 total. Ruth inspired fear just as much as Barry.

5-Ruth hit 29 homers in 1919, during the dead ball era. Second place that year was 10, and I guarantee you half of those 10 were inside the park.

6-Forgetting the home runs and focusing on overall hitting ability, Ruth finished in the top 10 in batting average 12 times. Bonds only has 6 times.

Give Ruth steroids, countless night games, over-the-counter supplements, personal trainers, body armor, astro-turf, airplanes, 10 games a year at Coors field and shrunken ballparks then that would more than make up for not having to face Satchell Paige a few times a year.

Posted by: Patrick on July 29, 2005 10:06 PM

I wonder if this conversation would even exist if Bonds hadn't cheated. A shame too, since a "clean" Bonds would have easily been #3, and a lock for the hall of fame.
I'm hoping that maybe, in the next decade, A-Rod'll overtake them all.

Any takers on what Bonds' numbers would be, had he just said no?

Posted by: Sean on September 8, 2005 6:18 PM

thats all fine to compare ruth and bonds but the fact is ruth didnt play with blacks and latinos like bonds does. in todays game two thirds of the league is dominated by black and latin players. so basically ruth played in one third the talent pool bonds does. not to mention the invention of computer scouting reports on hitter tendencies, closers and middle relief pitchers. would u say the the nba was the same before black players. i mean was it the same league with out michael jordan. i dont think so and neither was mlb when ruth played.

Posted by: mickels on October 3, 2005 1:33 AM

How old are you? The only reason I ask is because your argument is one of the worst I've seen. You said there are computer scouting reports on hitter tendencies, closers and middle relief pitchers. There are so many more advantages in todays game because of technology. There are also scouting reports on pitchers tendencies and the only reason there are closers and middle relief pitchers is because they aren't good enough to be starters. There are only a few non starters in the league who are dominating and they are closers who are only in the game for 1 inning and not even every game. If something went in Ruth's day such as eyesight, it went. There were no eye contacts. Not to mention the pastures they had for fields. Sure there was a short right porch but center field was 460 in Yankee stadium so if you didn't hit the ball right down the line, you had to hit it a long way for it to be a homerun. (Just so there is no argument on the length of center field in Yankee stadium, my Uncle went to a lot of Yankees games and he told me it was 460ft) Surgery wasn't even close to what it is today so if you got an injury that needed surgery, your career was basically over, unless you wanted to play through the pain, which many of them did (Mickey Mantle). The fact is, there is only one argument that goes against Ruth and that is he did not play against blacks, but that's the only one. There are dozens of arguments that work against Bonds. Someone earlier had said "The ball breaks the same out of a dark hand as it does a white hand". Go back and read Randy's post from Jan. 27 where he says from 1927 to 1933 except in 1929, Ruth lead the league in walks with Lou Gehrig behind him. That is how feared Ruth was. I now the post isn't well organized but I have so many reasons Ruth is better than Bonds that I just put them anywhere. I have many more if anyone is willing to argue for Bonds. Go on, it will be FUN!

Posted by: Mike on October 4, 2005 5:36 PM

Steroids do not enable a person to hit a baseball. The advantage comes in the offseason. That being said, even with Bonds playing additional seasons and additional games, the Babe is still and will likely forever be the greatest player of all time for the simple fact that he pitched. That's the end of the argument. Nice try, but it can't go further.

Posted by: Michael on November 17, 2005 9:46 AM


Posted by: POOP on January 22, 2006 3:04 PM

I have to disagree with Patrick about his statements regarding the pitching in Bond's era and Ruths' era. In Ruth's best season, 1921 (And yes, statistically, this is Ruth's best season) the American League average ERA was 5.18 not including the yankees. IN 2001, Bond's best season, the NL average ERA was a 4.37. Sooooooo...the pitching IS better now than back then. And...Walter Johnson is just one man. Name another fireballer from that era. I can name tons from this era, Randy Johnson, Clemens, ect.

Posted by: Matt on April 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Just curious Matt, did you include the Giants' pitching staff ERA for the 2001 season?

Posted by: Mike on April 25, 2006 8:55 AM

Well no Mike. Sorry to not include that. The national League ERA INCLUDING the Giants was a 4.35. The major league average was a 4.41(the AL ERA was a 4.47). In Ruth's day the major league ERA was a 4.87 (NL-4.61, AL including yankees-5.13).

Posted by: Matt on April 25, 2006 10:44 PM

As well as the At Bats and percentages of HR lets factor in the number of Walks. In Arons day the pitcher actually threw the ball towards the plate in order to srike the batter out. Bond's has 1000 more walks than Arron. factored in, had been allowed to hit them at his standard rate he would have onother 130 home runs on his credit.

Posted by: xlfungi on May 2, 2006 7:29 AM

I'm not really sure what xlfungi is trying to say but I have some figures comparing Ruth, Bonds and Aaron, with what it looked like xlfungi was trying to compare.


Ruth hit a HR more frequently than both Bonds and Aaron. Although Bonds walks more frequently than Ruth (just barely), you must remember that Ruth was walked that often (as often as Bonds is now) with Lou Gehrig batting behind him. That is how feared Ruth was. LONG LIVE THE BABE!!!

Posted by: Mike on May 2, 2006 2:56 PM

babe played in a whites only base ball slow and weaker players so bond is the man babe hit 80 mile ahour fast balls ....

Posted by: mike on May 23, 2006 7:58 PM


proof there buddy?

Posted by: dave on May 24, 2006 9:17 PM

Let's dispel this this incredibly lame argument that Babe Ruth wouldn't have been Babe Ruth if he played against black ballplayers.

Can we all agree on one thing?


Everyone talks about the black players like everyone was the premier pitcher and hitter around. In every era there are the greats and the not so greats. There are even the scubs. The Babe faced them, Barry faces them. It is a fact of baseball, some are great, some stink.

Why does this argument only seem to apply to Babe Ruth?
Okay then, let's apply it to another player who dominated his sport, Wayne Gretzky.

Are you saying than Wayne Gretzky wouldn't be Wayne Gretzky if there were more black players in hockey? That's totally absurd!

Great is great no matter what era they are in.

Put the Babe in today's game, he would still be great.
Take Barry, pre-steroids, and put him in the past and he would still be Barry.

Okay, just a little test, quickly name all the great black players who played primarily in the Negro Leagues, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Monte Irvin don't count.

Now... you got Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell...and...and...

Okay, there are others, but we basically know only a hand full.

Like I said any of these players, Satchel, Josh and Papa Bell would've been great no matter what decade you put them in. But, NO ONE says, "If Josh Gibson played today he wouldn't be Josh Gibson". Great is great.

And to boot, the only black player that would have anything to do with affecting The Babe's stats would be Satchel who of course is a pitcher.

Another test, let's name all the great pictures from the Negro leagues....okay, there's Satchel and .... now do you see how lame the argument is?

Now, once and for all let's stop this stupid talk that the skin color of an opposing player would so greatly affect one's performance.

The Babe is the greatest of all time why...BECAUSE HE IS!!!

No matter which way you try to fiddle with the numbers, no matter what you say to justify your opinion it comes down to the numbers, and the numbers put up by Babe Ruth over a career have not been equalled.

He is the greatest offensive machine this great game of baseball has ever known PERIOD!!! END OF STORY!!!

Posted by: chaplin on May 28, 2006 6:52 PM

I am very anger about how the author failed to mention that ruth did not play against african american players! this in my opion is the major reason to his succes!

Posted by: Marshall on May 28, 2006 11:51 PM

Barry is a better hitter than Ruth. Every single one of you know that if they were in a home run derby, Barry would kill him. You all know that. Babe Ruth would be no better than a Cecil Fielder in today's game. Maybe Babe had incredible career stats, but every single one of you knows that if Babe played today, Bonds would kill him. PERIOD. Babe would be in the minor leagues. You all know that.

Posted by: Julian Michelucci on June 6, 2006 11:57 AM

What I understand from you logic is that any player from past eras would be in the minor leagues. You mean players like Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, Honus Wagner, Cy Young, Jimmie Fox, Mickey Mantle, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Roberto Clemente, Warren Spahn, Frank Robinson, Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, Bob Gibson, George Sisler, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Hank Greenberg, Ernie Banks, Yogi Berra, Mel Ott, Jackie Robinson, Whitey Ford, Harry Heilmann, Paul Waner, Cool Papa Bell, Harmon Killebrew, Robin Roberts, Duke Snider, Goose Goslin, Ralph Kiner, Chuck Klein and Early Wynn. Tell me, when do you consider players to be able to play in today's game. P.S.: If you do not know any of the names in the above list, you do not belong in this discussion. It is for the educated fans only.

Posted by: Mike on June 6, 2006 10:55 PM

I don't know how but I forget a name...Ted Williams. You think players like these would only be as good as today's minor leaguers? If you believe so then I have lost hope in humanity.

Posted by: Mike on June 6, 2006 11:00 PM

Marshall and Julian,

Did you not read my post of May 28th at 6:52 pm?

I believe I made some valid points that apparently went right over both of your


Don't you understand that?

Julian, when you talk about Barry hitting homeruns, are you talking about the guy who started in Pittsburgh and averaged 32 homeruns for the first fourteen years of his career?

Or are you talking about that Fake, Bloated, Balco Steroid Injecting Hulk of a Cheater who is becoming a broken down old man in front of our eyes who suddenly hits 73, which is 41 more than his career average?

Can both of you explain to me how a guy who never slugged .700 when he was a young man suddenly slugs .863 at 36, and follows it with over .700 averages for the next three years?

The great Willie Mays NEVER SLUGGED .700.
The great Hank Aaron NEVER SLUGGED .700

The Babe SLUGGED .700...NINE TIMES!!!

How did Barry do all of this at the age of 36 went he couldn't do it at 26?
At 26, Barry hits 25 homers, at 36, Barry hits 73...NO WAY IN THIS WORLD DOES THAT MAKE SENSE WITHOUT JUICING UP!!!


It happens to every athlete in every sport...oh except Barry, who suddenly put up these amazing numbers at a time when others are retiring.

Julian, how are you citing hypotheticals like home run derby's?
That just makes no sense.

You're talking about a sub .300 lifetime hitter as opposed to The Babe, a lifetime .342 hitter.
Barry slugs .690 for five years.
The Babe slugs .690 over his entire career.

The Babe also won 94 games as a pitcher, but then that only cements his status as the GREATEST BASEBALL PLAYER WHO EVER LIVED!!!

Look at the numbers, especially the "At Bats" and you will see that no one compares to the one and only Babe Ruth.

Posted by: chaplin on June 7, 2006 10:35 PM

I had a lengthy response started, then went back and read a couple more posts and here's my take. First I'm 47, no shame, no bragging, just an ordinary guy who's played, coached and officiated, along with simply kicking back and watching other athletes go at it. Honestly the people who truly understand the roots of "Baseball", in this case, also understand the significance of Ruth the legend. Too many people around my age and younger have totaly lost sight of the era and what it means to a sport. Todays "fans" have become so absorbed in the stats that they've lost complete sight of the "externalities" that impact the lives of those who play. Understanding the era from which the true greats came from allows one to better appreciate how momentous their individual acheivements were. Back then it was for the love of the game. Back then it wasn't about cashing in that big bonus, it was about being the last man standing, the team that finished the job. They went home, lived out their daily lives till the next season. Today it's year round, training, scouting, studying, camps, etc. Babe Ruth probably would not have wanted to play today, I think for him the love would have been lost and his beloved sport turned into nothing but another business. Crunching numbers alone, without consideration of details like riding buses and prop planes around the country and playing in some of the foulest weather conditions, and on and on, is truly selling Ruth and others very short. Back in the days when management had you by the balls and not the other way around. Oh, and let's not forget how many players today are groomed from an early age to become baseball players. Until there is closure on Bonds issues and he's cleared completely of accusations made, in my book it's still Ruth, Mays, Gehrig, Mantle, etc. that are the true legends of the sport. Todays athletes are truly impressive, but till they live the life of a true legend, they will never appreciate just how great they were.

Thank you for the entertaining posts.


Posted by: Francis on June 17, 2006 3:52 PM

I have been following the Barry vs. the Babe for a while and many of the posters have made many reasoned and well thought out posts. To me the true measure of his greatness is not is unmatched batting numbers whether single season or lifetime but that he was one of the best pitchers in the A.L. He beat the Great Walter Johnson on more than a few match ups. Johnson, of course is the top pitcher of all time,400+ wins and 110 shutouts . Bill James wrote that no matter how he figured it out, by any measure Babe Ruth come out on top. By way of Barry Bonds it is interesting that Michael Jordan, the most dedicated, passionate and arguably greatest NBA'er of all time was unable to sustain his performance in his late 30's.

Posted by: Mitch Russakow on June 20, 2006 9:45 AM

Read this article PLEASE!!!

Posted by: Mike on June 25, 2006 5:46 PM

Dear Sirs;

Comparative statistics mean little when you consider the physical factors of ball-park size and how the ball of yesteryear (dead) and todays (wired like golf-balls).
It was the Dead Ball Era when Ruth played. The man hit sixty whey the closest to him hit twenty. The idea (stated) that other players wanted to hit singles is ludicrous. They couldn't hit homers, period.
Fences have been brought in to facilitate the crowd-pleasing home-run.
And the players? The cream of the athletic world went into baseball, the only professional sport of size at the time. That means greater quality at every position, including pitching. Today, you have baseball (talent spread out in three times as many baseball teams), as well as football, and basketball to dilute the pool..
Also, the term "Greatest" must include all-around ability. Immense is the only term to describe the talents of The Babe. To pitch the way he did and hit the way he did?
As a man, he was in many ways vulnerable. As a ball-player he was a god among men.
Common sense shows what statistic can't. .
Nick Zules

Posted by: Nick Zules on August 19, 2006 10:31 AM

The Stats speak for themselves, No matter what era.. the Babe would have been the dominant player. In Babe's era Bonds would not have the numbers he has now. no steroids or the training regiment players today have. he would have been much smaller and not even close to the strength he has now.. but the thing is..even with all the advantages todays players have. stat for stat. Bonds does not equal up to the babe... Babe Ruth will always be the greatest offensive weapon ever to play the game. btw I would love to see Bonds grab a 42oz bat and step to the plate

Posted by: Carl on September 4, 2006 11:10 PM