MLB

How Good Was Babe Ruth and Does He Still Hold Any Records?

The beginning of Babe Ruth’s career was over 100 years ago, but he’s still one of the most fascinating pro athletes. From his exciting home runs to larger-than-life aura, Ruth entered pro baseball and became a precursor to superstar athletes. With so much time passed and so many legends with it, let’s look at Ruth’s records to find out just how good he really was.

Babe Ruth’s unique image and talent

Ruth was pudgy for a professional athlete. His size, however, might’ve been his biggest asset. Although he began his career mostly as a pitcher, his move to the Yankees made him who he is today. The Yankees realized he was a good pitcher but an even better batter

No player up until that time had swung the bat like Ruth. Almost immediately, this was what marked him as one of the best. The Yankees were still a relatively new presence in pro baseball. And Ruth helped make them the marquee franchise they continue to be.

Like Steph Curry did with the NBA by hitting threes at a clip never seen, Ruth changed the fundamentals of the game. Baseball was no longer the chess match it once was. Now, it was just as dependent on a player’s strength with a bat as it was with strategy. Without Ruth, the game may not be what it is today.

Ruth’s records

Babe Ruth (L) taking a practice hit at the New York Yankee's 25th anniversary
Babe Ruth (L) taking a practice hit at the New York Yankee’s 25th anniversary | Cornell Capa/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Ruth’s home-run records, both single-season and career, might’ve been broken, but he still holds several major MLB records that show his unique talent. He won the home-run crown 12 times, including one time as a pitcher. Ruth was the first player to get 20, 30, 40, 50, and eventually 60 home runs. 

Furthermore, he was consistent. Ruth was a career slugger at .690 when he retired from the game. This beats out the second-place Ted Williams by nearly 6%, as well as his teammate Lou Gehrig. Furthermore, Ruth was an all-time great pitcher in his earlier years. Even before he was slugging at his best, he consistently led the majors in home runs. 

Even more impressive was that Ruth did this at a time when these weren’t the measure for greatness. Steroids didn’t exist; Ruth was naturally breaking the records. Nobody could stop him, because no one knew how. Ruth was an enigma, and decades after he played, he is still a benchmark for the greatest players of all time. 

Can there be another Babe Ruth?

Some could argue that Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, or other sluggers became better players than Ruth. After all, whether players like Bonds were aided by performance-enhancing drugs or not, they put up numbers that eclipsed Ruth’s. However, these players were competing in a game he helped create. 

Ruth was a superstar of his day. He appeared in movies and ads long before Michael Jordan or LeBron James did. Even the least interested parties on earth know not only Ruth’s name but what he’s known for.

Players might be as good as Ruth or as famous as Ruth, but none can ever be Ruth again. This, more than anything else, makes Ruth a legend. He was an all-time great not only as a hitter or pitcher but at being a brand unto himself.

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