The 100 Greatest in 100 Days: #2 Babe Ruth

Slugging in at #2 is the Sultan of Swat, the Colossus of Clout, the King of Crash, “The Great Bambino” Babe Ruth. Without the context of competition level, Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player of all time. He dominated the league in a way no other player in history has been able to duplicate.  Ruth led the league in home runs 12 times which is the most all-time and four more than anyone else. He had 11 forty home run seasons which are the most all-time and three more than anyone else. He had four seasons of at least 54 home runs which are the most in history. He had nine seasons of at least 46 home runs, nobody else has more than five.  His six consecutive seasons of at least 46 home runs is the longest streak of all time. Ruth’s home run power was so prodigious that he nearly tripled the ML single-season home run record in 1919 and nearly doubled it again in 1920. Ruth’s home run ledger is just the appetizer to a resume that is stuffed with statistics that seem, well, made up. He’s #1 all-time with a .690 slugging percentage, a 1.164 OPS, and a 206 OPS+. He’s #1 all-time in WAR, #2 in RBIs, on-base percentage, and runs created, #3 in home runs and walks, #4 in runs and extra-base hits, and #10 in batting average. He’s the only player in history with 2,200 RBIs, 2,100 runs, and 2,000 walks. He led the league in slugging percentage 13 times which is the most all-time and four more than anyone else. He had nine seasons with at least 500 plate appearances and a .700 slugging percentage. No other player has more than four.  His four seasons with at least a .750 slugging percentage and 600 plate appearances are the most all-time. There have only been four seasons in history with at least a .800 slugging percentage and 600 plate appearances and Ruth has two of them. Ruth’s 10 seasons of at least 130 RBIs are the most all-time. His nine seasons of 135 runs are tied for most all-time, and his 10 seasons of at least 125 walks are also tied for most all-time. Ruth had three seasons of 150 RBIs and 150 runs and five seasons of 140 RBIs and 140 Runs. Both are the most in history. His eight seasons of 130 RBIs and 130 runs are tied for most all-time. There have only been 11 seasons of 130 RBIs, 130 Runs, and 130 walks in history; Ruth has seven of them. No other player has more than two. There have only been eight seasons of 135 RBIs, 135 Runs, and 135 walks in history. Ruth has six of them. Ruth led the league in OPS 13 times which is the most all-time and OPS+ 12 times which is tied for the most all-time. His 10 seasons of at least 40 home runs and a 200 OPS+ are the most ever and twice as many as any other player. He had seven seasons with at least a 1.200 OPS and 500 plate appearances which is the most all-time. No other player has more than four. He had eight seasons with at least a 215 OPS+ and 500 plate appearances. Nobody else has more than four and only two other players have more than one. He led the league in WAR 10 times which is tied with Willie Mays for most in history. He led the league in runs eight times which is the most in history. He led the league in runs created nine times and extra-base hits seven times; both are tied for the most all-time. There have only been 11 seasons in history when a player hit at least .355, with 40 home runs and a 210 OPS+. Ruth has eight of them. His four seasons with at least a .370 batting average and 90 extra-base hits and his five seasons of 40 home runs with a .500 on-base percentage are the most ever. He joins Barry Bonds as the only two players in history to hit at least .340 with 45 home runs in three consecutive seasons. There have only been eight seasons in history with 45 home runs and a .500 on-base percentage and Ruth has four of them. In 1921, Ruth hit 119 extra-base hits and had 457 total bases; both are the most in history. He also scored 177 runs in 1921 which is the most since MLB was formed in 1903. To get even sillier, Ruth was the best pitcher in the American League in 1916, leading the league in ERA, games started, H/9, and winning percentage (min. 23 starts) while also giving up 0 home runs in 323.2 innings. He’s the only player in MLB history to lead the league in ERA in one season and home runs in another. While Ruth shattered regular-season records on a nightly basis, he was truly the king of the post-season. He led the Yankees to four World Series titles in seven appearances and the Red Sox to three World Series titles in three appearances. On the mound, he went 3-0 with a .87 ERA and a .935 WHIP in three World Series starts with the Red Sox, including a 14 inning 1-run complete game masterpiece in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series at 21 years old. That is still—and will probably always be—the postseason record for most innings pitched in a single World Series start. At the plate, his .744 postseason slugging percentage is the highest in history and 54 points higher than his career regular-season mark and his 1,214 postseason OPS is tied with Lou Gehrig for the highest in history.

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