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Monday, May 22, 2006

"What's the matter? Steroids make you deaf?"

I'm a baseball fan, but I don't like what's been going on lately...


Babe Ruth vs Bonds
By John Steigerwald

What if The Babe came back for 4,000 more at bats?

How many more home runs do you think Babe Ruth would hit if he returned in his prime and played until, say, 2014? Think he'd hit 42 more home runs and finish one ahead of Henry Aaron at 756?

Henry Aaron hit 755 home runs in 12,364 at bats.

Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs in 8,398 at bats.

Who was a better home run hitter?

Would nine more seasons and 4,000 more at bats cancel out the legitimate argument that Ruth never played against a black player or that he never played in a night game?

Would nine more seasons hitting against pitchers, who are throwing off a mound that was lowered in 1968, put his numbers out of sight forever?

How about nine more seasons of hitting against, say, 150 pitchers (my quick estimate) whose ERAs wouldn't have kept them in the major leagues for a week?
How about nine more years with armor on his elbow?
How about nine more years in ballparks that were built to produce more home runs?
How about nine more years on steroids?
Are you getting the picture here?
Henry Aaron hit 41 more home runs than Babe Ruth, but it took him 3,966 more at bats.
Depending on when you're reading this, Barry Bonds has about 9,225 at bats.
That's about 870 more at bats than Ruth and 3,000 fewer at bats than Aaron.
The difference between Ruth and Bonds is about a season and a half. Give Ruth another season and a half and he's up to about 760. Think Bonds could beat that?
I don't think so.

There's a respected baseball historian named Bill Jenkinson who had a lot of time on his hands and did enough research to conclude that Bonds would have to play at least another 10 years to hit more home runs than Babe Ruth would have hit if he had played in this era. Mike Berardino wrote about him in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on May 10.

Jenkinson says Ruth lost at least 50 home runs because of a long forgotten rule that required a ball to land in fair territory AFTER it left the park to count as a home run. If it curved around the foul pole and landed in foul territory it was a foul ball. The biggest factor, according to Jenkinson, is the difference in the size of the ballparks. He was able to track down multiple newspaper accounts of over 600 of Ruth's home runs. There was quite a bit of detail in those accounts and he was able to plot the distance and direction of almost every ball that Ruth ever hit.

I told you this guy had a lot of time on his hands.

Jenkinson took that information and put those balls into the average modern day ballpark-330 down both lines, 375 to the power alleys and 405 to center-instead of the huge parks from Ruth's era. Ruth did have a 257-foot right field line at the Polo Grounds and 296 at Yankee Stadium but Jenkinson's research showed that most of Ruth's home runs went to right center, left center or straightaway center field. He says the short right field lines were worth about three home runs per year. It was 429 to right centerfield at Yankee Stadium and 490 straightaway. Left center was 470. Because Ruth was pitched away so often, he hit a lot of fly balls to left center. That's a lot of long outs that would be home runs today.

Jenkinson told Berardino, "I really want people to know how often this happened. It was a regular occurrence."

Here's Jenkinson's clincher: Barry Bonds has hit 35 home runs of 450-plus feet. Ruth hit at least 245.

So, how many home runs would Ruth, according to Jenkinson's exhaustive research, have hit if he had played in the Barry Bonds era?

Would you believe 1,150?

Let's say he's off by 200. Bonds would still have to hit about 235 more to catch him.

I've decided to give Ruth another 15 home runs a year if he had played his last eight years juiced. That would put him at 1,270.

Let Barry put that in his syringe and shoot it.

Call me when Barry's sitting on 1,269.

Quote is from The Running Man (1987)

The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
– Abraham Lincoln


At 10:14 AM, May 22, 2006, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

There are some interestng points there, but there is also the point that he batted against an all white league.

In other words we can safely assume that he didn't go against the best, just some of them.

At 10:35 AM, May 22, 2006, Blogger Jerusalemcop said...

thats what it seems to be saying. Satchel Page is known as one of the greatest pitchers ever, he even pitched into his 50's. there were other greats in the negro league, so the claim of woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn;t apply.


At 6:34 AM, May 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you know, I despise Bonds. Really. A lot of other people feel that way too it seems. When he was in Denver last year he was continually booed by the fans who made gestures indicating that he was shooting up. He just disgusts me with his attitude and now that we know that his "greatness" was all drug induced he's even more contemptable. May he be relegated to the most insignificant footnote in the record book.

At 8:19 AM, May 24, 2006, Blogger jim said...

Man, that is a great post and I agree about it all. Incredible detail, wish the Babe was here to admire it. Do they do baseball in Jerusalem?


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