Babe Ruth, naturally, is running away in our poll to determine a new First Class for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Well, sure he is. Ruth is a pretty clear choice as the best baseball player ever. He practically invented the home run. He may not have “saved” baseball after the Black Sox scandal in the purest sense but he sure took the game to a new level of popularity. He had a career 207 OPS+, which is so ridiculous it defies words — Ted Williams is second with a 191 OPS+. Or to put it another way, only nine players since 1900 have managed a 207 OPS+ IN A SINGLE SEASON.
Or to put it another way, Ruth’s .690 career slugging percentage is 56 points higher than ANYBODY ELSE IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL. It is 133 points higher than Mickey Mantle’s slugging percentage. If you want to take that to the next level, Mickey Mantle’s slugging is 133 points higher than Candy Maldonado and Mike Esptein. So Mantle is to Ruth as Candy and Superjew are to the Mick.
Or to put it another way, from 1919 to 1931 — excluding 1925 when he only played 98 games — Ruth led the league in slugging percentage every year, in OPS ever year, in OPS+ every year, in home runs every year, in runs eight times, in RBIs six times, in walks nine times, in on-base percentage nine times, in total bases six times, in times on base eight times, and so on, and so on, forever.
Then, for kicks, you throw on top his PITCHING, his long-held record for most consecutive scoreless innings pitched in the World, the year he led the league in ERA and shutouts, his pitching record of 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA (though to be perfectly fair, that is deadball era, so his ERA+ is only 122 — which is excellent but perhaps not as good as you might expect for a pitcher with a 2.28 ERA).