Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth

Discussion in 'Baseball' started by Babe_Ruth, Nov 26, 2007.

  1. Babe_Ruth

    Babe_Ruth Sultan of Swat Staff Member V.I.P.

    We all know these two players were great home runs, and we all know that they hit some long home runs in their career. We also know that Babe Ruth was a better home run hitter then Mickey Mantle. But I am curious to know who you guys think hit the longest home runs between the two. Some people say it's the Babe and other says it's Mantle. I am wondering who you guys think hitted the longer home runs between these two players, and why? Give me examples.
     

  2. This is your basic no contest.

    Bill Jenkinson is the foremost living authority on long-distance HR's, as the folks at Cooperstown would tell you. He has written a book titled "Recrowning Baseball's Greatest Slugger: The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 HR's." The title deals with the fact, laid out in great detail by Jenkinson, that if Ruth had played in a modern park with dimensions like 330'-375'-400'-375'-330' in 1921, and had played a 162-game schedule, and had hit balls the same distance as he ACTUALLY hit them that year, he would have ended the season with 104 HR's. That's how many HR's he lost to those old parks where it was 450+ feet to CF, and not too much less to the deeper parts of the power alleys... distances which caused pitchers to pitch him outside as a matter of course, and I mean outside the strike zone.

    Jenkinson spent 2 decades researching this book, and read multiple newspaper accounts of every one of Ruth's HR's. There were numerous writers covering Yankees' games in those days, and Jenkinson found remarkable consistency in their accounts of the landing places of Ruth's various HR's. Jenkinson used stadium diagrams to figure out how far all of these balls went--or would have gone, had they not smashed into something. The book is full of overhead photographs of various stadiums, and your mind reels when you look at those photos and the arrows pointing to where Ruth's longest HR's went. I mean, it's absolutely mind-numbing where some of them landed.

    Of course, Ruth wouldn't really have hit 104 HR's in a year, because pitchers would have walked him virtually every time he came to the plate, had he been hitting HR's that often. But Jenkinson's point holds. Nobody else brings these credentials to the plate, so to speak.

    Jenkinson talks in depth about the longest HR hitters of all time--guys who hit the ball over 500 feet. He notes, interestingly, that one of the reasons guys like Bonds are obvious frauds is that hitters of monster HR's always hit them from a young age, whereas Bonds hit his first-ever HR of over 450 feet without significant wind-help after his 35th birthday. Yeah, right, as they say.

    Jenkinson says Ruth was the only 500' HR hitter of the 1920's, with Jimmie Foxx joining the club in the 1930's. Ted Williams was the closest thing to a 500' HR hitter in the 1940's, and Mantle was the club's member in the 1950's. But Jenkinson makes it clear the Yankee publicity machine significantly exaggerated the lengths of Mantle's long HR's, including the famous one off Chuck Stobbs in 1953 at Griffith Stadium. That's not to say Mantle didn't hit some monster HR's, including ones of over 500 feet. He did. But he didn't hit them as often, or ultimately as far, as Ruth did.

    The 1960's was the Golden Age of the monster HR hitter, with SIX guys who hit 500' HR's: Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Dick Allen, Willie Stargell, Frank Howard and Reggie Jackson. The 1970's added two more: Dave Kingman and Greg Luzinski (two of the worst defensive left fielders in MLB history, though McCovey was probably just as bad).

    Jenkinson makes it clear that nobody, including the magically beefed-up version of Mark McGwire, has ever hit the ball as far as Ruth, who once hit one that was almost certain 575' long, and possibly over 600', though Jenkinson simply does not believe a HR can be hit over 600' without gale winds. In particular, nobody ever had Ruth's incredible degree of power to the opposite half of the field, and Jenkinson's accounts of some of his LCF HR's will make your mind reel.

    Jenkinson also lays waste to the notion Ruth had it vastly easier than the hitters of today, in a chapter titled "Comparative Difficulty." I think he strains a little sometimes to support his conclusions, because he concludes Ruth faced much tougher conditions of competition than modern players, which I don't buy. On the other hand, Ruth faced a real strike zone, which modern hitters don't. And anyway, Jenkinson is a guy who set out to study long-distance HR's NOT to tout Babe Ruth, but because he was fascinated as a kid by the privilege of seeing Dick Allen hit colossal blasts at Connie Mack Stadium. Like any good historian, he reviewed all available data and let the fruits of his research speak for themselves. What they said is simple:

    Nobody has ever hit with the same power as Babe Ruth. Nobody has ever hit the ball as far, and nobody has ever hit nearly as many HR's of over 500'.

    Ruth hit his first three 500-foot regular season HR's in 1919, with the dead baseball. He then hit six in 1920, nine in 1921, one in 1922, one in 1923, five in 1924, two in 1925 (his "terrible" year), five in 1926, three in 1927, five in 1928, one in 1929, three in 1930, one in 1931, none in 1932, one in 1933, one in 1934 and two in one day in 1935, his final major league hits, the last of which is one of the most famous HR's of all time. That's forty-nine MLB career HR's of 500 feet or more, in regular season games alone. As Jenkinson explains, however, Ruth also hit a ton of 500' HR's in pre-season and barnstorming games, including one at age 43 off Satchel Paige in 1938, a HR described to ESPN almost 60 years later by Buck O'Neil, who sounded like he was still incredulous at the sight of the aged, obviously washed-up Ruth's hitting one that far.

    Ruth is to sluggers what Secretariat was to horses--so much better that, even very many years after his time, his superiority is still factually provable and thus unquestionable.

    I never saw Babe Ruth, but I saw Secretariat's other-worldly 31.5-length victory in the Belmont, in a time which no horse to this day has come within two seconds of. Think about that. I know it's a horse, not a person, but still, it's a major racing record which has stood by a huge margin for 34 years. It was a feat so awesome it inspired a sportswriter to say that on that day, he saw Pegasus. And tens of millions of Americans who watched that race on TV, including me, were overcome emotionally by the magnificence of what they saw. As I say, history has proven it was every bit as other-worldly a performance as it appeared to be, and if you can find it on YouTube, by all means watch it and listen to the famous call. ("Secretariat is all alone out there. There isn't another horse within 1/16th of a mile of him." "Secretariat is moving like an incredible machine.")

    People today want to be cynical about Babe Ruth's feats. They can't deny how utterly he dominated his time, but they trivialize his domination as though it occurred against the equivalent of modern high-school ballplayers. You can't do that with Secretariat, because he still holds the record in the Kentucky Derby and still holds the Belmont record by a preposterous margin. But with Babe Ruth, people feel free to treat him like a freak show from the past who would be an ordinary player today.

    To all those who feel some self-righteous political correctness in treating Babe Ruth that way, I say this: Get over yourselves. Study your history, and in particular, read Jenkinson's book. Ruth was so far ahead of his time that, like Secretariat, his peer has yet to come along, even many generations later.

    I don't know who should be more flattered by my comparison between the two, Ruth or Secretariat. But it's a fair comparison, and THAT is how much better Ruth was than everybody else who has ever played the game, including as a frequent hitter of monster HR's.

    Many fans of classical music, including me, believe the great Western composers are divided into two categories: Beethoven, and everybody else. Baseball's all-time greatest sluggers are still similarly divided, but the guy who's all by himself wasn't a German misanthrope who wrote great music and tragically went deaf near the end of his sour, belligerent, Cobb-like life. Instead, he was a German-American street urchin who, though he could aggravate people mightily with his social cluelessness, was ultimately such an emotionally honest and kind person that, as one veteran told Robert Creamer, he never knew anyone who actually disliked the immortal grown-up version of that urchin.

    Sorry, Mickey--and Harmon, Willie, Willie, Dick, Frank, Reggie, Kong, Greg and Mark. You were all incredibly powerful sluggers, and I loved watching some of your most famous blasts, but you weren't Babe Ruth. Nobody is or was, and if I were destined to live 300 years, I'd be interested to see who arrives first: Ruth's equal, or Secretariat's. I think I'd have to bet the horse gets here first.
     
  3. Edgartohof

    Edgartohof Guest

    You aren't exactly making it easy for a fella to follow, are you? :) :p

    In a much shorter, much more succint way, I will say the same thing.

    Mantle was amazing - a monster even on the diamond. He could do things few others could.

    But the Babe was meant for one thing and one thing only (other than eat hotdogs...hey it's a joke, so lay off :) ), and that was play baseball. He was the epitome of a ballplayer. He could pitch, he could field (in his younger days), he wasn't the fastest out there, but in his early prime, he was quick. And could he ever hit!!! He could hit just about everything, and when he hit it, he hit it hard. Others, on a fluke or with "help" may have passed him at their best - maybe a couple lucky hits. But for his consistent monster shots, no one compares. In Mantle's prime, he was known to get a number of ones way out there, in the realm of Ruth, but he was not able to do it as much or for as long, or quite as good - which is not to say anything bad, because come on...we are comparing him to the Babe!!!

    When he hit them out, they went WAY out. And he hit them out more often than almost everyone else.
     
  4. Yes, it's worth stressing I'm saying nothing bad about Mantle or any of these other monster HR hitters. I rate Mantle as the #5 total player in MLB history, behind only Ruth, Mays, Cobb and Williams, which is a lot higher than many rank him, and I think Ruth is the only player whose overall stats were such that they prove, beyond any doubt, he was better than Mantle. I can make cases for Mantle ahead of Mays, Cobb and Williams in total career value, and they aren't absurd cases by any stretch. I just don't happen to buy them.

    For his career as a whole, Mantle is vastly overrated as a defensive CF. But, on what I think is a more important point, he's vastly UNDERrated for his feats from 1962-1968. People seem to think he fell right over the edge at that point. Hardly. His defense went to hell, and eventually found him sadly relegated to 1B, but just check his OPS+ figures for his last 7 years. A lot of people seem to think he went out the same way Mays did, and while that would be true if he'd played to 42, like Mays did, he had the good sense to quit at 37.

    Someday I may write at this site the case for Mantle as being better than any player ever except Ruth. Then I'll do the same for Ted Williams. (No, Barry, I'd eat my gun before I'd do it for you.) If I do, I'll remind everyone I'm just a lawyer making an argument I don't believe in. But it would be interesting to see how good a job of writing a fair, evenly-balanced, objective account which doesn't play "Hide the Ball" and concludes Mantle or Williams had a better career than Willie.

    Just don't anyone send it to my Northern California friends and family.
     
  5. The_Kid

    The_Kid Sexy Beast

    Frankly, I think you're crazy if you don't choose Ruth. Almost no contest.

    In his 2001 Historical Abstract, Bill James did an experiment with Ruth. Using a computer, he put took 10 outs of Ruth's 1921 season, therefore giving him a .385 BA instead if a .378 one, and gving him a SLG of .862 instead of an .846 one. He then put Ruth hitting fourth in a worse than realistic line up:

    1. Willie Wilson (bad year), CF
    2. Al Weis, 2B
    3. Gerald Perry, 1B
    4. Babe Ruth, 1921, RF
    5. Gino Cimoli, LF
    6. Don Wert, 3B
    7. Jamie Quirk, C
    8. Angel Salazar, SS
    9. Sandy Koufax (only hitting), P

    He than ran the team through 1,000 simulated seasons twice. The first time, he instructed the computer to walk Ruth every time. The team scored 667 runs per season and finished with a winning % of .380.

    When the computer pitched to Ruth, walking him only when logical, the team scored 601 runs a season, and finished with a winning % of .326.

    By his study, James proved that even if you walked Ruth every time up, he will still certainly hurt you even with the worst possible lineup around him. When you walk Ruth every time, Gino Cimoli, hitting 5th, will drive in 151 runs a year- hitting .267 with 9 homers.
     
  6. Sultan_1895-1948

    Sultan_1895-1948 Registered Member

    This might paint a clear picture. Say they have a home run hitting contest off of real pitching, for not only long distance but frequency of those long homers. Mickey could bat right and Ruth of course lefty, but only Ruth's homers left of center count. Ruth would be the odds on favorite. That's the type of long distance home run hitter he was.

    What's incredible is that over all these years, with all the advancements in technology and the trial and error that goes along with hitting fundamentals, what Ruth did stands the test of time...and then some.
     
  7. SHOELESSJOE3

    SHOELESSJOE3 Registered Member

    There was never an all around talent in the game like Babe Ruth, not going to dwell on his all around great career hitting and slugging or his rank of one of the best pitchers and for sure the best left handed pitcher in the years he was a pitcher only, 1915-16-17.

    But consider the following.
    In 1916 he put up what many believe was Cy Young performance on the mound.

    In 1923 he was 4 hits shy of batting .400.

    On July 11, 1917 he lost a no-hitter with one out in the 8th inning against the best all around hitting team in the AL, the Detroit Tigers. The one hit an infield hit, a ball that Ruth lunged for deflected towards the SS and the runner beat the throw. That was the only hit and the Bosox won 1-0. Ruth the pitcher walked and hit a single and a triple.

    So nearly a .400 season, just misses a no-hitter and puts up a Cy Young season...... all from the same player.

    Ruth was far from a big slow outfielder that some believe he was. We keep seeing those same old newsreels from later in his career, that home run trot, there was more to it than that. A far better than average outfielder most of his career and a great arm and an outfielder who went all out.

    One game ( Ruth as a yankee) Chick Galloway of the Athletics hit a drive down the line, running full out Ruth missed the catch. Unable to stop he he slammed in to the low railing did a complete flip and all that could be seen was the Babe's feet pointed up. He jumped the railing, chased down the ball and threw out Galloway at the plate. Coming in to the dugout he got a great cheer from the fans. Holding his left arm at his side badly bruised and bleeding.

    After that near no-hitter one Bosox player said he had seen Ruth out on the town late evening the day before. The talk on the Red Sox team was that Ruth did everything wrong off the field and everything right on the field.

    There was more to Babe Ruth than long home runs, nobody like him.
     
  8. mopeg

    mopeg Guest

    dont you think you are being a tad bit dramatic?
     
  9. SHOELESSJOE3

    SHOELESSJOE3 Registered Member

    I don't think so, thats your take on my post. My point was to illustrate what I believe was. a side of Ruth thats not up front, thats the reason I didn't rehash what we usually read about him, the 60 home runs, the 714 home runs and his slugging numbers.

    Winning a Cy Young, pitching a no hitter and batting .400 are noteworthy accomplishments and for one player to come so close to doing them all is some feat.

    I would bet that not many know how close he came to batting .400 or just missed that no hitter, even some who know a good deal about the game.

    As for the portion about him throwing out that runner at the plate, for those luke warm fans of the game. Those who have an image of him being a big overweight player who just ate a lot of hot dogs and hit a lot of home runs, that was not Babe Ruth.

    You really have to go some to be dramatic about Ruth.
     
  10. mopeg

    mopeg Guest

    i see your points. and no, i never knew ruth almost threw a no hitter.
     

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