November 13, 2019

The Favorite Toy and…Babe Ruth

November 30, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

With the 2011 season still a few months away, I thought it was too early to bust out The Favorite Toy to determine what milestones we might see next year, so I thought I’d go retro and look at some of the game’s greats, not-so-greats and what-might-have-beens to see what odds The Favorite Toy gave them for success. Who better to start with than the greatest hitter of all time, Babe Ruth? (Ted Williams’ head is so pissed right now it’s starting to thaw).

The Bambino posted ridiculous numbers and still boasts the highest slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+ in baseball history, not to mention that he belted a staggering 714 home runs, more than twice the number of roundtrippers Lou Gehrig had (353) at the time of Ruth’s last game on May 30, 1935. By the end of the ’35 season, among runners-up, only Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby had as many as 300.

So what was the likelihood of Ruth reaching 714? Actually much better than I expected. Starting with his first full batting season in 1919 and going through 1921 when the 26-year-old blasted 59 four-baggers, Ruth was expected to hit exactly 500 with an 11% chance of hitting 714 and a 1% shot at 832. Believe it or not, it gets even more impressive from there.

Seasons (age)
3-YR AVG To Date Proj. Car. 500 600 700 714 800 MAX (1%)
1919-1921 (26) 42.3 162 500 50% 27% 13% 11% 3% 832
1920-1922 (27) 52.5 197 590 80% 48% 28% 26% 15% 976
1921-1923 (28) 48.0 238 574 78% 43% 23% 21% 10% 903
1922-1924 (29) 38.8 284 536 67% 30% 11% 9% 0% 783
1923-1925 (30) 40.0 309 549 76% 32% 11% 9% 0% 784
1924-1926 (31) 39.2 356 571 97% 38% 13% 10% 0% 782
1925-1927 (32) 38.2 416 606 97% 54% 17% 14% 0% 793
1926-1928 (33) 52.5 470 706 97% 97% 53% 47% 22% 937
1927-1929 (34) 55.7 516 738 X 97% 71% 62% 28% 956
1928-1930 (35) 50.5 565 741 X 97% 81% 69% 25% 916
1929-1931 (36) 47.0 611 752 X X 97% 87% 25% 890
1930-1932 (37) 46.7 652 727 X X 81% 63% 12% 842
1931-1933 (38) 42.3 686 770 X X 97% 97% 24% 853
1932-1934 (39) 35.5 708 761 X X X 97% 8% 813
1933-1935 (40) 25.5 714 752 X X X X 0% 789

At the upper end of the spectrum, Ruth had two peaks—one at 27, following his 1922 season, and one at 34, following his 1929 season. Neither is surprising, considering he had his two best home run totals in 1920 and 1921, before bettering or matching them in 1927 and 1928. At only 27 in 1922, Ruth was expected to hit 590 homers with a 1% chance of belting a Bugs Bunny-like 976, but the odds and expectancies dropped from there, most likely because of his 1925 season, which was cut short by an intestinal abscess that was dubbed “The bellyache heard ’round the world,” and required surgery. Ruth’s 1925 campaign didn’t begin until June 1 and he appeared in only 98 games, hitting 25 homers, his lowest total since 1918 when he belted 11.

He rebounded in 1926 with 47 to win his seventh home run title in nine years, set a new record with 60 in 1927, then followed that up with 54, tying his 1920 mark and winning his ninth home run title in 11 years and third in a row. After 1928, The Favorite Toy projected his career total at 706, only eight shy of his actual total. He hit another 46 in 1929, so it’s no wonder TFT gave him a 28% chance at 800 homers heading into the 1930 season and a slim chance at 956. As late as 1931, at the age of 36, Ruth still had a 1-in-4 chance of reaching the 800 mark, and a slim possibility of hitting almost 900. He enjoyed his last great season in 1932 and was still well above average over his last three years, which had The Favorite Toy projecting 752 career homers for the Babe, but Ruth hit only six in 1935 before calling it quits with 714.

It’s also amazing that TFT gave Ruth an 8% chance at 800 even as he was turning 40, something I don’t expect to see again until I crunch the numbers for the behemoths who played during the “Steroid Era.”

On Deck: The Favorite Toy and…Ted Williams

Mike Lynch is the author of Harry Frazee, Ban Johnson and the Feud That Nearly Destroyed the American League and It Ain’t So: A Might-Have-Been History of the White Sox in 1919 and Beyond, and the founder of Seamheads.com.

Comments

3 Responses to “The Favorite Toy and…Babe Ruth”
  1. Cliff Blau says:

    I’m not sure why his chances of hitting 700 drop off like that at after 1932. And after 1933, it seems to me his chances of hitting 700 should be well over 50%. Isn’t the formula (24-(age*.6))*average HRs? At that point, with 1.2 years times 42 homers expected, his expected career total would be around 736.

  2. Mike Lynch says:

    Originally Posted By Cliff Blau
    I’m not sure why his chances of hitting 700 drop off like that at after 1932. And after 1933, it seems to me his chances of hitting 700 should be well over 50%. Isn’t the formula (24-(age*.6))*average HRs? At that point, with 1.2 years times 42 homers expected, his expected career total would be around 736.

    Cliff,

    I don’t know what happened but I must have entered something incorrectly for that three-year block. It’s fixed now. By the way, I used the “Career Assessment” tool at ESPN to run this and it gave Ruth two more years after 1933, which is why it came out at an expected total of 770 instead of 736.

Trackbacks

Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] The Favorite Toy and…Babe Ruth (Seamheads). Such fun! […]



Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!