Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best Offensive Baseball Season of the 1920s

1921 Babe Ruth (14.0 bWAR)

ESPN rated this as the best offensive season of all time, and with good reason.  It's too bad there was no MVP award that season, because he would have won it in a landslide.  I'll let the numbers speak for themselves:

-He scored 177 runs, a modern (post 1900) record
-Stroked 204 hits, 119 of which went for extra bases (an MLB record).  He belted 44 doubles, 16 triples, and 59 home runs
-The 59 home runs broke his record of 54, set the previous year--his first in pinstripes.  The Babe outhomered five American League teams and three National League teams by himself
-His 171 RBI set a new single season record as well, but like his home run record it fell in 1927 when future teammate Lou Gehrig knocked in 175
-Stole 17 bases, not too shabby for someone who drank beer like it was water and consumed legendary amounts of food.  In fairness, he was caught 13 times.  He stole a base against every team except the St. Louis Browns
-Batted .378, but finished third in the batting race behind Harry Heilmann and Ty Cobb.  Despite hitting .342 for his career, he was a batting champion only once--in 1924, when he batted .378
-Walked 145 times and posted a .512 OBP; both figures led the majors
-His major league record 457 total bases fueled a major league leading .846 slugging percentage, just one point shy of his record setting figure in 1920 that stood for more than 80 years until Barry Bonds shattered it during his 73 homer season
-Led the majors with a 1.359 OPS and 238 OPS+
-The Yankees shared the Polo Grounds with the New York Giants that year, because the "House That Ruth Built," located across the Harlem River, wouldn't open for two more years.  The stadium's curious dimensions (less than 260 feet down the lines, nearly 500 to dead center) didn't phase the Bambino one bit; he batted a robust .402/.545/.926 with 32 taters at home that year
-Had exactly 102 hits and 22 doubles in each half of the season
-Pulverized American League pitching in general that year, but he got especially fat off Cleveland's staff by torching them for a .469/.642/1.078 line (1.720 OPS)
-Batted over .400 every other month--April, June, and August
-His OPS against righthanded pitchers was nearly 300 points higher than it was against southpaws
-Led the Yankees to 98 wins and their first AL pennant.  Although the Yanks lost to the Giants in the Fall Classic (the first of three consecutive "Subway Series" between the two clubs), the Sultan of Swat launched the first of his fifteen postseason moon shots, a record that stood until Mickey Mantle hit numbers 16, 17, and 18 during the 1964 World Series against the Cardinals

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