10 amazing stats from The Bambino's career

February 6th, 2024

Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore on Feb. 6, 1895. Coincidentally, the Babe's birthday falls just one day after that of Hank Aaron, the man who would eventually pass him on the all-time home run list.

From his jaw-dropping numbers at the plate to his postseason pitching prowess, Ruth authored no shortage of amazing feats over his 22-year career. Thus, it's no easy task to narrow down a list of his most impressive stats. But let's give it a shot. As we celebrate Ruth's birthday, let's take a look at 10 statistics from his illustrious career that stand the test of time.

1. While Aaron and later Barry Bonds ultimately surpassed Ruth's 714 career home runs, he remains the all-time leader in OPS (1.164) and OPS+ (206). His .474 on-base percentage, meanwhile, is second behind only Ted Williams' .482 mark.

2. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Ruth is the all-time leader in slugging percentage (.690), having slugged at least .700 in nine seasons. To put that in perspective, no other player topped that mark more than five times throughout an entire career, while the King of Crash did so five times over a six-year span from 1926-31. Currently, nobody since Bonds in 2004 has slugged .700 in a qualifying season.

3. Ruth also finished with at least a 210 OPS+ -- a metric that accounts for both ballpark and league affects -- in nine seasons, more than double the amount of any other player. In fact, all other AL/NL players in the Modern Era (since 1900) have accounted for only 16 such seasons combined. That includes Juan Soto's 218 OPS+, which he produced over a 47-game sample during the shortened 2020 season.

4. Ruth led both the AL and NL in slugging percentage and OPS 13 times, home runs 12 times and walks 11 times. He also led in runs scored eight times and RBIs five times.

5. Ruth also finished six campaigns with at least 135 RBIs and 135 walks, which matches the number of 135-RBI, 135-walk seasons by all other players combined.

6. Despite being known most for his offense, Ruth actually helped the Red Sox win two World Series before appearing as a position player. Boston won titles in 1915 and '16, well before the Great Bambino made his debut in the field in '18. Ruth capped that '18 campaign with another ring before later adding four more titles to his resume as a member of the Yankees.

7. Ruth racked up a 0.87 ERA over 31 career postseason innings, which ranks fourth all-time among pitchers with at least 30 innings of postseason experience. That included a 29 2/3-inning World Series scoreless streak that held up as a Fall Classic record until 1961, when fellow Hall of Famer Whitey Ford surpassed Ruth's mark.

8. Ruth's best pitching performance came in 1916, when he struck out 170 batters without allowing a home run. That remains a Red Sox franchise record for the most strikeouts in any season without surrendering a homer and ranks as the fifth-most overall in AL/NL history. Only Rube Waddell (232 strikeouts), Walter Johnson (228), Jack Coombs (224) and Frank Smith (171) tallied more whiffs without serving up a long ball.

9. Ruth is the only player in Major League history to have both pitched a shutout and recorded a multihomer game in the World Series. Along with tossing a shutout against the Cubs in Game 1 of the 1918 World Series, Ruth turned in four multihomer efforts in the Fall Classic, including a pair of three-homer games.

10. According to Baseball Reference, Ruth's 183.1 career WAR -- combining his value as a hitter and pitcher -- is the highest all time, well ahead of Walter Johnson's 164.8. For reference, the highest mark among active players is Albert Pujols' 99.6 WAR.

To further put that into perspective, consider that Shohei Ohtani produced 9.1 total WAR during his spectacular two-way campaign in 2021. Even if a player maintained that level of performance for 20 consecutive seasons, he would still be 1.1 WAR short of matching Ruth.