The first week in February is apparently a popular time to give birth to some of the game's greatest home-run hitters of all time.While legendary slugger Hank Aaron celebrated his 82nd birthday on Friday, it was 121 years ago Saturday that fellow Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was born in
The first week in February is apparently a popular time to give birth to some of the game's greatest home-run hitters of all time.
While legendary slugger Hank Aaron celebrated his 82nd birthday on Friday, it was 121 years ago Saturday that fellow Hall of Famer Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore. With that in mind, what better way to celebrate Ruth's birthday than by examining 10 of the most amazing statistics surrounding his illustrious career?
From his jaw-dropping numbers at the plate to his postseason pitching prowess, Ruth provided plenty of material to choose from over his 22-year career. Thus, it was no easy task to limit the list to only 10 facts, but let's take a closer look at the ones that ultimately made the cut.
1. Ruth remains the career 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), considering the fact he 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.
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 Major Leaguers have accounted for only 15 such seasons combined.
4. Ruth led the Majors in slugging percentage and OPS 13 times, home runs 12 times and walks 11 times. He also led the league 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 ever even 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 sixth all-time among pitchers with at least 20 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 single 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. 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 183.7 career WAR is the highest all time, well ahead of Cy Young's second-best 170.3 WAR. For reference, the highest mark among active players is Alex Rodriguez's 118.9 career WAR. To further put that into perspective, even if Mike Trout -- who has averaged a 9.3 WAR over his first four full seasons -- maintains that level of production over each of the next 15 seasons, he would still have only a 177.6 career WAR.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @paul_casella.