Hey baseball fans!
I recently read an article discussing Mike Trout's hot start and whenever any article brings up this topic, the "Trout versus Babe Ruth" comparison is always insinuated. Now, as some of you might remember, I called Ruth the best hitter of all time in my "Top 50 Hall of Fame Hitters" series I did over the summer. So of course, I have to defend the Bambino and will be doing so in this post.
The main point of comparison between these two amazing hitters is always wins above replacement, a controversial, yet definitely important statistic to value a player's skills in proportion to his overall team's play. For example, Mike Trout's WAR as of Monday, according to FanGraphs, was 1.2, meaning that because Trout is in the lineup, the Angels had won 1.2 games more games than they would've if he wasn't in the lineup. Trout is famous for having insane WAR seasons, but there's something that is worth bringing up about this new-age stat: wins above replacement is a good indicator of who is deserving of the MVP award, but doesn't always designate who is the best at hitting.
Call my opinions out-dated, but hear me out. Baseball Hall of Fame legitimacy relies on three core statistical percentages, among other stats, which are batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. These numbers are incredibly important, specifically in that order. My explanation for this ranking is as follows. If I, Matt Nadel, a 5-foot-6, 135lb 20-year-old, were to have 100 Major League plate appearances and was not allowed to swing at all, I would still probably have a fine OBP. Of course patience is important when it comes to batting, but comparably, slugging percentage and batting average are much more important in determining a hitter's skill. These two stats are where Ruth really stands out compared to Trout. Babe Ruth is the all-time leader in career slugging percentage at .690. Mike Trout's slugging percentage at the moment is a "measly" .576. It's really not a bad slugging percentage, but this comparison really just means that no one, and I mean no one, could hit the ball as hard or as far as Babe Ruth. Sure, he was hitting at Yankee Stadium, where right field is notoriously short, but that's where batting average comes into play.
Babe Ruth batted .342 for his career. Hank Aaron batted .305. Barry Bonds batted .298. Mike Trout's career batting average is currently .307. I am well-aware that baseball was quite different back when Ruth played, but you do not win the MVP award if you have a bad batting average. Seriously, look at the MVP winners of the past. Almost every single MVP has a good batting average or has a better batting average than their lifetime one. This may be an extreme coincidence, but especially during a time when batting averages are down across baseball, batting average has been, is, and will always be king. Aaron, Bonds, and Trout can almost go toe-to-toe with Ruth on OBP and slugging, but it's the batting average that makes Ruth stand out.
Oh, and did I mention that Babe Ruth is the all-time WAR leader at 182.4? Yeah, stop with the "Trout vs. Ruth" comparison. Of course Trout's the best hitter in baseball at the moment, but your arguments have been moot for almost 100 years, because without Ruth's revolutionary hitting, there would be no Mike Trout. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."