A three-two count, bases loaded with two outs and San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito is one strike away from a complete game. Next up to bat ‘hellip; Babe Ruth?
Or how about a three-two count, two outs and Los Angeles Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax one strike away from a perfect game?’ Next up to bat ‘hellip; J.D. Drew.
Throw away all the video and technology that you have seen involving all these players and just think about it through a statistical perspective. Which batter in each scenario has a better chance of succeeding?’
You have two players in Zito and Drew who are considered to be either average or below-average ball players in today’s Major League Baseball going up against two legends of the game in Ruth and Koufax.’ Statically, Ruth would win the game with a homerun and Koufax would blaze a fastball right by Drew to complete the legend sweep.
Ruth is known as one of baseball’s greatest hitters of all time, but would he be known as that if he were playing in the 21st century?’ Would Ruth get his homerun mark of 714 if he faced pitchers like Johan Santana, Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb and Josh Beckett – who all have fastballs, sliders and curveballs that can reach up into the high 90’s?
The way players train today is far different from training programs 50 years ago, 25 years ago and even five to 10 years ago.’ The average height of a baseball player in the late 50’s was barely six feet.’ Nowadays, baseball scouts focus more on players who stand around 6-4 or 6-5, hoping those ball players have a better chance at succeeding in the MLB.’ The size, shape and condition Zito is in would give him the ability to blow a fastball right by Ruth.
What if we took an average baseball player from today’s game, like Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson or outfielder Matt Kemp and put them in the 1940’s and 1950’s.’ How would they do?’ Who’d be a better pick: Lou Gehrig in 2009 or Kemp in 1950?
It’s doubtful Gehrig could hit between 30-40 homeruns a year consistently with his type of baseball mechanics. Kemp, in the 1950’s, could probably hit every single pitch out of the park no matter who he was facing.’ With his size, strength and, 1950’s baseball should be a walk in the park for Kemp.
Now, some people will say ‘What about basketball? You could say that about any sport. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird would probably have a hard time keeping up with players such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.” Wrong.’ The thing with the NBA is that current players actually model the way they play after past players. Occasionally, you will see Kobe saying how he took certain parts of his game from watching Jordan, or Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan taking after Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Current players are just building off what past players left. The size and height will always be the same in basketball.’ There is probably a slight difference in playing styles from 20 or 30 years ago to today in the NBA.
However, in baseball, you don’t see scouts saying, ‘David Wright is just like Babe Ruth’ or ‘Evan Longoria is the next Ted Williams.’ Evan Longoria is going to be the first and only Evan Longoria.
In 1927, the World Champion New York Yankees had a lineup that had Ruth and Gehrig at the heart of their lineup and teams’ average height and weight was around 5-11 and 170 pounds. At the time, that team seemed big and powerful over the others. But then you look at the 2001 World Champion Yankees and see the teams’ average height and weight was 6-2 and a little over 200 pounds. That is nearly three inches bigger and 30 pounds heavier.
The 1927 Yankees probably don’t stand a chance up against their 2001 counterpart even though they count with multiple legends of the game. Professional baseball is changing every single day.’ Players are being called up from the minors with the hopes that a new gem is found. Hall of Fame players like Ruth, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio would not be considered to be in the Hall of Fame, or even make a 40-man roster if they were to face off with today’s players.’
Surely, 50 years from now, players like Longoria and Albert Pujols would not be able to compete with those future players. The sport is becoming bigger, faster and stronger each and every day and only the best of them will make it.