I wanted to see who had the greatest season, as a hitter, ever. So I punched in the following search criteria:
HR: Greater Than 50
BA: Greater Than .340
RBI: Greater Than 150
Runs: Greater Than 150
Slugging: Greater Than .800
For a hitter to archive those standards in just one category would, for most players, be considered a career year. To archive all of those plateaus in a single season would be, well, Ruthian.
So, is it any surprise that the only hitter to ever archive such productivity is Babe Ruth?
I present to you the greatest offensive season ever:
Babe Ruth is also the only hitter in history to hit at least 600 career home runs (714) and bat at least .320 (.342).
Bring the HR total down to a more mortal 500, and you pick up on the list Ted Williams (521/.344) and Jimmie Foxx (534/.325).
It should be noted that the database doesn’t yet include the 2002 season, so Barry Bonds’ latest stats (he’s now over 600 HRs) are not included, but then after the 2001 season his career average was only .293, so I doubt he raised it 50 points last year, to challenge Ruth.
And the greatest single-season pitching line in the 20th Century? Here it is, by Mr. Walter Johnson:
Johnson’s career stats for wins, ERA and Ks were 417, 2.17 and 3,059 — numbers unmatched by any other pitcher in history (I searched for pitchers with at least 320 wins, 2.50 ERA or better and at least 3,000 career strikeouts).
Of course, none of this is news to hardcore baseball fans, but it’s still fun to review. It’s always a good idea to remind ourselves just how great the greats were.
BTW: After writing all this, I took a closer look at Bonds’ 2001 and 2002 season. In 2001 Bonds hit 73 HRs, hit .328 and had a .837 slugging percentage. Pretty Ruthian of him. But compare his RBI and Run totals to Ruth — 137 and 129. As good as Barry was in 2001, it still doesn’t compare to what Ruth accomplished.
Note: I’m just talking raw numbers here. I realize there are factors that make a real comparison impossible, but just on numbers, in any era, these are incredible accomplishments.