- 02/06/2012, 11:53PM ET
williewilliejuan said 02/06, 11:53 PM
The debate about the Greatest of All Time almost always brings controversy, regardless of the sport. Differences in eras, differences in rules and the personal biases of those making the determination all color the discussion.
In most sports, the debate comes down to two players. Is it Gretzky or Orr? Is it Jordan or Chamberlain? In other sports, the debate is specialized by position. Few try to name the best football player of all time but debate "best QB", "best receiver" or "best running back" instead.
No such debate exists in baseball. That's why Babe Ruth is the least disputed G.O.A.T. in any sport.
Ruth changed the way the game was played. His statistical dominance over other players of his era is unparalleled. He was the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season. His career home run total record stood for 40 years. He currently holds the records for highest career slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+.
Even those who would seek to diminish his accomplishments because they took place before the color barrier was broken generally stop short of naming a better player. There is little dispute with the conclusion that Ruth was the best baseball player of all time.
UB bulls said 02/07, 08:42 PM
Ruth was an excellent choice. He is arguably the best baseball player that ever played the game.
But the key word is arguably.
While it is true that Ruth holds career records for slugging, OPS and OPS+, his numbers are only marginally better than Ted Williams in second place. (Williams was within 9% of Ruth in slugging, 4% in OPS, and 8% for OPS+)
And while Ruth was a superb hitter, Mays was possibly the better five tool player: unarguably a better fielder and base runner, comparable power, and WAR within 9% of Ruth.
When ESPN counted down the top 100 athletes of the 20th century, both Ruth and Mays were in the top 10. Six MLB players were in the top 25.
My choice was also in their top 10. The difference is that my choice was the only player from his sport anywhere in the top 25--he has no peer in his sport and is a better choice for least disputed G.O.A.T.
A player who literally re-wrote 80 years of league records.
A player whose career records are up to 50% beyond his nearest rival.
A player whose number was retired by the entire league.
More than a nickname, it is a statement of fact: The Great One
Good luck WWJ.
williewilliejuan said 02/08, 01:31 AM
Our topic is the "least disputed" G.O.A.T. in sports. Among hockey fans, there are few topics that are disputed more than whether Gretzky or Orr was the greatest.
From a scoring standpoint, Gretzky is the clear winner. However, any hockey fan will tell you that hockey is a lot more than just scoring. Those in Orr's camp will point out that he changed the game completely. He redefined the role of a defenseman by becoming the only defenseman to ever lead the league in scoring. His 597 career plus/minus is significantly better than Gretzky's 518, despite the fact that Orr only played in 9 seasons.
This leads to the crux of the Gretzky/Orr debate. Gretzky was the more prolific scorer, but Orr was the more well-rounded player. He played a much more physical form of hockey than Gretzky, who was the beneficiary of a hands-off policy by both opponents and officials.
To illustrate how divided the hockey world is on who was their best player, in 1997 the Hockey News came up with what is considered the definitive list of the 100 best hockey players. Gretzky won with 2,726 total voting points; Orr came in second with 2,713 - a margin of less than half a percentage point.
UB bulls said 02/08, 05:32 PM
While it may have been a close vote in 1997 while Gretzky was still playing, The Hockey News did another ranking in 2007. Gretzky was still #1.
SI ranked him #1 all time in 1999
Canadian Press voted him #1 Canadian Athlete of the Century in 1999
Gretzky didn't just set records, he obliterated them: game records, single season records, career records. He holds 60 --count 'em 60-- NHL records.
He is a thousand points and 700 assists ahead of #2 on the career lists. Put another way, his lead is greater than HOF Pat LaFontaine's entire career.
8 of the top 10 best seasons for points, including the top four.
9x Hart trophies (MVP) 50% more than next best (Howe, with 6)
13 consecutive 100 point seasons
Gretzky was great for a long, long time.
And longevity matters when talking about a G.O.A.T. Orr was a great player for only 7 years. Lindstrom, Harvey and Borque played 20+ years as defensemen, so it can be done.
Plus minus is more a measure of defensemen and less so for linemen. Seven of the career top 10 are defensemen, including the top 3. If anything, I see it as a testament to Gretzky's greatness that he is #4. Lemieux is down at #159.
williewilliejuan said 02/08, 09:26 PM
The point of the discussion isn't whether Orr or Gretzky was better; that's for others to debate. What's important (and is validated by the comments on this TD) is that the issue is very much in dispute.
The same cannot be said about Ruth. There is very little dispute about whether he was the greatest. That's because while other players may have matched some of his accomplishments, no one has had a career that encompasses all that Ruth did.
Yes, players have broken some of his hitting records. However, none of them came up during the dead ball era. Before Ruth was used as an everyday player, the HR leader each year was often in the teens or single digits. He literally changed the way the game was played and every player who came up afterward was the beneficiary of his efforts.
What truly separates Ruth from all of the others was that he wasn't just a great hitter. He was also an excellent pitcher. Ruth still owns MLB records for left-handed pitchers. For his career, he was 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.159 WHIP. He was like Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay rolled into one.
There is plenty of debate about who was the G.O.A.T. in hockey, but little dispute about Ruth.
UB bulls said 02/08, 11:27 PM
I think Ruth vs. Mays is very debatable, once we consider the completely different playing environments.
Rule changes designed to encourage offense meant that Ruth enjoyed pitching in the dead ball era, then hitting in the most hitter-friendly era in history.
Here is a chart of league OPS
When the rules changes were implemented 1920, it wasn't just Ruth who became a prolific hitter. Everyone did. The league OPS reached .800. Walter Johnson's ERA doubled in a single year, and stayed that high the rest of his career.
By the time Mays came along, pitchers had regained the upper hand and offensive output was back down to numbers reminiscent of the dead-ball era. Simply put, Mays faced better overall pitching in his career.
Beyond hitting, Mays was clearly the better outfielder and base runner. The beer-bellied Babe was caught stealing in half of his attempts, including the one that ended the 1926 World Series.
Ruth was obviously a great baseball player, but he doesn't stand alone. Whether Ruth or Mays is baseball's G.O.A.T is a reasonable dispute.
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