Babe Ruth, two-way player

Babe Ruth began his career as a pitcher who happened to hit well. In today’s game the two-way player, a pitcher who also brought a serious bat to the lineup, would be considered an innovation. In The Hardball Times a few years ago, David Gassko detailed the decline, over the history of baseball, in pitchers’ batting performance compared to the league average. The pitchers’ wOBA divided by the wOBA of position players went from 0.95 in the 1870s, to 0.70 in 1930, to the present-day 0.50. (NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME LIBRARY, COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.)

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