Klapisch: How would Babe Ruth fare in 2016 MLB?

From Bob Klapisch at The National Pastime Museum on May 1, 2016:

How would Babe Ruth handle Clayton Kershaw’s curveball? That thought occurred to me during the NL Division Series, when I found myself gawking at the ferocity of that oversized hook. Could Ruth and his 42-ounce bat really hold his own against Kershaw or Matt Harvey’s slider or Aroldis Chapman’s fastball?

This topic has fascinated me for some time, enough for me to have investigated it in the past. I’ve asked pitchers and hitters, active and retired, what they thought of the Babe’s swing. Let’s face it, even in those grainy movie reels, there’s no denying the power in his hands, the gathering and unfolding of his limbs. Scientists of that era say Ruth’s reflexes were superior to 99 percent of the general population. That’s enough to at least start the conversation: Was the Bambino a genetic freak who could’ve transported into today’s game and instantly started hitting moon shots?

Curt Schilling made headlines a few years ago when he said Ruth would only be an “average” new millennium hitter, several notches below Barry Bonds. Schilling’s evaluation was based on the absence of hard throwers in the ‘20s and ‘30s, which gave Ruth a huge advantage. Plus, none of the modern-day weapons—the slider, cut-fastball, and split-finger fastball—had been discovered yet.

But I found there were just as many experts who sided with Ruth, convinced his skills would compensate to the new challenges. A conversation I had with Reggie Jackson several years ago sparked a column about the past-versus-present debate. I was hooked. Specific to Ruth, I asked Reggie if he could imagine the Sultan of Swat even making contact against Mariano Rivera, let alone launch a home run. I figured this would be a no-brainer in Rivera’s favor.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/how-would-babe-ruth-fare-2016

Originally published: May 3, 2016. Last Updated: May 3, 2016.