How would Cobb and Ruth et al have done against Clemens and Maddux t al?

So I was thinking about that great 1989 Athletics rotation.

And that got me down the rabbit hole about just how good modern pitchers are. The top ones can honestly hit a nail on the head from 60 feet away. They’re that good.

And I wondered. I’ve always been of the opinion that players and teams today are better than they’ve ever been. That a modern championship team would mop the floor with the 29 Yankees, regardless of what old sportswriters say.

So what do you think? Would the old timers have trouble? Would Ted Williams be able to handle a Roger Clemens fastball or the assortment of slow-moving well-controlled stuff that Greg Maddux threw?

Ted Williams had very fast wrists and incredible hand/eye coordination. He would probably be fine, just not close to hitting .400.

Ty Cobb had incredible bat control, his ability to bunt for hits would be a dynamic today’s pitchers would be unready for and if you dared shift on him, he would have a field day. His average would drop but he would be a star.

Babe Ruth, can you imagine Babe Ruth with a modern workout regimen? He might probably would be just as good at hitting homers but also would lose average.

However, you picked out 3 of the greatest hitters of all time. The bigger question would be how would Mark Koenig who batted .285 for the 27 Yankees have done or Bob Meusel with his .337. I think the big difference would be in the good players against today’s pitching and strategies.

Players like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Ted Williams would have struggled a little at first - pitchers throw faster now, and employ some breaking balls Cobb and Ruth never saw.

They would have adapted REALLY quickly, and within a few months would be among the greatest players in baseball. A characteristic of great players is their adaptability. It is not a coincidence that the three men you name were all dominating baseball at unusually early ages; Ty Cobb was the best hitter in the American League at age 20. (He was basically the Mike Trout of his time.) Babe Ruth was an ace pitcher at age 20 and batted .315. Ted Williams at age 20 drove in 145 runs. These guys learned very quickly.

I do agree a modern team would probably be way better than the (I assume you mean 1927 Yankees; the 1929 Yankees finished second.) But that doesn’t mean you discount everyone on the 1927 Yanks. The further back you go in baseball history the more unbalanced it gets; that is why most extremes of baseball performance, for better or worse, are old records that are unlikely to be broken, a trend that is quite predictable if one looks at all the changes in how professional baseball identifies, develops and retains talent. I am totally, utterly convinced that Babe Ruth would today be the most feared hitter in the game; I am much less convinced that some of his useful but not stellar teammates, like Pat Collins or Dutch Ruether, would have had equivalent careers in modern baseball.

The shape of those players’ stats would likely be different, of course. Ty Cobb would not have hit .366, but he would have hit far more home runs. Babe Ruth probably would have had a lower batting average, too, but - frighteningly - I think he would also have hit more homers. The overall impact would still have been domination.

The great hitters of the past were frequently struck out by great pitchers in their day. I’m not sure the best modern pitchers are much better than the best pitchers from the old days, some guys are just gifted with accuracy and the sense of how to use it. But the average pitcher of today is probably much better than the average pitcher of yesteryear, at least for a few innings. That’s mostly due to training though, give the hitters the same advantages of a life and career with modern sports medicine and science and they’d probably shine just as brightly in comparison.

It’s not fair to time travel a player from 1920 and drop him into a modern day lineup, any more than it’s fair to time travel a modern starting pitcher back to the era when a pitcher was expected to start 40 games, finish at least 30, and pitch 300 innings.

Put Babe Ruth through a modern training regimen and he’d be just fine. Conversely, send Christian Yellich back to an era of daytime games against a pitcher with only two pitches who’s already thrown 100 pitches that day and Yellich might hit .375.

I’m not sure what happened to the title, but I fixed it.

One thing I wonder about Ruth would be if he would have to swing a lighter bat. His bat was freakishly heavy, I can’t imagine him getting around on a Chapman heater. I wonder if he could have handled someone like Rivera. Pitchers are definitely better now that they don’t have to go as long in a game. I can see him still being a power hitter but not for as big an average.

I’m sure he would, but I imagine he would figure that out in maybe two at bats.

Ruth’s bat wasn’t as heavy as some reports would have you believe; I’ve seen numbers of upwards of 52-54 ounces, and quotes attributed to Ruth making the same claim (many, many quotes attributed to him were made up on his behalf.) I don’t know if even a longish wooden bat COULD weigh 54 ounces. Surviving examples do go above 40 ounces, though, which is very heavy. (Of course, it’s possible he was using the heavier ones just for practice; they didn’t have donuts back then.) Later in his career he preferred somewhat lighter models.

All bats were heavier in those days; Ruth was not especially remarkable. Ty Cobb used bats as heavy as 42 ounces.