Boston Red Sox: 30 Greatest Players in Team History

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4: Babe Ruth, P/OF (1914-1919)

Obviously best known for revolutionizing the game with the New York Yankees as a premier power hitter, Babe Ruth also has important place in Red Sox history. Before he became the legendary Great Bambino and The Sultan of Swat, Ruth was a dominant left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox.

Ruth made his big league debut with the Red Sox at 19-years-old in 1914, and really started to make a name for himself in 1915, when he went 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA, and helping the Red Sox win the World Series.

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  • Ruth’s best year as a pitcher came in 1916, when he led the league by making 40 starts, going 23-12 with a league-leading 1.75 ERA. The Red Sox won the World Series again in 1916, making Ruth the ace pitcher for back-to-back World Series championship teams. He backed that season up with an equally impressive 24-13, 2.03 ERA campaign in 1917.

    The Red Sox started to see Ruth’s value as a hitter in 1918, allowing him to play other positions on days he did not pitch. Despite having relatively limited at-bats, Ruth’s 11 home runs that season led the American League, as did his incredible .555 slugging percentage. Ruth was beginning to show signs of becoming a power hitter that the game had never seen before.

    With Ruth’s continued success on the mound, and powerful bat emerging, the Red Sox won another World Series in 1918. The Babe pitched in only 17 games in 1919, as the Red Sox tried to get him into the line-up more and more. Ruth hit .322/.456/.657 in 1919, leading the league in OBP, SLG, runs scored (103), home runs (29) and RBI (113).

    He had become far and away the best hitter in baseball in his first season as a full-time hitter at 24-years-old. Why the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees that very next off season, no one will ever know.

    Ruth went on to be an absolutely unstoppable force, playing 15 more seasons with the Yankees. His ridiculous power numbers were never seen before, as he completely revolutionized the game of baseball. Babe Ruth is one of the best players in the history of the game, and undoubtedly the best if you consider the era he played in. Nobody hit home runs back then, and Ruth was slugging out over 50 almost every single season.

    When talking about Babe Ruth and is time with the Boston Red Sox, there is so much what could have been to imagine. But even the way it played out, Ruth is one of the best players in the history of the franchise.

    Next: Number Three