[Albert Pujols is] a better hitter than Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson and there’s no doubt about it. I’m dead serious. Babe Ruth, as great as he was, played in an all-white league. Now we have the best talent pool we’ve ever had and he’s doing it in that environment.
This is one of my favorite things to think about. Relative to their respective eras, Ruth was a far better hitter than Pujols. Ruth finished with a park- and league-adjusted 206 OPS+, by far the best of all time and 36 points above Pujols.
But like Berkman pointed out, Ruth faced a very limited talent pool. Also, he did so before nearly a century’s worth of advancements in training and instruction, and, you know, computers and stuff.
I’m reasonably certain that if Ruth somehow time-traveled from 1927 to 2011 and replaced Berkman in right field for the Cardinals, he’d prove a well inferior hitter to Pujols. Probably worse than Berkman too, especially if the time-travel mechanism is at all taxing or traumatic.
My question — and the best argument for human cloning, as far as I’m concerned — is: If Ruth were born today and raised with all the trappings of 21st century life, would he again become the best hitter in baseball? Would he again become the best hitter ever?
Get on it, science.