Babe Ruth was the greatest hitter in the history of baseball. He was the greatest hitter because of the fundamentals of his swing.
Babe Ruth was a big man. When the average Joe stood 5' 8", Ruth stood 6' 2" and weighed 215 pounds. When you consider that Reggie Jackson could hit a ball a country mile at 6'0" and 195 pounds—not as big as Ruth—it makes you realize that Ruth was exceptionally large for his time.
But besides hitting for power, he also had a .342 lifetime batting average. Ruth made contact with power, and often. A case can be made that his bat swing was genius. He said he patterned his swing after Shoeless Joe Jackson.
We have film of Babe Ruth, much of it towards the end of his career. He was overweight. But so was Tony Gwynn at the end of his career, and he won a batting title. However, throughout most of his career, Ruth was fit, fast, and athletic until the 1924 season. He had to get fit again, which carried him through the end of the decade and ultimately helped him put up the most successful stats ever seen on the diamond. He had two 20-game seasons as a pitcher prior to his conversion to the outfield. He had it all.
Throat cancer would claim him on August 16, 1948, but he died a hero to many—one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.
Babe Ruth Swing Analysis
What Made Babe Ruth so Great?
So, what made Babe Ruth's swing so great? Here are a few keys:
- Ruth had a great stride into the swing but left his hands way back in the swing.
- Weight shifted to the front side.
- Back hand had palm up, with arm bent for some time through the swing.
- Ruth did not roll over his hands too soon. He kept the line so that his area of impact was huge. If his timing was off or if he faced an off-speed pitch, he could still make contact.
- He had the best slot position, and his hands held back for power and leverage.
Because Babe Ruth had extreme flexibility, he was able to hold his hands farther back than most baseball players. Couple that with his size, good eye for seeing the ball quickly, and relentless competitive nature, and you have the greatest hitter the world has seen.
We can't wait for the next Ruth to hit the scene in baseball, but with players bulking up, they miss out on the key to power, keeping the hands back.
Gary Anderson (author) from Las Vegas, Nevada on November 23, 2014:
Ruth had an edge in natural flexibility. If you count the power, those other guys couldn't match him, although they were gifted as well.
CJ Kelly from the PNW on September 11, 2014:
Great take on Ruth. The technical analysis of his swing was impressive. .342 is a great lifetime BA and for someone who was a pitcher his first few years in MLB, that's impressive. However, I still think guys like Gwynn, Carew and Ted Williams were greater pure hitters. I've seen technical breakdowns of Gwynn and Williams, an it's just as great. I will grant you that Carew was not a natural. He changed his swing frequently over the years. But it's hard to compare Ruth's era with the 1950s and beyond. I know the mound was lowered in the late 60s, giving the modern player a greater advantage. Can you imagine if Ruth had taken care of his body? Wow. We're talking 800+ homers and probably a .350 lifetime BA. Voted up.