What If? Babe Ruth's 1921 Season

By davidfunk74
Mar. 01, 2014

The "Sultan of Swat" came over to the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox before the 1920 season.  In his last season with the Red Sox, he showed home run power leading the league with 29 of them before he would become the dominant figure with the arch-rival Yankees.  The 26-year old Ruth entered the 1921 season coming off a campaign when he hit 54 homers in his first season with the Yankees which was unheard of at the time.  His 1921 season set him further apart from the rest of the players at that time.

The Roaring 20s were a time when the economic climate in America had prospered.  Sports also benefited from the economic rise and it was Babe Ruth that became the focal point for baseball.  However in 1919, many fans nearly turned away from baseball due to the Black Sox Scandal.  After that season, Ruth was sold to Yankees, but it was that move that arguably was the best thing that could've happened to the game.  Ruth drew crowds never seen before in baseball, and was most instrumental in helping the Yankees' rise to dominance.  There was no athlete or baseball player quite like Ruth especially in the 1920s.

On my other site, I used to post historical seasons for players before fantasy sports become prominent in our society.  Now just imagine you were around in the Roaring 20s before the 1921 season, and you were able to get Babe Ruth for your team?  Coming off a great 1920 season, he would've been without a question the first pick in most standard leagues.  Now let's take a look at how you would've done had you had Ruth on your team in 1921.

MLB's Scoring System for Hitters
Single = 1
Double = 2
Triple = 3
Home Run = 4
Run = 1
RBI = 1
Walk = 1
Stolen Base = 2
Caught Stealing = -1

Babe Ruth's 1921 statistics:

Note:  Ruth played in 152 games in 1921.

Single: 85 = 85

Double: 44 = 88

Triple: 16 = 48

Home Run: 59 = 236

Run: 177 = 177

RBI: 171 = 171

Walk: 145 = 145

Stolen Base: 17 = 34

Caught Stealing: 13 = -13

Total Fantasy Points:  971

Points Per Game:  6.39

In the opening game of the season, Ruth went 5-for-5 with a pair of RBIs in an 11-1 rout of the Philadelphia Athletics.  On April 21 at Philadelphia, he went 4-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in a 6-1 win.

For the month of April, Ruth batted .439 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, and 12 runs scored.

He cooled off a bit in May as his batting average dipped to .345 by the end of the month.  However, he hit 10 home runs and had 29 RBIs in May.  He had a pair of 4-RBI games that month against Detroit on May 12 and on May 31 at Washington.

In June, Ruth had his first 2-home run game against Detroit on June 13.  The next day, Ruth had another 2-home run game with four runs batted in as the Yankees completed a 4-game sweep of the Tigers.  His average was back up to .366 at the end of June, and he hit 13 home runs that month as well.

He had another 2-home run game on July 12 against the St. Louis Browns as he hit 10 more of them that month.  He also had 31 RBIs that month and was still batting .364 at the end of the July as well.

In August, he got a hit in all but one game he played in that month which raised his average to .384.  He also hit 10 home runs with 34 RBIs for the month.  He had another 2-homer game against Cleveland on August 23.

In the final month of the season, Ruth finished with 10 home runs in September.  He had another 2-homer game against Cleveland again on September 26.

In his last game of the season, Ruth fittingly enough hit his last home run against the Boston Red Sox -- the team he was sold to before the 1920 season.

Ruth's 1921 season was like nothing anyone had ever seen at the time.  He led the league in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, walks, and OPS.  His RBI total would turn out to be a career-high.  His runs scored total of 177 was also a career-high, and it's currently tied for second best all-time.

He was one home run short of 60 for a season, but he would get that in 1927.  He had five multi-homer games on the season.  April was the only full month of the 1921 season in which he did not hit double digits in homers showing his consistency that year.

Ruth also pitched in two games and won both of them in 1921.  He ended up going 94-46 with a 2.26 in his career as a pitcher.

Statistically speaking, the 1921 season was Ruth's best overall and is still one of the greatest in the history of the game.

His season was so dominant and unheard of that he out-homered five of the seven other teams in the American League that season by himself.

Before the 1921 season, the New York Yankees had never made it to post-season play.  They finished the season 98-55 and clinched a playoff spot as well as first World Series appearance.

The Yankees faced off against the cross-town New York Giants in the World Series.  The Yankees at one point held a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Giants won four of the next five to win it all in seven games.  Ruth hit .313 in the series with one home run and four runs batted in.

Though the Yankees lost in the World Series, this was a start of things to come.  They did lose again to the Giants in 1922, but Ruth would claim four World Series rings by the time his career was over.  The tide had turned in the Yankees' favor in terms of championships when Ruth came to New York.

Ruth would eventually become the most iconic figure in Major League Baseball history.  His career numbers were off the charts, and he's the reason the home run is as prominent as it is in the game today.  He was larger than life and was one of the few sports heroes that captured the attention of fans throughout the roaring 1920s.  Ruth is still largely considered the greatest player in the game's history as well as one of the most important, too.