Red Sox – First Base
When one thinks of a pitcher who could hit it is invariably reversed to a hitter who could pitch when Babe Ruth is mentioned. Defensively, as Ruth’s swatting abilities became recognized, the Bambino was tossed into picket duty or first base. Reports are Ruth may not have been a finished product at either position but more than competent.
The culmination of the dual role reached a crescendo in 1918 when the Red Sox bagged another World Series title. Ruth led the AL in home runs with 11 – accomplished in just 95 games – and also posted a 13-7 mark as a moundsman. The previous two seasons, Ruth had posted 20+ wins, but in that WS in 1918 Ruth took the hill for two wins.
In 1919, Ruth’s pitching was further minimized going 9-5 but leading the AL in home runs with 29. After that, Ruth was sold to the Yankees and his mound career was essentially over. Separating Ruth’s statistics as a hitter and a hitting pitcher has been done and some items of note surface and point of reference post-1900.
Ruth four times led or tied AL pitchers for the “home run title” from 1915-1918. In 1915 and 1917, Ruth topped all pitchers in batting average. In 1919, Ruth became the first Red Sox pitcher to hit a grand slam. In 1918, Ruth went 5-for-5 with three doubles and a triple but no RBI. For a point of reference, Lou Gehrig never had a five-hit game.