Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth – No. 1
Babe Ruth earned the top spot on ESPN’s list of the greatest players in baseball history. This ranking is based primarily on what he did with his bat as a member of the Yankees. Ruth changed the game by ushering in a new wave of power hitters.
Ruth’s 714 home runs are the third-most in MLB history. He led the league in homers 12 times and set a single-season record with 60 homers in 1927, a record that would stand for several decades. His .690 SLG and 1.164 OPS are the best in MLB history.
Ruth won four World Series titles with the Yankees and was the centerpiece of a Murderers’ Row that is considered one of the best lineups ever assembled. He hit .326 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI in 41 postseason games.
While the Sultan of Swat is known mainly for his prolific power, he began his career as a pitcher for the Red Sox. Ruth went 89-46 with a 2.19 ERA during his six seasons in Boston. He anchored the Red Sox rotation for three World Series titles, including the one in 1918 that would eventually serve as the starting point of the “Curse of the Bambino” during Boston’s 86-year title drought.
Selling Ruth to the Yankees was a franchise-crippling mistake that fans will never truly forget. However, with four World Series titles to celebrate since 2004, the bitter memory is at least beginning to dim.