How good would a team of 25 Babe Ruths be? What about a team of Derek Jeters, even if they had to pitch as well? Could a team of Whitey Fords hold the opponent in check if their lineup was also nine Whitey Fords hitting?
Those are some fun questions to think about, but also ones that we’ll never get the answer to. Well, not an actual answer at least.
While messing around on the very fun baseball simulator video game Out of the Park Baseball 22, I came up with a dumb idea. What if a bunch of teams made entirely out of versions of one player faced each other? On OOTP, that is a thing you can do.
OOTP has a vast array of options to create your own baseball world, and one of them is the ability to “clone” players. There is a feature where you can have create another version of a player and have them play in the same league as the “original.” You can even clone a player 24 times...so that’s what I did.
For fun, I selected eight Yankee legends and created a league made entirely out of teams consisting of 25 versions of that player. Here’s what happened.
The first thing to do was choose the players and what age from their career to make them. Once the eight players were selected, I chose the year they put up the highest WAR according to Baseball Reference. The eight chosen were Babe Ruth (1920), Red Ruffing (1932), Yogi Berra (1956), Mickey Mantle (1957), Whitey Ford (1964), Ron Guidry (1978), Mariano Rivera (1996), Derek Jeter (1999). Obviously, this isn’t just the eight straight best-ever Yankees. These were the people I chose to try and give somewhat of a variety of era and positions. Ruffing in particular was chosen not only to have an even position player/pitcher split, but also because he was known as one of the best hitting pitchers ever in addition to a Hall of Fame pitcher. I wanted to see if that made a difference.
Then, all eight players were cloned enough times so that a 25-man roster could be made entirely out of each. I also made it so that injuries were turned off and trades couldn’t happen. Once everything was set, it was time to simulate, and let’s take a look at the results.
It probably shouldn’t come as a massive surprise that Babe Ruth dominated, considering his borderline mythical hitting career and that the 1920 version of him was not that far off when he was a pretty good pitcher in Boston. The extent to which the hitters ruled the day was something else, though. The only three teams with winning records were hitters, and as we’ll get to in a moment, it was very much a hitter’s league. The team of Ron Guidrys was the only pitcher to get into the four-team playoffs.
However, it was never clearer how slanted things ended up being towards hitters than when we look at some of the league leaders.
Seven different Babe Ruths cracked a century of home runs, led by one particular clone who wore No. 22. Also, yes that graphic does say that Ruth No. 22 had 500 RBI. Somehow, that 13.9 WAR was not the league lead, as one Mickey Mantle clone put up 14.6. A Derek Jeter led the league in batting average at .483, while a different Ruth put up a .678 OBP.
While teams Ruffing and Guidry had a couple hitters that put up something approaching decent numbers, the Ford and Rivera teams’ offense brought pretty much nothing to the plate. The best hitting pitcher clone who appeared in at least 30 games was a Ruffing who hit .290/.386/.503 in just under 200 plate appearances. However, because the league was so tilted towards hitting, that was a below average OPS+ at 82.
Pour one out for this Rivera clone, who apparently did not have a good time:
As for the pitching side of things, as you might expect the teams of pitchers spread out the innings considering they each had 25 versions of great pitchers. But they spread things out so much that the only players who pitched enough to qualify for leaderboards were from the position player teams. Your ERA champion was a Ruth clone who put up a 9.12 ERA. A Guidry led the league in pitching WAR with 4.6, but only pitched 84 innings.
The worst team in the league by a good margin was the team of Riveras. They had the disadvantage of not only being an entire team of pitchers having to hit and field, but they were also a team of relievers having to be starting pitchers. They finished last or second to last in every offensive category except for stolen bases, where they finished tied for sixth with zero. Of the 25 Riveras, 18 had a OPS+ that was in single digits or in the negatives. The pitching was as decent as it could be considering the offensive environment of the league, but it still wasn’t good enough for them to top 30 wins. It should be noted that something might’ve been up with the cloning machine, though.
In the playoffs, the team of Ruths romped to the championship, dropping just one game in the two best-of-seven series. The championship series came against the team of Mantles, and well...let’s take a look at the score of those games.
I guess that’ll happen when it’s two teams made entirely of hitters, and two of the handful of all-time best at that. The clinching game featured a 17-run inning from the Mantles, only for their team to still lose. The series MVP was Ruth No. 8, the first baseman who hit .654/.811/1.615 in the five-game victory.
I guess it should come as no surprise that a team of Babe Ruths would be the best of any player in Yankee history.