Earlier today, we began a series to see what happened if Babe Ruth had actually been bad when he joined the Yankees in 1920. In reality, we know that he redefined the sport and arguably altered the destiny of the entire Yankees’ franchise thanks to his legendary career.
However, using Out of the Park Baseball 22, we decided to see what would happen if instead of the mythical figure he was, Ruth was a bad player. We tanked all of his skill ratings within the game and started in 1920, his first year with the Yankees.
In real life, the Yankees made their first World Series in 1921, and then won their first title two years later, with Ruth leading the way. In the OOTP simulation, the Yankees still had some success, but haven’t won a World Series through 1925, and had to release a truly terrible Ruth during the ‘25 season.
In part two, we’re going to see how the next couple seasons would’ve gone. While Ruth isn’t even on the team anymore, we’re going to see how a still talented Yankees’ team would’ve done compared to their Ruth-led real life counterparts.
1926: 91-63, same wins as real life
In real life, the ‘26 season marked the Yankees’ first trip back to the World Series since their first championship win in ‘23. While the simulation team won the same amount of games as the real one, they actually finished a couple games back of the White Sox. Great seasons from the simulation versions of Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, and Bob Meusel made up for the lack of the real life Ruth, getting the Yankees to the same win total as they actually put up.
Meanwhile, no team has picked up the diminished Ruth, and it appears as if his baseball career may be over.
1927: 77-77, -33 wins from real life
The 1927 season was by far the one I was most intrigued by going into this exercise. Obviously, this was the “Murderers’ Row” team that won 110 games. While Ruth was a massive part of that, you don’t get that nickname because of just one guy. However, as great as the team was, how much would they be harmed by their best real life player not being around in this simulation?
This answer is apparently quite a lot. To be fair, the simulation Gehrig ended up missing a lot of the season, and it resulted in a massive drop off from what actually happened in 1927.
1928: 87-67, -14 wins from real life
While some of the earlier Yankees’ teams were very good despite the lack of a great Ruth, now his absence is really starting to show. The Yankees are a perfectly fine team in 1928, but they’re only that: perfectly fine. They finish in third, 10 games back of the pennant-winning Cleveland team.
1929: 78-76, -10 wins from real life
The Yankees have acquired a player named Samuel Byrd, who has gotten the nickname “Babe Ruth’s Legs.” It’s unclear to fans why this man has gotten a nickname referencing a mediocre player from years ago. Some wonder if he actually got Ruth’s legs in some sort of transplant.
Meanwhile, the team now seems to be going the wrong way, finishing 20 games back in the AL. While he hasn’t officially retired, there is still no team yet to take a look at Ruth. He seems accepting of his fate, however.
1930: 92-62, +6 wins from real life
Here we have one of the few improvements from real life, as the simulation Yankees squeak out the AL pennant by one game over the Senators. A young Bill Dickey led the way with a breakthrough season, hitting .391/.429/.745 with 44 home runs. The team is still swept in the World Series, allowing 37 runs in four games.
1931: 83-71, -11 wins from real life
The ‘31 season sees the fake Yankees fall back to the pack, unable to build upon their pennant. While they led the AL for part of the season, a second half swoon sees them end the year 15 games back. Meanwhile, despite remaining in the Yankees’ organization, Gehrig has not played in several seasons, likely sensing something off with the universe.
1932: 85-69, -22 wins from real life
The real life ‘32 Yankees are in the running with the ‘27 team in the “best Yankees’ team ever” conversation. The Ruth-less fake ones are not that, finishing with 22 fewer wins and 13 games back in the AL.
1933: 85-69, -6 wins from real life
Once again, the fake Yankees are good but not great, finishing second in the AL.
1934: 80-74, -14 wins from real life
We’ve reached the final season of Ruth’s actual Yankee career and the final year of our simulation. Could the fake Yankees break through and finally win one World Series before our experiment ends? The answer is no, they could not. It was a very tight AL race, with the two teams that tied for first finishing just six games up on the fourth place Yankees, with even seventh place finishing only 13 games back.
Whereas the real life Yankees won four World Series over the course of Ruth’s real career, they failed to win one over the course of the simulation. Despite that, they were rarely truly bad, they were just sorta okay.
Meanwhile, Ruth just kept on existing in the world, but never got another chance. The real life super hero of a player spent years on the sideline as his morale just kept staying at “Normal.” We’ll never know how things would’ve turned out if Babe Ruth had never been sold to the Yankees in real life, but as Yankees’ fans we should be quite grateful that he was.