Originally Posted by Steve B.
It's pretty common knowledge that pitchers of that era couldn't hold a candle to modern era pitchers. Not to mention WWI which diluted the talent further in many of those years.
Walter Johnson still gets respect, well deserved. Ruth's pitching+hitting+defense was more valuable than Barry's pitching+hitting+defense.
Ruth ERA+ for the same years: 68, 114, 158, 128, 121, 102. ERA+ is park- and era-adjusted, with 100 being a league average pitcher in a league average park for the year in question. In 1916 Ruth was 58% better than his average peer pitcher.
Stu-Win Shares account for defense, albeit imperfectly. Ruth and Bonds are just *that much* better as hitters than anyone else, that it accounts for any difference in defense. I'm too young to have seen it live, but Mays' video clips are some of the most exciting around, I love watching the guy and think he was one of the best. Just don't think he was as good as Ruth, Cobb, or Bonds. Mantle...ah, what could have been.