The Babe Ruth Lineal Champion

I was bored today, so I invented something: the Lineal Championship. It's easy; take a player that led his team in WAR for any year, and follow that player every year until he DOESN'T lead the team in WAR anymore (a caveat: only positional players. You could do something similar for pitchers, or include them in your calculations, but I stuck with hitters only). That player takes the "lineal belt" from the original player, and you continue with the new person until either the player a) retires with the belt or b) keeps the belt up until this year. I'm going to take Babe Ruth as my example.

In 1933, Babe Ruth lost his lineal championship belt to Lou Gehrig, 6.9 to 6.4.

In 1937, Joe DiMaggio won the lineal championship belt with a score of 8.2 to 7.7.

In 1942, Joe Gordon scores a minor upset, beating Joe 8.2 to 6.1. DiMaggio actually finished 3rd, also behind Charlie Keller.

In 1944 and 1945, Gordon did not defend his belts, due to WWII.

In 1946, Charlie Keller became the belt holder in a year that Joe Gordon finished 6th with just 2.0 WAR.

In 1947, Charlie Keller (now 30) only played in 45 games (though very productively). Joe DiMaggio become the first 2-time champion with a 4.8 WAR season.

In 1950, the belt passed to Phil Rizzuto. DiMaggio was 35 and his legs were finally giving out on him at this point.

Rizzuto would lose the belt the very next year, to Yogi Berra, who trumped him 4.7 to 3.5 WAR. Gil McDougald almost stole the belt with a 4.6 WAR this year.

In 1952, Yogi would prove to have a very short reign. 20-year old Mickey Mantle edged Berra 6.4 to 5.5.

Mantle would hold onto the belt for a long time, until Roger Maris unseated him in 1960 with a 7.5 WAR to 6.3 WAR campaign.

The next year, Mantle would retake the belt despite a 61 HR season by Maris (he had 54 of his own), and it wasn't close: 10.5 to 6.9 WAR.

In 1963, injuries to Mantle allowed Elston Howard the title with a 5.1 WAR season. Howard would actually defend his title in 1964.

In 1965, things start to get hairy. The winner of the belt this year was Tom Tresh, the clear worst year for the belt this far. Just 3.8 WAR in this season. He'd also defend successfully.

In 1967, Mickey Mantle becomes the first 3-time holder of the Babe Ruth belt. It's a hollow, 3.9 WAR victory.

The belt almost died with Mantle in 1968 (his last year), but Roy White edged him out, 4.3 WAR to 2.6. 

Roy White would actually hold on to the belt for 4 years, until Bobby Murcer took it in 1972.

Thurman Munson would take the belt in 1973. He'd hold it for a year.

In 1974, Elliott Maddox would come from nowhere to win the belt! He edged Graig Nettles, 5.4 to 4.9.

Munson would reclaim the title a year later.

The title would pass for a 5th consecutive year to Graig Nettles with a strong 7.9 WAR showing.

After a Nettles retain in 1977, 1978 saw Willie Randolph edge Nettles in the closest battle yet, 5.9 to 5.8. This prevented Nettles from a three-peat. Randolph would hold the belt for 3 years.

In 1981, tragedy struck. The belt passed to Jerry Mumphrey, a mediocrity. The winning WAR was 3.2. 

Dave Winfield would claim the belt in 1982 with a WAR of 3.5. These are the Lean Times for the belt.

Butch Wynegar added his name to the belt in 1983, with a really close 3.6 to 3.5 win over Don Baylor.

In 1984, finally Mattingly comes to the rescue. He puts up a respectable 6.3 WAR to claim the belt.

In 1985, Rickey Henderson lays waste to Mattingly 9.9 to 6.4 to take the belt. 

Mattingly would reclaim the belt the very next year, 7.2 to 6.3.

Henderson would reclaim in 1988, 6.3 to 5.4.

Now, we have the first time the belt leaves New York. In 1989, Henderson was traded mid-season to Oakland. He still wins the title, though, 5.1 to 4.6.

In 1992, Mark McGwire takes the belt from Henderson, 6.5 to 5.7. 

Henderson would have reclaimed in 1993, but he was traded before the end of the year. Instead, Terry Steinbach won the title with a putrid 2.5 WAR. McGwire was injured this year.

Henderson rejoined the A's in 1994 and won the belt in a literal tie with Stan Javier (3.5 WAR). This made Henderson just the 2nd 3-time winner of the belt.

McGwire would retake the belt in 1995 with a 5.5 WAR performance.

In 1997, the belt passed to Ray Lankford after McGwire was traded halfway through the season. Lankford edged McGwire 5.2 to 5.1, including the WAR Mark gained in Oakland. McGwire would reclaim in 1998.

In 2000, Jim Edmonds took home the belt, with a 6.2 to 4.2 victory.

In 2001, Albert Pujols won the title with a 6.6 mark eclipsing Edmonds' 5.8.

Edmonds reclaimed the belt in 2002, 6.7 to 5.5.

In 2003, Pujols won 8.6 to 6.0.

Scott Rolen got on the board in 2004 in a very heated battle, besting Phat Albert 9.1 to 8.4.

In 2005, Pujols became the 4th ever 3-time winner of the belt (Mantle, Henderson, McGwire) with an 8.4 to 4.4 evisceration of Jim Edmonds.

Pujols held the belt all the way until 2012, when he lost it to Mike Trout (who put up a berserk 10.9 WAR). 

There you go! The Babe Ruth Lineal Champion is Mike Trout, who is currently the player I'd most like to have on my team going forward (even if Cabrera is better right now). I thought this was kind of interesting.

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