Sekrah wrote:How was the game that much different back then?
Lots of ways. The deadball era was a different game than we watch now.
For one, the baseball itself was made differently and didn't travel as far as today's ball. Also, spitballing and scuffing the ball were legal, and balls weren't changed every couple pitches like they are today, so they would become dirty, slippery and beat up as games went on. I'm guessing this gave pitchers more ability to control their own BABIP.
I'm not sure how Ruth's BABIP compared to league average, but I would guess BABIP was lower all around. One reason is that small ball was much more prevalent than in today's game.
As far as the lack of homers, the dead ball had something to do with that, but also there were a lot of enormous parks with fences well over 400 feet out that were just impossible to hit a ball out of. A sabermetric that might tell us a lot about pitchers back then would be isolated power allowed, since a lot of balls that would be homers in today's game were 2B and 3B back then. There were 552 triples in the 8-team AL in 1916, compared to 408 in the 14-team AL in 2008.
As for low K totals, lack of velocity was probably one reason. Another was that highly specialized modern bullpens didn't exist. Rotations were shorter and starters were expected to go deep into games if not finish them, so saving your arm by pitching to contact more often made sense.
As far as Ruth's actual repertoire of pitches, I have no idea.