Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1931 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



I have recently updated Player won-lost records to include more recent play-by-play data that was released by Retrosheet this summer. This includes play-by-play data for the majority of games played in three seasons prior to 1940, including the 1931 season.

The 1931 season saw Lefty Grove win 31 games (in only 30 starts - interesting usage pattern by Connie Mack) and lead the 107-win Philadelphia A's to their third consecutive World Series, where they lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

So how do Lefty Grove and the rest of 1931 major-league baseball look like through the prism of Player won-lost records?

The Best of 1931

I calculate Player won-lost records two ways: pWins, which tie to team wins and eWins, which control for context and the ability of one's teammates. For players with more pWins than eWins, their Player wins contributed to more team wins than one might expect; for players with more eWins than pWins, just the opposite is true: their Player wins translated into fewer team wins than expected. Or more briefly: a player with more pWins than eWins was better in context, a player with more eWins than pWins was worse in context.

The top 10 players in pWins above Positional Average and Replacement Level were as follows.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          pWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Lefty Grove23.811.96.4
7.9
1Lefty Grove23.811.96.4
7.9
2Al Simmons21.912.44.1
5.6
2Al Simmons21.912.44.1
5.6
3Babe Ruth21.712.73.8
5.2
3Babe Ruth21.712.73.8
5.2
4Max Bishop18.712.63.2
4.6
4Max Bishop18.712.63.2
4.6
5Rogers Hornsby14.89.22.9
4.0
5George Earnshaw18.113.52.7
4.1
6George Earnshaw18.113.52.7
4.1
6Rogers Hornsby14.89.22.9
4.0
7Jimmie Foxx18.211.62.7
3.9
7Jimmie Foxx18.211.62.7
3.9
8Lou Gehrig18.911.72.6
3.9
8Lou Gehrig18.911.72.6
3.9
9Mickey Cochrane14.710.02.6
3.7
9Wes Ferrell19.716.12.4
3.8
10George Watkins16.710.72.5
3.7
10George Watkins16.710.72.5
3.7


The top 10 players in eWins above Positional Average and Replacement Level were as follows.

eWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          eWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL           Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1Babe Ruth20.512.33.4
4.8
1Babe Ruth20.512.33.4
4.8
2Al Simmons20.212.73.1
4.6
2Al Simmons20.212.73.1
4.6
3Lefty Grove18.213.22.9
4.3
3Lefty Grove18.213.22.9
4.3
4Lou Gehrig17.711.22.3
3.6
4Earl Averill Sr.23.818.92.0
3.8
5Rogers Hornsby14.09.92.2
3.2
5Lou Gehrig17.711.22.3
3.6
6Mel Ott19.013.92.0
3.4
6Mel Ott19.013.92.0
3.4
7Wes Ferrell19.216.42.0
3.4
7Wes Ferrell19.216.42.0
3.4
8Earl Averill Sr.23.818.92.0
3.8
8Chuck Klein20.315.51.7
3.3
9Mickey Cochrane14.110.72.0
3.0
9George Earnshaw17.814.91.9
3.2
10George Earnshaw17.814.91.9
3.2
10Rogers Hornsby14.09.92.2
3.2


As of August, 2013, Retrosheet has released play-by-play data for 78% of all major-league games played in 1931. As with the 1927 season, the missing games are not distributed evenly. To attempt to control for this, the next two tables mirror the previous two tables except that Player won-lost records have been scaled to a consistent 154-game season. This scaling is done at the level of the team, so, for example the Player won-lost records of all of the members of the Chicago Cubs are adjusted up based on the 132 games for which I have play-by-play data (i.e., the numbers for all Cubs players are simply multiplied by 154/132 = 7/6); adjustments are not based on the number of games played by individual players.

The top 10 players in normalized pWOPA, pWORL, eWOPA, and eWORL in 1931 are shown in the next four tables.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          pWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Lefty Grove24.412.26.6
8.1
1Lefty Grove24.412.26.6
8.1
2Babe Ruth26.915.74.7
6.5
2Babe Ruth26.915.74.7
6.5
3Al Simmons22.512.74.2
5.7
3Al Simmons22.512.74.2
5.7
4Rogers Hornsby17.210.83.4
4.6
4George Watkins22.614.43.4
5.0
5George Watkins22.614.43.4
5.0
5Lou Gehrig23.414.63.2
4.9
6Max Bishop19.213.03.3
4.7
6Frankie Frisch20.214.13.3
4.8
7Frankie Frisch20.214.13.3
4.8
7Max Bishop19.213.03.3
4.7
8Lou Gehrig23.414.63.2
4.9
8Rogers Hornsby17.210.83.4
4.6
9Ed Brandt18.313.13.0
4.3
9Ed Brandt18.313.13.0
4.3
10George Earnshaw18.613.92.8
4.2
10George Earnshaw18.613.92.8
4.2


The top 10 players in eWins above Positional Average and Replacement Level were as follows.

eWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          eWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL           Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1Babe Ruth25.415.24.2
6.0
1Babe Ruth25.415.24.2
6.0
2Al Simmons20.813.03.2
4.7
2Al Simmons20.813.03.2
4.7
3Lefty Grove18.713.53.0
4.4
3Lou Gehrig22.014.02.9
4.4
4Lou Gehrig22.014.02.9
4.4
4Lefty Grove18.713.53.0
4.4
5Rogers Hornsby16.311.62.5
3.7
5Joe Cronin21.717.52.5
4.2
6Joe Cronin21.717.52.5
4.2
6Chuck Klein24.819.02.1
4.0
7Mel Ott21.515.72.3
3.9
7Earl Averill Sr.24.619.62.0
3.9
8Chuck Klein24.819.02.1
4.0
8Goose Goslin24.518.92.0
3.9
9Wes Ferrell19.916.92.1
3.5
9Mel Ott21.515.72.3
3.9
10Earl Averill Sr.24.619.62.0
3.9
10Rogers Hornsby16.311.62.5
3.7


The top four players in eWins over positional average in 1931 were the top four players in (adjusted) pWins over both positional average and replacement level in 1927.
Lefty Grove
Lefty Grove's 1931 season is the only season for which I have calculated Player won-lost records in which a player has earned at least 20 pWins and fewer than 10 pLosses. This is somewhat misleading, however, as I am missing play-by-play data for 7 of Grove's 1931 appearances and it is all but certain that including these games would push Grove over 10 pLosses for the season.

Even setting aside that distinction, however, Lefty Grove is on a very short list of players who earned at least 20 pWins in a season and had at least twice as many pWins as pLosses. The list of all such players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records is shown in the next table, sorted by Player winning percentage. No adjustments for missing games or schedule length have been made in this table.

Top Player Winning Percentages
(20 or more pWins)
         
Player Season pWins pLosses pWinPct pWOPA pWORL
Lou Gehrig192725.612.50.6725.77.3
Babe Ruth192730.715.30.6676.98.8
Lefty Grove193123.811.90.6676.47.9