Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1939 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



In its summer 2018 release, Retrosheet released complete play-by-play for two new seasons: 1939 and 1940. This article looks at the former of these.

The Best of 1939

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
1Bucky Walters22.514.84.6
6.3
1Bucky Walters22.514.84.6
6.3
2Joe DiMaggio22.012.64.3
5.7
2Joe DiMaggio22.012.64.3
5.7
3Bill Dickey17.110.33.7
4.8
3Paul Derringer19.513.63.6
5.1
4Paul Derringer19.513.63.6
5.1
4Bob Feller20.415.23.2
4.9
5Lonny Frey19.312.73.4
4.7
5Bill Dickey17.110.33.7
4.8
6Bob Feller20.415.23.2
4.9
6Joe Gordon23.117.03.1
4.8
7George Selkirk19.312.13.2
4.5
7Ted Williams24.917.33.0
4.7
8Red Ruffing16.511.43.2
4.4
8Lonny Frey19.312.73.4
4.7
9Joe Gordon23.117.03.1
4.8
9Red Rolfe21.815.43.0
4.6
10Emil 'Dutch' Leonard17.812.63.1
4.5
10Emil 'Dutch' Leonard17.812.63.1
4.5


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
1Joe DiMaggio19.912.43.4
4.7
1Bucky Walters20.515.73.1
4.8
2Bucky Walters20.515.73.1
4.8
2Joe DiMaggio19.912.43.4
4.7
3Bob Feller20.115.42.9
4.6
3Bob Feller20.115.42.9
4.6
4Jimmie Foxx18.210.82.7
3.9
4Indian Bob Johnson22.717.12.4
4.1
5George Selkirk18.412.32.6
3.9
5George Selkirk18.412.32.6
3.9
6Bill Dickey15.410.82.6
3.7
6Jimmie Foxx18.210.82.7
3.9
7Ted Lyons12.07.62.6
3.5
7Bill Dickey15.410.82.6
3.7
8Indian Bob Johnson22.717.12.4
4.1
8Arky Vaughan23.320.71.8
3.7
9Mel Ott17.712.02.4
3.6
9Ted Williams23.117.62.0
3.7
10Johnny Mize20.313.52.1
3.6
10Mel Ott17.712.02.4
3.6


Based on Player won-lost records, the MVP voters did very well in 1939.
Bucky Walters
The top player in 1939 by three of four measures above was Cincinnati Reds pitching ace, Bucky Walters. Walters led the National League in wins (27), ERA (2.29), strikeouts (137), innings pitched (319), games started (36), and complete games (31). He also batted .325/.357/.433 with 16 runs scored and 16 RBI. For all of that, Walters was elected National League MVP.

The next table shows the career record of Bucky Walters as measured by Player won-lost records. Numbers in italics include extrapolated data for games which Retrosheet is missing.

Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1931BSN22
9
0.71.2-0.2-0.2
1932BSN23
22
1.52.6-0.5-0.3
1933BOS24
52
5.76.5-0.40.1
25
106
10.211.4-0.50.4
1935PHI26
49
9.29.60.11.0
1936PHI27
64
14.622.5-3.5-1.7
1937PHI28
56
16.613.91.83.2
29
51
14.213.70.82.1
1939CIN30
40
22.514.84.66.3
1940CIN31
37
19.816.42.33.9
1941CIN32
39
19.216.81.83.4
1942CIN33
39
16.713.72.13.3
1943CIN34
37
16.715.51.12.5
1944CIN35
37
19.313.03.75.1
1945CIN36
24
11.39.51.32.2
1946CIN37
24
9.58.80.71.5
1947CIN38
20
8.49.5-0.30.5
1948CIN39
7
1.72.4-0.3-0.1
1950BSN41
1
0.00.1-0.0-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
714
217.6201.814.633.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
4
2.01.70.20.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
718
219.6203.514.833.5


Joe DiMaggio
Walters was first in three of the four tables above. The player who led in the fourth table, eWins over positional average (eWOPA), was Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio led the American League in batting average at .381 with an on-base percentage of .448 and a slugging percentage of .671. He added 30 home runs, 126 RBI, and 108 runs scored. He was also the best defensive center fielder in the major leagues (at least as measured by Player won-lost records). This earned DiMaggio the first of his three American League MVP awards.

The next table shows the career record of Joe DiMaggio as measured by Player won-lost records. Numbers in italics include extrapolated data for games which Retrosheet is missing.

Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1936NYA21
138
22.415.72.94.5
1937NYA22
151
29.517.85.57.5
1938NYA23
145
23.816.43.24.9
1939NYA24
120
22.012.64.35.7
1940NYA25
132
22.015.22.94.4
1941NYA26
139
25.015.53.95.7
1942NYA27
154
25.417.03.95.6
1946NYA31
132
19.116.61.02.4
1947NYA32
141
21.614.63.14.5
1948NYA33
153
25.818.03.14.9
1949NYA34
76
12.58.21.92.7
1950NYA35
139
20.915.22.43.8
1951NYA36
116
16.313.41.12.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,736
286.2196.139.158.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
51
7.55.80.71.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,787
293.7201.939.960.1


1939 Postseason

The 1939 postseason was a matchup of contrasts. Representing the American League for the fourth consecutive season was the New York Yankees. Representing the National League was the Cincinnati Reds, making their first World Series appearance in twenty years. The Yankees won their fourth consecutive World Series, their second consecutive World Series sweep. The top performances of the 1939 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the next table.

1939 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Charlie KellerNYA1.50.30.7
Red RuffingNYA0.70.20.3
Bill DickeyNYA0.70.30.3


The most valuable player of the 1939 World Series, by a wide margin, was Yankees' rookie outfielder Charlie Keller. Keller batted .438/.471/1.188 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI, and 8 runs scored in the four-game sweep. Keller scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 1, hit two 2-run home runs in the Yankees' 7-3 Game 3 win, and scored 3 runs in the Yankees' 7-4 Game 4 win

Best of 1939 by Factor and Position

Next, let's look at the top players in (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over Positional Average in various aspects of the game. The numbers in this section have all been normalized to extrapolate player games for which I am missing play-by-play data. As above, this adjustment is based on individual player games for which I have play-by-play data.
Best by Factor: Batting, Baserunning, Pitching, Fielding
There are four basic factors for which players earn Player won-lost records: Batting, Baserunning, Pitching, and Fielding. The top players in 1939 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jimmie Foxx14.98.23.1
Johnny Mize16.810.23.0

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ben Chapman1.61.00.3
Gee Walker1.61.00.3

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bob Feller16.312.73.6
Ted Lyons9.15.93.1
Tommy Bridges10.67.92.7
Bucky Walters15.312.62.7
Lefty Grove10.17.52.6


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Danny MacFayden0.80.40.3
Kirby Higbe0.50.20.3
Ira Hutchinson0.40.10.3
Alex Carrasquel0.40.20.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bill Dickey1.61.20.5


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dolph Camilli2.92.50.4


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lonny Frey5.14.40.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ken Keltner5.54.60.9


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Frankie Crosetti7.46.21.2


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Augie Galan7.46.60.8


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe DiMaggio4.93.81.1


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Enos Slaughter8.56.42.1


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1939 Major-League leaders in eWOPA by position. The figures shown here only include Player decisions earned while playing this particular position, and include no contextual adjustments (expected or actual).



Catcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bill Dickey15.310.82.5


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jimmie Foxx18.011.12.4


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lonny Frey18.215.11.6


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Billy Werber20.618.01.1


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Arky Vaughan23.320.91.7


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Indian Bob Johnson19.415.31.7


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio19.612.73.1


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mel Ott14.710.11.8


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Feller16.512.91.9


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Clint Brown6.45.30.5


For relief pitchers, context-neutral records may not be the best measure of how good they are, as context can matter a great deal, depending on how a pitcher is used. Here are the top relief pitchers of 1939 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1939, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Clint Brown7.95.70.5791.12.0
Joe Heving7.15.10.5821.11.8
Johnny Murphy4.83.00.6110.91.4
Emerson Dickman6.14.90.5540.61.4
Clyde Shoun4.93.70.5740.71.2


Finally, here are the best at three oft-forgotten positions that can nevertheless matter: pitcher offense, pinch hitting, and pinch running.

Pitcher Offense
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bucky Walters2.72.40.7
Curt Davis2.21.70.7


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lou Finney1.40.90.3
Chuck Klein1.10.60.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lynn King0.10.10.0


Notable Debuts
Three players debuted in 1941 who would go on to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Stan Musial, Bob Lemon, and Phil Rizzuto.

This article concludes with the career records of these three players, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Stan Musial
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1941SLN20
12
1.81.10.6250.3
0.4
2.01.20.6190.30.4
1942SLN21
140
20.613.10.6123.0
4.4
19.114.10.5761.83.1
1943SLN22
157
27.817.60.6124.2
5.9
26.619.30.5792.74.5
1944SLN23
146
25.215.70.6174.0
5.6
24.515.90.6073.55.2
1946SLN25
156
22.716.20.5842.2
3.7
22.916.60.5802.03.6
1947SLN26
149
19.813.80.5902.1
3.5
18.814.90.5581.12.4
1948SLN27
155
27.918.40.6023.8
5.6
27.618.40.6003.65.5
1949SLN28
157
25.016.80.5983.5
5.2
24.117.30.5812.84.4
1950SLN29
146
20.516.00.5621.5
3.0
20.716.90.5511.22.6
1951SLN30
152
23.316.40.5872.7
4.3
23.316.40.5872.74.3
1952SLN31
154
22.716.80.5752.4
4.0
22.717.10.5702.23.8
1953SLN32
157
25.918.40.5852.9
4.7
24.417.90.5772.44.2
1954SLN33
153
23.319.30.5471.6
3.4
25.519.60.5652.54.4
1955SLN34
153
20.415.30.5711.8
3.3
20.015.10.5701.73.2
1956SLN35
156
18.417.30.515-0.2
1.2
19.716.70.5410.72.2
1957SLN36
134
17.811.70.6042.4
3.6
16.912.60.5731.52.7
1958SLN37
135
13.311.10.5450.6
1.5
14.111.70.5480.71.7
1959SLN38
115
9.19.90.480-0.7
0.0
9.79.20.515-0.10.7
1960SLN39
116
12.59.60.5671.0
1.9
11.19.40.5430.41.3
1961SLN40
123
14.213.10.5200.2
1.4
12.711.60.5240.21.3
1962SLN41
135
16.714.60.5320.3
1.5
16.413.30.5510.82.0
1963SLN42
124
12.010.20.5410.4
1.3
10.39.70.516-0.10.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
3,025
420.9312.10.57439.9
69.4
413.1314.70.56834.864.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
23
2.92.20.563 0.42.82.50.522 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
3,048
423.8314.30.574
69.8
415.9317.20.568 64.3


Bob Lemon
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1941CLE20
4
0.00.10.210-0.0
-0.0
0.10.10.376-0.0-0.0
1942CLE21
4
0.00.10.001-0.0
-0.0
0.00.10.089-0.1-0.1
1946CLE25
52
5.16.20.453-0.4
0.2
5.96.50.475-0.20.5
1947CLE26
43
10.48.00.5651.5
2.3
10.210.10.5030.41.3
1948CLE27
47
19.815.70.5582.8
4.3
19.615.20.5643.04.4
1949CLE28
45
21.414.60.5944.1
5.5
20.115.90.5582.84.2
1950CLE29
72
23.018.90.5502.9
4.9
20.319.50.5101.23.1
1951CLE30
56
18.715.90.5411.9
3.5
17.016.10.5130.92.4
1952CLE31
50
20.315.90.5623.0
4.6
19.716.20.5492.54.1
1953CLE32
48
19.918.40.5201.6
3.2
17.817.40.5060.92.5
1954CLE33
39
17.712.70.5823.2
4.6
16.814.00.5472.23.6
1955CLE34
48
14.712.90.5321.4
2.5
14.114.20.4990.51.6
1956CLE35
43
19.115.70.5502.4
4.0
16.514.80.5281.52.9
1957CLE36
25
7.29.30.437-0.8
-0.1
6.78.50.441-0.60.0
1958CLE37
15
1.01.30.449-0.1
0.0
1.32.10.384-0.4-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
591
198.4165.40.54523.5
39.6
186.1170.50.52214.630.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
5
2.01.90.512 0.32.12.10.501 0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
596
200.4167.30.545
39.9
188.2172.70.522 30.7


Phil Rizzuto
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1941NYA23
132
16.815.20.5261.0
2.4
16.716.20.5080.41.9
1942NYA24
144
21.016.00.5672.7
4.2
18.917.30.5211.02.5
1946NYA28
125
15.615.40.5040.3
1.6
15.516.10.491-0.11.2
1947NYA29
153
20.417.60.5371.4
2.9
19.218.20.5130.41.9
1948NYA30
128
15.215.40.4970.1
1.3
15.215.60.494-0.01.2
1949NYA31
153
20.817.70.5391.8
3.3
20.019.20.5090.62.2
1950NYA32
155
22.217.60.5582.7
4.2
21.818.10.5462.23.8
1951NYA33
144
19.916.90.5411.9
3.4
17.617.90.4960.31.7
1952NYA34
152
20.118.00.5271.2
2.7
18.518.70.4970.01.5
1953NYA35
134
15.112.80.5421.4
2.6
15.214.40.5140.71.9
1954NYA36
127
10.410.00.5100.4
1.3
10.011.40.467-0.50.4
1955NYA37
80
4.94.90.5000.1
0.5
5.35.40.4980.10.5
1956NYA38
31
1.91.80.5050.1
0.2
1.82.20.451-0.10.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,658
204.2179.20.53315.1
30.5
195.7190.70.5065.120.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
52
6.15.60.520 0.86.56.30.509 0.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,710
210.3184.80.533
31.3
202.2197.00.506 21.3




All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.

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