Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
Home     List of Articles



The 1940 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 latter of these.

The Best of 1940

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
1Bob Feller25.016.64.9
6.7
1Bob Feller25.016.64.9
6.7
2Hank Greenberg26.617.33.7
5.5
2Hank Greenberg26.617.33.7
5.5
3Dolph Camilli20.112.03.3
4.6
3Lou Boudreau23.718.63.1
4.8
4Frank McCormick23.115.13.1
4.7
4Arky Vaughan25.220.62.8
4.7
5Lou Boudreau23.718.63.1
4.8
5Frank McCormick23.115.13.1
4.7
6Jimmie Foxx19.112.53.0
4.2
6Dolph Camilli20.112.03.3
4.6
7Joe DiMaggio22.015.22.9
4.4
7Joe DiMaggio22.015.22.9
4.4
8Rudy York21.113.92.8
4.3
8Lonny Frey22.116.92.7
4.3
9Arky Vaughan25.220.62.8
4.7
9Rudy York21.113.92.8
4.3
10Claude Passeau17.913.32.8
4.2
10Jimmie Foxx19.112.53.0
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
1Bob Feller20.715.33.2
4.8
1Bob Feller20.715.33.2
4.8
2Claude Passeau17.813.22.8
4.2
2Hank Greenberg24.417.22.7
4.4
3Hank Greenberg24.417.22.7
4.4
3Arky Vaughan24.420.32.5
4.4
4Johnny Mize20.914.02.7
4.1
4Claude Passeau17.813.22.8
4.2
5Arky Vaughan24.420.32.5
4.4
5Ted Williams24.818.32.4
4.1
6Joe Gordon22.117.22.5
4.1
6Johnny Mize20.914.02.7
4.1
7Ted Williams24.818.32.4
4.1
7Joe Gordon22.117.22.5
4.1
8Lou Boudreau22.218.82.3
3.9
8Lou Boudreau22.218.82.3
3.9
9Jimmie Foxx18.012.92.2
3.4
9Mel Ott21.416.22.1
3.6
10Rudy York19.613.82.2
3.5
10Rudy York19.613.82.2
3.5


Bob Feller
The best player in major-league baseball in 1940, as measured by all four measures shown above, was Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller. The 1940 season was probably the best of Bob Feller's career. He opened the season by throwing the only Opening Day no-hitter in major-league history and concluded the season leading the American League in wins (a career-high 27), ERA (2.61, Feller's only time leading his league in ERA), games (43), starts (37), complete games (31), shutouts (4), innings pitched (320.1), hits per nine innings (6.9), WHIP (1.133), and strikeouts (261). It was even the only season between 1938 and 1946 in which Feller pitched at least 10 games and did not lead the American League in walks (Feller walked 118). Put all of that together, and Bob Feller's 1940 season ranks among the top 40 seasons as measured by pWins, pWOPA, and pWORL among the seasons for which I have calculated player won-lost records.

The next table shows the career record of Bob Feller 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
1936CLE17
14
4.83.20.91.3
1937CLE18
26
10.210.20.21.2
1938CLE19
39
18.717.21.33.0
1939CLE20
39
20.415.23.24.9
1940CLE21
43
25.016.64.96.7
1941CLE22
44
23.917.44.05.8
1945CLE26
9
4.74.50.20.7
1946CLE27
48
27.320.04.46.7
1947CLE28
42
20.617.12.44.0
1948CLE29
44
18.918.30.92.5
1949CLE30
36
12.514.2-0.50.6
1950CLE31
35
16.314.01.73.1
1951CLE32
33
17.313.22.53.8
1952CLE33
30
10.512.9-0.80.2
1953CLE34
25
10.49.60.81.7
1954CLE35
19
10.17.51.72.5
1955CLE36
25
3.54.6-0.5-0.1
1956CLE37
19
1.53.2-0.8-0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
570
256.6218.926.448.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
2
0.71.4-0.3-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
572
257.3220.326.147.7


Hank Greenberg
Despite the eye-popping numbers put up by Bob Feller, he did not win the American League MVP award in 1940. On the one hand, Player won-lost records suggest that this was unquestionably a mistake. On the other hand, the player who did win the MVP award finished second in three of the four tables above and third in the fourth table (eWOPA). Hank Greenberg led the American League in doubles (50), home runs (41), total bases (384), slugging percentage (.670), OPS (1.103), and RBI (150), while batting .340 with a .433 on-base percentage and 129 runs scored. Maybe not quite as good a season as Feller had, but very impressive nevertheless.

The next table shows the career record of Hank Greenberg 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
1930DET19
1
0.00.0-0.0-0.0
1933DET22
117
11.511.8-0.60.3
1934DET23
153
17.913.50.92.3
1935DET24
152
21.014.92.13.6
1936DET25
12
1.60.80.30.4
1937DET26
154
20.513.92.23.6
1938DET27
155
23.414.43.14.6
1939DET28
138
17.812.41.62.9
1940DET29
148
26.617.33.75.5
1941DET30
19
2.72.40.00.3
1945DET34
78
12.38.91.42.2
1946DET35
142
20.913.62.53.9
1947PIT36
125
13.612.10.11.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,394
189.6136.217.330.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
23
3.93.20.20.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,417
193.5139.417.531.1


Arky Vaughan
The MVP race in the National League was much more wide open than the AL race. The actual winner of the award was Frank McCormick, who finished in the top two in the NL in both pWOPA and pWORL. A reasonable choice, all things considered, although he probably wouldn't have gotten my vote.

Only one NL player appears in all four of the tables above, Hall-of-Fame shortstop Arky Vaughan (who finished 15th in actual Hall-of-Fame voting).

The 1940 season was not Arky Vaughan's best - that was probably 1935 when he led the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage (.385/.491/.607) - but it was an excellent season. Vaughan batted .300/.393/.453 and led the NL in games played (156), plate appearances (689), runs scored (113), and triples (15).

The next table shows the career record of Arky Vaughan 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
1932PIT20
129
18.617.11.02.5
1933PIT21
152
24.419.03.14.8
1934PIT22
149
23.521.51.23.2
1935PIT23
137
23.915.54.46.0
1936PIT24
156
24.920.22.84.8
1937PIT25
126
20.515.02.94.4
1938PIT26
148
22.119.41.53.2
1939PIT27
152
21.620.51.02.8
1940PIT28
156
25.220.62.84.7
1941PIT29
106
13.412.80.51.6
1942BRO30
127
17.613.41.93.1
1943BRO31
149
22.018.61.83.4
1947BRO35
64
5.83.80.91.3
1948BRO36
65
4.74.40.00.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,816
268.4221.925.846.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
3
0.10.10.00.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,819
268.5222.025.846.2


1940 Postseason

The 1940 World Series was the only World Series between 1936 and 1943 which did not feature the New York Yankees (who finished in third place, two games out of first). Instead, the American League was represented by the last team before the Yankees to win the AL pennant (in 1935), the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers' opponent was back for the second consecutive year. After being swept in the 1939 World Series, the Cincinnnati Reds won the 1940 World Series in seven games.

The top performances of the 1940 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the next table.

1940 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Bucky WaltersCIN1.30.70.4
Paul DerringerCIN1.71.30.4
Jimmy RippleCIN1.20.60.3
Tommy BridgesDET0.80.30.3
Billy MyersCIN1.00.80.2
Myron McCormickCIN1.00.70.2
Barney McCoskyDET1.10.80.2
Billy WerberCIN1.00.80.2
Bobo NewsomDET1.21.20.2
Pinky HigginsDET1.00.90.2


The top World Series performers were Reds' starting pitchers Bucky Walters and Paul Derringer, who won two games apiece, and outfielder Jimmy Ripple, who led all Reds' hitters with 6 RBI in the series.

Best of 1940 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 1940 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Johnny Mize17.310.63.1
Hank Greenberg16.910.23.1

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Gordon1.81.00.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bob Feller17.112.54.6
Claude Passeau14.410.63.8


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Larry French0.90.50.4


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ray Berres1.31.10.2


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Frank McCormick2.62.00.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lonny Frey6.95.41.5


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Red Rolfe4.83.90.9


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Boudreau7.45.51.9


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Myron McCormick2.61.70.9


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Terry Moore6.04.91.0


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mel Ott4.94.10.8


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1940 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
Jimmie Foxx6.13.81.2
Ernie Lombardi10.78.81.2


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Johnny Mize20.714.32.4


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Gordon21.817.62.2


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Harlond Clift18.415.41.4


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Arky Vaughan23.920.32.3


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hank Greenberg24.117.62.3


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio19.715.11.8


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mel Ott15.612.21.2


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Feller17.312.42.5


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Beggs3.82.70.5


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 1940 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1940, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Hugh Casey9.37.60.5481.01.9
Joe Beggs5.23.50.5970.91.5
Clint Brown4.63.60.5650.61.1
Al Benton5.95.40.5220.31.0
Pete Appleton3.42.30.5960.61.0


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
Vern Kennedy1.81.80.5


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Chet Laabs1.30.70.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hal Wagner0.10.00.0
Alex Monchak0.10.00.0
Vince DiMaggio0.10.00.0


Notable Debuts
One player debuted in 1940 who would go on to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Pee Wee Reese. In addition, one other Hall-of-Famer, Hal Newhouser, played his first full season (he played exactly one game in his debut season, 1939).

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

Pee Wee Reese
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1940BRO21
84
12.010.40.5361.1
2.0
11.810.70.5260.81.8
1941BRO22
152
20.418.50.5241.1
2.8
19.119.10.5000.21.8
1942BRO23
151
22.417.80.5572.6
4.2
20.918.60.5291.43.0
1946BRO27
152
23.116.40.5843.6
5.2
21.818.60.5401.93.5
1947BRO28
142
20.514.70.5822.9
4.3
19.616.60.5411.42.9
1948BRO29
151
21.017.50.5462.0
3.5
22.319.30.5361.73.4
1949BRO30
155
23.616.60.5873.7
5.4
23.018.30.5572.64.3
1950BRO31
141
20.014.90.5732.8
4.2
19.217.20.5271.32.7
1951BRO32
154
22.918.10.5582.9
4.5
22.319.30.5362.03.6
1952BRO33
149
19.214.90.5642.4
3.7
20.417.60.5371.63.1
1953BRO34
139
19.813.60.5933.5
4.9
19.416.30.5442.03.4
1954BRO35
141
21.715.80.5783.4
4.9
20.316.50.5512.33.8
1955BRO36
145
18.816.50.5321.5
3.0
18.717.90.5110.82.3
1956BRO37
147
19.917.40.5331.7
3.3
18.617.70.5120.92.4
1957BRO38
103
10.110.80.484-0.3
0.6
9.411.10.459-0.80.0
1958LAN39
58
5.34.60.5310.4
0.8
5.04.60.5210.30.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,164
300.7238.70.55835.2
57.0
291.9259.60.52920.442.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
44
5.15.50.482 0.35.75.70.500 0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,208
305.8244.20.558
57.3
297.6265.30.529 43.3


Hal Newhouser
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1939DET18
1
0.50.60.463-0.0
0.0
0.30.30.462-0.00.0
1940DET19
28
8.19.60.456-0.6
0.3
8.19.40.465-0.40.4
1941DET20
33
10.412.10.461-0.5
0.5
10.411.80.469-0.30.6
1942DET21
39
11.211.70.4900.1
1.1
10.810.70.5030.31.3
1943DET22
37
12.112.90.482-0.1
1.0
11.911.70.5030.41.5
1944DET23
47
21.513.90.6074.4
6.0
19.114.70.5662.84.3
1945DET24
40
22.114.50.6044.4
6.1
20.114.60.5793.35.0
1946DET25
37
22.514.40.6094.7
6.4
18.814.30.5692.94.5
1947DET26
40
19.116.90.5301.7
3.2
18.716.20.5361.93.3
1948DET27
39
19.814.90.5703.1
4.5
17.413.90.5562.33.7
1949DET28
38
17.914.90.5462.0
3.3
19.716.30.5472.33.7
1950DET29
35
14.714.80.4970.5
1.9
13.214.00.4860.11.4
1951DET30
16
6.45.90.5180.4
0.9
6.65.60.5430.71.2
1952DET31
26
8.79.00.4940.2
1.0
9.59.20.5070.51.3
1953DET32
7
1.22.10.373-0.4
-0.2
1.32.00.392-0.3-0.1
1954CLE33
26
3.32.60.5570.3
0.7
2.11.70.5510.20.4
1955CLE34
2
0.10.10.509-0.0
0.0
0.10.20.365-0.0-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
491
199.4171.00.53820.3
36.8
188.2166.50.53016.732.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
4
1.51.60.490 0.21.41.30.522 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
495
200.9172.60.538
37.0
189.6167.90.530 32.7




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.

Home     List of Articles