Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1941 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



As I write this in the spring of 2018, the earliest season for which Retrosheet has released complete play-by-play for all games is 1941. The last major-league season before the United States entered World War II is probably most famous for Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams batting .406.

The Best of 1941

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
1Whit Wyatt20.512.34.8
6.2
1Whit Wyatt20.512.34.8
6.2
2Charlie Keller25.916.44.0
5.9
2Charlie Keller25.916.44.0
5.9
3Bob Feller23.917.44.0
5.8
3Bob Feller23.917.44.0
5.8
4Joe DiMaggio25.015.54.0
5.7
4Joe DiMaggio25.015.54.0
5.7
5Elmer Riddle14.98.63.7
4.7
5Pete Reiser23.615.23.4
5.1
6Pete Reiser23.615.23.4
5.1
6Ted Williams24.416.43.3
5.1
7Ted Williams24.416.43.3
5.1
7Thornton Lee20.315.23.2
4.8
8Thornton Lee20.315.23.2
4.8
8Tommy Henrich22.815.03.1
4.7
9Tommy Henrich22.815.03.1
4.7
9Elmer Riddle14.98.63.7
4.7
10Joe Gordon21.216.32.5
4.1
10Joe Gordon21.216.32.5
4.1


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
1Ted Williams25.215.34.3
6.0
1Ted Williams25.215.34.3
6.0
2Whit Wyatt18.311.84.0
5.2
2Joe DiMaggio24.915.83.7
5.4
3Joe DiMaggio24.915.83.7
5.4
3Whit Wyatt18.311.84.0
5.2
4Charlie Keller22.716.32.5
4.2
4Charlie Keller22.716.32.5
4.2
5Pete Reiser21.014.52.5
4.0
5Pete Reiser21.014.52.5
4.0
6Thornton Lee19.315.92.4
3.9
6Tommy Henrich22.516.12.4
4.0
7Tommy Henrich22.516.12.4
4.0
7Mel Ott23.116.82.3
4.0
8Mel Ott23.116.82.3
4.0
8Cecil Travis22.919.22.1
3.9
9Cecil Travis22.919.22.1
3.9
9Bob Feller22.019.32.1
3.9
10Bob Feller22.019.32.1
3.9
10Thornton Lee19.315.92.4
3.9


Whit Wyatt
The top player in major-league baseball as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level was Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Whitt Wyatt. The 1941 season was by far the best of Wyatt's career. He led the National League in wins (22), shutouts (7), FIP (2.77), WHIP (1.058), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.146). He was second in the NL in ERA (2.34), complete games (23), and strikeouts (176) and third in innings pitched (288.1).

The next table shows the career record of Whit Wyatt 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
1929DET21
4
1.51.8-0.10.0
1930DET22
22
6.96.50.41.1
1931DET23
4
0.50.50.00.1
1932DET24
43
10.712.3-0.50.7
25
36
4.65.7-0.40.2
1934CHA26
23
4.36.2-0.8-0.3
1935CHA27
30
3.23.4-0.00.4
1936CHA28
3
0.00.1-0.0-0.0
1937CLE29
29
3.23.8-0.20.2
1939BRO31
16
6.64.71.11.7
1940BRO32
37
15.713.71.52.8
1941BRO33
40
20.512.34.86.2
1942BRO34
31
16.411.33.14.2
1943BRO35
27
12.07.02.83.6
1944BRO36
11
1.93.2-0.6-0.4
1945PHI37
10
2.53.7-0.5-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
366
110.496.210.420.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
2
1.21.00.10.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
368
111.697.210.620.3


Joe DiMaggio vs. Ted Williams
The top two players in MLB in 1941, as measured by eWins over replacement level, are Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. DiMaggio and Williams finished 1-2 in AL MVP voting. Most modern statistics (e.g., WAR) suggest that the MVP voters got this one wrong, finding Williams to have had a better season than DiMaggio. This is also true here, for eWORL (and eWOPA).

In his book, Ahead of the Curve (which is an excellent read), Brian Kenny devoted a chapter to DiMaggio's and Williams's 1941 seasons. Using Win Probability, Kenny argues that DiMaggio was actually more valuable than Williams because DiMaggio's performance was particularly "clutch" in context while Williams's performance was not. Win probability is the core of calculating pWins - although pWins differ importantly from Win Probability Advancements (WPA). So, it is perhaps not too surprising to find that I agree with Brian Kenny - and the MVP voters of 1941 - at least as measured by pWins over positional average or replacement level, where DiMaggio beats out Williams at least somewhat decisively.

The next table compares the career records of DiMaggio and Williams in context. Williams, of course, beats DiMaggio decisively in career pWOPA and pWORL. But this is primarily because Williams played for four more full seasons. Over the seasons in which both of them played (1939 - 1942, 1946 - 1951), they were fairly close.

Joe DiMaggio Ted Williams
Season Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1936
13822.215.62.8
4.5
1937
15128.817.65.2
7.2
1938
14523.717.13.0
4.7
1939
12022.012.64.3
5.7
14924.817.33.04.7
1940
13222.015.12.9
4.4
14422.917.32.03.6
1941
13925.015.54.0
5.7
14324.416.43.35.1
1942
15425.417.03.9
5.6
15028.316.54.86.6
1943
 
1944
 
1945
 
1946
13219.116.61.0
2.4
15028.415.55.57.2
1947
14121.614.63.1
4.5
15627.018.03.45.2
1948
15325.718.03.1
4.9
13725.615.64.15.7
1949
7612.58.21.9
2.7
15526.717.33.65.3
1950
13920.915.22.4
3.8
8914.111.11.12.1
1951
11616.213.41.1
2.3
14824.119.01.63.3
1952
 
60.90.20.30.4
1953
 
375.83.01.31.7
1954
 
11718.813.02.43.7
1955
 
9816.210.42.53.6
1956
 
13617.912.81.93.2
1957
 
13220.913.92.43.9
1958
 
12917.815.00.51.8
1959
 
10310.39.40.21.0
1960
 
11214.011.50.71.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,736285.2196.638.7
58.3
2,291368.9253.144.469.7
COMMON SEASONS1,302210.4146.227.6
42.0
1,421246.4164.032.248.8


Charlie Keller
In the analysis of Joe DiMaggio vs. Ted Williams, Player won-lost records offer a twist. As measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level, it turns out that neither DiMaggio nor Williams were the most valuable player in the American League in 1941. Instead, the AL leader in pWOPA and pWORL in 1941 was DiMaggio's teammate Charlie "King Kong" Keller.

For the season, in 1941, Keller batted .298/.416/.580 with 33 home runs, 102 runs scored, and 122 RBI. DiMaggio beat Keller in all of these numbers except for home runs. But, while DiMaggio's performance was more clutch than that of Ted Williams, Keller's performance was even more "clutch" than DiMaggio's.

The next table shows the career record of Charlie Keller 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
1939NYA22
111
16.111.22.03.2
1940NYA23
138
21.716.71.73.3
1941NYA24
140
25.916.44.05.9
1942NYA25
152
24.616.23.24.9
1943NYA26
141
25.116.03.85.4
1945NYA28
44
7.75.31.01.5
1946NYA29
150
24.017.02.64.2
1947NYA30
45
8.05.51.01.5
1948NYA31
83
9.07.60.31.0
1949NYA32
60
4.83.90.30.7
1950DET33
50
2.11.50.40.6
1951DET34
53
2.52.50.00.3
1952NYA35
2
0.00.0-0.0-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,169
171.4119.820.432.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
19
3.82.00.81.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,188
175.1121.821.133.3


Bob Feller
Finally, the top pitcher in the American League in 1941 was Bob Feller, who finished the season with a traditional won-lost record of 25 - 13 with a 3.15 ERA. Feller led the American League in wins, games (44), games started (40), shutouts (6), innings pitched (343.0), and strikeouts (260).

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
4.83.10.91.3
1937CLE18
26
10.09.90.31.2
1938CLE19
39
19.716.62.13.6
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
16.214.01.73.1
1951CLE32
33
17.313.22.53.8
1952CLE33
30
10.512.9-0.80.2
1953CLE34
25
10.49.60.81.6
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
257.4217.827.448.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
2
0.71.4-0.3-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
572
258.0219.227.048.3


1941 Postseason

The 1941 World Series pitted the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first of what would eventually be seven matchups before the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles (with four more matchups between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers). The Yankees won the 1941 World Series in five games.

The top performances of the 1941 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the next table.

1941 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Joe GordonNYA1.00.40.3
Marius RussoNYA0.80.30.3
Red RuffingNYA0.80.40.3
Charlie KellerNYA1.10.60.3
Tiny BonhamNYA0.80.30.3
Whit WyattBRO1.21.00.2
Joe DiMaggioNYA0.90.50.2


Best of 1941 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 1941 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams17.07.44.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Stan Hack1.91.20.3

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Whit Wyatt13.99.44.4


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Cliff Melton0.90.60.4


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Tresh1.91.40.5


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe Kuhel2.82.20.6
Johnny Mize2.41.90.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Stringer6.15.30.8


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ken Keltner6.04.81.2


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Boudreau7.05.81.3


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
George Case6.75.70.9


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe DiMaggio6.65.41.2


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tommy Henrich5.84.41.5


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1941 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
Frankie Hayes11.310.90.7


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Dolph Camilli18.412.51.9
Johnny Mize17.411.71.9


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lonny Frey20.018.01.3


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Stan Hack20.517.21.6


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cecil Travis20.717.51.8


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams24.015.13.8


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio24.616.13.4


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Tommy Henrich19.513.92.1


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Whit Wyatt13.79.42.3


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hugh Casey3.22.20.5


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 1941 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1941, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Johnny Murphy5.73.50.6191.11.7
Howie Krist6.24.50.5781.01.5
Mike Ryba6.85.60.5490.71.4
Bob Klinger6.35.70.5250.41.0
Dutch Dietz5.04.10.5500.51.0


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
Whit Wyatt2.32.20.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lew Riggs0.90.50.2
Maurice Van Robays0.50.20.2
Max E. West0.40.10.2
Gabby Hartnett0.70.50.2
Debs Garms0.90.70.2
Fred 'Dixie' Walker0.40.20.2


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bud Stewart0.10.00.0
Pete Coscarart0.10.00.0


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
2.01.20.6180.30.4
1942SLN21
140
20.613.10.6123.0
4.4
19.114.10.5761.83.1
1943SLN22
157
27.817.60.6124.2
5.9
26.519.30.5782.74.5
1944SLN23
146
25.215.60.6174.0
5.6
24.515.80.6073.55.1
1946SLN25
156
22.716.20.5842.2
3.7
22.916.60.5802.03.6
1947SLN26
149
19.913.80.5902.1
3.5
18.814.90.5591.12.4
1948SLN27
155
27.918.40.6023.8
5.6
27.618.40.6003.65.5
1949SLN28
157
25.016.80.5983.5
5.2
24.017.30.5812.84.4
1950SLN29
146
20.516.00.5621.5
3.0
20.716.90.5511.22.6
1951SLN30
152
23.316.40.5872.7
4.3
23.416.40.5872.74.3
1952SLN31
154
22.716.80.5752.4
4.0
22.717.10.5702.23.8
1953SLN32
157
25.918.40.5852.9
4.7
24.517.90.5782.44.2
1954SLN33
153
23.319.20.5471.7
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
19.716.70.5420.72.2
1957SLN36
134
17.811.60.6042.4
3.6
16.912.50.5731.52.7
1958SLN37
135
13.311.10.5450.6
1.5
14.111.70.5480.71.7
1959SLN38
115
9.19.70.483-0.7
0.1
9.79.00.518-0.00.7
1960SLN39
116
12.59.60.5671.0
1.9
11.19.40.5430.41.3
1961SLN40
123
14.212.90.5230.3
1.5
12.711.40.5280.41.5
1962SLN41
135
16.614.50.5340.3
1.5
16.313.20.5520.92.0
1963SLN42
124
12.010.10.5420.5
1.3
10.39.60.516-0.10.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
3,025
420.8311.50.57540.1
69.6
413.0314.10.56835.064.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
23
2.92.20.563 0.42.82.50.522 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
3,048
423.6313.70.575
70.0
415.8316.60.568 64.5


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
5
0.00.10.208-0.0
-0.0
0.10.10.378-0.0-0.0
1942CLE21
5
0.00.10.062-0.0
-0.0
0.00.20.156-0.1-0.1
1946CLE25
54
5.16.20.453-0.4
0.2
5.96.50.475-0.20.5
1947CLE26
47
10.48.00.5651.5
2.3
10.210.10.5030.41.3
1948CLE27
52
19.815.70.5582.8
4.3
19.615.20.5633.04.4
1949CLE28
46
21.414.60.5944.1
5.5
20.015.90.5582.84.2
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
54
20.315.90.5612.9
4.6
19.716.20.5482.54.1
1953CLE32
50
19.918.40.5201.5
3.2
17.817.40.5060.92.5
1954CLE33
40
17.712.70.5823.2
4.6
16.814.00.5462.23.6
1955CLE34
49
14.712.90.5321.4
2.5
14.114.20.4980.51.6
1956CLE35
43
19.115.70.5492.4
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
1.01.30.446-0.1
0.0
1.32.10.383-0.4-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
613
198.3165.40.54523.4
39.5
185.9170.70.52114.430.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
5
2.01.90.512 0.32.12.10.500 0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
618
200.3167.30.545
39.8
188.0172.80.521 30.5


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
133
16.915.20.5261.0
2.4
16.816.30.5070.41.8
1942NYA24
144
21.116.10.5672.7
4.2
18.917.40.5211.02.5
1946NYA28
126
15.715.40.5040.3
1.6
15.516.10.491-0.11.2
1947NYA29
153
20.417.60.5371.4
2.9
19.318.30.5130.41.9
1948NYA30
128
15.215.40.4970.1
1.3
15.215.60.494-0.01.2
1949NYA31
153
20.817.80.5401.8
3.3
20.019.30.5090.62.2
1950NYA32
155
22.317.60.5582.7
4.2
21.818.10.5472.23.8
1951NYA33
144
19.916.90.5411.9
3.4
17.617.90.4960.31.7
1952NYA34
152
20.118.00.5281.2
2.7
18.618.80.4970.01.5
1953NYA35
134
15.112.80.5421.4
2.6
15.314.40.5140.71.9
1954NYA36
127
10.510.00.5110.4
1.3
10.011.40.468-0.50.4
1955NYA37
81
4.94.90.5000.1
0.5
5.35.40.4970.10.5
1956NYA38
31
1.91.80.5040.1
0.2
1.92.30.451-0.20.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,661
204.8179.60.53315.1
30.6
196.2191.20.5065.020.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
52
6.15.60.521 0.86.66.30.510 0.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,713
210.9185.20.533
31.4
202.7197.50.506 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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