Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1946 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



I have recently updated my Player won-lost records to incorporate Retrosheet's latest release of play-by-play data. This included the release of deduced games to complete two more seasons of data. So, I am now able to calculate complete play-by-play data for every season since 1946. This article looks at the earliest season, then, for which I currently have complete play-by-play data: 1946.

The 1946 season saw the return of a large number of great baseball players from World War II and an increase in MLB attendance of more than 70%. The two leagues' MVP awards were won by players who are arguably among the top 10 players in major-league history: Ted Williams and Stan Musial, and ended with a classic 7-game World Series played between Williams's and Musial's teams.

The Best of 1946

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
1Ted Williams28.415.45.6
7.4
1Ted Williams28.415.45.6
7.4
2Hal Newhouser23.114.84.8
6.6
2Bob Feller27.720.34.5
6.8
3Bob Feller27.720.34.5
6.8
3Hal Newhouser23.114.84.8
6.6
4Bobby Doerr25.216.94.3
6.1
4Bobby Doerr25.216.94.3
6.1
5Pee Wee Reese22.315.83.5
5.0
5Pee Wee Reese22.315.83.5
5.0
6Tex Hughson19.113.93.1
4.7
6Tex Hughson19.113.93.1
4.7
7Johnny Pesky22.717.23.0
4.7
7Johnny Pesky22.717.23.0
4.7
8Howie Pollet19.614.92.9
4.6
8Howie Pollet19.614.92.9
4.6
9Dave Ferriss17.913.52.8
4.3
9Enos Slaughter25.718.72.6
4.5
10Johnny Sain19.114.82.8
4.4
10Charlie Keller24.016.72.8
4.4


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 Williams28.416.05.3
7.1
1Ted Williams28.416.05.3
7.1
2Hal Newhouser19.814.73.2
4.8
2Bob Feller24.119.13.2
5.2
3Bob Feller24.119.13.2
5.2
3Hal Newhouser19.814.73.2
4.8
4Johnny Sain17.813.92.5
4.0
4Charlie Keller22.615.92.5
4.1
5Charlie Keller22.615.92.5
4.1
5Johnny Pesky22.818.62.3
4.1
6Johnny Pesky22.818.62.3
4.1
6Johnny Sain17.813.92.5
4.0
7Hank Greenberg19.212.52.3
3.6
7Enos Slaughter24.819.02.0
3.8
8Spud Chandler16.212.92.1
3.5
8Stan Musial22.916.42.1
3.8
9Stan Musial22.916.42.1
3.8
9Hank Greenberg19.212.52.3
3.6
10Enos Slaughter24.819.02.0
3.8
10Bobby Doerr21.418.01.9
3.5


The top three players in pWins over both positional average and replacement level in 1946 are now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I take a closer look at these three players next.
Ted Williams
The best player in major-league baseball in 1946, as measured by either pWins or eWins over either positional average or replacement level was Boston Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams. Williams even led the major leagues in raw pWins and eWins.

As measured by Player won-lost records, 1946 was the best season in Ted Williams's career, although I am missing play-by-play data for 278 games of Ted Williams's career prior to World War II. Controlling for context, Ted Williams's 1946 season - .342/.497/.667, 38 HR, 142 R, 123 RBI, 156 W - was the second-best season for which I have calculated Player won-lost records, behind Babe Ruth's legendary 1927 season.

The top 10 single seasons in pWins and eWins over positional average and replacement level are shown next.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          pWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player Season pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player Season pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Babe Ruth192730.715.36.9
8.8
1Babe Ruth192730.715.36.9
8.8
2Lefty Grove193123.811.96.4
7.9
2Sandy Koufax196525.514.96.3
8.2
3Sandy Koufax196525.514.96.3
8.2
3Steve Carlton197225.715.26.2
8.0
4Steve Carlton197225.715.26.2
8.0
4Lefty Grove193123.811.96.4
7.9
5Dwight Gooden198521.411.06.1
7.6
5Dwight Gooden198521.411.06.1
7.6
6Lou Gehrig192725.612.55.7
7.3
6Barry Bonds200127.915.15.5
7.4
7Lefty Grove193022.412.05.7
7.2
7Ted Williams194628.415.45.6
7.4
8Ted Williams194628.415.45.6
7.4
8Lou Gehrig192725.612.55.7
7.3
9Mickey Mantle195725.212.85.5
7.1
9Joe DiMaggio193728.417.05.3
7.2
10Sandy Koufax196322.913.55.5
7.2
10Lefty Grove193022.412.05.7
7.2


eWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          eWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player Season eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL           Player Season eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1Babe Ruth192728.715.55.8
7.6
1Babe Ruth192728.715.55.8
7.6
2Barry Bonds200127.715.15.4
7.3
2Barry Bonds200127.715.15.4
7.3
3Ted Williams194628.416.05.3
7.1
3Ted Williams194628.416.05.3
7.1
4Barry Bonds200423.812.05.1
6.6
4Barry Bonds200423.812.05.1
6.6
5Roger Clemens199717.68.34.9
6.4
5Roger Clemens199717.68.34.9
6.4
6Barry Bonds200223.512.34.8
6.3
6Alex Rodriguez200124.316.54.6
6.4
7Mickey Mantle195723.913.14.7
6.2
7Carl Yastrzemski196728.417.34.3
6.3
8Joe L. Morgan197623.014.24.6
6.0
8Sandy Koufax196522.615.44.6
6.3
9Sandy Koufax196522.615.44.6
6.3
9Barry Bonds200223.512.34.8
6.3
10Alex Rodriguez200124.316.54.6
6.4
10Steve Carlton197223.316.04.6
6.3


Ted Williams's career record, as measured by Player won-lost record (for the games for which I have play-by-play data), is shown in the next table.

Ted Williams
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1939BOS20
88
14.910.70.5811.6
2.7
13.510.30.5681.22.2
1940BOS21
81
12.59.10.5781.2
2.2
13.79.70.5841.52.5
1941BOS22
75
13.18.80.5991.7
2.8
14.28.20.6352.63.7
1942BOS23
64
13.06.50.6682.8
3.7
11.47.20.6131.62.5
1946BOS27
150
28.415.40.6495.6
7.4
28.416.00.6405.37.1
1947BOS28
156
26.918.00.5993.3
5.2
27.717.20.6174.15.9
1948BOS29
137
25.615.10.6284.3
6.0
24.716.30.6043.35.0
1949BOS30
155
27.017.30.6093.6
5.4
27.917.90.6103.75.6
1950BOS31
89
14.111.10.5601.1
2.1
15.310.60.5911.92.9
1951BOS32
148
24.319.00.5611.6
3.4
24.918.60.5732.13.9
1952BOS33
6
0.90.20.7890.3
0.4
0.70.20.7430.20.2
1953BOS34
37
5.92.80.6751.4
1.8
5.02.70.6441.01.3
1954BOS35
117
18.912.90.5952.5
3.8
20.112.50.6173.24.6
1955BOS36
98
16.410.40.6112.6
3.7
16.110.20.6112.63.7
1956BOS37
136
17.812.60.5851.9
3.2
18.112.50.5922.13.4
1957BOS38
132
20.914.20.5962.3
3.8
21.513.10.6223.24.6
1958BOS39
129
18.014.90.5480.7
1.9
18.714.50.5631.22.5
1959BOS40
103
10.39.40.5220.2
1.0
9.79.40.510-0.10.7
1960BOS41
112
14.111.40.5520.7
1.8
14.410.50.5771.32.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,013
323.1220.00.59539.3
62.1
326.0217.40.60042.064.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
7
0.70.80.468 -0.00.90.90.499 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,020
323.9220.80.595
62.0
326.9218.30.600 64.8


Hal Newhouser
The 1946 season capped off a three-year run by Hal Newhouser in which he amassed a traditional won-lost record of 80-27 with a 1.99 ERA over 918.1 IP. That works out to an average record of 27-9 and 306 innings pitched per season. Of course, the 1944 and 1945 seasons come with a fairly large caveat: because of World War II, many of the best players of the era were not playing major-league baseball (including, for example, the other two players profiled here, Ted Williams and Bob Feller). Newhouser's 1946 season - 26-9, 1.94 ERA, 275 K, in 292.2 IP - would seem to suggest, though, that at his best, Newhouser could pitch against anybody. Unfortunately, in a story far too familiar to baseball fans, 918 IP from age 23 - 25 caught up with Newhouser and, while he was quite good for four more seasons, he never came close to approaching his 1946 level and was never able to start even 20 games in a season after the age of 29.

But Hal Newhouser always had that 1946 season. The next table shows the top 20 seasons by a pitcher in pWORL for all seasons for which I have calculated Player won-lost records (note: I am missing 0 of the 87 games in which Hal Newhouser pitched in 1944-45; I do not know, therefore, where those seasons might rank on this list once those seasons are completed).

pWins over Replacement Level
Top 20 Single Seasons by a Pitcher
(as measured by pWORL)
Player Season pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Sandy Koufax196525.514.96.3
8.2
2Steve Carlton197225.715.26.2
8.0
3Lefty Grove193123.811.96.4
7.9
4Dwight Gooden198521.411.06.1
7.6
5Lefty Grove193022.412.05.7
7.2
6Sandy Koufax196322.913.55.5
7.2
7Bob Feller194025.517.14.8
6.8
8Juan Marichal196623.114.45.2
6.8
9Bob Feller194627.720.34.5
6.8
10Bucky Walters193923.315.04.9
6.7
11Whit Wyatt194121.112.65.0
6.7
12Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson200219.410.65.2
6.7
13Hal Newhouser194623.114.84.8
6.6
14Dean Chance196420.512.04.9
6.6
15Bob Gibson197022.113.95.1
6.5
16Greg Maddux199516.67.75.2
6.4
17Denny McLain196923.215.84.6
6.4
18Roger Clemens199718.39.54.7
6.3
19Fergie Jenkins197124.317.74.5
6.3
20Hal Newhouser194522.714.94.5
6.3