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 Williams28.415.65.5
7.3
1Ted Williams28.415.65.5
7.3
2Hal Newhouser22.514.54.7
6.4
2Bob Feller27.320.04.4
6.7
3Bobby Doerr26.317.44.6
6.4
3Hal Newhouser22.514.54.7
6.4
4Bob Feller27.320.04.4
6.7
4Bobby Doerr26.317.44.6
6.4
5Pee Wee Reese23.116.43.5
5.1
5Pee Wee Reese23.116.43.5
5.1
6Tex Hughson19.013.63.3
4.8
6Johnny Pesky23.717.93.1
4.8
7Johnny Pesky23.717.93.1
4.8
7Tex Hughson19.013.63.3
4.8
8Dom DiMaggio21.815.42.9
4.4
8Enos Slaughter25.718.42.8
4.6
9Johnny Sain18.814.52.8
4.3
9Howie Pollet19.014.52.8
4.4
10Enos Slaughter25.718.42.8
4.6
10Dom DiMaggio21.815.42.9
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 Williams28.516.25.2
7.0
1Ted Williams28.516.25.2
7.0
2Bob Feller23.618.73.1
5.2
2Bob Feller23.618.73.1
5.2
3Hal Newhouser19.314.43.1
4.7
3Hal Newhouser19.314.43.1
4.7
4Johnny Sain17.413.52.5
4.0
4Johnny Pesky23.619.42.4
4.1
5Charlie Keller22.716.32.4
4.0
5Johnny Sain17.413.52.5
4.0
6Johnny Pesky23.619.42.4
4.1
6Charlie Keller22.716.32.4
4.0
7Hank Greenberg19.012.52.2
3.5
7Stan Musial23.016.52.1
3.7
8Stan Musial23.016.52.1
3.7
8Bobby Doerr22.518.72.0
3.7
9Bobby Doerr22.518.72.0
3.7
9Enos Slaughter24.519.01.9
3.7
10Johnny Mize14.18.62.0
2.9
10Hank Greenberg19.012.52.2
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 123 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 Ruth192730.615.16.9
8.8
1Babe Ruth192730.615.16.9
8.8
2Lefty Grove193123.311.46.4
7.9
2Sandy Koufax196525.114.56.3
8.1
3Sandy Koufax196525.114.56.3
8.1
3Lefty Grove193123.311.46.4
7.9
4Dwight Gooden198521.311.06.1
7.6
4Steve Carlton197225.114.96.1
7.8
5Steve Carlton197225.114.96.1
7.8
5Dwight Gooden198521.311.06.1
7.6
6Lefty Grove193022.211.55.8
7.3
6Lefty Grove193022.211.55.8
7.3
7Sandy Koufax196322.613.25.5
7.1
7Ted Williams194628.415.65.5
7.3
8Ted Williams194628.415.65.5
7.3
8Barry Bonds200128.015.65.4
7.3
9Lou Gehrig192725.312.85.4
7.0
9Sandy Koufax196322.613.25.5
7.1
10Barry Bonds200128.015.65.4
7.3
10Joe DiMaggio193728.317.05.2
7.1


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 Ruth192728.215.55.6
7.4
1Babe Ruth192728.215.55.6
7.4
2Barry Bonds200128.215.65.4
7.3
2Barry Bonds200128.215.65.4
7.3
3Barry Bonds200424.212.15.3
6.7
3Ted Williams194628.516.25.2
7.0
4Ted Williams194628.516.25.2
7.0
4Barry Bonds200424.212.15.3
6.7
5Barry Bonds200223.912.74.9
6.4
5Roger Clemens199717.78.54.9
6.4
6Roger Clemens199717.78.54.9
6.4
6Barry Bonds200223.912.74.9
6.4
7Steve Carlton197223.115.74.6
6.3
7Steve Carlton197223.115.74.6
6.3
8Mickey Mantle195625.014.44.6
6.2
8Alex Rodriguez200125.017.34.5
6.3
9Mickey Mantle195723.613.14.6
6.1
9Carl Yastrzemski196728.517.44.4
6.3
10Pedro J. Martinez200015.06.24.6
5.7
10Ted Williams194125.715.34.5
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
14.810.70.5811.6
2.7
13.410.30.5661.12.1
1940BOS21
82
12.89.40.5761.2
2.2
13.89.90.5821.52.5
1941BOS22
143
24.416.50.5983.3
5.1
25.715.30.6274.56.3
1942BOS23
150
28.316.50.6324.8
6.6
27.817.00.6204.36.1
1946BOS27
150
28.415.60.6465.5
7.3
28.516.20.6375.27.0
1947BOS28
156
27.018.10.5993.4
5.2
27.717.40.6144.05.9
1948BOS29
137
25.615.70.6214.1
5.7
24.716.40.6023.34.9
1949BOS30
155
26.717.30.6083.6
5.4
27.618.20.6033.55.4
1950BOS31
89
14.111.10.5611.1
2.1
15.310.80.5861.82.8
1951BOS32
148
24.219.10.5591.6
3.3
24.618.70.5692.03.7
1952BOS33
6
0.90.20.7880.3
0.4
0.70.20.7390.20.2
1953BOS34
37
5.93.00.6641.3
1.7
5.12.80.6471.01.3
1954BOS35
117
18.813.00.5912.4
3.7
20.012.80.6103.14.4
1955BOS36
98
16.210.40.6092.5
3.6
16.110.30.6112.63.6
1956BOS37
136
18.112.90.5831.9
3.2
18.412.80.5892.13.4
1957BOS38
132
20.913.90.6002.4
3.9
21.513.30.6193.14.5
1958BOS39
129
18.115.10.5450.6
1.8
18.914.50.5651.22.5
1959BOS40
103
10.49.50.5230.2
1.0
9.89.30.5130.00.8
1960BOS41
112
14.011.50.5490.7
1.7
14.410.70.5731.32.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,168
349.8239.40.59442.4
66.5
354.0236.90.59945.869.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
7
0.80.90.467 -0.00.91.00.491 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,175
350.5240.30.594
66.4
355.0237.80.599 69.9


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 Koufax196525.114.56.3
8.1
2Lefty Grove193123.311.46.4
7.9
3Steve Carlton197225.114.96.1
7.8
4Dwight Gooden198521.311.06.1
7.6
5Lefty Grove193022.211.55.8
7.3
6Sandy Koufax196322.613.25.5
7.1
7Bob Feller194025.216.54.9
6.8
8Juan Marichal196622.914.25.2
6.8
9Bob Feller194627.320.04.4
6.7
10Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson200219.110.45.1
6.5
11Bob Gibson197021.713.65.0
6.5
12Greg Maddux199516.57.55.3
6.5
13Hal Newhouser194622.514.54.7
6.4
14Roger Clemens199718.69.84.7
6.4
15Dean Chance196419.811.74.7
6.4
16Fergie Jenkins197124.117.34.6
6.4
17Bucky Walters193922.414.74.5
6.3
18Denny McLain196922.915.54.5
6.3
19Pedro J. Martinez199916.36.55.1
6.3
20Fergie Jenkins197422.814.34.6
6.2