Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1947 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



The 1947 season was, perhaps, the most significant season in Major League Baseball history. This was because of what happened on April 15th in Brooklyn when Jackie Robinson broke the major-league color barrier. I have written a separate article on early integration of Major League Baseball.

This article focuses on the player and team performances of 1947 as measured by Player won-lost records.

The Best of 1947

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
1Warren Spahn21.314.24.2
5.6
1Warren Spahn21.314.24.2
5.6
2Ewell Blackwell20.013.83.7
5.1
2Ted Williams26.918.03.3
5.2
3Ted Williams26.918.03.3
5.2
3Ewell Blackwell20.013.83.7
5.1
4Joe Gordon21.116.33.0
4.6
4Joe Gordon21.116.33.0
4.6
5Red Munger16.411.33.0
4.2
5Tommy Henrich22.715.92.9
4.5
6Joe DiMaggio21.514.82.9
4.4
6Joe DiMaggio21.514.82.9
4.4
7Tommy Henrich22.715.92.9
4.5
7Bobby Doerr21.517.62.6
4.2
8Spec Shea13.79.02.7
3.7
8Red Munger16.411.33.0
4.2
9Fred Hutchinson16.912.82.7
3.9
9Bob Elliott23.017.52.5
4.2
10Bobby Doerr21.517.62.6
4.2
10Johnny Mize21.314.32.5
4.0


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 Williams27.717.24.1
5.9
1Ted Williams27.717.24.1
5.9
2Warren Spahn19.014.42.9
4.3
2Ralph Kiner25.718.02.7
4.5
3Johnny Mize20.713.22.8
4.2
3Warren Spahn19.014.42.9
4.3
4Joe Gordon20.215.92.7
4.2
4Johnny Mize20.713.22.8
4.2
5Ralph Kiner25.718.02.7
4.5
5Joe Gordon20.215.92.7
4.2
6Ewell Blackwell17.813.92.5
3.8
6Bob Elliott21.315.92.4
3.9
7Bob Elliott21.315.92.4
3.9
7Ewell Blackwell17.813.92.5
3.8
8Whitey Kurowski19.814.82.2
3.7
8Whitey Kurowski19.814.82.2
3.7
9Emil 'Dutch' Leonard16.012.62.2
3.4
9Johnny Sain18.615.72.2
3.5
10Johnny Sain18.615.72.2
3.5
10Hal Newhouser19.216.32.1
3.5


As measured by Player won-lost records, the top two players in the American League were position players (and future Hall-of-Famers), while the top two players in the National League were (arguably) both pitchers (one of whom is in the Hall of Fame). These players are looked at next.
AL MVP: Ted Williams vs. Joe Gordon
In 1947, Ted Williams won the second Triple Crown of his career, batting .343/.499/.634 with 32 HR, 162 BB, 335 TB, 125 runs scored, and 114 RBI. Every one of those numbers led the 1947 American League. Not surprisingly, Ted Williams ranks first in 3 of the 4 tables above - and second (first in the AL) in the fourth table. You would have thought that might make Ted Williams an easy choice for MVP. Not so: just like the first time that Williams won the Triple Crown (in 1942) (and also the time he batted .406 in 1941), Williams finished second in MVP voting (to Joe DiMaggio).

DiMaggio had an excellent 1947 season - third-best in the AL in pWins over either positional average or replacement level. But the second-best player in the American League, in all four of the above tables, actually finished 7th in MVP voting (behind his double-play partner).

Gordon's batting line was pretty good, especially for a second baseman, .272/.346/.496, 29 HR, 93 RBI - a major bounceback from 1946, when he batted .210/.308/.338 with only 11 HR (and was traded from the Yankees to the Indians). Gordon added the best fielding season of his career to that. In fact, Gordon had one of the top 25 defensive seasons by any second baseman in the 20th century for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records.

Top 20 Seasons, Net Fielding Wins, 2B
(1921 - 1999)
eWins eLosses Net Wins
1Bobby Grich19735.84.21.6
2Pokey Reese19995.13.51.6
3Tommy Helms19715.54.01.5
4Jackie Robinson19524.83.41.4
5Bobby Knoop19646.24.91.3
6Tony Lazzeri19275.03.71.3
7Willie Randolph19795.44.11.3
8Ryne Sandberg19927.56.31.3
9Joe Gordon19475.34.11.2
10Ted Sizemore19735.84.61.2
11Frankie Frisch19276.45.21.2
12Dick Green19714.83.71.1
13Lonny Frey19406.15.01.1
14Snuffy Stirnweiss19446.25.11.1
15Jackie Robinson19494.93.81.1
16Robby Thompson19895.24.21.1
17Nellie Fox19595.44.31.1
18Lonny Frey19425.54.51.0
19Joe Gordon19405.04.01.0
20Carlos Baerga19927.16.11.0
21Felix Millan19685.74.71.0
22Randy Velarde19995.74.71.0
23Bobby Knoop19666.45.41.0
24Johnny Ray19825.84.91.0
25Sandy Alomar Sr.19714.73.70.9


Career records for Ted Williams and Joe Gordon, as measured by Player won-lost records (for the games of their career for which I have estimated Player won-lost records) are presented in the next table.

Ted Williams Joe Gordon
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1938
 
12017.213.80.5541.83.1
19398814.910.70.5811.6
2.7
14221.115.10.5832.94.4
19408112.59.10.5781.2
2.2
14219.616.40.5451.73.3
19417513.18.80.5991.7
2.8
15620.415.60.5662.44.2
19426413.06.50.6682.8
3.7
12217.912.30.5922.84.1
1943
 
9712.810.80.5430.91.9
1944
 
1945
 
194615028.415.40.6495.6
7.4
11212.512.10.5070.31.3
194715626.918.00.5993.3
5.2
15521.116.30.5653.04.6
194813725.615.10.6284.3
6.0
14422.215.50.5893.55.0
194915527.017.30.6093.6
5.4
14819.016.70.5311.12.6
19508914.111.10.5601.1
2.1
11912.211.00.5260.71.7
195114824.319.00.5611.6
3.4
195260.90.20.7890.3
0.4
1953375.92.80.6751.4
1.8
195411718.912.90.5952.5
3.8
19559816.410.40.6112.6
3.7
195613617.812.60.5851.9
3.2
195713220.914.20.5962.3
3.8
195812918.014.90.5480.7
1.9
195910310.39.40.5220.2
1.0
196011214.111.40.5520.7
1.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,013323.1220.00.59539.3
62.1
1,457196.0155.60.55721.036.2


NL MVP: Warren Spahn vs. Ewell Blackwell
The top two players in the National League, as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level were pitchers: Warren Spahn of the Boston Braves and Ewell Blackwell of the Cincinnati Reds.

Both Spahn and Blackwell had excellent 1947 seasons. Spahn went 21-10 with a league-leading 2.33 ERA in a league-leading 289.2 IP. Leading the league in ERA and innings pitched tends to give one a pretty strong case as the best pitcher in a league. And, indeed, Spahn rates as not only the best pitcher, but the best player, in the National League in 1947. But Blackwell was no slouch either: 22-8, 2.47, in 273 IP, with a league-leading 23 CG and 193 K.

While Blackwell was (very nearly) Spahn's equal in 1947, the same was not true over the course of their careers, of course. While 1947 was by far the best season of Ewell Blackwell's career, Warren Spahn's 1947 season was "merely" one among several of Spahn's best seasons.

Career records for Warren Spahn and Ewell Blackwell, as measured by Player won-lost records (for the games of their career for which I have estimated Player won-lost records) are presented in the next table.

Warren Spahn Ewell Blackwell
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
194210.00.10.287-0.0
-0.0
20.00.00.265-0.0-0.0
1943
 
1944
 
1945
 
1946248.16.50.5541.0
1.8
3312.611.50.5230.92.1
19474121.314.20.6004.2
5.6
3320.013.80.5913.75.1
19483717.513.90.5572.4
3.7
229.09.50.4860.10.9
19494021.517.80.5472.5
4.0
303.74.30.460-0.30.2
19504119.819.80.5000.7
2.6
4019.916.50.5472.34.1
19514222.316.20.5803.7
5.4
3916.614.90.5271.42.8
19525218.117.40.5090.9
2.5
286.910.30.402-1.5-0.6
19533820.312.70.6154.5
6.0
81.31.70.433-0.2-0.0
19544120.315.50.5663.1
4.8
19554017.814.80.5452.0
3.3
20.31.10.224-0.4-0.3
19563919.015.00.5592.7
4.2
19573918.414.60.5572.6
4.0
19584119.015.90.5452.5
3.9
19594019.216.10.5452.3
3.8
19604019.215.40.5552.7
4.2
19613919.715.30.5643.1
4.5
19623617.616.20.5201.5
3.0
19633320.013.80.5924.0
5.5
1964399.313.30.411-1.6
-0.4
19653711.615.10.434-1.2
0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS780360.1299.70.54643.8
72.5
23790.383.70.5196.014.1


1947 World Series

From 1947 - 1956, the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers met in the World Series 6 times in 10 years, with 4 of these World Series going the full seven games. The 1947 World Series was the first of these meetings - and the first to go seven games.

Outside of a 10-3 blowout by the Yankees in Game 2, not only was the overall Series close, but so were the games. Games 3, 4, and 5 were all 1-run games, and the Yankees and Dodgers both led at some point in each of Games 1, 6, and 7.

The top performances of the 1947 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the next table.

1947 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Spec SheaNYA1.40.70.5
Hugh CaseyBRO0.70.30.3
Carl FurilloBRO1.00.50.3
Johnny LindellNYA0.90.50.3


The above table treats all seven games as equal (which I think is fair - you have to win 3 of the first 6 games to get to Game 7; and, of course, winning 4 of the first 6 lets you avoid the stress of a winner-take-all Game 7 at all). Take, for example, the best player of the 1947 World Series, as indicated in the above table, Spec Shea.
Shea won Game 1 with 5 innings in which he allowed 1 run on 2 hits. He was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 5th inning, during which the Yankees scored all 5 of their runs in a 5-3 win.

Shea won Game 5 with a complete-game 4-hitter to win 2-1.

Fortunately, for the Yankees, Shea came up big in his first two starts, playing a key role in two big Yankee victories. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Shea's worst performance of the World Series came in Game 7. Shea started the game, but didn't make it out of the second inning - allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 1.1 IP. But Shea's teammates picked him up with 7.2 shutout relief innings by Bill Bevens and Joe Page and 5 runs of offense to give the Yankees a 5-2 Game 7 victory.

It is, perhaps, a little strange that Shea shows up as the best player of the 1947 World Series, having been knocked out of the decisive game with his team trailing 1-0 with runners on 1st & 2nd and one out (one of those runners scored to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead that was charged to Shea). But if Spec Shea hadn't pitched so effectively in Game 1 and, especially, in Game 5, there would have been no Game 7 for Shea to get knocked out of.


Best of 1947 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 1947 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams18.89.34.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio1.30.60.3
Dom DiMaggio1.30.70.3
Bob Dillinger2.11.50.3
Vern Stephens1.20.70.2
Elmer Valo1.30.80.2
Jackie Robinson2.11.70.2
Buddy Lewis1.20.70.2
Ferris Fain1.20.80.2
Tommy Henrich1.41.00.2
Stan Musial1.41.10.2
Yogi Berra0.70.30.2
Jeff Heath0.90.60.2
Eddie Lake1.51.20.2

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Warren Spahn15.511.54.0
Ewell Blackwell14.610.74.0


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Vic Raschi0.90.10.8


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Buddy Rosar1.91.20.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Johnny Mize2.62.10.5


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe Gordon5.34.11.2


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ken Keltner4.23.11.2


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Boudreau5.54.31.2


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sid Gordon6.25.50.7


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dom DiMaggio7.16.01.1


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bob Kennedy4.23.21.0
Fred 'Dixie' Walker7.06.01.0


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1947 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
Walker Cooper14.211.01.9


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Johnny Mize20.513.52.6


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Gordon19.916.22.4


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Elliott21.116.12.2


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Vern Stephens21.017.51.7


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams27.217.73.6


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio19.815.21.9


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Fred 'Dixie' Walker21.417.71.3


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Warren Spahn15.711.82.0
Ewell Blackwell14.911.21.9


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Page7.65.90.8


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 1947 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1947, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Joe Page9.56.50.5911.62.6
Hugh Casey6.94.90.5851.01.8
Harry Gumbert6.95.30.5640.81.6
Ken Trinkle5.44.20.5640.61.2
Ed Klieman6.35.80.5220.31.1


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
Clint Hartung1.71.10.7


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ron Northey1.00.60.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bobby Adams0.20.10.1
Chuck Diering0.20.10.1
Jimmy Outlaw0.10.10.1
Marv Rackley0.10.00.1


Notable Debuts
The 1947 season saw the major-league debut of four players who would go on to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The first two were teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers for a decade: Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. The other two Hall-of-Famers who debuted in 1947 were also teammates for a time - for the 1956, 1957, and 1959 Chicago White Sox: Larry Doby and Nellie Fox (neither of whom debuted with the White Sox).

The last two tables of this article show the career records, as measured by Player won-lost records, of these four Hall-of-Famers.

Jackie Robinson Duke Snider
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
194715118.416.00.5340.3
1.7
401.92.50.433-0.3-0.1
194814721.115.10.5833.1
4.6
534.65.00.479-0.40.0
194915624.915.90.6114.5
6.2
14620.912.80.6203.54.9
195014419.015.00.5572.1
3.5
15220.817.00.5501.42.9
195115324.615.20.6194.8
6.4
15020.115.80.5601.73.2
195214923.013.90.6234.7
6.2
14419.914.90.5722.13.6
195313621.414.10.6033.0
4.5
15323.613.40.6384.46.0
195412414.712.00.5510.9
2.1
14923.615.10.6103.45.0
195510511.19.10.5500.8
1.6
14824.214.80.6214.05.6
195611714.010.50.5731.7
2.7
15123.015.20.6013.14.7
1957
 
13919.015.70.5481.02.5
1958
 
10610.110.60.487-0.60.2
1959
 
12615.511.30.5771.62.7
1960
 
1009.07.70.5390.41.1
1961
 
839.86.60.5951.22.0
1962
 
806.34.60.5790.71.1
1963
 
12913.012.50.510-0.30.7
1964
 
894.85.60.462-0.50.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,382192.1136.70.58426.0
39.5
2,138270.1201.30.57326.446.1


Larry Doby Nellie Fox
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1947280.50.90.364-0.2
-0.1
70.00.00.4850.00.0
194812016.213.80.5390.6
1.9
30.20.60.218-0.2-0.2
194914722.017.50.5571.7
3.3
887.08.30.461-0.60.0
195014221.714.50.5993.1
4.6
13011.114.30.437-1.5-0.4
195113419.115.10.5581.6
3.0
14719.217.60.5230.92.4
195214021.815.10.5913.0
4.5
15219.617.90.5231.12.6
195314921.916.00.5782.3
3.9
15419.217.10.5291.32.8
195415327.115.30.6405.0
6.7
15520.817.80.5391.73.3
195513117.914.50.5521.1
2.4
15420.317.10.5442.13.6
195614018.816.50.5320.5
2.0
15419.319.50.4980.52.1
195711916.214.10.5350.5
1.8
15521.817.20.5582.64.2
1958889.28.00.5350.3
1.0
15519.717.70.5261.52.9
1959392.93.90.424-0.6
-0.3
15621.715.50.5833.44.9
1960
 
15019.917.30.5362.03.5
1961
 
15917.317.80.4930.62.1
1962
 
15717.317.70.4940.31.7
1963
 
13713.916.00.465-0.70.5
1964
 
13314.214.70.4910.31.5
1965
 
210.81.30.374-0.3-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,530215.3165.30.56618.9
34.6
2,367283.5265.30.51714.837.3




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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