Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1948 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records

As part of their last update, Retrosheet added a new season with "deduced games" to supplement their play-by-play data, 1948. These are games for which they do not have full play-by-play data, but they have been able to deduce enough about what happened from box scores and newspaper reports that they were able to reconstruct play-by-play data. Combining games with full play-by-play and deduced games, I now have full play-by-play data for all seasons dating back to 1948.

This article, then, looks at the earliest season for which I now have complete play-by-play data (some of it deduced): 1948.

The Best of 1948

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 Williams25.615.14.3
6.0
1Ted Williams25.615.14.3
6.0
2Harry Brecheen17.210.14.1
5.2
2Stan Musial27.918.13.9
5.8
3Stan Musial27.918.13.9
5.8
3Lou Boudreau23.015.83.8
5.4
4Lou Boudreau23.015.83.8
5.4
4Harry Brecheen17.210.14.1
5.2
5Joe Gordon22.215.53.5
5.0
5Joe Gordon22.215.53.5
5.0
6Bobby Doerr21.114.43.5
4.9
6Johnny Sain21.716.53.4
5.0
7Johnny Sain21.716.53.4
5.0
7Bob Elliott23.816.13.3
4.9
8Bob Elliott23.816.13.3
4.9
8Joe DiMaggio25.918.23.1
4.9
9Joe DiMaggio25.918.23.1
4.9
9Bobby Doerr21.114.43.5
4.9
10Vic Raschi17.612.63.1
4.4
10Vern Stephens24.919.72.9
4.7


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
1Lou Boudreau22.815.83.8
5.3
1Stan Musial27.117.83.7
5.5
2Stan Musial27.117.83.7
5.5
2Lou Boudreau22.815.83.8
5.3
3Ted Williams24.716.33.3
5.0
3Ted Williams24.716.33.3
5.0
4Bob Lemon20.515.93.1
4.7
4Bob Lemon20.515.93.1
4.7
5Johnny Mize20.013.63.0
4.4
5Joe DiMaggio24.417.62.7
4.4
6Harry Brecheen15.010.03.0
4.0
6Johnny Mize20.013.63.0
4.4
7Hal Newhouser18.814.22.9
4.3
7Hal Newhouser18.814.22.9
4.3
8Joe DiMaggio24.417.62.7
4.4
8Harry Brecheen15.010.03.0
4.0
9Joe Gordon20.216.02.2
3.7
9Johnny Sain20.517.82.1
3.7
10Johnny Sain20.517.82.1
3.7
10Joe Gordon20.216.02.2
3.7


All-Time Greats: Ted Williams and Stan Musial
The top two players in three of the four tables above are two of the all-time greatest players in major-league history: Boston Red Sox left fielder Ted Williams and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial.

The 1948 season was not the only major-league season in which Williams and/or Musial appear on one or more of these tables. In fact, both Williams and Musial rank among the top 25 players in career pWins over either positional average or replacement level among players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records, despite the fact that I am missing play-by-play data for more than 350 games in the prime of each of their careers.

The next table compares the career records of Ted Williams and Stan Musial, as measured by Player won-lost records. I am missing several games from the careers of both Williams and Musial prior to 1944. To make the below comparison as fair as possible, the numbers in the next table are pro-rated to tie to the number of games actually played by Williams and Musial. Doing this assumes that Williams's and Musial's performances in these missing games were comparable in value to the games within the particular season for which I have play-by-play data.

Ted Williams Stan Musial
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
193914925.218.20.5812.7
4.6
194014422.216.20.5782.2
3.9
194114325.016.70.5993.3
5.4
120.00.00.00.0
194215030.515.20.6686.5
8.6
14020.813.70.6032.74.3
1943
 
15727.218.10.6003.75.7
1944
 
14625.415.60.6194.15.7
1945
 
194615028.415.40.6495.6
7.4
15622.516.00.5852.23.8
194715626.918.00.5993.3
5.2
14919.813.80.5892.13.5
194813725.615.10.6284.3
6.0
15527.918.10.6063.95.8
194915527.017.30.6093.6
5.4
15725.016.60.6023.65.3
19508914.111.10.5601.1
2.1
14620.515.90.5641.63.0
195114824.319.00.5611.6
3.4
15223.116.10.5902.74.3
195260.90.20.7890.3
0.4
15422.716.50.5792.54.1
1953375.92.80.6751.4
1.8
15726.018.30.5872.94.8
195411718.912.90.5952.5
3.8
15323.619.30.5501.83.6
19559816.410.40.6112.6
3.7
15320.715.40.5741.93.4
195613617.812.60.5851.9
3.2
15618.717.50.517-0.21.3
195713220.914.20.5962.3
3.8
13417.811.60.6042.43.6
195812918.014.90.5480.7
1.9
13513.311.00.5470.61.6
195910310.39.40.5220.2
1.0
1159.09.80.481-0.70.1
196011214.111.40.5520.7
1.8
11612.59.40.5691.01.9
1961
 
12314.413.00.5260.31.6
1962
 
13516.914.60.5360.41.6
1963
 
12411.910.20.5390.41.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,291372.5251.20.59746.7
73.1
3,025419.7310.50.57539.970.2

Player won-lost records prior to 1944 have been pro-rated to tie to the actual games played by Williams and Musial.

AL MVP: Lou Boudreau
Although Ted Williams was clearly the best player in the 1948 American League, as measured by Player won-lost records, he did not win the AL MVP award that year. Instead, that honor went to Cleveland Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau. While Williams had a better season than Boudreau (at least as measured by Player won-lost records), Boudreau did have an excellent 1948 season. He also had two edges over Williams. First, in addition to playing shortstop, he was also the manager of the pennant-winning Indians. And second, in the winner-take-all Game 155 to win the pennant, Boudreau went 4-for-4 with 2 home runs and 3 runs scored, while Ted Williams went 1-for-4 in the same game with an error.

Lou Boudreau's career record, as measured by Player won-lost records, is shown in the next table. I am missing a number of games in his career prior to 1944. The records below only reflect games for which I have play-by-play data. Overall, Boudreau actually played 1,646 regular-season games in his major-league career.

Lou Boudreau
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1938CLE20
1
0.00.00.5170.0
0.0
0.00.00.5880.00.0
1939CLE21
22
3.42.40.5880.6
0.8
3.03.00.4920.00.3
1940CLE22
153
21.717.90.5482.4
4.1
20.318.00.5301.63.3
1941CLE23
128
17.214.40.5441.6
3.2
16.614.30.5371.42.9
1942CLE24
123
16.114.20.5311.1
2.5
15.813.90.5311.12.4
1943CLE25
39
6.44.30.6011.2
1.6
6.24.40.5831.01.4
1944CLE26
150
22.618.10.5563.0
4.7
22.917.90.5613.34.9
1945CLE27
97
14.511.10.5672.0
3.0
13.010.90.5441.32.3
1946CLE28
140
17.317.00.5050.4
1.8
17.416.50.5130.62.0
1947CLE29
150
18.216.20.5291.0
2.4
19.215.50.5541.83.2
1948CLE30
152
23.015.80.5923.8
5.4
22.815.80.5913.85.3
1949CLE31
134
16.714.80.5301.0
2.3
15.514.90.5110.41.7
1950CLE32
81
8.68.10.5180.4
1.1
7.78.10.489-0.10.6
1951BOS33
82
9.37.90.5390.8
1.5
8.88.20.5160.41.1
1952BOS34
4
0.20.20.5590.0
0.1
0.20.20.5370.00.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,456
195.3162.30.54619.3
34.5
189.4161.70.54016.631.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
6
0.80.60.542 0.10.70.70.525 0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,462
196.1162.90.546
34.6
190.2162.40.540 31.7


Harry Brecheen
The best pitcher in major-league baseball in 1948, as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level, was St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Harry "the Cat" Brecheen.

Harry Brecheen had been an excellent pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals for several years before 1948 - winning Games 2, 6, and 7 of the 1946 World Series, for example. But his 1948 season was by far the best of his career: his only 20-win season, and career bests in IP (233.1), K (149), and ERA (2.24). And he did all of this at the age of 33.

While deducing games for the 1947 season (specifically, this game), I came upon a possible explanation for Brecheen's late career surge. According to newspaper reports of this game, Harry Brecheen debuted a slider for the first time in this game. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch game story by Bob Broeg (May 27, 1947):

"Brecheen never had thrown a slider until his 15-minute warmup, but he controlled the pitch to his satisfaction then and, he estimated afterward, used it about 20 times while beating his cousins, the Cubs....

'I was watching Fritz Ostermuller use a slider effectively Sunday, and I said to myself that if the old, so-and-so could do it, so could I,' Harry explained.

Just like that."
I don't know for a fact that the slider was the secret to Harry Brecheen's 1948 season (and actually, his 1947 season was worse after the May 26th game than before). But it makes for a good story.

Harry Brecheen's career record, as measured by Player won-lost records, is shown in the next table. I am missing a number of games in his career prior to 1948. The records below only reflect games for which I have play-by-play data. Overall, Brecheen actually played 294 regular-season games in his major-league career.

Harry Brecheen
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1940SLN25
2
0.00.10.251-0.0
-0.0
0.10.00.6140.00.0
1943SLN28
13
3.73.10.5490.4
0.8
3.72.40.6110.81.1
1944SLN29
30
12.99.60.5722.0
3.0
11.79.40.5541.52.5
1945SLN30
24
12.37.20.6302.8
3.8
9.67.80.5531.22.0
1946SLN31
37
17.814.70.5492.1
3.7
14.313.10.5221.02.3
1947SLN32
29
14.912.90.5361.6
2.7
14.813.50.5221.22.3
1948SLN33
33
17.210.10.6294.1
5.2
15.010.00.6003.04.0
1949SLN34
32
15.913.00.5501.9
3.0
14.212.50.5331.32.3
1950SLN35
27
10.510.70.4960.3
1.3
10.79.00.5451.32.2
1951SLN36
24
8.16.60.5500.9
1.6
8.68.30.5080.41.2
1952SLN37
25
6.55.50.5420.7
1.3
6.25.50.5320.51.1
1953SLA38
27
6.88.00.461-0.4
0.4
7.16.40.5250.51.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
303
126.7101.50.55516.4
26.8
116.097.80.54212.722.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
7
3.11.50.670 1.12.21.70.564 0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
310
129.8103.00.555
27.8
118.299.50.542 22.8


The 1948 World Series

My father was born in Cleveland in 1935. At the end of the 1948 season, my father remembers being 13 years old and dancing in the street with his brother-in-law (my Uncle Larry), celebrating a World Series victory by his beloved Cleveland Indians. That would have been the last time that anybody in Cleveland would have celebrated a World Championship for the Indians.

And the 1948 Indians had to play an extra game to even get to the World Series and prevent what would have been the only all-Boston World Series in major-league history.

The top players of the 1948 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the table below.

1948 World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Gene BeardenCLE1.50.40.7
Bob LemonCLE1.50.70.5
Steve GromekCLE1.10.40.4
Johnny SainBSN1.40.80.4
Jim HeganCLE0.80.30.3
Bill SalkeldBSN0.50.20.2
Lou BoudreauCLE0.80.60.1
Larry DobyCLE0.80.60.1
Earl TorgesonBSN0.50.50.1
Joe GordonCLE0.60.60.1


Best of 1948 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.
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 1948 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Stan Musial19.310.74.0

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Pee Wee Reese1.70.90.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Harry Brecheen12.27.84.4


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Hal Newhouser1.50.31.2


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jake Early1.30.80.4
Del Rice1.10.80.4


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gil Hodges1.51.20.3


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jackie Robinson3.83.20.6


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ken Keltner4.33.40.9


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Boudreau5.44.11.4


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Les Layton1.20.60.7


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Carl Furillo4.12.61.5


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gene Hermanski5.34.40.9


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1948 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
Bruce Edwards5.14.20.6
Roy Campanella7.56.80.6


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Johnny Mize19.913.92.9


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Gordon20.016.12.1


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Elliott21.116.51.8
Ken Keltner19.815.21.8


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lou Boudreau22.616.13.5


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams24.616.43.2


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe DiMaggio24.317.82.6


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Gene Hermanski16.612.61.4


The all-major-league outfield of 1948 is Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and ... Gene Hermanski? One of these is definitely not like the others. Stan Musial does not appear here because he didn't play more than 81 games (or fewer than 42 games) at any of the three individual outfield positions, despite leading the National League in games and innings played in the outfield.

Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Harry Brecheen12.37.82.3


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Wilks6.44.80.7


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 1948 in context, as measured by pWins over replacement level (pWORL).

Top Relief Pitchers of 1948, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Harry Gumbert9.27.10.5651.02.0
Steve Gromek7.65.60.5761.11.8
Ted Wilks7.05.60.5570.71.5
Joe Page7.76.60.5400.61.4
Kirby Higbe8.79.10.491-0.10.9


Finally, here are the best at three oft-forgotten positions that can nevertheless matter: pitcher offense, pinch hitter, and pinch runner.

Pitcher Offense
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Lemon2.72.30.8


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Pete Reiser1.00.40.3
Ron Northey0.90.40.3
Johnny Hopp0.80.30.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Erv Dusak0.10.00.06
Sibby Sisti0.10.00.06


Notable Debuts
The 1948 season saw the major-league debut of four players who would eventually go on to be elected to the Hall of Fame. Two were teammates who would combine to win a surprise pennant two years later: Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts. The other two were pioneers in the early integration of Major-League Baseball that began in 1947 and gradually expanded over the next few seasons: Roy Campanella and Satchel Paige.

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

Richie Ashburn Robin Roberts
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
194811717.215.80.5210.2
1.5
2110.110.00.5030.41.3
194915420.421.20.490-1.0
0.8
4314.513.80.5110.71.8
195015120.017.70.5310.7
2.2
4020.214.60.5803.45.0
195115422.220.40.5210.5
2.2
4421.317.10.5542.74.4
195215420.719.60.5140.2
1.8
3921.313.80.6074.56.0
195315622.119.80.5280.5
2.2
4425.118.30.5784.36.2
195415321.218.30.5370.6
2.3
4520.917.80.5402.34.2
195514017.917.30.509-0.3
1.1
5122.018.00.5502.84.3
195615419.820.90.486-1.3
0.4
4319.319.30.5000.72.5
195715621.220.50.508-0.3
1.4
3914.220.50.410-2.4-1.0
195815220.819.90.511-0.3
1.3
3618.315.20.5462.33.7
195915316.822.10.432-3.2
-1.6
3517.917.80.5020.72.3
196015017.819.50.477-1.6
-0.1
3514.315.10.4870.21.5
19611097.910.00.444-1.3
-0.4
265.08.20.377-1.4-0.8
196213512.114.00.464-1.4
-0.3
2710.59.00.5381.22.1
1963
 
3514.816.00.4790.11.5
1964
 
3113.711.50.5451.73.0
1965
 
3011.311.00.5070.71.7
1966
 
247.07.50.482-0.10.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,188278.0276.80.501-8.0
14.7
688301.6274.50.52424.750.1


Roy Campanella Satchel Paige
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1948836.85.50.5550.9
1.4
214.82.60.6471.21.5
194913011.29.80.5340.8
1.7
314.74.50.5100.10.7
195012612.610.00.5571.3
2.3
195114316.311.40.5892.6
3.7
234.14.20.4980.00.5
195212816.210.40.6103.0
4.1
4610.410.20.5050.21.4
195314419.910.40.6565.0
6.3
576.28.20.432-1.0-0.1
19541118.68.70.4970.0
0.7
195512314.410.10.5872.4
3.4
195612412.410.40.5441.0
2.0
19571038.68.20.5140.4
1.1
1958
 
1959
 
1960
 
1961
 
1962
 
1963
 
1964
 
1965
 
10.10.00.7290.00.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,215127.094.80.57317.5
26.7
17930.329.60.5050.54.0




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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