Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1951 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records


As part of their last update, Retrosheet added what they call "deduced games" to supplement their play-by-play data. 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. With the addition of this data, they now have play-by-play data for every major-league game dating back to 1951. I have now incorporated these data into my work, so that I now have complete Player won-lost records for every season from 1951 through 2012.

I already wrote an article that looked at the 2012 season through Player won-lost records. This article goes back and looks at the 1951 season.

The Best of 1951

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
1Jackie Robinson24.615.24.8
6.4
1Jackie Robinson24.615.24.8
6.4
2Sal Maglie21.214.93.7
5.3
2Warren Spahn22.316.23.7
5.4
3Warren Spahn22.316.23.7
5.4
3Sal Maglie21.214.93.7
5.3
4Pee Wee Reese22.517.43.0
4.6
4Pee Wee Reese22.517.43.0
4.6
5Monte Irvin23.315.92.9
4.5
5Monte Irvin23.315.92.9
4.5
6Stan Musial23.116.12.7
4.3
6Robin Roberts21.317.12.7
4.4
7E. Mike Garcia18.714.32.7
4.2
7Stan Musial23.116.12.7
4.3
8Bobby Thomson22.215.62.7
4.2
8E. Mike Garcia18.714.32.7
4.2
9Robin Roberts21.317.12.7
4.4
9Bobby Thomson22.215.62.7
4.2
10Roy Campanella16.311.42.6
3.7
10Alvin Dark22.218.02.6
4.2


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
1Jackie Robinson22.115.73.3
4.8
1Jackie Robinson22.115.73.3
4.8
2Ralph Kiner23.215.63.0
4.5
2Robin Roberts20.515.72.9
4.6
3Robin Roberts20.515.72.9
4.6
3Ralph Kiner23.215.63.0
4.5
4Roy Campanella16.911.62.8
3.9
4Stan Musial23.116.52.6
4.1
5Stan Musial23.116.52.6
4.1
5Warren Spahn20.216.62.4
4.0
6Eddie Joost20.516.42.5
4.0
6Eddie Joost20.516.42.5
4.0
7Warren Spahn20.216.62.4
4.0
7Roy Campanella16.911.62.8
3.9
8Ed Lopat15.812.42.2
3.4
8Ted Williams24.918.62.1
3.9
9E. Mike Garcia16.413.12.1
3.5
9Pee Wee Reese21.718.72.0
3.6
10Ted Williams24.918.62.1
3.9
10E. Mike Garcia16.413.12.1
3.5


By Player won-lost records, the best player in the major leagues in 1951 was very clearly Jackie Robinson, who ends up atop all four tables above. The details of Jackie Robinson's performance by factor are shown in the next table. The numbers in the table below are context-neutral and teammate-adjusted.

Batting Baserunning Fielding
eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct.
15.010.2
0.595
2.01.5
0.577
4.84.30.529


Jackie Robinson's well-rounded excellence in 1951 was true throughout his career. In an article about Reggie Sanders (as part of my series on the 2013 Hall-of-Fame Ballot), I constructed a list of the players who were the most consistently above average at all three basic factors: batting, baserunning, and fielding. The top 10 from that list are repeated below.

Players with Most Well-Rounded Excellence
Batting Baserunning Fielding
Player Games eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct.
Barry Bonds
2,985
303.5186.3
0.620
28.924.1
0.546
115.6105.00.524
Jackie Robinson
1,382
130.5101.0
0.564
15.713.0
0.546
40.734.50.541
Joe DiMaggio
1,657
171.2120.7
0.586
13.010.7
0.549
67.661.00.526
Mel Ott
1,753
174.4112.0
0.609
11.810.4
0.533
74.267.00.525
Albert Pujols
2,426
243.2178.1
0.577
17.115.1
0.531
46.741.50.529
Chase Utley
1,723
151.4127.7
0.542
13.09.6
0.574
55.651.20.521
Al Kaline
2,833
255.3198.2
0.563
22.219.5
0.533
99.688.30.530
Lou Boudreau
1,456
121.5106.7
0.532
11.69.5
0.548
55.146.90.540
Amos Otis
1,997
160.7146.6
0.523
20.014.3
0.584
77.968.60.531
Rickey Henderson
3,080
256.0209.4
0.550
53.337.3
0.588
110.7104.90.514


Although he would have gotten my vote, Jackie Robinson did not win the 1951 NL MVP award. That was won, instead, by his teammate, catcher Roy Campanella. The AL MVP was also a catcher who played his home games in New York City, Yogi Berra. The next table compares the two league MVPs by Player won-lost records.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Yogi Berra
141
16.412.70.5642.0
3.2
15.612.60.5531.62.8
Roy Campanella
143
16.311.40.5892.6
3.7
16.911.60.5912.83.9


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.

Better in Context: Bobby Thomson
Several players show up in the top 10 in pWOPA or pWORL lists above but not in the eWOPA/eWORL lists. The one of these that seems most appropriate for 1951 has to be Bobby Thomson. Bobby Thomson ended the 1951 regular season with what might be the most famous home run in baseball history. It seems perfect that the hitter of perhaps the most clutch home run ever shows up here.

The table below shows Bobby Thomson's Player won-lost records in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Bobby Thomson
148
22.215.60.5872.7
4.2
19.815.40.5631.63.0


Looking at wins over replacement level, Bobby Thomson had 1.2 more pWORL than eWORL. How much of that was from that one home run?

I calculate the context-neutral win value of Thomson's famous home run as being the same as the value of every other home run hit at the Polo Grounds in 1951, 0.1454 wins. In context, however, that home run was worth 0.8878 wins (and note, that's based solely on the game context, not the pennant implications).

Putting that into the above table, Thomson's 1951 season breaks down as follows.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
through Game 155, inn 8
148
21.315.60.5772.3
3.7
19.715.40.5611.63.0
Shot heard round the world
0.90.01.000
0.10.01.000
Totals
148
22.215.60.5872.7
4.2
19.815.40.5631.63.0


The extent to which Bobby Thomson's home run was worth more in context is exactly equal to the extent to which the pitcher who threw that pitch, Ralph Branca, performed worse in context. Yet, interestingly, that home run was an aberration in a season in which Branca actually performed quite a bit better than expected in context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Ralph Branca
42
14.114.00.5020.4
1.7
12.213.60.472-0.40.8


Worse in Context: Ralph Kiner
While some players, such as Bobby Thomson, were better in context than their raw context-neutral statistics might suggest, the reverse was also true. Some players' statistics did not translate into team victories to the extent that might have been expected. The player who shows up highest in the top 10 lists for eWOPA and eWORL at the top of this article but does not appear in the pWOPA and pWORL lists is Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Ralph Kiner
151
20.816.30.5611.5
3.0
23.215.60.5983.04.5


Kiner's problem was not really that he was unclutch. Looking at his batting splits, he performed about equally well in various measures of "clutch": high-leverage (OPS of 1.138) v. low-leverage (1.073); 2-outs, RISP (1.084) vs. Bases Empty (1.287); Late & Close (1.015), Tie Games (1.244), vs. Margin > 4 R (1.219).

Kiner's problem, in terms of his performance translating into team wins was, to be blunt about it, that the rest of the 1951 Pittsburgh Pirates weren't very good. Going back to Kiner's batting splits, he played in 87 games that the Pirates lost. In those games, he batted .283/.422/.543 (OPS of .965) with 19 home runs, 42 RBI, and 54 runs scored. And, at the end of those days, all of those hits and walks and RBIs just didn't translate into team wins because the rest of the Pirates' hitters didn't get enough of their own hits and walks and RBIs and the Pirates' pitchers couldn't stop the other teams from scoring enough runs.

Is it Ralph Kiner's fault that he had lousy teammates? No, not at all. But as a simple matter of accounting for team wins and team losses, Kiner's performance in 1951 (and actually, in most years of Kiner's career) just didn't account for as many team wins as it probably should have.

The 1951 World Series

After the excitement of the National League pennant race, the 1951 World Series might have seemed somewhat anti-climactic. The New York Yankees beat their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants, in six games. Players who earned at least 0.1 pWins over replacement level (pWORL) in that World Series are shown in the next table. Not surprisingly, more Yankees show up here than Giants.

1951 World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Gil McDougaldNYA1.40.50.6
Ed LopatNYA1.30.60.5
Alvin DarkNY11.10.50.4
Hank BauerNYA1.20.70.3
Jim HearnNY10.70.40.2
Dave KosloNY10.80.60.2
Joe DiMaggioNYA0.80.60.2
Phil RizzutoNYA0.70.60.1
Bob KuzavaNYA0.20.10.1
Bobby 'Doc' BrownNYA0.40.30.1


Best of 1951 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 1951 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ralph Kiner17.19.43.6

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Sam Jethroe1.91.10.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Robin Roberts16.613.13.6
E. Mike Garcia13.510.33.3
Warren Spahn16.713.43.3
Sal Maglie15.913.12.8
Ed Lopat12.39.52.8
Larry Jansen15.012.22.8


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Marv Rotblatt1.10.11.0


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Del Rice1.71.00.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Earl Torgeson2.42.00.4


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jackie Robinson4.84.30.5


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Billy Cox4.03.40.7


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Pee Wee Reese5.54.50.9


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gus Zernial7.36.21.1


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Duke Snider5.24.31.0


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Carl Furillo8.46.81.6


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1951 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
Roy Campanella16.411.62.6


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Gil Hodges19.214.81.7


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jackie Robinson21.815.93.0


This is one of the top 10 seasons by a second baseman ever (since 1947) as measured by eWins over positional average.

Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bobby Thomson10.06.71.4


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Joost20.316.72.2


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams24.818.72.0


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Larry Doby19.014.51.9


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Vic Wertz19.115.51.5


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Robin Roberts16.613.11.9
Warren Spahn16.513.31.7


The top two players here, both of whom are Hall-of-Famers, might warrant a closer look. Raw pitching wins are converted into overall player wins by incorporating context (expected in the case of eWins, actual in the case of pWins), as well as pitcher offense. The results for Spahn and Roberts are shown next.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Robin Roberts
44
21.317.10.5542.7
4.4
20.515.70.5662.94.6
Warren Spahn
42
22.316.20.5803.7
5.4
20.216.60.5492.44.0


The 1951 season pre-dates the introduction of the Cy Young award (in 1956). It seems pretty clear, however, that the two most deserving contenders for such an award in 1951 if it had existed would have been Robin Roberts and Warren Spahn (not necessarily in that order). Although, it's worth pointing out that the top two pitchers in NL MVP voting that year were Sal Maglie and Preacher Roe (no doubt on the strength of (traditional) pitcher won-lost records of 23-6 and 22-3, respectively).

Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ellis Kinder6.24.70.7


Relief pitching was much less prominent in 1951 than it is today. Nevertheless, Jim Konstanty won the 1950 NL MVP Award on the strength of 74 games and 152 innings pitched, all in relief.

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 1951 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1951, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Ellis Kinder8.24.90.6281.72.5
Ted Wilks6.04.10.5950.91.6
Luis Aloma3.92.20.6370.91.2
Joe Ostrowski5.04.00.5530.51.0
Harry Perkowski6.15.40.5300.41.0


Kinder pretty well lapped the field. While the role of relief pitchers was very different in 1951 than in 2012 - Kinder led the major leagues with 14 saves in 1951 (although the save statistic hadn't been invented yet) - in terms of Player won-lost records, Kinder's 1951 season actually stacks up reasonably well with the best relief seasons of 2012.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1951, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Ellis Kinder8.24.90.6281.72.5
Craig Kimbrel7.02.40.7452.12.7
Fernando Rodney7.63.30.6991.92.7
Aroldis Chapman7.43.80.6581.52.3


Finally, here is the best at and oft-forgotten positions that can nevertheless matter: pitcher offense.

Pitcher Offense
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ned Garver1.91.70.5


Ned Garver had a noteworthy 1951 season. He actually finished second in voting for the AL MVP award. That was probably an overbid, but Garver did have an excellent season.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Ned Garver
48
18.014.80.5502.2
3.6
16.714.40.5361.63.0


One particularly noteworthy feature of Ned Garver's season is that he had a winning Player won-lost record in all four factors: batting, baserunning, pitching, and fielding.

Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWins eLosses eWin Pct.
2.01.8
0.527
0.20.1
0.626
12.811.6
0.524
0.50.40.540


The next table shows every player since 1947 who has had a winning record in all four factors with at least 1 batting eWin, 10 pitching eWins, and 0.1 baserunning and fielding eWins. It's a fairly exclusive group (although Garver wasn't the only player to do it in 1951).

eWin Pct.
Player Season Team pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Running Pitching Fielding
Wes Ferrell1931
CLE
19.716.12.4
3.8
0.5840.5960.5150.538
Wes Ferrell1935
BOS
16.910.83.6
4.9
0.5920.5790.5300.667
Bucky Walters1939
CIN
23.315.04.9
6.7
0.5200.6560.5430.566
Dave Ferriss1945
BOS
19.615.12.9
4.5
0.5190.6070.5190.563
Fred Hutchinson1947
DET
16.912.82.7
3.9
0.5150.7430.5340.508
Ned Garver1951
SLA
18.014.82.2
3.6
0.5270.6260.5240.540
Mel Parnell1951
BOS
15.713.81.4
2.7
0.5080.5350.5250.543
Dizzy Trout1951
DET
11.710.90.7
1.8
0.5300.5390.5290.501
Don Newcombe1959
CIN
15.912.32.5
3.7
0.5650.5950.5450.672
Curt Simmons1961
SLN
11.610.51.1
2.0
0.5220.5880.5310.598
Warren Spahn1961
MLN
19.715.33.1
4.5
0.5160.5970.5410.582
Blue Moon Odom1969
OAK
15.412.42.2
3.5
0.5540.6400.5100.549
Catfish Hunter1971
OAK
20.815.53.7
5.2
0.5270.5090.5140.718
Claude Osteen1972
LAN
19.214.43.3
4.7
0.5210.5840.5130.645
Ken Brett1973
PHI
13.511.21.7
2.7
0.5460.6070.5260.511
Ken Brett1974
PIT
13.212.11.2
2.2
0.5250.6450.5350.639
Andy Messersmith1974
LAN
18.413.93.0
4.3
0.5120.5960.5290.512
Bob Forsch1980
SLN
11.711.00.9
1.8
0.5160.5790.5240.653
Wes Ferrell1930
CLE
21.215.83.2
4.8
0.5220.5770.5260.534
Ted Lyons1930
CHA
18.713.23.2
4.6
0.5150.6200.5610.504


And finally, two more (somewhat obscure) positions: pinch hitter and pinch runner.

Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bill Nicholson1.10.60.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jack Maguire0.10.00.1


Look at Me, I Can Be, Centerfield

Finally, the city of New York welcomed two rookie centerfielders in 1951 - although one of them played mostly right field in 1951 because there was already a living legend in center field in Yankee Stadium. And what a pair of centerfielders they turned out to be!
Willie Mays Mickey Mantle
Season Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1951
2012115.213.40.6
1.8
199613.19.21.72.6
1952
21345.43.31.0
1.3
2014222.115.13.24.7
1953
 
2112720.013.12.94.3
1954
2315123.917.02.5
4.3
2214524.015.03.65.3
1955
2415227.117.73.9
5.7
2314724.614.14.56.1
1956
2515223.218.31.7
3.4
2415025.115.44.15.8
1957
2615224.418.52.2
4.0
2514425.212.85.57.1
1958
2715226.118.33.1
4.9
2615023.116.12.84.2
1959
2815124.916.33.7
5.4
2714420.514.82.33.7
1960
2915325.419.52.1
3.9
2815323.513.54.25.7
1961
3015425.917.63.4
5.4
2915326.015.44.66.5
1962
3116229.618.35.0
6.8
3012320.311.73.85.0
1963
3215724.719.32.1
3.8
31659.25.21.82.4
1964
3315726.116.44.3
6.1
3214321.313.83.24.6
1965
3415726.217.83.4
5.2
3312213.412.8-0.20.9
1966
3515225.816.44.0
5.6
3410812.611.8-0.10.9
1967
3614117.714.71.0
2.5
3514416.012.01.22.4
1968
3714823.817.22.6
4.3
3614414.610.81.22.2
1969
3811714.712.80.6
1.8
1970
3913916.914.50.7
2.1
1971
4013618.111.92.5
3.8
1972
41889.77.90.6
1.3
1973
42666.26.5-0.4
0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,992461.0333.650.7
83.5
2,400354.5232.550.474.7


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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