Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1954 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records


This is my fourth article in my occasional series looking at various Major-League seasons through the prism of Player won-lost records. Previous seasons for which I've written articles include 1951, 1977, and 2012.

The 1954 season was especially significant for the city of my birth, Baltimore, which got major-league baseball back in 1954 after a 52-year absence, as well as the city of my father's birth, Cleveland, which won a then-AL record 111 games to win the AL pennant, the only pennant not won by the Yankees over the ten seasons from 1949 through 1958.

The Best of 1954

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
1Larry Doby27.115.35.0
6.7
1Larry Doby27.115.35.0
6.7
2Bobby Avila23.914.74.8
6.4
2Bobby Avila23.914.74.8
6.4
3Johnny Antonelli19.512.64.2
5.7
3Minnie Minoso27.618.23.9
5.8
4E. Mike Garcia18.912.14.0
5.5
4Johnny Antonelli19.512.64.2
5.7
5Minnie Minoso27.618.23.9
5.8
5E. Mike Garcia18.912.14.0
5.5
6Mickey Mantle24.015.03.6
5.3
6Mickey Mantle24.015.03.6
5.3
7Early Wynn20.114.73.4
5.1
7Chico Carrasquel23.417.73.4
5.1
8Chico Carrasquel23.417.73.4
5.1
8Early Wynn20.114.73.4
5.1
9Duke Snider23.615.13.4
5.0
9Duke Snider23.615.13.4
5.0
10Yogi Berra19.012.53.3
4.7
10Warren Spahn20.315.53.1
4.8


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 Williams20.112.53.2
4.6
1Duke Snider24.116.23.0
4.7
2Duke Snider24.116.23.0
4.7
2Ted Williams20.112.53.2
4.6
3Mickey Mantle22.815.82.7
4.3
3Robin Roberts21.618.32.4
4.4
4Willie Mays23.816.72.6
4.3
4Stan Musial24.418.62.6
4.4
5Warren Spahn18.915.12.6
4.2
5Willie Mays23.816.72.6
4.3
6Ted Kluszewski20.013.62.6
4.0
6Mickey Mantle22.815.82.7
4.3
7Stan Musial24.418.62.6
4.4
7Warren Spahn18.915.12.6
4.2
8Robin Roberts21.618.32.4
4.4
8Ted Kluszewski20.013.62.6
4.0
9Eddie Mathews19.313.22.4
3.8
9Pee Wee Reese20.616.82.4
4.0
10Pee Wee Reese20.616.82.4
4.0
10Bobby Avila20.416.12.4
3.9


The 1954 MVP awards went to Willie Mays and Yogi Berra. Based on the above tables, I probably would have voted for Larry Doby and Duke Snider if I had a vote.

The Cy Young award was not introduced until 1956. For 1954, however, the top pitchers, as measured by Player won-lost records, were probably Mike Garcia of the Cleveland Indians in the American League and Johnny Antonelli of the New York Giants in the National League, although Warren Spahn and Robin Roberts also have strong cases, especially if you prefer eWins to pWins.

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: Larry Doby and Bobby Avila
The top two players in pWOPA and two of the top three in pWORL in 1954 were teammates on the 111-win, AL-pennant winning Cleveland Indians. Doby and Avila combined to earn 6.1 more pWORL than eWORL. The fact that Doby and Avila earned significantly more pWORL than eWORL was not really a coincidence. Overall, the 1954 Indians earned 21.4 more pWORL than eWORL. Some of this was because of good clutch hitting. Larry Doby, for example, batted .304/.394/.609 in high-leverage situations vs. .256/.348/.437 in low-leverage situations.

Mostly, though, the 1954 Indians are an example of how the relationship of player wins to team wins is not a simple linear one. A team whose players are a little above average will win most of their games. I explore the relationship of team wins to Player pWins in more detail in a separate article.

Worse in Context: Ted Williams
Controlling for context and teammate-ability, Ted Williams was the best hitter, best leftfielder, and almost certainly the best player in the 1954 American League. In context, however, Williams' performance translated into about one fewer Red Sox victory than would have been expected. One victory is not a terribly big deal, and it's really not so much because of anything that Williams did - his OPS in high-leverage situations was 1.088 vs. 1.057 in low-leverage (and 1.321 in medium-leverage) - as that his teammates weren't very good, mostly on the defensive side of the ball: the Red Sox were one of only two AL teams with a team ERA over 4.00 and they were 7th out of 8 teams in defensive efficiency (although, to be fair to the rest of the Red Sox fielders, Williams appears to have been a below-average fielder as well).

In the same way that a group of good players will win more games than you might expect by simply adding up their WORL, a group of bad players will win fewer games than you would expect by adding up their WORL, and bad players can pull down their (few) good teammates as well.

Looking, for example, at team WARs for the 1954 American League at Baseball-Reference.com, the Red Sox amassed 29.9 WAR while the Indians had 54.0, a difference of 24.1 WAR (I actually calculate that the Indians compiled only 11.7 more eWORL than the Red Sox). Yet the Red Sox won 69 games while the Indians won 111, a difference of 42 wins!

The 1954 Postseason

The New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians 4-0 in the 1954 World Series.

Not surprisingly, the best player performances in the World Series this season, as measured by Player won-lost records, were compiled by Giants' players.

1954 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Willie MaysNY11.20.40.4
Johnny AntonelliNY11.10.50.4
Dusty RhodesNY10.80.10.4
Hank ThompsonNY10.60.20.2
Marv GrissomNY10.40.10.2
Alvin DarkNY10.50.30.2


Best of 1954 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 1954 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams14.67.33.4
Duke Snider17.410.63.1

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle1.30.60.3
Bill Bruton1.61.00.3
Spook Jacobs1.20.70.3
Jackie Jensen1.40.90.2
Roy McMillan1.41.00.2
Gene Baker1.20.80.2
Don Mueller1.30.90.2
Al E. Smith1.30.90.2
Eddie Yost1.61.20.2
Gus Bell1.20.80.2
Chico Carrasquel1.71.30.2
Roy Sievers0.80.50.2

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
E. Mike Garcia13.59.83.7
Robin Roberts18.114.63.5
Warren Spahn15.312.23.0
Johnny Antonelli14.111.13.0
Early Wynn14.912.22.8


Next, we look at the major-league leaders in net fielding wins in 1954 by fielding position.

Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lou Kretlow1.10.10.9


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Yogi Berra1.51.00.5


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Earl Torgeson2.11.70.3
Bill Skowron0.80.50.3


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Nellie Fox4.94.20.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Willie Jones4.23.30.9


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Chico Carrasquel6.35.31.0


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sandy Amoros3.22.30.9


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Willie Mays6.25.20.9


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Carl Furillo7.86.11.7


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1954 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
Yogi Berra16.712.32.3


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Kluszewski20.013.92.4


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bobby Avila20.015.72.3


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Mathews18.312.22.5


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Pee Wee Reese20.617.02.3


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams19.512.82.8


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Duke Snider23.916.42.8


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Stan Musial22.417.82.0


That's one heck of an outfield, isn't it?

Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
E. Mike Garcia13.09.41.9
Warren Spahn15.412.01.9
Robin Roberts17.714.61.7
Johnny Antonelli14.411.51.6
Lew Burdette12.49.51.6


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hoyt Wilhelm6.24.60.7


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 1954 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1954, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Jim R. Hughes8.05.20.6061.32.2
Marv Grissom9.07.20.5550.91.9
Dave Jolly7.66.00.5610.81.7
Hoyt Wilhelm6.44.30.5981.01.6
Johnny Sain6.75.20.5640.71.5


One thing that's kind of striking there: Hoyt Wilhelm actually didn't pitch in an above-average context in 1954. In fact, his overall context multiplier this season was 0.979, or about 2.1% below average.

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
Don Larsen1.61.50.5


Of course, two years later, Don Larsen became famous for something a bit more impressive than being the best-hitting pitcher in the major leagues in 1954.

Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Robinson1.51.10.3
Joe Frazier1.61.20.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Reno Bertoia0.30.10.1
Hal Jeffcoat0.20.00.1


Notable Debuts

Finally, two Hall-of-Famers made their major-league debut in 1954: Hank Aaron and Harmon Killebrew.

Here's how their careers compare in Player won-lost records.

Hank Aaron Harmon Killebrew
Season Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1954
12216.914.60.5360.6
2.0
90.40.40.465-0.00.0
1955
15321.418.50.5360.9
2.6
381.62.20.426-0.3-0.1
1956
15325.418.50.5792.7
4.5
441.93.70.339-0.9-0.6
1957
15125.516.60.6063.8
5.5
91.01.20.454-0.10.0
1958
15325.217.50.5903.0
4.6
130.51.20.282-0.4-0.3
1959
15425.217.50.5902.8
4.5
15321.917.70.5541.53.1
1960
15324.518.10.5752.5
4.2
12414.311.10.5641.12.1
1961
15525.718.70.5782.5
4.5
15017.615.30.5350.21.7
1962
15627.219.70.5802.8
4.6
15523.917.90.5712.03.6
1963
16126.219.30.5762.1
3.9
14218.715.50.5470.82.2
1964
14521.318.00.5420.8
2.4
15822.819.80.5350.52.2
1965
15022.218.10.5511.2
2.8
11315.99.50.6262.63.7
1966
15825.818.90.5772.4
4.1
16221.915.70.5822.43.9
1967
15526.219.50.5742.4
4.4
16323.314.10.6233.45.1
1968
16027.820.10.5802.9
4.8
10010.28.00.5590.61.4
1969
14724.516.00.6053.1
4.9
16224.715.20.6194.15.8
1970
15023.116.40.5852.7
4.4
15722.716.10.5862.64.3
1971
13920.813.60.6042.7
4.1
14717.815.60.5320.21.6
1972
12916.212.80.5590.7
1.9
13916.512.50.5680.82.0
1973
12015.213.40.5310.3
1.5
696.36.60.487-0.40.2
1974
11214.110.70.5701.3
2.2
1229.69.00.5140.21.2
1975
1379.510.30.480-0.5
0.7
1068.27.10.5360.51.4
1976
856.56.60.498-0.1
0.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS
(Regular Season)
3,298496.1373.10.57143.4
79.9
2,435301.5235.40.56221.444.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Postseason172.72.40.5330.1
0.3
131.41.60.464-0.2-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS3,315498.8375.50.57143.5
80.2
2,448302.8237.00.56121.244.1




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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