Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1955 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records


Next in my series of looks at individual seasons through the prism of Player won-lost records is 1955. The 1955 season is unique in major-league history in one way in which it is guaranteed to remain unique: 1955 was the only season in major-league history in which the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.

The Best of 1955

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
1Mickey Mantle24.614.14.5
6.1
1Mickey Mantle24.614.14.5
6.1
2Duke Snider24.214.84.0
5.6
2Willie Mays27.117.73.9
5.7
3Willie Mays27.117.73.9
5.7
3Duke Snider24.214.84.0
5.6
4Billy Pierce16.210.33.4
4.5
4Eddie Mathews20.914.03.1
4.5
5Eddie Mathews20.914.03.1
4.5
5Billy Pierce16.210.33.4
4.5
6Yogi Berra18.312.93.0
4.3
6Robin Roberts22.018.02.8
4.3
7Don Newcombe18.314.12.8
4.0
7Yogi Berra18.312.93.0
4.3
8Robin Roberts22.018.02.8
4.3
8Don Newcombe18.314.12.8
4.0
9Whitey Ford18.213.92.7
4.0
9Whitey Ford18.213.92.7
4.0
10Ted Williams16.410.42.6
3.7
10Ernie Banks21.718.22.2
3.9


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
1Mickey Mantle22.714.33.5
5.0
1Willie Mays25.917.73.3
5.1
2Willie Mays25.917.73.3
5.1
2Mickey Mantle22.714.33.5
5.0
3Duke Snider23.716.13.1
4.7
3Duke Snider23.716.13.1
4.7
4Ernie Banks22.117.32.9
4.5
4Ernie Banks22.117.32.9
4.5
5Ted Williams16.110.22.6
3.7
5Eddie Mathews20.214.32.5
4.0
6Eddie Mathews20.214.32.5
4.0
6Al Kaline23.718.11.9
3.7
7Roy Campanella14.710.42.3
3.4
7Ted Williams16.110.22.6
3.7
8Al Kaline23.718.11.9
3.7
8Wally Post22.317.01.9
3.5
9Billy Pierce13.510.61.9
2.8
9Roy Campanella14.710.42.3
3.4
10Wally Post22.317.01.9
3.5
10Robin Roberts21.019.11.7
3.2


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.

Willie, Mickey, and the Duke

At the top of the 1955 leaderboards sit three Hall-of-Famers immortalized in song (the title of this section links to a YouTube video of it). Here's how their careers compared for the four years when they were all full-time centerfielders in New York City.

Willie Mays Mickey Mantle Duke Snider
Season pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
195423.917.02.5
4.3
24.015.03.6
5.3
23.615.13.45.0
195527.117.73.9
5.7
24.614.14.5
6.1
24.214.84.05.6
195623.218.31.7
3.4
25.115.44.1
5.8
23.015.23.14.7
195724.418.52.2
4.0
25.212.85.5
7.1
19.015.71.02.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
1954 - 195798.571.410.3
17.4
98.957.217.8
24.3
89.860.811.417.8


The 1955 Postseason

The 1955 World Series was the sixth of seven World Series meetings between the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees went 6-1 in those 7 matchups. This was the 1.

The best players in the 1955 World Series by Player won-lost records are shown in the table below.

1955 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Johnny PodresBRO1.40.70.5
Whitey FordNYA1.20.80.3
Tommy ByrneNYA1.10.70.3
Sandy AmorosBRO0.90.40.3


The star of the 1955 World Series was 23-year-old Johnny Podres (1955 was actually Podres's "age 22" season; he won Game 3 of the World Series on his 23rd birthday). While Podres didn't go on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, he was a good, solid pitcher for a good, long time.

Johnny Podres
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1953BRO20
34
7.27.60.486-0.0
0.7
7.48.80.457-0.50.3
1954BRO21
38
10.49.70.5160.7
1.7
10.010.30.4920.21.2
1955BRO22
32
10.310.30.4990.4
1.2
11.111.30.4960.31.2
1957BRO24
35
14.110.00.5852.6
3.6
12.711.40.5261.22.2
1958LAN25
42
14.215.90.472-0.3
1.0
13.015.40.459-0.60.6
1959LAN26
34
12.712.60.5010.4
1.6
13.114.40.476-0.21.0
1960LAN27
34
14.414.40.4990.5
1.8
13.715.60.467-0.40.9
1961LAN28
32
12.210.70.5341.3
2.2
11.814.00.457-0.50.5
1962LAN29
40
16.218.30.470-0.2
1.3
16.917.70.4890.42.0
1963LAN30
37
14.815.20.4930.5
1.8
12.614.40.466-0.30.9
1964LAN31
2
0.20.80.216-0.3
-0.2
0.20.50.297-0.1-0.1
1965LAN32
27
7.79.00.461-0.3
0.5
8.09.30.462-0.30.5
33
37
5.76.30.478-0.1
0.5
6.47.30.467-0.30.4
1967DET34
21
2.93.20.476-0.1
0.2
3.44.50.430-0.5-0.1
1969SDN36
17
4.46.10.420-0.7
-0.2
3.44.60.428-0.5-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
462
147.5150.10.4964.5
17.8
143.6159.30.474-2.011.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
7
3.01.70.631 0.92.62.40.518 0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
469
150.5151.90.496
18.7
146.2161.80.474 11.9


Best of 1955 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 1955 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Duke Snider17.110.53.1
Mickey Mantle15.79.23.1
Willie Mays17.110.73.0

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



It is unusual for the three best hitters in the major leagues to play the same defensive position and it is even more unusual for that position to be center field. In evaluating Player won-lost records, players are compared to positional averages. I calculate these positional averages empirically by season. So, if there happen to be a particularly strong set of players at one position, that will be reflected in a higher positional average for the relevant year(s).

Center fielders of the 1950s are perhaps the strongest example of this. The 1950s were a golden age for major-league centerfielders with two all-time greats and three additional Hall-of-Famers accounting for nearly one-third (5/16) of the starting center field positions for much of this time.

For most of the time period for which I have calculated Player won-lost records, left- and right-fielders have amassed better offensive Player winning percentages than center fielders. As a result, the Positional Average against which center fielders are measured is generally lower than for corner outfielders. This is not true, however, during the period in the mid-50's when five Hall-of-Famers were patrolling major-league center fields. The table below shows positional averages for the three outfield positions over various time periods.

Season(s) LF/RF CF
1960 - 20120.5140.507
1954 - 19570.5170.517
19550.5140.517


Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Billy Klaus1.20.60.2
Mickey Mantle1.30.80.2
Hank Thompson1.20.70.2
Wally Post1.30.80.2
Al E. Smith1.61.10.2
Harvey Kuenn1.41.00.2
Hank Bauer1.20.80.2
Jim Busby1.00.60.2
Willie Mays1.61.20.2
Billy Goodman1.61.20.2
Jim Gilliam1.51.20.2
Elmer Valo0.80.50.2
Hank Aaron1.20.90.2
Del Ennis1.00.70.2

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning was a much smaller part of baseball in the 1950s than it was in the decades that followed. The table below shows how the percentage of total offensive Player decisions that were baserunning has varied by decade from the 1950s through the present day.

Baserunning as
% of Offensive Decisions
Seasons
1930 - 20168.6%
1950 - 19598.2%
1960 - 19698.9%
1970 - 19799.4%
1980 - 19899.5%
1990 - 19998.6%
2000 - 20127.7%


Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Billy Pierce11.38.72.7
Bob Rush12.910.62.3
Willard Schmidt7.35.22.1
Bob Friend10.88.82.0
Billy Hoeft12.010.02.0
Sandy Consuegra6.54.52.0
Ray Crone7.55.61.9
Warren Spahn13.211.41.9
Joe Nuxhall13.812.01.8


Next, we look at the major-league leaders in net fielding wins in 1955 by fielding position.

Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Johnny Schmitz0.40.20.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roy Campanella1.00.80.2
Ed Fitz Gerald0.80.60.2
Joe Astroth1.10.90.2
Ray Katt1.10.90.2
Frank House1.00.80.2


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gil Hodges2.51.90.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gil McDougald4.03.60.4
Nellie Fox5.14.70.4
Wayne Terwilliger2.72.30.4


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Andy Carey4.53.70.8


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roy McMillan6.15.60.5


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sandy Amoros4.53.60.9
Minnie Minoso6.05.10.9


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jim Piersall5.74.81.0


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Hank Bauer5.44.11.2
Carl Furillo6.35.11.2


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1955 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 Campanella14.410.52.1


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Kluszewski18.914.31.6


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Nellie Fox19.417.81.2


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Mathews19.914.42.3


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ernie Banks21.917.62.6


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams15.710.52.2


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle22.514.43.3


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Al Kaline23.818.22.0


The 1955 season was Al Kaline's breakout season at age 20. Kaline's career is shown in the next table.

Al Kaline
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1953DET18
30
0.70.80.472-0.1
0.0
1.01.00.501-0.00.1
1954DET19
138
14.316.00.472-1.1
0.2
15.016.30.479-0.90.4
1955DET20
152
22.817.60.5641.8
3.5
23.718.10.5671.93.7
1956DET21
153
24.618.30.5732.4
4.1
24.018.00.5712.24.0
1957DET22
149
21.517.20.5561.6
3.2
21.316.40.5651.93.5
1958DET23
146
22.616.60.5772.2
3.7
21.016.40.5611.53.0
1959DET24
136
20.316.00.5591.5
3.0
19.816.90.5400.82.3
1960DET25
147
17.318.80.479-1.5
-0.0
18.616.80.5260.21.6
1961DET26
153
22.815.70.5922.5
4.2
23.317.60.5701.83.6
1962DET27
100
17.112.70.5731.4
2.5
16.312.40.5681.22.3
1963DET28
145
22.615.90.5872.2
3.7
21.315.70.5771.83.2
1964DET29
146
19.016.90.5280.2
1.6
20.416.40.5541.12.6
1965DET30
125
15.313.30.5340.4
1.6
15.512.40.5551.02.1
1966DET31
142
20.915.00.5822.2
3.7
21.015.10.5822.23.7
1967DET32
131
21.514.40.6002.7
4.3
20.614.70.5832.13.7
1968DET33
101
13.39.00.5971.7
2.6
13.19.60.5781.32.2
1969DET34
131
18.313.50.5751.5
2.9
16.413.60.5470.61.9
1970DET35
131
15.614.00.5280.2
1.5
16.814.10.5430.72.0
1971DET36
133
16.812.30.5771.7
2.9
16.812.90.5651.42.6
1972DET37
106
10.07.90.5590.8
1.5
10.78.40.5600.91.7
1973DET38
91
9.99.20.5200.2
1.0
8.88.50.509-0.00.7
1974DET39
147
13.111.20.5410.9
2.3
12.711.70.5200.41.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,833
380.5302.40.55725.5
54.2
378.3303.20.55524.152.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
12
2.31.40.623 0.52.21.50.599 0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,845
382.7303.80.557
54.8
380.5304.60.555 53.2


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Billy Pierce10.78.21.3
Whitey Ford13.511.01.3
Bob Rush13.110.91.2
Warren Spahn12.810.81.1
Billy Hoeft12.110.11.1
Willard Schmidt7.05.11.0


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Clem Labine5.53.90.7


Don Mossi is perhaps most (in)famous now for his somewhat unusual appearance. 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 1955 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1955, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Ray Narleski8.84.10.6832.33.2
Clem Labine8.76.80.5621.01.9
Millard 'Dixie' Howell5.63.30.6311.11.8
Hersh Freeman5.83.60.6131.01.7
Sandy Consuegra7.05.10.5771.01.7


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 Newcombe2.91.81.2


Don Newcombe was one of the best-hitting pitchers of the last 60+ years, as measured by Player won-lost records, and his 1955 season ranks as the second best offensive season among all pitchers for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records. The next two tables show the top 5 seasons for pitcher offense and top 5 career totals, both measured by wins over positional average.

Pitcher Offense: Top 5 Single Seasons
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Don Newcombe19552.91.81.2
Don Drysdale19652.92.31.1
Wes Ferrell19313.22.11.1
Earl Wilson19662.61.91.0
Fergie Jenkins19712.72.50.9


Pitcher Offense: Career Leaders
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Lemon20.721.65.1
Earl Wilson15.215.14.8
Don Newcombe17.016.44.8
Bob Gibson22.729.24.8
Wes Ferrell16.514.74.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Enos Slaughter1.60.90.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Tom Saffell0.20.10.0
Chuck Harmon0.10.00.0


Notable Debuts

Finally, the 1955 season saw the major-league debuts of four Hall-of-Famers: two pitchers, Sandy Koufax and Jim Bunning; and two position players, Roberto Clemente and Brooks Robinson. Their careers are shown in the final two tables below.

Sandy Koufax Jim Bunning
Season Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1955
122.62.60.5060.1
0.3
153.15.70.355-1.2-0.8
1956
163.54.40.443-0.4
0.0
153.52.30.5980.61.0
1957
345.35.80.480-0.1
0.4
4518.314.50.5582.64.0
1958
4010.412.20.460-0.6
0.4
3615.015.00.5000.61.9
1959
359.99.60.5080.4
1.3
4016.216.70.4930.41.8
1960
3710.712.80.456-0.6
0.4
3815.013.70.5231.32.5
1961
4218.016.00.5291.6
3.1
3818.814.90.5582.64.0
1962
2811.89.40.5561.7
2.6
4318.514.60.5582.74.2
1963
4022.913.50.6295.5
7.2
4015.216.40.4820.11.6
1964
2915.811.40.5822.8
4.2
4118.313.90.5692.94.6
1965
4325.514.90.6316.3
8.2
3919.514.50.5733.34.9
1966
4123.416.50.5864.1
5.9
4320.717.10.5482.54.2
1967
 
4019.415.30.5602.84.3
1968
 
278.512.20.410-1.5-0.6
1969
 
3412.712.80.4980.51.6
1970
 
3512.213.20.479-0.11.0
1971
 
317.49.40.441-0.80.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS
(Regular Season)
397159.8129.00.55320.9
34.1
600242.5222.40.52219.540.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Postseason83.92.50.6110.8
1.1
00.00.00.0000.00.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS405163.7131.50.55521.7
35.3
600242.5222.40.52219.540.1


Roberto Clemente Brooks Robinson
Season Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLosses Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1955
12413.616.60.450-2.0
-0.8
60.30.60.323-0.2-0.1
1956
14718.719.30.492-0.9
0.7
151.21.30.482-0.10.0
1957
11112.316.00.435-2.2
-1.0
503.43.10.5250.20.4
1958
14019.215.70.5501.1
2.4
14512.216.10.432-2.0-0.9
1959
10513.713.80.499-0.6
0.5
889.89.30.514-0.00.8
1960
14422.516.70.5742.3
3.9
15220.216.80.5461.32.8
1961
14621.418.70.5330.2
2.0
16319.518.20.5170.42.1
1962
14421.617.50.5531.1
2.6
16220.318.50.5240.82.3
1963
15221.320.00.516-0.5
1.1
16117.316.90.5070.11.4
1964
15521.619.00.5310.3
2.0
16324.017.50.5782.84.5
1965
15222.318.60.5451.0
2.6
14420.016.50.5481.32.8
1966
15426.219.20.5782.5
4.3
15722.116.90.5672.13.6
1967
14725.618.30.5842.7
4.6
15820.318.60.5230.52.2
1968
13219.117.30.5250.2
1.7
16221.516.60.5652.33.8
1969
13821.116.60.5591.2
2.9
15619.917.20.5371.12.8
1970
10816.512.40.5711.6
2.9
15819.715.90.5531.32.8
1971
13221.914.80.5982.9
4.4
15620.416.10.5581.63.1
1972
10215.210.20.5982.1
3.1
15317.817.70.502-0.11.3
1973
 
15517.216.20.5140.21.6
1974
 
15319.415.40.5581.93.3
1975
 
14414.413.80.5110.31.4
1976
 
714.57.50.375-1.5-1.1
1977
 
231.41.80.425-0.2-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS
(Regular Season)
2,433353.9300.60.54113.0
40.0
2,895346.7308.20.52914.040.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Postseason264.02.90.5770.4
0.7
395.64.00.5830.71.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,459357.9303.60.54113.4
40.7
2,934352.3312.20.53014.741.9




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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