Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1956 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



Next in my continuing series of looking at individual seasons through the prism of Player won-lost records is the 1956 season.

The Best of 1956

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
1Mickey Mantle24.915.14.2
5.9
1Mickey Mantle24.915.14.2
5.9
2Herb Score19.413.33.7
5.2
2Herb Score19.413.33.7
5.2
3Early Wynn20.014.23.6
5.2
3Early Wynn20.014.23.6
5.2
4Gil McDougald18.312.13.5
4.7
4Don Newcombe19.213.83.5
4.9
5Don Newcombe19.213.83.5
4.9
5Gil McDougald18.312.13.5
4.7
6Whitey Ford16.911.23.4
4.7
6Whitey Ford16.911.23.4
4.7
7Jack Harshman16.811.73.1
4.4
7Duke Snider22.715.33.0
4.6
8Duke Snider22.715.33.0
4.6
8Jack Harshman16.811.73.1
4.4
9Yogi Berra18.012.23.0
4.2
9Hank Aaron25.218.42.6
4.4
10Warren Spahn18.514.62.7
4.2
10Yogi Berra18.012.23.0
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
1Mickey Mantle24.314.14.4
6.0
1Mickey Mantle24.314.14.4
6.0
2Jack Harshman16.211.62.9
4.1
2Early Wynn18.414.22.8
4.3
3Early Wynn18.414.22.8
4.3
3Duke Snider22.516.02.6
4.2
4Warren Spahn18.214.32.6
4.1
4Jack Harshman16.211.62.9
4.1
5Tom Brewer17.613.82.6
4.0
5Warren Spahn18.214.32.6
4.1
6Duke Snider22.516.02.6
4.2
6Tom Brewer17.613.82.6
4.0
7Herb Score16.713.02.4
3.8
7Willie Mays22.616.52.4
4.0
8Willie Mays22.616.52.4
4.0
8Al Kaline23.617.82.2
3.9
9Dick Donovan16.012.92.2
3.5
9Herb Score16.713.02.4
3.8
10Whitey Ford14.711.32.2
3.4
10Bob Friend20.117.52.0
3.7


Best Major-League Player in 1956: Mickey Mantle

The best player in the major leagues in 1956, as measured by Player won-lost records, either in or out of context compared against either average or replacement level, was New York Yankees' centerfielder Mickey Mantle, who won a major-league Triple Crown, leading the major leagues in batting average (.353), home runs (52), RBI (130), as well as slugging percentage (.705), OPS (1.169), runs scored (132), and total bases (376). And, according to Player won-lost records, Mantle even played an above-average center field (0.529 fielding percentage, 0.6 net fielding wins).

And yet, as monstrous as Mantle's 1956 season was, he was actually better in pWOPA and pWORL the year before and the year after. Mickey Mantle's 1955 through 1957 seasons are shown in the table below.

Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1955NYA23
147
24.514.00.6364.5
6.1
22.614.10.6163.65.1
1956NYA24
150
24.915.10.6234.2
5.9
24.314.10.6334.46.0
1957NYA25
144
24.812.80.6605.3
6.9
23.513.10.6424.66.1


The next table shows the best 3-year stretches of Player won-lost records as measured by pWins over replacement level (pWORL).

Player Seasons pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
Lefty Grove
1930 - 1932
66.836.316.721.3
Babe Ruth
1926 - 1928
78.642.116.020.8
Sandy Koufax
1963 - 1965
63.539.014.719.5
Babe Ruth
1927 - 1929
73.639.614.719.4
Barry Bonds
2001 - 2003
74.340.314.619.4
Al Simmons
1929 - 1931
74.441.114.319.3
Lefty Grove
1929 - 1931
61.833.815.219.2
Joe L. Morgan
1972 - 1974
76.549.914.219.2
Barry Bonds
2000 - 2002
77.144.014.119.2
Lefty Grove
1931 - 1933
63.937.914.418.9


Best Major-League Pitchers in 1956: Herb Score, Early Wynn, and Warren Spahn

The top three pitchers in the major leagues in 1956, as measured by Player won-lost records, were Herb Score and Early Wynn of the Cleveland Indians, and Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves.

A case could be made for any of the three as the best pitcher in the major leagues. Their 1956 player won-lost records are compared in the next table, in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Herb Score
35
19.413.30.5933.7
5.2
16.713.00.5622.43.8
Warren Spahn
39
18.514.60.5602.7
4.2
18.214.30.5602.64.1
Early Wynn
38
20.014.20.5863.6
5.2
18.414.20.5642.84.3


The next table shows the career records of Score, Spahn, and Wynn, as measured by Player won-lost records. Unlike their 1956 records, this is very much a case of "one of these things is not like the others". Herb Score was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Gil McDougald in early 1957 and pitched his last major-league game in 1962, 1 and 3 years before Early Wynn and Warren Spahn, respectively, despite Spahn and Wynn being 12 and 13 years Score's senior.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Herb Score
150
61.957.00.5204.4
9.6
55.357.50.4900.85.7
Warren Spahn
772
354.3293.60.54743.9
71.8
337.2295.60.53334.061.3
Early Wynn
794
308.9283.70.52124.3
49.7
294.9278.00.51519.744.3


Finally, I wrote an article several weeks ago about another player who appears on the pWOPA and pWORL lists above, Gil McDougald.

1956 Postseason

The 1956 World Series was a rematch of the 1955 (and 1953 and 1952 and 1949 and 1947) World Series pitting the Brooklyn Dodgers against the New York Yankees. The final result was the reverse of 1955 with the New York Yankees regaining their usual place as World Series winners for the 6th time in 10 years.

The stars of the 1956 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, were Yankees' catcher Yogi Berra, who batted .360/.448/.800 (OPS of 1.248) with 3 home runs and 10 RBI and pitcher Don Larsen, who pitched a perfect game in Game 5.

1956 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Yogi BerraNYA1.50.60.6
Clem LabineBRO1.00.20.5
Don LarsenNYA1.00.30.4


Best of 1956 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 1956 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle17.29.03.9

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Willie Mays1.70.90.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Early Wynn14.711.43.3
Jack Harshman12.69.53.2
Warren Spahn14.511.43.1
Herb Score13.610.72.9
Bob Friend16.814.02.8
Whitey Ford11.79.12.7
Billy Pierce15.613.02.6
Tom Brewer13.711.22.6


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Turk Lown0.50.10.3
Chuck Stobbs0.70.40.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Yogi Berra1.51.20.3
Bill Sarni1.51.20.3


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Vic Power1.20.90.4
Bill DeKova White2.52.10.4


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Don Blasingame3.93.40.5
Jim Gilliam3.73.20.5


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ken Boyer4.93.91.0


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Pee Wee Reese5.34.40.9


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Charlie Maxwell7.16.11.0


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Duke Snider5.44.40.9
Willie Mays6.25.30.9


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Hank Aaron7.55.81.8


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1956 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 Berra15.211.41.9
Stan Lopata12.99.21.9


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe Adcock14.510.51.4


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Gilliam12.711.40.9


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Mathews20.416.51.7


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ernie Banks19.917.61.7


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ted Williams18.012.81.9


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle23.914.44.1


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Al Kaline21.516.51.8


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Warren Spahn14.811.51.8
Jack Harshman12.69.41.7
Early Wynn14.611.61.7


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hersh Freeman6.04.40.7


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 1956 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1956, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Hersh Freeman7.84.80.6181.42.2
Ike Delock9.78.90.5200.41.5
Clem Labine8.47.60.5240.31.4
Turk Lown8.47.70.5200.31.3
George Zuverink6.65.40.5470.51.3


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 Newcombe2.32.20.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Earl Torgeson1.10.50.3
Hank Thompson0.90.40.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Busby0.080.000.04


Noteworthy Players of 1956

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1956 seasons.

Notable Debuts
Rookie-of-the-Year awards have been awarded for each league since 1949. So far, there have been two seasons where the Rookie-of-the-Year winner in each league has gone on to be elected to the National Baseball Hall-of-Fame: 1956 and 1977 (Eddie Murray and Andre Dawson), with the 2001 season probably becoming the third such season eventually.

The Rookie-of-the-Year winners in 1956, both of whom made their major-league debut this season, were Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson. I wrote an article about Luis Aparicio last week.

The career records of Luis Aparicio and Frank Robinson, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented in the next table.

Luis Aparicio Frank Robinson
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
195615217.717.30.5060.7
2.1
15223.418.40.5611.63.3
195714318.216.70.5211.0
2.5
15020.418.10.5300.11.7
195814518.316.80.5201.3
2.6
14820.619.10.519-0.11.4
195915220.319.20.5140.9
2.4
14517.715.20.5370.61.9
196015321.419.00.5291.5
3.1
13918.214.30.5601.12.4
196115619.319.40.4990.5
2.2
15324.417.10.5892.74.5
196215217.919.10.484-0.2
1.1
16126.317.50.6003.34.9
196314519.420.10.4910.2
1.7
14021.516.40.5681.73.1
196414621.317.40.5502.0
3.5
15626.217.90.5953.14.9
196514218.216.70.5211.2
2.6
15623.118.10.5611.63.2
196615120.319.30.5121.0
2.5
15524.717.00.5922.84.4
196713315.318.00.459-0.6
0.8
12920.415.50.5681.63.1
196815720.720.80.4990.9
2.6
13016.614.90.5270.11.5
196915620.621.60.4880.1
1.9
14824.515.40.6133.45.1
197014618.418.70.4960.5
2.1
13118.013.60.5691.63.0
197112314.615.80.4790.1
1.3
13319.515.50.5571.22.6
197211013.913.10.5161.0
2.1
10314.112.50.5310.41.5
197313216.016.80.4870.7
2.1
14715.811.90.5691.83.5
1974
 
14412.710.90.5390.82.2
1975
 
494.12.60.6090.71.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,594331.6325.90.50412.5
39.1
2,769392.4301.90.56530.259.4


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 1956 was the final season for two Hall-of-Famers: Bob Feller and Jackie Robinson. Retrosheet has released complete play-by-play data for all of Jackie Robinson's career. For Bob Feller, however, I have only calculated Player won-lost records for 539 of the 570 games which Feller played in his career with most of his missing games coming during his prime (1939-41, 45-47).

Bob Feller Jackie Robinson
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1936134.42.90.6010.8
1.2
1937259.89.80.5000.2
1.1
19383215.314.10.5201.1
2.5
1939179.27.40.5541.1
1.9
19404325.216.60.6034.9
6.8
19414423.817.40.5783.9
5.7
1942
 
1943
 
1944
 
194594.74.50.5110.2
0.7
19464827.320.00.5774.4
6.7
19474220.617.10.5472.4
4.0
15118.516.10.5350.31.7
19484418.918.30.5080.9
2.5
14721.715.60.5813.14.6
19493612.514.20.468-0.5
0.6
15625.416.70.6044.46.1
19503516.314.00.5371.7
3.1
14319.915.60.5612.33.7
19513317.313.20.5672.5
3.8
15325.715.20.6275.36.9
19523010.512.90.449-0.8
0.2
14923.014.80.6094.35.8
19532510.49.60.5200.8
1.7
13621.614.10.6043.14.6
19541910.17.50.5731.7
2.5
12414.612.20.5450.81.9
1955253.54.60.432-0.5
-0.1
10511.69.20.5581.01.8
1956191.53.20.323-0.8
-0.5
11714.110.70.5681.62.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS539241.4207.40.53824.1
44.4
1,381196.0140.20.58326.139.7




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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