Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1961 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 1961 season. The 1961 season saw major-league baseball expand for the first time, as the American League added teams in Los Angeles and Washington, the latter of which replaced the original Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota.

The Best of 1961

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 Mantle25.814.94.8
6.6
1Mickey Mantle25.814.94.8
6.6
2Roger Maris26.915.54.4
6.3
2Roger Maris26.915.54.4
6.3
3Norm Cash23.613.14.0
5.6
3Norm Cash23.613.14.0
5.6
4Whitey Ford19.312.74.0
5.3
4Rocky Colavito26.618.33.5
5.5
5Frank Lary19.313.93.5
4.9
5Whitey Ford19.312.74.0
5.3
6Rocky Colavito26.618.33.5
5.5
6Willie Mays25.717.73.2
5.1
7Jim Gentile21.012.23.3
4.7
7Frank Lary19.313.93.5
4.9
8Willie Mays25.717.73.2
5.1
8Jim Gentile21.012.23.3
4.7
9Jim O'Toole17.312.43.1
4.3
9Frank Robinson24.417.12.7
4.5
10Warren Spahn19.415.03.0
4.4
10Warren Spahn19.415.03.0
4.4


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 Mantle24.914.94.3
6.0
1Mickey Mantle24.914.94.3
6.0
2Rocky Colavito25.917.43.5
5.5
2Rocky Colavito25.917.43.5
5.5
3Norm Cash21.612.43.4
4.9
3Norm Cash21.612.43.4
4.9
4Eddie Mathews21.815.33.0
4.7
4Eddie Mathews21.815.33.0
4.7
5Roger Maris24.216.52.6
4.4
5Roger Maris24.216.52.6
4.4
6Frank Lary18.314.92.5
3.9
6Willie Mays23.417.12.4
4.2
7Jim Gentile18.511.52.5
3.8
7Frank Robinson22.516.22.2
4.0
8Willie Mays23.417.12.4
4.2
8Frank Lary18.314.92.5
3.9
9Warren Spahn18.015.02.3
3.7
9Jim Gentile18.511.52.5
3.8
10Frank Robinson22.516.22.2
4.0
10Hank Aaron25.119.51.8
3.8


The 1961 season was unique in one way. It was the only season (since at least the advent of the consistent 154-game schedule) in which the American and National Leagues played different length seasons. With expansion from 8 to 10 teams, the American League also expanded its schedule from 154 games (22 games apiece against the 7 other teams) to 162 games (18 games apiece against the other 9 teams). Meanwhile, the National League stayed at 8 teams and a 154-game season.

To attempt to control for this, the next two tables mirror the previous two tables except that Player won-lost records have been scaled to a consistent 162-game season for every team in both leagues.

The top 10 players in normalized pWOPA, pWORL, eWOPA, and eWORL in 1961 are shown in the next four tables.

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 Mantle25.714.84.7
6.5
1Mickey Mantle25.714.84.7
6.5
2Roger Maris26.715.44.4
6.3
2Roger Maris26.715.44.4
6.3
3Norm Cash23.513.04.0
5.6
3Norm Cash23.513.04.0
5.6
4Whitey Ford19.112.73.9
5.3
4Rocky Colavito26.518.23.4
5.4
5Frank Lary19.213.83.5
4.9
5Willie Mays26.818.53.4
5.4
6Rocky Colavito26.518.23.4
5.4
6Whitey Ford19.112.73.9
5.3
7Willie Mays26.818.53.4
5.4
7Frank Lary19.213.83.5
4.9
8Jim O'Toole18.213.03.3
4.6
8Frank Robinson25.718.02.8
4.8
9Jim Gentile20.912.23.2
4.7
9Jim Gentile20.912.23.2
4.7
10Warren Spahn20.315.73.2
4.6
10Warren Spahn20.315.73.2
4.6


The top 10 players in normalized 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 Mantle24.714.84.2
6.0
1Mickey Mantle24.714.84.2
6.0
2Rocky Colavito25.717.33.5
5.4
2Rocky Colavito25.717.33.5
5.4
3Norm Cash21.512.33.4
4.9
3Norm Cash21.512.33.4
4.9
4Eddie Mathews22.816.03.2
4.9
4Eddie Mathews22.816.03.2
4.9
5Roger Maris24.016.42.6
4.4
5Willie Mays24.417.92.5
4.4
6Willie Mays24.417.92.5
4.4
6Roger Maris24.016.42.6
4.4
7Frank Lary18.214.82.5
3.8
7Frank Robinson23.717.12.3
4.2
8Jim Gentile18.411.42.5
3.8
8Hank Aaron26.220.41.9
3.9
9Warren Spahn18.815.72.4
3.8
9Ken Boyer21.516.62.2
3.9
10Frank Robinson23.717.12.3
4.2
10Frank Lary18.214.82.5
3.8


The big player story of 1961 was, of course, the M&M boys, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and their pursuit of Babe Ruth's 1927 home run record. I wrote briefly about Mantle and Maris in my article about the 1960 season, when they were also the top two players in the major leagues.

Another top performer in 1961 was Rocky Colavito of the Detroit Tigers. I have already written an article about Rocky Colavito.

The theme of the 1961 season, especially in the American League, is that of good players having somewhat flukishly great seasons. This is probably best personified by Roger Maris whose 61 home runs in 1961 was 22 home runs more than the second-most of his career and more than double the fourth-highest single-season total of his 12-year career.

I take a look next at three other players who, like Maris, had 1961 seasons that look flukish within the context of their full careers: Norm Cash, Jim Gentile, and Frank Lary.

Norm Cash
Norm Cash had a very good 17-year major-league career, mostly with the Detroit Tigers, in which he played in over 2,000 games and amassed more than 7,900 plate appearances. The top 10 players most similar to Norm Cash in career value include two players in the Hall of Merit, as well as several other players who seem to me to be right on the borderline for these Halls (at least statistically).

But Norm Cash's 1961 season was definitely out of line with the rest of his otherwise fine career. Norm Cash batted .361 in 1961. The second-highest batting average of his career was .286 (in 1960). Cash's .487 OBP beat his second-best by .085; his .662 SLG beat his second-best by .131. He even nearly doubled his second-best single-season stolen base total (11 in 1961 vs. 6 in 1962 and 1965). The 1961 season was also the only season in his career in which Cash either scored or drove in 100 runs (he did both in 1961).

Norm Cash's career, as measured by Player won-lost records, is displayed in the next table.

Norm Cash
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1958CHA23
9
0.10.30.259-0.1
-0.1
0.20.30.376-0.1-0.0
1959CHA24
58
3.22.90.5220.1
0.3
3.63.20.5270.10.4
1960DET25
121
11.910.30.5360.2
1.2
12.49.20.5751.12.0
1961DET26
159
23.613.10.6444.0
5.6
21.612.40.6363.44.9
1962DET27
148
15.512.90.5460.5
1.6
17.113.20.5641.12.2
1963DET28
147
16.013.00.5510.9
2.0
16.512.50.5691.42.5
1964DET29
144
16.013.00.5520.9
2.1
15.512.50.5530.92.1
1965DET30
142
16.112.40.5661.1
2.2
15.811.80.5721.22.3
1966DET31
160
19.014.90.5611.1
2.4
18.214.70.5530.82.1
1967DET32
152
15.412.70.5470.5
1.7
15.512.70.5490.51.8
1968DET33
127
12.810.50.5500.5
1.5
13.010.60.5500.51.5
1969DET34
142
14.811.90.5550.6
1.8
14.011.10.5580.61.7
1970DET35
130
10.69.60.524-0.1
0.8
11.49.90.5350.21.1
1971DET36
135
14.89.10.6192.1
3.0
14.610.60.5791.22.2
1972DET37
137
13.411.70.534-0.1
0.9
13.112.10.519-0.50.5
1973DET38
121
9.89.10.5190.0
0.8
10.49.00.5350.31.2
1974DET39
51
4.13.90.5180.0
0.3
4.03.80.5150.00.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,083
217.2171.20.55912.3
28.2
216.7169.60.56112.928.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
16
1.41.10.566 0.21.51.10.576 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,099
218.6172.30.559
28.4
218.2170.70.561 29.0


Jim Gentile
Jim Gentile hit 179 home runs and drove in 549 runs in 3,479 plate appearances in his career. That works out to a home run every 19.4 PAs and an RBI every 6.3 PAs. In 1961, Gentile hit 46 home runs and drove in 141 runs in 601 PAs, for rates of 13.1 PA/HR and 4.1 RBI/PA. Like Norm Cash, the 1961 season was the only one in Gentile's career in which he batted .300 or better (.302), slugged over .600 (.646), had an OPS over 1.000 (1.069), hit over 40 home runs (46) or had over 100 RBI (141).

Jim Gentile's career, as measured by Player won-lost records, is displayed in the next table.

Jim Gentile
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1957BRO23
4
0.40.10.7800.1
0.1
0.30.10.6680.10.1
1958LAN24
12
0.51.00.348-0.3
-0.2
0.50.80.364-0.2-0.1
1960BAL26
138
14.410.40.5811.4
2.4
13.29.60.5791.22.2
1961BAL27
148
21.012.20.6323.3
4.7
18.511.50.6172.53.8
1962BAL28
152
16.114.90.519-0.3
0.9
16.113.40.5450.51.6
1963BAL29
145
14.713.80.516-0.1
1.0
15.212.90.5420.61.7
1964KC130
136
12.012.70.486-0.9
0.1
13.311.30.5410.51.5
31
119
9.511.30.458-1.4
-0.5
10.39.10.5310.10.9
32
81
5.65.50.503-0.2
0.3
5.15.10.501-0.20.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
935
94.281.90.5351.7
8.9
92.674.00.5565.111.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
0
0.00.0 0.00.00.0 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
935
94.281.90.535
8.9
92.674.00.556 11.9


Frank Lary
Most of the fluke seasons in 1961 (e.g., Maris, Cash, Gentile) were by hitters. The last player I want to highlight here is a pitcher, however: Frank Lary. In 1961, Lary set career highs in pitcher wins (23), winning percentage (.719), complete games (22), and shutouts (4), and received the only Cy Young votes of his career as well as his only career Gold Glove.

All of that said, Lary's 1961 season came on the heels of a strong stretch from 1955 through 1960 in which Lary was one of the best pitchers in baseball. His 1961 season looks more flukish in retrospect, because it was the last season of his career when he was anywhere near that good. In 1961, Lary was 23-9 with a 3.24 ERA; from 1962 - 1965, Lary was 11-23 with an ERA of 4.26.

Because his prime was so short, only seven seasons, Frank Lary is somewhat forgotten these days. His fine, albeit short, career is presented in the next table, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Frank Lary
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1954DET24
3
0.10.10.419-0.0
-0.0
0.10.20.476-0.00.0
1955DET25
36
14.214.10.5010.5
1.6
14.613.80.5150.92.0
1956DET26
41
18.915.70.5462.3
3.9
19.217.60.5211.53.2
1957DET27
40
14.516.10.473-0.2
1.1
14.615.60.4840.21.4
1958DET28
39
16.815.20.5251.6
2.8
16.915.20.5261.62.9
1959DET29
32
14.812.90.5341.5
2.7
14.213.40.5140.92.1
1960DET30
39
16.214.30.5321.7
3.0
18.016.20.5271.73.2
1961DET31
38
19.313.90.5823.5
4.9
18.314.90.5512.53.9
1962DET32
18
4.26.10.410-0.8
-0.3
4.86.80.417-0.8-0.2
1963DET33
16
5.77.50.433-0.6
0.0
6.87.00.4950.30.9
34
24
4.86.70.420-0.7
-0.1
4.76.90.407-0.9-0.3
35
28
3.64.10.468-0.1
0.2
4.54.80.486-0.00.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
354
133.2126.60.5138.8
19.8
136.9132.30.5098.019.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
0
0.00.0 0.00.00.0 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
354
133.2126.60.513
19.8
136.9132.30.509 19.5


1961 Postseason

The two teams that met in the 1961 World Series offered quite a contrast. The National League representative, the Cincinnati Reds, won the pennant for the first time in 21 years. The Reds were the fourth different NL pennant winner over the previous four years.

In the American League, meanwhile, the pennant was won by the New York Yankees for the second year in a row and 11th time in 13 seasons dating back to 1949.

Experience trumped novelty, as the Yankees beat the Reds in five games. The top performers in the 1961 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the table below.

1961 World Series: Top Player Performances
pWins pLosses pWORL
Whitey FordNYA1.20.50.5
Johnny BlanchardNYA0.80.20.4


Best of 1961 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 1961 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle18.29.14.3

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Vada Pinson2.01.10.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jim O'Toole13.510.82.8


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Fornieles0.70.20.4


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Clay Dalrymple1.61.10.5


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Norm Cash2.62.00.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Frank Bolling6.15.01.0


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Clete Boyer5.53.91.5


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roy McMillan6.65.90.7
Ron Hansen6.35.60.7
Gene Leek0.90.30.7


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Rocky Colavito7.05.11.8


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jim Piersall5.64.51.1


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Al Kaline5.44.70.7
Jim Rivera2.01.30.7
Roberto Clemente6.76.10.7


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1961 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
Johnny Romano14.811.51.8
Elston Howard11.88.51.8


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Norm Cash21.412.73.2


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Frank Bolling19.818.71.4


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Mathews21.615.82.7


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ernie Banks14.412.41.4


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Rocky Colavito23.216.03.1


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mickey Mantle24.615.43.9


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Roger Maris22.515.42.4


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Frank Lary15.212.11.7
Jim Bunning15.012.21.6


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Stu Miller6.74.41.0


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 1961 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1961, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Stu Miller8.85.10.6321.82.6
Luis Arroyo9.57.00.5771.22.2
Hoyt Wilhelm9.06.30.5881.22.2
Jim Brosnan5.83.30.6371.21.7
Jim Coates9.48.00.5410.81.7


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
Warren Spahn2.32.00.7


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jerry Lynch1.91.00.5


Jerry Lynch had one of the best pinch-hitting seasons of the past 75+ years, with 19 hits in 47 at-bats (59 PA), including 5 home runs, 25 RBI, and a batting line of .404/.525/.851 (OPS of 1.376). The top 10 pinch-hitting seasons, as measured by (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over positional average, are shown in the next table.

Top 10 Single-Season Totals: eWOPA by Position
Pinch Hitting
Player Season eWins eLosses eWOPA
Travis Buck20121.50.20.6
Gates Brown19681.90.70.6
Joe Cronin19432.00.80.6
Smoky Burgess19652.21.40.5
Jerry Lynch19611.91.00.5
Craig Wilson (2001)20011.50.60.5
Daryle Ward20062.01.20.5
Billy Ashley19961.30.50.5
Jerry Turner19781.80.90.5
John Vander Wal19952.11.30.5


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Humberto 'Chico' Fernandez0.20.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 1961

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1961 seasons.

Notable Debuts
The 1961 season saw the major-league debut of two future Hall-of-Famers: Carl Yastrzemski and Lou Brock.

Yastrzemski's and Brock's careers overlapped two more times through the years.

Carl Yastrzemski spent his entire career in the American League and Lou Brock spent his entire career in the National League in the era long before interleague regular-season games. They did, however, face each other once in their professional career, in the 1967 World Series.

In that World Series, Carl Yastrzemski led the Boston Red Sox (and all hitters) with a 1.340 OPS (batting line of .400/.500/.840, 3 HR, 5 RBI), while Lou Brock led the St. Louis Cardinals by batting .414/.452/.655 (OPS of 1.107, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 8 R, 7 SB).

The next table compares the postseason performances of Yastrzemski and Brock in the 1967 World Series, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Carl Yastrzemski
7
1.51.20.5560.1
0.2
1.60.90.6310.30.4
Lou Brock
7
1.31.00.5580.1
0.2
1.70.90.6430.30.4


Yastrzemski's and Brock's careers overlapped again 12 years later, when they collected their 3,000th career hit just under one month apart. Lou Brock collected his 3,000th hit on August 13, 1979. Carl Yastrzemski collected his 3,000th hit 30 days later, on September 12, 1979.

The final table of this article compares the careers of Carl Yastrzemski and Lou Brock, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Carl Yastrzemski Lou Brock
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
196114817.318.40.485-1.0
0.5
30.10.50.133-0.2-0.2
196216021.420.80.507-0.6
1.0
11911.114.30.437-1.9-0.9
196315123.319.00.5501.2
2.8
14817.516.80.510-0.60.8
196415120.018.70.5170.2
1.7
15421.719.20.5310.32.0
196513317.418.00.491-1.0
0.4
15521.719.70.5250.21.8
196616023.420.30.5360.9
2.6
15621.920.60.516-0.11.6
196716127.218.00.6023.5
5.4
15924.620.60.5440.92.9
196815725.817.00.6033.3
5.1
15925.619.50.5681.93.7
196916223.218.30.5591.7
3.5
15723.520.10.5390.92.8
197016123.016.30.5852.2
3.9
15520.322.50.474-2.2-0.4
197114822.618.10.5551.5
3.1
15722.721.70.511-0.41.4
197212518.014.10.5601.1
2.4
15319.319.10.503-0.70.9
197315218.014.20.5581.4
2.7
15922.820.70.5240.11.9
197414817.517.40.502-0.4
0.9
15323.020.70.5260.31.9
197514915.813.60.5380.5
1.7
13618.219.80.479-1.30.2
197615518.217.00.5180.2
1.5
13315.716.90.481-1.2-0.0
197715021.518.60.5361.1
2.7
14014.515.80.478-1.20.1
197814418.215.00.5491.3
2.7
927.811.40.406-2.1-1.4
197914717.113.80.5541.4
2.8
12010.813.00.454-1.5-0.6
198010510.310.00.507-0.1
0.9
1981919.07.80.5350.5
1.3
198213110.39.70.5150.0
1.2
19831197.99.10.466-0.8
0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS3,308426.5363.20.54017.9
50.8
2,608343.0332.90.507-8.818.3




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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