Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1976 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 1976 season.

The Best of 1976

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
1Joe L. Morgan23.314.34.7
6.2
1Joe L. Morgan23.314.34.7
6.2
2Mike Schmidt23.616.13.4
4.9
2Mike Schmidt23.616.13.4
4.9
3Graig Nettles22.015.63.2
4.6
3Jim Palmer19.313.43.2
4.6
4Jim Palmer19.313.43.2
4.6
4Graig Nettles22.015.63.2
4.6
5Steve Carlton17.112.53.0
4.1
5Ron Cey21.815.42.9
4.3
6Ron Cey21.815.42.9
4.3
6Vida Blue17.812.42.9
4.2
7Vida Blue17.812.42.9
4.2
7Reggie Jackson22.116.12.7
4.2
8Mark Fidrych15.610.42.7
3.9
8Steve Carlton17.112.53.0
4.1
9Reggie Jackson22.116.12.7
4.2
9George Brett22.417.22.5
4.0
10George Brett22.417.22.5
4.0
10Bobby Grich20.416.42.5
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
1Joe L. Morgan23.015.14.2
5.7
1Joe L. Morgan23.015.14.2
5.7
2Mike Schmidt22.516.32.8
4.2
2Mike Schmidt22.516.32.8
4.2
3Jim Palmer18.113.72.4
3.8
3Jim Palmer18.113.72.4
3.8
4George Brett21.917.32.3
3.7
4George Brett21.917.32.3
3.7
5Gaylord Perry15.211.02.2
3.4
5Reggie Jackson20.515.72.1
3.5
6Bobby Grich18.815.52.1
3.4
6Cesar Cedeno22.918.01.9
3.5
7Mark Fidrych14.310.42.1
3.2
7Bobby Grich18.815.52.1
3.4
8Reggie Jackson20.515.72.1
3.5
8Vida Blue17.013.12.1
3.4
9Vida Blue17.013.12.1
3.4
9Toby Harrah21.920.01.8
3.4
10Tom Seaver16.613.82.0
3.2
10Gaylord Perry15.211.02.2
3.4


The leaderboards above include several familiar faces from surrounding seasons. Perhaps the two most prominent such names are Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt. The 1976 season was, in many respects, just a typical season for these two. The next table shows the top 20 players in career pWins and eWins over positional average. Players active in 1976 are shown in bold.

pWins over Positional Average, Career
Top 20 Players
          eWins over Positional Average, Career
Top 20 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1Barry Bonds462.1315.160.3
90.8
1Barry Bonds456.8310.260.390.3
2Babe Ruth306.4178.654.2
74.1
2Roger Clemens310.8225.548.776.7
3Roger Clemens318.2228.251.1
79.6
3Babe Ruth287.9176.646.465.4
4Mickey Mantle351.8230.750.2
73.9
4Ted Williams366.6248.445.870.8
5Willie Mays460.1335.249.6
81.8
5Greg Maddux321.0261.945.373.2
6Joe L. Morgan374.0292.346.2
72.7
6Mickey Mantle342.3232.244.868.1
7Lefty Grove248.3169.644.9
63.8
7Willie Mays438.9327.943.174.2
8Greg Maddux328.5271.444.8
73.5
8Joe L. Morgan367.6295.741.367.7
9Ted Williams369.6253.644.5
69.9
9Alex Rodriguez365.5292.540.867.3
10Warren Spahn354.2293.643.8
71.8
10Mel Ott353.8251.539.965.2
11Alex Rodriguez373.9297.242.5
69.5
11Hank Aaron477.6363.739.974.6
12Hank Aaron492.5372.942.2
77.9
12Mike Schmidt330.0246.135.757.8
13Lou Gehrig263.4158.040.2
57.8
13Stan Musial413.1314.734.864.1
14Stan Musial420.9312.139.9
69.4
14Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson267.6215.534.158.9
15Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson281.3221.038.5
64.3
15Warren Spahn337.2295.634.061.3
16Joe DiMaggio280.1192.038.3
57.5
16Eddie Mathews316.1242.231.353.8
17Tom Seaver309.0256.738.1
62.4
17Bob Gibson258.8219.231.051.8
18Mel Ott361.9264.736.9
63.1
18Tom Seaver300.8262.631.055.2
19Pee Wee Reese300.7238.735.2
57.0
19Pedro J. Martinez183.0132.530.847.5
20Bob Gibson263.9217.334.6
55.5
20Frank Robinson384.6294.130.659.2


At least two players were newcomers to the major-league leaderboards in 1976. For one of them, 1976 would be the first of many such appearances. For the other, 1976 was his only moment of glory.

I take a closer look at these two players next.

George Brett
The early 1980s were something of a golden age for third basemen as the primes of arguably 3 of the 5 or 6 greatest third basemen in major-league history overlapped for about five seasons from 1983 through 1987. Mike Schmidt's prime started in 1974 and Wade Boggs's prime began in 1983. In between them, the 1976 season was the first truly great season in George Brett's career.

The next table shows the top 10 players in (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over positional average earned at third base among players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records.

Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Schmidt307.1234.231.0
Eddie Mathews294.4229.427.6
Chipper Jones259.6209.321.3
Wade Boggs276.6244.216.2
George Brett223.4189.516.1
Ron Santo277.7236.416.1
Scott Rolen248.9213.614.6
Adrian Beltre319.0287.314.0
Alex Rodriguez153.0125.713.2
Evan Longoria166.2141.612.1


George Brett's career record, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented in the next table.

George Brett
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1973KCA20
13
0.61.00.371-0.2
-0.2
0.61.20.354-0.3-0.2
1974KCA21
133
13.014.40.474-0.8
0.3
14.415.00.489-0.40.7
1975KCA22
159
20.917.70.5411.6
3.1
20.218.60.5200.82.3
1976KCA23
159
22.417.20.5652.5
4.0
21.917.30.5582.33.7
1977KCA24
139
21.315.60.5762.7
4.2
19.716.40.5461.53.0
1978KCA25
128
16.614.20.5411.2
2.3
16.014.00.5340.92.1
1979KCA26
154
21.116.70.5592.1
3.6
22.218.10.5512.03.5
1980KCA27
117
18.510.20.6454.1
5.2
18.211.80.6073.24.3
1981KCA28
89
10.610.40.506-0.0
0.8
11.710.50.5260.41.3
1982KCA29
144
18.515.00.5521.6
2.9
18.715.50.5461.42.7
1983KCA30
123
16.613.80.5461.2
2.3
16.213.20.5491.32.4
1984KCA31
104
14.910.90.5762.1
3.0
11.811.10.5170.51.4
1985KCA32
155
22.115.30.5903.4
4.8
22.517.50.5622.54.0
1986KCA33
123
15.513.10.5421.1
2.1
15.012.00.5561.42.4
1987KCA34
115
12.611.80.517-0.1
1.0
12.910.90.5420.51.5
1988KCA35
157
18.215.10.5471.1
2.5
18.214.20.5621.62.9
1989KCA36
124
14.512.40.5390.4
1.4
13.911.90.5380.41.4
1990KCA37
142
15.413.90.5250.3
1.5
16.313.40.5491.02.2
1991KCA38
131
11.111.30.495-0.5
0.8
11.211.80.488-0.70.7
1992KCA39
152
11.612.40.484-0.7
0.6
12.812.60.505-0.21.2
1993KCA40
145
12.112.40.492-0.3
1.2
12.512.90.491-0.41.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,706
328.0274.90.54422.8
47.6
326.9279.90.53919.744.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
43
5.85.60.509 0.56.24.90.556 1.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,749
333.8280.50.544
48.2
333.1284.80.539 45.8


Mark Fidrych
Mark Fidrych burst onto the scene like few players before or since. I am just old enough to remember Fidrych live (I was 8 in 1976) and he was a real treat to watch on the mound. This YouTube video gives a little bit of flavor of the Fidrych phenomenon. Mark Fidrych was the second- or third-best pitcher in the American League as a 21-year-old in 1976. He also completed 24 games (which led the league), threw 250.1 innings, and developed arm trouble. He pitched 81 innings as a 22-year-old and only 412.1 innings for his career: 250.1 in 1976 and 162.0 from 1977 - 1980.

Bill James wrote in his New Historical Baseball Abstract his belief that "it was always very unlikely that Mark Fidrych would have a career of more than a few seasons" even if he hadn't gotten injured because his strikeout rate was so low (3.9 K/9 in his rookie season vs. 4.7 for the American League as a whole). Statistically, this is certainly true, but one thing that I find interesting about Fidrych's career is that while 1976 was a "fluke" season in terms of innings, he actually pitched just as well in 1977 and 1978. In 1976, Fidrych's ERA was 2.34. It was never quite that good again, but in 1977, his ERA was 2.89 (in 81 IP, 11 starts); in 1978, he only made 3 starts (completing two of them, 22 total IP) but with an ERA of 2.45. After that, the injuries finally caught up with him and he had a combined ERA of 6.86 for his final two seasons (59 IP).

As a Cubs fan, that reminds me of somebody more recent. The next table shows the 10 players most similar to Mark Fidrych in career value through age 22, as measured by Player won-lost records. The table compares pitching wins and losses as well as overall record, in and out of context.

Most Similar Players to Mark Fidrych in Value
Through Age 22
Pitching
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mark Fidrych
42
21.014.13.6
5.2
16.713.02.0
Mark Prior
51
23.717.34.3
6.3
18.614.22.3
Bill Gullickson
47
17.914.72.3
3.7
15.312.51.7
Jose D. Fernandez
47
20.313.74.3
6.0
16.712.12.6
Lary Sorensen
60
23.120.01.8
3.8
20.917.31.7
Bill Stafford
83
30.723.25.0
7.3
24.821.62.2
Ramon J. Martinez
57
24.319.73.4
5.3
19.617.71.4
Vinegar Bend Mizell
63
26.123.12.3
4.5
22.319.21.5
Matt Cain
71
28.026.91.9
4.7
24.920.82.5
Ismael Valdez
87
28.426.32.4
5.3
24.420.22.5
Mark Buehrle
60
15.711.72.2
3.8
14.712.01.5


That first name is exactly who I was thinking of. His career followed a very similar path: one brilliant season, a couple of years where he was still great when he was able to pitch, but he just wasn't able to stay healthy. Eventually, though, the injuries started to not only keep him off the field but affect his performance on it as well. To be honest, it's always a little bit depressing to do a comp list of young pitchers: the fact is, what happened to Mark Fidrych is, in many ways, the norm, not the exception, throughout baseball history.

Mark Fidrych's career record, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented in the next table.

Mark Fidrych
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1976DET21
31
15.610.40.6002.7
3.9
14.310.40.5802.13.2
1977DET22
11
5.43.70.5910.9
1.4
4.73.10.6030.91.3
1978DET23
3
1.40.70.6750.4
0.5
1.30.80.6310.30.4
1979DET24
4
1.32.60.330-0.6
-0.5
0.71.50.319-0.4-0.3
1980DET25
9
1.93.10.381-0.6
-0.4
2.63.10.449-0.3-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
58
25.520.50.5552.8
4.9
23.618.90.5552.64.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
0
0.00.0 0.00.00.0 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
58
25.520.50.555
4.9
23.618.90.555 4.5


1976 Postseason

The 1976 Cincinnati Reds are the only team since the introduction of the League Championship Series in 1969 to go undefeated through the postseason. The other three playoff teams all won their division for the first time since the introduction of divisions in 1969. Those same three teams then won their divisions again in 1977, 1978, and 1980.

The best postseason performers in 1976, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown below. Not surprisingly, the 7-0 Reds are well-represented in these tables.

1976 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Johnny BenchCIN1.40.40.6
Chris ChamblissNYA1.91.10.5
Don GullettCIN1.10.50.4
Tony PerezCIN1.40.60.4
George FosterCIN1.30.70.4
Joe L. MorganCIN1.10.60.4


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1976 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Johnny BenchCIN0.70.20.3
George FosterCIN0.90.30.3
Joe L. MorganCIN0.70.30.3
Tony PerezCIN0.80.30.2
Pat ZachryCIN0.70.50.2
Don GullettCIN0.60.30.2
Gary NolanCIN0.50.30.2

1976 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Chris ChamblissNYA1.50.50.5
Thurman MunsonNYA1.00.60.3
Johnny BenchCIN0.70.20.3
Ken Griffey Sr.CIN0.80.30.3


Best of 1976 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 1976 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe L. Morgan15.69.13.0

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cesar Cedeno2.81.50.6
Mickey Rivers2.31.30.5
Don Baylor2.41.50.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gaylord Perry13.610.43.2
Jim Palmer16.213.23.0
Tom Seaver14.111.32.7
Vida Blue15.212.52.6
Mark Fidrych12.510.02.5
Frank Tanana15.513.22.3
Bert Blyleven15.913.72.2
John Montefusco13.311.12.2
Ron Reed6.84.62.2


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Randy Jones0.70.30.4


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jim Sundberg2.81.90.8
Rick Dempsey1.60.80.8


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Steve Garvey2.72.10.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Willie Randolph5.24.50.6


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Graig Nettles5.94.81.1


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tim Foli6.55.70.8


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Andres Mora3.01.21.8


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Amos Otis4.94.10.7


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dave Winfield7.05.51.5


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1976 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
Carlton Fisk14.312.61.3


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bob Watson18.414.61.1
Rod Carew18.815.61.1


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe L. Morgan22.715.04.1


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Schmidt22.416.52.6


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Toby Harrah20.619.41.5


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
George Foster14.910.61.7


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cesar Cedeno22.618.21.7


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Reggie Jackson17.413.31.7


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Palmer16.413.41.7
Tom Seaver14.411.51.6
Gaylord Perry13.810.91.6
Vida Blue15.512.71.5


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Rawly Eastwick6.04.40.7
Dave LaRoche5.64.00.7
Ron Reed5.84.20.7


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 1976 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1976, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Ron Reed7.95.20.6051.42.1
Jim Kern8.45.60.6021.32.1
Charlie Hough9.17.10.5610.91.9
Rawly Eastwick7.45.00.5951.11.9
Skip Lockwood7.45.40.5761.01.7


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Hal McRae11.99.21.3


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
Rick Rhoden1.61.50.5


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bruce Boisclair0.90.30.3
Ken McMullen1.10.60.3
Merv Rettenmund1.40.90.3
Steve Braun0.80.30.3
Andres Mora0.80.30.3
Jose M. Morales2.11.70.3
Jimmy Wynn0.60.10.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Matt Alexander0.90.30.3


Noteworthy Players of 1976

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1976 seasons.

Notable Debuts
The 1976 season saw the major-league debut of two players who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Bruce Sutter and Andre Dawson. Their careers, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the next table.

Bruce Sutter Andre Dawson
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1976524.92.90.6300.9
1.4
242.53.40.425-0.5-0.3
19776210.14.80.6772.5
3.4
13916.315.70.510-0.11.2
1978648.86.80.5641.0
1.9
15722.318.90.5421.32.9
1979629.96.00.6241.8
2.8
15422.718.90.5461.43.0
1980608.06.10.5660.8
1.7
15022.318.80.5431.32.9
1981486.84.70.5880.8
1.5
10317.813.50.5691.83.0
1982709.76.50.6001.3
2.3
14723.917.20.5823.04.5
1983608.27.20.5320.2
1.2
15923.220.10.5361.12.6
19847110.16.70.6001.3
2.4
13820.118.20.5250.01.5
1985586.56.30.508-0.1
0.7
13920.717.60.5401.02.5
1986160.91.10.450-0.1
-0.0
13016.416.70.496-0.70.5
1987
 
15323.020.30.5310.52.2
1988384.33.30.5670.4
0.8
15721.618.90.5330.52.0
1989
 
11815.213.10.5370.61.6
1990
 
14719.820.20.495-0.70.7
1991
 
14916.616.80.498-0.70.6
1992
 
14318.017.70.505-0.31.1
1993
 
12111.211.20.501-0.11.2
1994
 
755.87.10.452-0.8-0.0
1995
 
796.07.60.442-1.0-0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS66188.462.60.58510.9
20.1
2,582345.7311.80.5267.433.2


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 1976 was the final season for three Hall-of-Fame outfielders: Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Billy Williams. Their careers, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the final table of this article.

They make an interesting comparison. All three players are highly deserving Hall-of-Famers, but there's an obvious stair-step component to the comparison: Hank Aaron is a top 5-10 player; Frank Robinson is a top 20-40 player; Billy Williams is a top 100 player (which is still really damn impressive).

Hank Aaron Frank Robinson Billy Williams
Season pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
195416.914.70.6
1.9
 
195521.618.61.0
2.6
 
195625.218.42.6
4.4
23.418.41.6
3.3
195725.216.63.6
5.3
20.418.10.1
1.7
195824.917.32.9
4.6
20.619.1-0.1
1.4
195925.117.82.6
4.3
17.715.20.6
1.9
0.51.0-0.3-0.2
196024.017.92.4
4.1
18.214.31.1
2.4
1.31.4-0.1-0.0
196125.418.62.4
4.4
24.417.12.7
4.5
15.818.5-1.9-0.4
196226.919.72.7
4.5
26.317.53.3
4.9
20.819.6-0.31.2
196325.819.32.0
3.7
21.516.41.7
3.1
24.719.31.73.4
196421.218.00.7
2.3
26.217.93.1
4.9
22.719.90.42.1
196521.917.91.2
2.7
23.218.11.6
3.3
24.319.61.53.2
196625.318.72.3
4.0
24.717.02.8
4.4
19.220.4-1.50.0
196726.119.42.3
4.3
20.415.51.6
3.1
23.519.01.23.0
196827.720.32.7
4.7
16.614.90.2
1.5
26.019.02.44.2
196923.915.83.0
4.7
24.515.53.4
5.1
23.120.10.72.5
197022.916.32.7
4.3
18.013.61.6
3.0
25.419.02.03.9
197120.613.42.7
4.1
19.515.51.2
2.6
23.417.72.03.6
197216.212.70.7
1.9
14.112.50.4
1.5
23.516.92.44.0
197315.113.30.3
1.5
15.811.91.8
3.5
20.319.3-0.41.2
197414.310.91.2
2.2
12.710.90.8
2.2
13.513.1-0.40.6
19759.610.5-0.6
0.7
4.12.60.7
1.1
13.910.51.53.0
19766.56.6-0.1
0.7
2.62.20.2
0.5
8.07.30.31.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS492.5372.942.2
77.9
395.0304.230.4
59.8
329.8281.711.036.6




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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