Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1977 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records


I have previously written up articles about the first and last season for which Retrosheet has complete play-by-play data (including what they call "deduced games"): 1951 and 2012.

For my third installment, I chose the first season that I have strong memories of following from start to finish and the first season in which I attended a live major-league baseball game: 1977.

The Best of 1977

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
1Tom Seaver19.012.34.2
5.6
1Joe L. Morgan22.414.74.2
5.7
2Joe L. Morgan22.414.74.2
5.7
2Tom Seaver19.012.34.2
5.6
3John Candelaria16.210.53.5
4.7
3Steve Carlton20.415.53.4
5.0
4Davey Lopes20.013.73.5
4.9
4Davey Lopes20.013.73.5
4.9
5Steve Carlton20.415.53.4
5.0
5George Foster27.019.53.0
4.8
6Rick Reuschel17.912.93.3
4.7
6John Candelaria16.210.53.5
4.7
7Tommy John16.311.13.2
4.5
7Rick Reuschel17.912.93.3
4.7
8Carlton Fisk18.312.03.2
4.4
8Jim Palmer18.513.22.9
4.5
9George Foster27.019.53.0
4.8
9Tommy John16.311.13.2
4.5
10Graig Nettles21.315.32.9
4.4
10Dennis Leonard18.012.82.9
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
1Joe L. Morgan20.614.43.5
4.9
1Joe L. Morgan20.614.43.5
4.9
2Tom Seaver16.912.13.2
4.5
2Jim Palmer19.313.92.9
4.6
3Jim Palmer19.313.92.9
4.6
3Tom Seaver16.912.13.2
4.5
4Rod Carew20.814.12.8
4.2
4George Foster24.317.52.7
4.4
5Mike Schmidt21.415.12.8
4.2
5Mitchell Page22.116.12.7
4.3
6George Foster24.317.52.7
4.4
6Rod Carew20.814.12.8
4.2
7Mitchell Page22.116.12.7
4.3
7Mike Schmidt21.415.12.8
4.2
8J.R. Richard17.714.22.5
4.0
8Dave Parker25.919.22.3
4.1
9Dennis Leonard17.713.12.5
4.1
9Dennis Leonard17.713.12.5
4.1
10Rick Reuschel17.013.62.5
3.8
10J.R. Richard17.714.22.5
4.0


The top player on 2 of the 4 tables above is Joe Morgan. This was the last year of a 6-year run by Morgan in which he was clearly the best player in baseball. In fact, measured by pWORL (or pWOPA), this run by Morgan was the finest 6-year run of any player for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records. Joe Morgan's record from 1972 - 1977 is shown below.

Season Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1972
149
25.816.00.6175.3
7.0
24.417.40.5854.05.6
1973
157
26.917.10.6125.0
6.9
24.917.40.5893.95.6
1974
148
23.816.80.5863.8
5.4
22.115.90.5813.44.8
1975
146
24.515.40.6144.6
6.2
23.415.70.5973.95.4
1976
139
23.314.30.6204.7
6.2
23.015.10.6054.25.7
1977
153
22.414.70.6034.2
5.7
20.614.40.5883.54.9


The next table shows the top 10 six-year runs of the Retrosheet Era, as measured by pWins over replacement level (pWORL).

Player Seasons pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
Babe Ruth
1923 - 1928
147.081.828.537.7
Joe L. Morgan
1972 - 1977
146.694.327.737.3
Lefty Grove
1928 - 1933
121.873.426.935.4
Babe Ruth
1922 - 1927
140.379.426.535.2
Joe L. Morgan
1971 - 1976
146.398.225.535.1
Lefty Grove
1927 - 1932
120.673.626.134.7
Babe Ruth
1926 - 1931
141.381.525.234.5
Babe Ruth
1927 - 1932
137.076.925.234.3
Babe Ruth
1921 - 1926
138.478.825.734.2
Barry Bonds
1999 - 2004
136.978.125.234.0


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: Tommy John
The first name to appear on the pWOPA/pWORL lists above but not on the eWOPA/eWORL lists is Tommy John, perhaps most famous today for the surgery which bears his name. Here is how Tommy John's 1977 season looks both in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Tommy John, 1977
31
16.311.10.5943.2
4.5
13.612.00.5311.42.6


For his career, Tommy John's record was a bit better in context than out, although over half of the difference between his career pWORL and eWORL is from 1977 alone.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Tommy John, career
761
278.0247.90.52923.6
47.3
278.3259.90.51718.042.1


Player won-lost records think extremely highly of Tommy John's career. In fact, Tommy John ranks among the top 5 eligible players in career pWOPA, pWORL, eWOPA, and eWORL among players not in the Hall of Fame (excluding Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who can perhaps best be viewed as "special cases"), and highest in all four of those categories among players in neither the Hall of Fame nor the Hall of Merit. The top five eligible players in career pWORL who retired before 2007 (which excludes Bonds and Clemens) and are not in the Hall of Fame are shown below.

Players with highest career pWORL not in the Hall of Fame

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Lou Whitaker
2,383
306.1261.028.4
50.2
289.7258.021.542.5
Tommy John
761
278.0247.923.6
47.3
278.3259.918.042.1
J. Kevin Brown
487
204.6164.726.4
45.2
203.3159.828.046.6
Dwight Evans
2,597
326.9274.919.7
43.8
321.8273.218.141.8
Bobby Grich
2,004
253.6217.723.6
41.8
255.6219.323.842.2


Worse in Context: J.R. Richard
J.R. Richard was one of the two greatest baseball tragedies of my youth, along with Lyman Bostock. For those who don't know, J.R. Richard suffered a "near-fatal stroke" on July 30, 1980, at the age of 30, three weeks after starting the All-Star Game.

In 1977, though, that was three years in the future. This was the season when, at age 27, J.R. Richard first turned the corner from thrower to pitcher.

But J.R. Richard's performance in 1977 did not translate into quite as many wins for the Astros as expected. Looking at J.R. Richard's pitching splits one can see why. Overall, in 1977, J.R. Richard had an OPS-allowed of .611 (.218/.292/.319). In late and close situations, his OPS-allowed rose to .648 (.252/.342/.305); still excellent, but not quite as excellent. In low leverage, his OPS-allowed was .583 (.201/.289/.295); in high leverage, it was .613 (.231/.294/.319). Again, there's nothing at all wrong with a .613 OPS-allowed (the NL OPS for 1977 was .724); it's just not quite as good as .583.

The next table compares J.R. Richard's career (measured by context-neutral, teammate-adjusted eWins) to the career of another pitcher from age 25 (the first year as a full-time starter for both of them) through age 30, the unfortunate final year of Richard's career.

J.R. Richard Pitcher X
Age Games eWins eLoss WinPct eWOPA eWORL Games eWins eLoss WinPct eWOPA eWORL
25
3312.814.00.478-0.0
1.1
299.710.20.489-0.00.9
26
3917.418.30.4880.3
1.7
3313.313.90.490-0.01.3
27
3617.714.20.5562.5
4.0
3312.912.60.5060.31.6
28
3717.616.20.5201.4
2.8
3112.812.00.5150.62.0
29
3818.115.00.5482.4
3.7
3616.611.50.5902.74.0
30
177.34.60.6141.7
2.1
2311.47.50.6052.13.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS20091.082.20.5258.2
15.4
18576.867.70.5325.613.0


Pitcher X is Randy Johnson who won 5 Cy Young awards after his age 30 season.

Oh, what J.R. Richard could have been!

The 1977 Postseason

Three of the four playoff teams in 1977 were repeat division winners from 1976: the Yankees, Royals, and Phillies. The only variety was that the Los Angeles Dodgers supplanted the two-time defending World Champion Cincinnati Reds in the NL West. As if that wasn't boring enough for fans of variety and/or other teams, the same four teams repeated again in 1978, right down to the same winners of each of the three postseason series.

Probably the most enduring memory from the 1977 postseason was Reggie Jackson's three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series. Jackson had an outstanding World Series for the Yankees that season, which more than made up for a disappointing ALCS in which he batted .125/.222/.125.

In addition to Jackson, the best players in the 1977 postseason, as measured by pWins over replacement level were fellow Yankees Ron Guidry, Mickey Rivers, and Mike Torrez, and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker. I have no recollection of Mike Torrez playing for the Yankees; when I think "Mike Torrez" and "Yankees", this game comes to mind, along with the name Bucky Dent.

The best of the 1977 postseason in table form:
1977 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Ron GuidryNYA1.60.80.5
Mickey RiversNYA1.71.00.4
Reggie JacksonNYA1.50.90.4
Mike TorrezNYA1.81.40.4
Lou PiniellaNYA1.91.50.3
Dusty BakerLAN1.81.30.3
Sparky LyleNYA0.90.40.3
Ron CeyLAN1.51.00.3
Cliff JohnsonNYA0.70.20.3
Hal McRaeKCA0.90.50.3
Thurman MunsonNYA1.10.70.3
Willie RandolphNYA1.31.00.3
Paul SplittorffKCA0.90.60.3
Freddie PatekKCA0.90.60.3


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1977 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Reggie JacksonNYA1.30.40.5
Ron GuidryNYA0.90.50.3
Chris ChamblissNYA0.80.30.3
Mike TorrezNYA1.21.00.3

1977 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Dusty BakerLAN1.10.30.4


Best of 1977 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 1977 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
George Foster17.011.12.7
Reggie Smith14.49.02.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Larry Bowa1.80.70.5
Gene Richards2.61.50.5
Cesar Cedeno2.51.40.5
Rod Carew2.41.50.5
Mitchell Page1.91.00.4
Frank Taveras2.21.30.4
Davey Lopes2.11.30.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tom Seaver13.710.13.6
Dennis Leonard15.812.43.4
Jim Palmer16.813.43.4
Steve Rogers15.812.53.2
Frank Tanana13.010.13.0
Rick Reuschel13.911.02.9
Ron Guidry11.38.42.9
Nolan Ryan16.814.12.7
Bert Blyleven12.910.32.6


The top two players in this table were regarded at the time as probably the two best pitchers in Major-League Baseball in the 1970s: Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver, who each won three Cy Young Awards - twice winning them in the same season, in 1973 and 1975.

The next table compares their careers.

Jim Palmer Tom Seaver
Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1965
284.04.6-0.3
0.2
1966
3014.313.60.8
2.0
1967
92.53.1-0.2
0.0
3616.814.21.93.2
1968
 
3716.814.32.03.2
1969
2612.88.02.9
3.8
3620.813.34.56.1
1970
4020.615.33.5
5.0
3820.615.23.55.1
1971
3720.014.43.7
5.1
3719.613.04.15.5
1972
3619.013.63.5
4.9
3618.816.32.13.7
1973
3817.911.13.6
5.0
3720.113.74.15.4
1974
269.210.1-0.3
0.6
3214.114.40.41.6
1975
3920.312.14.3
5.8
3718.613.23.44.8
1976
4019.313.43.2
4.6
3516.513.91.93.1
1977
3918.513.22.9
4.5
3319.012.34.25.6
1978
3817.613.22.3
3.7
3616.015.01.02.3
1979
238.66.01.4
2.0
3214.111.71.82.9
1980
3411.711.00.5
1.5
2610.111.7-0.40.5
1981
226.77.9-0.4
0.3
2310.67.42.12.9
1982
3614.810.02.7
3.8
226.610.0-1.3-0.6
1983
144.13.90.1
0.5
3412.714.7-0.40.8
1984
50.81.6-0.4
-0.3
3413.511.61.22.3
1985
 
3514.510.92.03.4
1986
 
289.310.0-0.20.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS560242.7186.033.6
53.3
664309.0256.738.162.4


Next, we look at the major-league leaders in net fielding wins in 1977 by fielding position.

Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ron Schueler0.60.10.5


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Carlton Fisk2.11.50.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Steve Garvey2.62.00.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe L. Morgan4.94.00.9
Mike Tyson4.94.00.9


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Schmidt5.14.01.0


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Larry Bowa6.44.71.7


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mitchell Page6.95.91.0


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Omar Moreno5.24.21.0
Amos Otis5.14.11.0


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dave Parker9.26.42.8


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1977 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 Fisk16.512.52.0


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Rod Carew20.314.22.6


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joe L. Morgan20.214.53.2


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Schmidt21.115.22.6


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Garry Templeton19.518.61.3
Dave Concepcion18.217.31.3


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mitchell Page20.315.12.3


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cesar Cedeno20.317.01.2


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Dave Parker25.819.42.2


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Palmer17.413.72.1
Tom Seaver13.910.32.0
Dennis Leonard16.012.52.0
Steve Rogers16.313.01.9
Rick Reuschel14.311.11.8


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bruce Sutter6.84.01.2


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 1977 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1977, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Bruce Sutter10.14.80.6772.53.4
Bill Campbell12.38.20.6001.73.0
Rich Gossage11.17.30.6051.82.9
Sparky Lyle10.36.20.6231.72.8
Gary Lavelle8.75.20.6261.62.4


The late 1970s were probably the hey-day of the "fireman" model of relief pitcher. Relief aces of this era would pitch for multiple innings at a time fairly often. While save totals were much lower than today, it was much more common for relief pitchers to earn pitching wins. Sparky Lyle won the AL Cy Young Award for a season which saw him pitch 137 innings over 72 appearances, earning only 26 saves (which was second in the AL that year), but also picking up 13 pitcher wins.

Some people believe that Bruce Sutter's 1977 season was a milestone in the movement toward the modern closer. Sutter supposedly faded late in the 1977 (and 1978) seasons under usage that was typical for the time (107.1 IP in 62 games in 1977, 98.2 IP in 64 games in 1978), which prompted manager Herman Franks to begin to limit his usage in 1979 to only "save situations" in games where the Cubs were leading.

Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Rice12.79.21.6


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
Steve Carlton1.91.90.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Manny Mota1.51.00.3
Oscar Gamble1.00.40.3
Jack Clark1.10.60.3
Cliff Johnson0.90.40.3


1977 was the last season in which Manny Mota started a major-league game (he played one inning in the outfield in 1979). From 1974 - 1982, Mota appeared in 309 games, but played in the field in only 17 of them. For his career, Mota is in the top 10 in pinch-hitting wins over positional average (WOPA) among players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records.

Career Leaders in Pinch Hitter WOPA
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Smoky Burgess14.111.91.8
Gates Brown12.09.81.7
Manny Mota14.112.41.5
Steve Braun11.29.21.4
Cliff Johnson9.67.51.3
Oscar Gamble9.07.11.3
Matt Stairs10.99.51.3
Willie McCovey7.15.21.2
Mark Sweeney15.314.81.1
Earl Torgeson6.44.91.1


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Matt Alexander0.90.70.1
Eddie L. Miller0.20.00.1


Passing of the Guard in Baltimore

The second Orioles game that I attended live was on September 17, 1977. That day was the 22nd anniversary of the major-league debut of Baltimore Orioles legend Brooks Robinson. They announced this fact at some point during the game, which prompted the fans to erupt into a standing ovation until Robinson, then in his final season (and having already played his final game), came out of the dugout for a curtain call. At which point, 9-year-old me leaned over to my father and asked, "Who's Brooks Robinson?" My dad was mortified, of course.

Also in 1977, my favorite baseball player was voted the American League Rookie of the Year: Eddie Murray.

In 2012, the Orioles unveiled six statues, one for each Baltimore Oriole in the Hall of Fame, including the one whose career ended in 1977 as well as the one whose career started that year.

Between them, their careers spanned 43 major-league seasons, from
1955 through 1997. Here's how their careers match up by age.

Brooks Robinson Eddie Murray
Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
18
60.30.7-0.2
-0.2
19
151.31.3-0.0
0.1
20
503.43.10.1
0.4
21
14512.516.2-1.9
-0.8
16016.613.01.53.2
22
8810.19.20.2
1.0
16119.915.21.83.2
23
15220.716.91.5
3.0
15919.914.42.33.6
24
16320.018.30.6
2.3
15819.014.71.73.0
25
16220.718.70.9
2.4
9913.19.11.82.7
26
16118.017.00.3
1.7
15019.013.12.63.8
27
16324.217.43.0
4.6
15620.313.23.24.4
28
14420.916.61.7
3.2
16222.214.83.24.6
29
15722.517.22.1
3.6
15620.413.82.63.9
30
15821.119.00.6
2.3
13713.213.9-0.70.3
31
16221.916.72.4
4.0
16017.517.3-0.80.6
32
15620.517.11.5
3.1
16116.817.2-0.60.9
33
15820.016.11.4
2.9
16018.316.00.01.3
34
15620.616.31.7
3.1
15520.114.91.62.9
35
15318.118.0-0.1
1.3
15319.316.20.72.1
36
15517.316.30.2
1.6
15618.716.70.11.4
37
15319.815.22.2
3.5
15415.217.8-2.2-0.9
38
14414.414.00.2
1.4
1089.99.6-0.20.9
39
714.67.5-1.5
-1.0
11311.48.80.92.1
40
231.41.8-0.2
-0.1
15211.711.4-0.21.2
41
 
552.94.4-0.8-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,895354.2310.516.7
43.4
3,025345.7285.318.745.0


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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