Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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1981 Season

The 1981 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 1981 season.

The 1981 season was a strange and disappointing season, with a 60-day hole in the middle from June 12th through August 10th because of a strike that cost every team between 52 and 60 games played. It then ended with a postseason that featured twice as many teams as the surrounding seasons, but somehow did not include the team with the best record in MLB or the second best team in the NL.

Still, it was major-league baseball and major-league baseball is great.

The Best of 1981

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
1Dwight Evans19.012.26.3
8.0
1Dwight Evans19.012.26.3
8.0
2Mike Schmidt17.110.75.9
7.4
2Mike Schmidt17.110.75.9
7.4
3Fernando Valenzuela15.210.65.4
6.9
3Fernando Valenzuela15.210.65.4
6.9
4Dwayne Murphy17.011.55.3
6.8
4Dwayne Murphy17.011.55.3
6.8
5Robin Yount14.610.74.8
6.2
5Robin Yount14.610.74.8
6.2
6Andre Dawson18.113.24.2
5.9
6Andre Dawson18.113.24.2
5.9
7Dave Concepcion16.112.84.1
5.7
7George Foster17.612.54.1
5.7
8George Foster17.612.54.1
5.7
8Dave Concepcion16.112.84.1
5.7
9Steve McCatty12.28.24.1
5.4
9Rickey Henderson18.013.43.9
5.6
10Rickey Henderson18.013.43.9
5.6
10Steve McCatty12.28.24.1
5.4


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
1Mike Schmidt16.811.05.4
6.9
1Dwight Evans18.512.75.2
6.9
2Dwight Evans18.512.75.2
6.9
2Mike Schmidt16.811.05.4
6.9
3Bobby Grich14.710.54.6
5.9
3Andre Dawson18.213.14.5
6.2
4Andre Dawson18.213.14.5
6.2
4Bobby Grich14.710.54.6
5.9
5Eddie Murray13.09.23.5
4.7
5Rickey Henderson17.913.63.5
5.1
6Rickey Henderson17.913.63.5
5.1
6Fernando Valenzuela14.111.73.3
4.9
7Fernando Valenzuela14.111.73.3
4.9
7Eddie Murray13.09.23.5
4.7
8Robin Yount13.711.63.2
4.6
8Robin Yount13.711.63.2
4.6
9Steve McCatty11.78.63.1
4.5
9Steve McCatty11.78.63.1
4.5
10Steve Carlton10.98.83.0
4.2
10Dave Concepcion15.313.62.6
4.2


I take a look at some of the most interesting players of 1981 at the end of this article.

1981 Postseason

The Cincinnati Reds had the best record in the major leagues in 1981. The St. Louis Cardinals had the second-best winning percentage in the National League. One-third of the teams in the National League made the playoffs in 1981, but not the Reds or the Cardinals.

Because of the players' strike in the middle of the 1981 season, MLB decided to do a split-season schedule with the teams that were leading the four divisions when the strike hit - the Yankees, A's, Phillies, and Dodgers - playing the teams with the best post-strike records - Brewers, Royals, Expos, and Astros - in a preliminary round of "divisional series".

The final result was the third World Series meeting between the Yankees and Dodgers in five years (and, if I counted correctly, the 10th overall such World Series matchup). At least the winner was different than the two previous times.

The best postseason performances of 1981 are shown in the next table.

1981 Postseason: Total
Player Team pWins pLosses pWORL
Rich GossageNYA1.60.41.4
Burt HootonLAN2.71.81.3
Pedro GuerreroLAN3.01.91.2
Fernando ValenzuelaLAN2.72.11.1
Steve GarveyLAN2.31.41.0
Dwayne MurphyOAK1.30.50.9
Steve RogersMON2.01.30.9
Ron CeyLAN2.01.20.9
Gary CarterMON1.40.70.8
Bob WatsonNYA1.61.00.8


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1981 World Series
Player Team pWins pLosses Net Wins
Pedro GuerreroLAN1.40.50.9
Bob WatsonNYA1.00.50.5
Ron CeyLAN1.20.70.5
Steve YeagerLAN0.70.20.4
Tommy JohnNYA0.90.50.4

1981 Postseason: League Championship Series
Player Team pWins pLosses Net Wins
Burt HootonLAN1.20.60.6
Willie RandolphNYA0.80.30.5
Rick MondayLAN0.70.20.5
Ray BurrisMON1.10.60.4
Graig NettlesNYA0.70.20.4


Best of 1981 by Factor and Position

Next, let's look at the top players 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 1981 in wins over positional average (WOPA) by factor were as follows.

Batting
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLoss eWOPA Player pWins pLoss pWOPA
1Mike Schmidt12.57.3
4.9
1Dwight Evans13.07.45.6
2Dwight Evans12.38.2
4.0
2Mike Schmidt12.87.05.6
3Bobby Grich9.46.1
3.3
3George Foster12.57.44.9
4Andre Dawson11.37.7
3.3
4Dwayne Murphy11.47.14.3
5Eddie Murray10.57.5
3.0
5Ron Cey9.05.23.6
6George Foster11.58.4
2.8
6Eddie Murray10.77.23.5
7Ron Cey8.55.8
2.5
7Pedro Guerrero9.05.63.2
8Greg Luzinski10.37.8
2.5
8Andre Dawson11.17.83.0
9Chet Lemon8.76.4
2.3
9Gary Matthews Sr.10.47.23.0
10Tom Paciorek9.97.6
2.2
10Graig Nettles9.86.92.8
Positional Average excludes pitcher offense
Baserunning
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLoss eWOPA Player pWins pLoss pWOPA
1Tim Raines Sr.2.81.3
1.4
1Rickey Henderson2.51.51.0
2Julio Cruz1.80.9
0.9
2Toby Harrah1.40.60.8
3Willie Wilson1.50.7
0.9
3Willie Wilson1.50.70.8
4Toby Harrah1.40.6
0.8
4Tim Raines Sr.2.51.60.8
5Eddie L. Miller1.40.6
0.8
5Ken Griffey Sr.1.50.70.8
6Ken Griffey Sr.1.50.8
0.7
6Rick Manning1.30.60.7
7Rick Manning1.30.6
0.7
7Alan Bannister1.00.30.7
8Ken Landreaux1.30.6
0.6
8Andre Dawson1.50.80.7
9Andre Dawson1.40.8
0.6
9Eddie L. Miller1.30.60.7
10Ron LeFlore1.81.2
0.6
10Terry Puhl1.40.70.6
Positional Average excludes pitcher offense
Pitching
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLoss Net eWins Player pWins pLoss Net pWins
1Rollie Fingers6.43.7
2.7
1Fernando Valenzuela13.49.04.4
2Don Sutton8.86.3
2.5
2Steve McCatty11.78.03.8
3Steve Carlton9.87.5
2.3
3Rollie Fingers6.93.33.6
4Fernando Valenzuela12.410.1
2.3
4Burt Hooton8.95.63.4
5Steve McCatty11.08.7
2.2
5Nolan Ryan9.56.23.3
6Dave Righetti6.54.5
2.1
6Steve Carlton10.37.03.2
7Ken Forsch8.86.9
1.9
7Ken Forsch9.36.42.9
8Mario Soto10.99.0
1.8
8Tom Seaver9.26.32.8
9Bill Gullickson8.56.7
1.8
9Dennis Martinez10.57.82.7
10Burt Hooton8.16.4
1.8
10Mario Soto11.38.62.7


Fielding by Position


Fielding, P
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Bill 'Spaceman' Lee0.40.1
0.3
1Bill 'Spaceman' Lee0.50.10.4
2Dennis Leonard0.40.1
0.2
2Shane Rawley0.30.00.2
3Shane Rawley0.30.0
0.2
3Dan Quisenberry0.30.10.2
4Dave Stieb0.40.2
0.2
4Ross Baumgarten0.30.10.2
5Ross Baumgarten0.30.2
0.2
5Dennis Leonard0.40.10.2


Fielding, C
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Gary Carter2.01.3
0.8
1Gary Carter2.01.30.6
2Jim Sundberg1.31.0
0.3
2Jim Sundberg1.30.90.4
3Jody Davis1.10.8
0.3
3Rick Dempsey1.20.90.3
4Ron Hassey0.90.6
0.2
4Mike Scioscia1.61.30.3
5Alan Ashby1.71.5
0.2
5Ron Hassey0.90.60.3


Fielding, 1B
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Eddie Murray1.81.2
0.6
1Keith Hernandez2.21.30.9
2Chris Chambliss2.31.8
0.6
2Eddie Murray1.81.20.6
3Keith Hernandez2.01.5
0.5
3Chris Chambliss2.31.80.4
4Rod Carew1.71.6
0.2
4Cecil Cooper2.21.80.4
5Dennis Werth0.30.1
0.1
5Steve Garvey1.81.50.3


Fielding, 2B
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Tom Herr4.43.7
0.7
1Ron Oester4.73.51.3
2Lou Whitaker4.03.4
0.6
2Jim Gantner4.93.71.2
3Glenn Hubbard3.93.4
0.5
3Lou Whitaker4.33.11.2
4Bobby Grich4.44.1
0.3
4Willie Randolph3.83.00.8
5Tony Bernazard4.23.8
0.3
5Joe L. Morgan3.63.00.6


Fielding, 3B
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Buddy Bell4.13.0
1.0
1Ken Oberkfell4.43.01.4
2Art Howe3.22.5
0.6
2Buddy Bell4.03.10.9
3Danny Ainge2.52.0
0.5
3Art Howe3.32.40.9
4Hubie Brooks3.22.7
0.5
4Graig Nettles3.42.90.5
5Darrell Evans3.02.6
0.4
5Hubie Brooks3.22.70.5


Fielding, SS
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Robin Yount5.04.1
0.9
1Robin Yount5.43.71.7
2Alan Trammell4.53.7
0.8
2Alan Trammell4.83.41.4
3Ozzie Smith5.14.6
0.5
3Larry Bowa4.03.20.8
4Rick Burleson5.14.7
0.5
4Bill Russell3.93.10.8
5Garry Templeton3.93.5
0.5
5Garry Templeton4.13.30.8


Fielding, LF
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Willie Wilson6.04.5
1.5
1Willie Wilson6.83.83.0
2Rickey Henderson5.64.3
1.3
2Mike Easler4.63.31.4
3Mike Easler4.33.6
0.7
3Rickey Henderson5.54.31.2
4Dusty Baker4.84.3
0.5
4Terry Francona1.20.50.7
5Rick Sofield1.71.3
0.4
5Jim Rice5.45.00.5


Fielding, CF
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Dwayne Murphy4.33.5
0.8
1Amos Otis4.12.31.8
2Al Bumbry3.52.8
0.7
2Dale Murphy5.44.21.3
3Amos Otis3.62.8
0.7
3Dwayne Murphy4.33.50.9
4Mookie Wilson3.32.6
0.7
4Andre Dawson5.54.70.8
5Rick Manning4.53.8
0.7
5Jerry Mumphrey3.42.80.6


Fielding, RF
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses Net eWins Player pWins pLosses Net pWins
1Dwight Evans5.04.0
1.0
1Ellis Valentine3.82.71.1
2Tony Armas Sr.5.14.3
0.8
2Tony Armas Sr.5.24.11.1
3Joe Lefebvre4.13.4
0.7
3Lynn Jones2.00.91.1
4Jack Clark4.53.9
0.6
4Dave Engle3.72.80.9
5Lynn Jones1.71.2
0.5
5Joe Lefebvre4.13.30.9


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1981 Major-League leaders by position. The figures shown here only include Player decisions earned while playing this particular position.

Catcher
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Gary Carter12.010.0
2.2
1Gary Carter12.49.72.9
2Jim Sundberg8.77.5
1.6
2Bo Diaz6.04.31.9
3Carlton Fisk9.68.5
1.5
3Darrell Porter5.94.51.5
4Bo Diaz5.74.6
1.3
4Ted Simmons7.97.01.3
5Bruce Benedict9.08.4
0.7
5Jim Sundberg8.47.71.0


First Base
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Eddie Murray12.99.3
3.3
1Eddie Murray13.29.03.9
2Cecil Cooper12.710.0
2.3
2Keith Hernandez12.18.13.5
3Keith Hernandez11.48.8
2.0
3Cecil Cooper13.39.53.4
4Jason D. Thompson7.15.4
1.4
4Mike Hargrove9.58.20.9
5John Mayberry Sr.9.17.8
1.0
5Johnny Bench4.53.50.8


Second Base
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Bobby Grich14.510.7
4.2
1Ron Oester13.210.43.1
2Lou Whitaker12.211.0
1.7
2Lou Whitaker12.810.42.9
3Joe L. Morgan11.29.7
1.7
3Joe L. Morgan11.69.32.6
4Tony Bernazard12.911.9
1.5
4Bobby Grich13.411.82.1
5Julio Cruz11.410.8
1.1
5Jim Gantner11.49.91.9


Third Base
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Mike Schmidt16.311.0
4.8
1Mike Schmidt16.610.75.4
2Buddy Bell13.911.2
2.4
2Graig Nettles13.49.73.5
3Ron Cey11.59.2
1.8
3Ron Cey12.38.43.4
4Bill Madlock10.18.0
1.7
4Buddy Bell14.011.12.7
5Toby Harrah12.310.4
1.6
5Toby Harrah12.710.02.4


Shortstop
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Robin Yount13.311.3
3.0
1Robin Yount14.210.34.8
2Dave Concepcion15.313.6
2.6
2Dave Concepcion16.112.84.1
3Rick Burleson15.314.5
2.0
3Alan Trammell13.812.32.6
4Alan Trammell13.113.0
1.3
4Garry Templeton11.19.62.1
5Roy Smalley III5.64.9
1.1
5Bucky Dent9.07.52.1


Left Field
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Rickey Henderson17.713.7
3.3
1George Foster17.613.84.1
2Willie Wilson14.211.6
2.1
2Rickey Henderson18.013.73.9
3Tim Raines Sr.13.210.9
1.5
3Willie Wilson14.911.63.4
4George Foster16.313.8
1.5
4Ben Oglivie14.912.82.7
5Dusty Baker14.312.2
1.3
5Gary Matthews Sr.15.713.02.5


Center Field
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Andre Dawson18.113.3
4.2
1Dwayne Murphy16.911.45.1
2Amos Otis11.79.7
1.7
2Andre Dawson18.113.24.2
3Dwayne Murphy15.213.1
1.7
3Amos Otis12.09.42.4
4Chet Lemon12.410.6
1.5
4Al Bumbry13.811.52.0
5Rick Manning12.211.1
0.9
5Chet Lemon12.410.61.5


Right Field
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Dwight Evans18.312.9
4.8
1Dwight Evans19.012.26.3
2Jack Clark14.111.4
1.9
2Tony Armas Sr.16.212.33.4
3Tony Armas Sr.15.413.1
1.7
3Pedro Guerrero10.36.92.9
4Gorman Thomas7.05.5
1.3
4Lynn Jones5.63.61.8
5Rick Monday4.33.0
1.1
5Jack Clark13.811.71.3


Starting Pitcher
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Steve McCatty11.49.0
2.4
1Fernando Valenzuela13.89.24.6
2Don Sutton9.06.6
2.4
2Steve McCatty12.28.24.1
3Steve Carlton9.97.7
2.3
3Nolan Ryan9.76.33.5
4Fernando Valenzuela12.610.5
2.2
4Burt Hooton9.15.83.4
5Dave Righetti6.74.7
2.0
5Steve Carlton10.47.23.3
6Dave Stieb11.29.3
2.0
6Dennis Martinez10.97.83.2
7Ken Forsch9.17.2
1.9
7Ken Forsch9.66.73.0
8Mario Soto11.09.1
1.9
8Tom Seaver9.46.52.9
9Bill Gullickson8.76.9
1.9
9Mario Soto11.48.72.8
10Nolan Ryan8.97.1
1.9
10Scott McGregor9.66.92.8


Relief Pitcher
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Rollie Fingers6.64.1
2.5
1Rollie Fingers7.13.73.3
2Ron G. Davis5.84.3
1.5
2Rich Gossage4.72.42.3
3Rich Gossage4.32.8
1.4
3Dan Quisenberry5.22.92.3
4Dan Quisenberry4.73.5
1.2
4Rick Camp5.43.42.0
5Gary Lucas4.93.9
1.0
5Steve Comer4.32.41.8
6Steve Comer3.82.9
0.9
6Jeff Reardon3.61.71.8
7Greg Minton5.95.0
0.8
7Bruce Sutter6.64.71.8
8Jeff Reardon3.12.2
0.8
8La Marr Hoyt5.23.41.8
9Kent Tekulve3.02.2
0.8
9Neil Allen6.44.71.6
10Joe Sambito3.62.9
0.7
10Don Aase4.73.11.5


Designated Hitter
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Greg Luzinski10.88.4
2.2
1Greg Luzinski10.98.32.3
2Cliff Johnson6.24.5
1.5
2Don Baylor9.98.21.4
3Richie Zisk8.06.7
1.1
3Cliff Johnson5.94.71.1


Finally, here are the best at three oft-forgotten positions that can nevertheless matter: pitcher offense, pinch hitting, and pinch running.

Pitcher Offense
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Tom Seaver0.91.2
0.3
1Fernando Valenzuela1.41.30.7
2Fernando Valenzuela1.21.6
0.3
2Gaylord Perry1.00.80.6
3Gaylord Perry0.81.0
0.3
3Tom Seaver1.11.00.6


Pinch Hitter
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Bob Molinaro1.91.3
0.6
1Terry Crowley1.40.70.8
2Bobby Murcer1.20.7
0.6
2Alan Ashby0.80.10.7
3Alan Ashby0.70.1
0.6
3Jose M. Morales1.20.60.7


Pinch Runner
Context-Neutral Context-Dependent
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Scott Loucks0.40.0
0.3
1Scott Loucks0.40.00.4
2Eddie L. Miller0.50.2
0.2
2Eddie L. Miller0.50.20.3
3Lee Lacy0.30.1
0.2
3Lee Lacy0.30.10.1


Noteworthy Players of 1981

Fernando-Mania!
Before the strike became the dominant story that sucked the air out of everything else about the 1981 season, the first major story of the 1981 season was a 20-year-old left-hander from Mexico who started the 1981 season - his first full major-league season - by throwing 5 complete-game shutouts in his first seven starts, over which he went a combined 7-0 with a 0.29 ERA in 63 innings. He won his 8th start, 3-2, in a game that saw his ERA nearly double all the way to 0.50.

Obviously, Fernando Valenzuela couldn't keep that pace up all season, but that alone was enough to win him the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. Based on Player won-lost records, both were well-deserved.

Valenzuela never again matched the greatness of that first month-plus of 1981 in his career. Of course, very, very few pitchers have ever matched that stretch by Valenzuela. It seems unfair, but his career was almost inevitably seen as a disappointment after that start. The truth, however, is that Fernando Valenzuela had a fine major-league career: he even managed to match his overall 1981 season on a couple of occasions (1982, 1986). Fernando Valenzuela's career, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented in the next table.

Fernando Valenzuela
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1980LAN19
10
0.70.20.5
0.6
0.60.30.30.4
1981LAN20
25
15.210.65.4
6.9
14.111.73.34.9
1982LAN21
38
19.115.15.4
7.3
18.815.45.16.9
1983LAN22
36
16.115.41.9
3.7
15.815.71.43.1
1984LAN23
35
16.116.70.6
2.4
16.816.02.03.8
1985LAN24
35
15.614.91.8
3.5
16.514.03.75.4
1986LAN25
39
18.215.04.5
6.3
18.215.14.66.4
1987LAN26
38
16.817.80.4
2.3
16.018.6-1.20.7
1988LAN27
23
8.210.1-1.3
-0.3
8.310.0-1.1-0.0
1989LAN28
34
11.513.1-0.7
0.7
11.513.0-0.50.9
1990LAN29
35
13.013.60.3
1.8
12.813.8-0.21.3
1991CAL30
2
0.71.7-1.0
-0.9
0.51.9-1.4-1.3
1993BAL32
32
10.711.1-0.4
0.9
10.910.90.11.4
1994PHI33
8
1.72.0-0.3
-0.0
1.81.90.00.2
1995SDN34
29
6.15.70.8
1.5
5.46.4-0.8-0.0
1996SDN35
36
11.510.81.4
2.8
10.811.60.11.6
1997SDN36
19
5.98.7-2.5
-1.6
6.28.3-1.7-0.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
474
187.2182.716.6
38.0
185.1184.813.635.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
9
4.63.3 2.04.23.7 1.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
483
191.7186.1
40.0
189.4188.4 36.3


Mike Schmidt
Just looking at counting stats, Mike Schmidt's 1981 season doesn't look like anything special. Schmidt hit 35 or more home runs eleven times in his career; in 1981, he hit 31. Schmidt drove in over 100 runs in a season nine times; in 1981, he drove in 91. Mike Schmidt scored more than 80 runs in a season thirteen times; in 1981, he scored 78 runs. Mike Schmidt had 280 or more total bases twelve times; in 1981, he had 228 total bases. Of course, that's because Mike Schmidt played 145 or more games in his career thirteen times, but played in only 102 games in 1981. And, of course, he didn't play in only 102 games because he was injured or ineffective; no, he played in only 102 games in 1981 because the Phillies only played 107 games because of the 1981 strike.

In fact, taking season length into consideration, 1981 may well have been Mike Schmidt's finest season. He led the National League in on-base percentage (.435), slugging percentage (.644), times on base (189), total bases (228), runs scored (78), runs batted in (91), home runs (31), and walks (73).

Mike Schmidt's career, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented in the next table.

Mike Schmidt
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1972PHI22
13
1.31.20.1
0.2
1.21.3-0.10.0
1973PHI23
131
14.312.01.6
2.9
13.812.50.51.8
1974PHI24
162
23.816.76.5
8.4
24.016.57.08.8
1975PHI25
158
21.417.23.9
5.7
22.516.16.28.0
1976PHI26
160
23.716.26.9
8.9
23.116.75.87.8
1977PHI27
154
21.615.05.9
7.7
21.515.15.77.6
1978PHI28
145
20.216.33.3
5.0
20.216.33.25.0
1979PHI29
160
24.317.26.5
8.5
23.717.75.57.5
1980PHI30
150
23.717.06.2
8.1
23.717.06.48.3
1981PHI31
102
17.110.75.9
7.4
16.811.05.46.9
1982PHI32
148
22.616.35.6
7.4
22.816.25.97.6
1983PHI33
154
22.517.04.6
6.4
22.616.85.06.8
1984PHI34
151
22.517.64.7
6.6
23.017.25.57.4
1985PHI35
158
19.016.21.5
3.2
20.115.13.85.4
1986PHI36
160
21.015.44.7
6.4
21.215.35.06.7
1987PHI37
147
22.316.84.7
6.5
22.516.65.26.9
1988PHI38
108
12.513.2-0.9
0.4
13.212.40.61.9
1989PHI39
42
4.65.8-1.3
-0.8
5.25.2-0.10.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,403
338.3257.670.5
98.7
340.9255.076.5104.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
36
4.24.4 0.04.44.1 0.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,439
342.5262.0
98.7
345.4259.1 105.3


One way to tell how impressive Schmidt's 1981 season was: don't look at the columns headed "Season" or "Games" and try to figure out which season was 1981. Yes, it's the only season between 1974 and 1984 where Schmidt earned fewer than 20 pWins (and the only season between 1974 and 1987 with fewer than 19 pWins), but in terms of pWOPA and pWORL, 1981 fits very comfortably with the surrounding seasons. Now imagine if Schmidt had been able to play another 50 games that season. That would have made his 1981 season really stand out.

Peak Seasons for Hall-of-Merit Members
Because it was so much shorter than the surrounding seasons, the 1981 season saw somewhat more seasons that could be viewed as outliers: both good and bad. Two such players - on the good side - show up among the top four players on the eWOPA and eWORL leaderboards above: Dwight Evans and Bobby Grich. Evans and Grich have three things in common: the 1981 season was their best (on a rate basis, controlling for context), both of them are in the Hall of Merit, and, finally, neither of them are in the Hall of Fame.

While 1981 was the best season (rate-wise) in the careers of Evans and Grich, they both had several other excellent seasons and excellent overall careers. Their careers are compared below, as measured by (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins.

Dwight Evans Bobby Grich
Season Games eWins eLoss eWOPA eWORL Games eWins eLoss eWOPA eWORL
1970
 
302.42.9-0.3-0.0
1971
 
71.50.90.70.8
1972182.31.80.4
0.6
13219.315.64.56.2
197311910.09.00.7
1.6
16221.616.85.37.2
197413316.714.71.4
2.9
16022.318.94.26.1
197512615.013.21.1
2.5
15020.516.94.15.9
197614618.615.72.3
4.0
14420.116.54.46.2
1977738.16.61.2
1.9
526.85.91.52.2
197814717.715.01.9
3.4
14415.314.91.22.7
197915216.915.9-0.0
1.6
15319.515.74.66.3
198014716.214.80.9
2.3
15017.215.72.33.9
198110818.512.75.2
6.9
10014.710.54.65.9
198216224.219.14.4
6.3
14518.216.02.84.3
198312614.513.70.6
1.9
12015.412.92.94.1
198416224.920.72.9
5.0
11613.412.41.42.6
198515923.019.23.3
5.3
14415.514.61.02.4
198615220.016.92.4
4.1
979.79.70.41.4
198715419.414.93.5
5.0
198814920.317.81.6
3.5
198914617.814.82.8
4.5
199012212.111.60.4
1.9
19911019.18.60.3
1.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,602325.3276.637.1
66.3
2,006253.4216.945.668.1


Notable Debuts
Finally, the 1981 season saw the major-league debuts of two infielders who would go on to win a combined 3 MVP awards, 11 Gold Gloves, start 26 All-Star games, and both be elected to the Hall of Fame: Cal Ripken and Ryne Sandberg.

Their careers, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the table below.

Cal Ripken Ryne Sandberg
Season Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
1981230.60.9-0.2
-0.2
130.10.00.00.0
198216021.618.04.3
6.1
15618.119.2-1.8-0.1
198316224.819.46.5
8.4
15819.320.8-1.20.6
198416225.919.48.4
10.5
15625.119.46.18.2
198516123.120.44.3
6.4
15323.919.24.56.5
198616222.020.03.7
5.6
15419.518.61.43.2
198716219.321.4-0.6
1.2
13216.616.01.12.6
198816120.019.71.3
3.2
15520.118.81.63.5
198916222.419.64.3
6.2
15721.218.32.74.5
199016120.418.43.3
5.0
15522.018.73.45.2
199116223.220.24.1
6.1
15822.817.05.47.2
199216219.718.72.4
4.2
15824.618.95.57.5
199316220.419.42.2
4.2
11713.013.7-0.60.7
199411214.912.83.1
4.5
576.87.1-0.10.6
199514417.618.30.7
2.4
199616320.619.42.3
4.2
15019.616.93.45.1
199716219.417.12.3
4.0
13512.613.8-1.00.3
199816116.417.5-1.1
0.6
19998610.09.30.7
1.6
2000838.77.71.2
2.0
200112811.514.0-2.5
-1.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS3,001382.4351.650.6
85.2
2,164285.3256.330.655.7


Article last updated: February 10, 2020

Wins over positional average and replacement level are calculated using data only for the 1981 season. Positional averages for starting pitching and relief pitching are calculated using single-year data for all starting pitchers and all relief pitchers.

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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