Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1986 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 1986 season.

The Best of 1986

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
1Mike Scott19.012.64.0
5.4
1Mike Scott19.012.64.0
5.4
2Roger Clemens17.39.93.9
5.2
2Roger Clemens17.39.93.9
5.2
3Teddy Higuera17.811.43.4
4.8
3Teddy Higuera17.811.43.4
4.8
4Wade Boggs21.915.03.3
4.6
4Wade Boggs21.915.03.3
4.6
5Bob Ojeda14.810.03.0
4.1
5Jesse Barfield24.718.92.5
4.1
6Dwight Gooden16.312.42.7
3.9
6Bob Ojeda14.810.03.0
4.1
7Fernando Valenzuela18.415.02.6
4.0
7Fernando Valenzuela18.415.02.6
4.0
8Ron Darling15.711.92.6
3.8
8Dwight Gooden16.312.42.7
3.9
9Jesse Barfield24.718.92.5
4.1
9Jim Rice24.619.32.2
3.9
10Gary Carter17.913.32.4
3.6
10Ron Darling15.711.92.6
3.8


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 Scott17.211.63.5
4.7
1Mike Scott17.211.63.5
4.7
2Roger Clemens16.310.63.1
4.4
2Roger Clemens16.310.63.1
4.4
3Mike Witt16.611.92.6
3.9
3Jesse Barfield24.718.92.5
4.1
4Fernando Valenzuela18.315.12.6
4.0
4Fernando Valenzuela18.315.12.6
4.0
5Jesse Barfield24.718.92.5
4.1
5Mike Witt16.611.92.6
3.9
6Alan Trammell20.117.22.3
3.7
6Alan Trammell20.117.22.3
3.7
7Rick Rhoden15.913.12.3
3.5
7Cal Ripken21.919.62.1
3.7
8Mike Schmidt19.814.32.2
3.5
8Rick Rhoden15.913.12.3
3.5
9Cal Ripken21.919.62.1
3.7
9Mike Schmidt19.814.32.2
3.5
10Eric Davis17.912.72.1
3.2
10Teddy Higuera15.712.02.1
3.4


Top Pitchers of 1986
Looking at the above lists, 1986 looks to have been something of a "Year of the Pitcher". Measured by pWins over positional average, 7 of the top 10 players in major-league baseball in 1986 were pitchers, including 3 starting pitchers from the 108-regular-season-win (and eventual World Series champion) New York Mets (who have players 6-10 on that list).

The number of quality pitching performances in 1986 was recognized at the time as well. Starting pitcher Roger Clemens won the American League MVP award; relief pitcher Todd Worrell won the NL Rookie-of-the-Year award; and, Mike Scott was named MVP of the NLCS.

Measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level, four of the top five players in major-league baseball were pitchers: two in each league.

The next table compares the 1986 seasons of these four pitchers, both in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Mike Scott
38
19.012.60.6024.0
5.4
17.211.60.5973.54.7
Teddy Higuera
34
17.811.40.6093.4
4.8
15.712.00.5672.13.4
Fernando Valenzuela
39
18.415.00.5512.6
4.0
18.315.10.5482.64.0
Roger Clemens
33
17.39.90.6373.9
5.2
16.310.60.6063.14.4


The next tables compares the career records of these four pitchers.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Mike Scott
348
130.6130.30.5016.3
17.9
122.7123.20.4995.616.5
Teddy Higuera
213
86.368.90.55610.0
17.7
83.569.90.5448.115.8
Fernando Valenzuela
474
188.5182.20.50912.4
29.0
183.6181.30.50310.226.6
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sum of Scott, Higuera, and Valenzuela
405.4381.40.51528.6
64.6
389.8374.40.51023.958.9
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Roger Clemens
709
318.2228.20.58251.1
79.6
310.8225.50.58048.776.7


One of these things is not like the others - or, perhaps more accurately, one of these things is more than the sum of the others.

Top Position Player of 1986: Wade Boggs
The top position player in major-league baseball in 1986, as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level, was Boston Red Sox third baseman Wade Boggs.

Joe Posnanski recently wrote a very nice blog post on Wade Boggs as part of his series on his top 100 players of all-time (Boggs is number 52). In it, Posnanski makes the observation that "Boggs probably has a lock on best player to never receive one MVP first-place vote." I would amend that by (a) limiting it to players who played under modern MVP voting rules, and (b) excluding pitchers (5-time Cy Young winner Randy Johnson never received a first-place MVP vote, for example). But even with those caveats, it's an interesting and highly defensible position.

On the one hand, by Player won-lost records, I'm not sure that there's a season where I'm absolutely sure that I would have given Wade Boggs a first-place vote for AL MVP. So, it's perhaps a little unfair to be critical that nobody else did. On the other hand, it's easy enough to make the case for Boggs in at least a couple of seasons. Here in 1986, if you take the "pitchers have their own awards and therefore shouldn't win the MVP award" position, Boggs is the best choice as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level. Shifting to eWins, Boggs has a very strong case in 1988 and is at least in the conversation in 1985 and 1987.

Wade Boggs's career record, as measured by Player won-lost records, is shown in the next table.

Wade Boggs
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1982BOS24
104
10.49.00.5380.6
1.3
10.69.40.5300.51.2
1983BOS25
153
22.218.30.5471.7
3.2
21.917.60.5552.03.4
1984BOS26
157
17.917.50.5060.3
1.7
20.418.20.5281.22.7
1985BOS27
161
22.818.60.5512.2
3.7
23.718.30.5652.84.3
1986BOS28
149
21.915.00.5943.3
4.6
20.215.90.5602.03.3
1987BOS29
147
19.514.80.5692.3
3.6
20.214.40.5842.84.2
1988BOS30
155
19.915.40.5632.3
3.6
20.015.20.5682.53.8
1989BOS31
156
18.015.80.5321.1
2.3
20.016.00.5552.03.3
1990BOS32
155
18.117.70.5060.3
1.7
18.117.80.5040.31.6
1991BOS33
144
19.515.30.5602.2
3.5
18.615.40.5471.73.0
1992BOS34
143
16.316.70.494-0.3
1.1
16.116.10.501-0.11.2
1993NYA35
143
16.415.50.5150.5
1.8
16.016.80.488-0.41.0
1994NYA36
97
14.310.20.5842.1
3.2
13.910.80.5631.72.7
1995NYA37
126
13.811.90.5370.9
2.0
13.612.20.5270.71.7
1996NYA38
132
13.413.40.500-0.1
1.0
12.713.40.488-0.40.7
1997NYA39
104
9.28.60.5170.3
1.1
9.99.30.5150.31.1
1998TBA40
123
10.511.30.483-0.5
0.6
11.211.30.497-0.10.9
1999TBA41
90
7.79.30.453-0.8
-0.1
8.18.90.476-0.40.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,439
291.9254.30.53418.5
39.8
295.2257.10.53518.840.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
39
4.44.00.521 0.54.24.40.492 0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,478
296.3258.30.534
40.3
299.4261.40.535 40.6


1986 Postseason

The 1986 postseason was one of the best postseasons in major-league history. Two of the three series went the full seven games and the third series went six games, including four one-run games with the final two games (both Mets victories) lasting 12 and 16 innings long. The most famous play of the 1986 postseason was recreated by Kenyan children in one of my favorite videos.

The best players of the 1986 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the next table.



1986 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Bruce HurstBOS2.51.50.8
Mike ScottHOU1.90.70.8
Bob OjedaNYN1.80.80.7
Lenny DykstraNYN2.31.30.6
Dave HendersonBOS1.71.00.5


It is rare, but not completely unprecedented, for a player from the team which loses the World Series to nevertheless show up as having the best postseason according to Player won-lost records. But Mike Scott's team did not even make the World Series. In fact, Scott's team played the fewest postseason games of any of the four postseason teams. But two complete games with 1 run, 8 hits, and 1 walk allowed in 18 innings with 19 strikeouts, while getting only 4 runs in support from your offense, has a lot of value.

Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1986 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Bruce HurstBOS1.70.90.5
Bob OjedaNYN0.90.40.3

1986 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Mike ScottHOU1.90.70.8
Lenny DykstraNYN1.30.50.5
Darryl StrawberryNYN1.30.50.5


Not only did the World Champion Mets not have the most valuable player of the postseason, they did not have the most valuable player in either of their postseason seriesand, in fact, the most valuable member of the Mets, at least as measured by pWins over replacement level was only the third most valuable player of the 1986 postseason. But baseball is a team sport, of course, and the New York Mets won the 1986 World Series as a team.

Best of 1986 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 1986 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jesse Barfield15.211.02.1
Mike Schmidt15.010.22.1
Don Mattingly16.612.42.1
Wade Boggs14.811.11.9

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Vince Coleman3.51.70.8
Tim Raines Sr.3.31.60.8

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Scott14.69.65.0
Roger Clemens14.310.14.2


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Fernando Valenzuela0.90.40.5


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jody Davis2.92.20.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Greg Brock1.91.30.5
Sid Bream3.02.50.5


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tom Herr5.54.80.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Terry Pendleton6.14.31.8


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ozzie Guillen6.35.11.2


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gary Redus3.93.30.6


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Brett Butler5.84.61.2
Gary Pettis6.75.51.2


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jesse Barfield7.56.51.0


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1986 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
Lance Parrish8.97.11.2


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Glenn Davis17.613.91.1


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lou Whitaker17.716.21.2


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Wade Boggs20.116.21.8


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Alan Trammell19.917.42.1


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Brian Downing18.415.21.3


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Rickey Henderson19.716.91.2


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jesse Barfield22.117.81.8


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Scott14.99.92.7


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mark Eichhorn9.35.61.5


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 1986 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1986, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Dave Righetti10.46.20.6251.82.8
Dan Plesac8.34.20.6621.82.6
Mark Eichhorn9.25.40.6311.72.6
Tom Henke7.84.20.6511.62.3
Jeff Reardon9.26.50.5851.12.1


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ken Phelps5.03.00.9
Johnny Grubb4.42.60.8
Larry Parrish9.57.60.7
Don Baylor13.311.40.7


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
Rick Rhoden1.71.90.5


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Candy Maldonado1.60.80.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bill Almon0.20.00.1
Rick Peters0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 1986

Baseball loves and cherishes its records more than any other sport. Arguably the two most well-known baseball records are career hits and career home runs. The holders of these two records have two things in common. First, neither Pete Rose (4,256 hits) nor Barry Bonds (762 home runs) are in the Hall of Fame. Second, their careers overlapped for one season: 1986.

The 1986 season was the final season in Pete Rose's 24-year career and the first season in Barry Bonds's 22-year career. Their careers, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the final table of this article.

Pete Rose Sr. Barry Bonds
Age Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
21
 
11215.515.10.507-0.21.0
2215718.420.50.474-0.6
0.9
15018.817.00.5250.31.7
2313615.315.30.4990.6
1.8
14421.415.90.5742.13.6
2416221.419.00.5301.6
3.2
15921.119.10.5260.31.7
2515619.620.00.4950.4
1.9
15124.116.50.5933.04.5
2614821.418.70.5340.6
2.3
15324.315.80.6063.75.2
2714821.318.70.5320.5
2.2
14022.214.70.6023.24.6
2815624.017.90.5722.1
3.9
15926.915.60.6334.96.6
2915922.418.50.5471.2
3.0
11218.613.20.5852.23.6
3016022.019.60.5300.5
2.1
14424.717.10.5903.14.8
3115422.518.60.5481.1
2.8
15825.617.70.5923.14.9
3216024.119.80.5491.2
3.1
15924.817.40.5883.35.0
3316322.419.90.5300.4
2.0
15624.616.80.5953.45.0
3416222.717.70.5612.1
3.7
10215.611.00.5881.93.0
3516221.717.00.5602.0
3.4
14223.815.30.6093.55.1
3616217.416.70.510-0.1
1.3
15328.015.50.6435.37.2
3715920.017.10.5391.1
2.5
14325.413.20.6575.36.8
3816316.716.30.506-0.6
0.7
13021.011.60.6454.05.3
3916217.215.40.5270.1
1.4
14723.211.60.6685.16.5
4010711.310.10.5280.2
1.1
141.71.40.5590.10.2
4116215.216.20.485-1.2
0.0
13015.311.80.5641.32.3
4215112.513.90.473-1.1
-0.2
12615.412.00.5611.32.3
4312110.611.50.480-0.9
0.0
4411912.310.60.5360.2
1.1
45725.55.70.489-0.4
0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS3,561437.9394.80.52611.1
44.1
2,984462.1315.10.59560.390.8




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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