Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1988 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 1988 season.

The Best of 1988

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
1Darryl Strawberry26.216.34.0
5.6
1Darryl Strawberry26.216.34.0
5.6
2Orel Hershiser20.313.44.0
5.5
2Orel Hershiser20.313.44.0
5.5
3Jose Canseco25.616.83.7
5.4
3Jose Canseco25.616.83.7
5.4
4Alan Trammell21.014.83.6
5.0
4Alan Trammell21.014.83.6
5.0
5Danny Jackson18.313.23.1
4.5
5Mike Greenwell26.519.33.1
4.9
6Mike Greenwell26.519.33.1
4.9
6Roger Clemens18.011.93.1
4.5
7Roger Clemens18.011.93.1
4.5
7Danny Jackson18.313.23.1
4.5
8Greg Maddux17.412.53.0
4.3
8Frank Viola17.611.63.0
4.4
9Frank Viola17.611.63.0
4.4
9Kirby Puckett24.819.02.7
4.4
10Eric Davis20.714.02.9
4.2
10Ozzie Smith22.617.82.8
4.3


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
1Roger Clemens18.311.53.4
4.8
1Roger Clemens18.311.53.4
4.8
2Darryl Strawberry25.017.52.8
4.4
2Darryl Strawberry25.017.52.8
4.4
3Kevin McReynolds23.417.02.6
4.1
3Mike Greenwell25.919.92.5
4.3
4Jose Canseco24.418.02.6
4.2
4Jose Canseco24.418.02.6
4.2
5Mike Greenwell25.919.92.5
4.3
5Kevin McReynolds23.417.02.6
4.1
6Wade Boggs20.115.22.5
3.8
6Cal Ripken21.818.02.5
4.0
7Cal Ripken21.818.02.5
4.0
7Kirby Puckett24.319.52.2
3.9
8Mark Gubicza16.111.42.4
3.7
8Wade Boggs20.115.22.5
3.8
9Alan Trammell19.716.12.3
3.7
9Andy Van Slyke23.117.72.2
3.8
10Teddy Higuera14.49.82.3
3.4
10Ozzie Smith22.118.32.2
3.7


Measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level, the top players in the American and National Leagues in 1988 were AL MVP Award winner Jose Canseco and NL Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser. Among position players, Darryl Strawberry probably has the strongest NL MVP case, based on Player won-lost records.

I take a closer look at these three players next.

Orel Hershiser
Orel Hershiser closed the 1988 regular season with 59 consecutive scoreless innings, breaking the record for consecutive scoreless innings that had been set by Don Drysdale in "The Year of the Pitcher", 1968. Somewhat interestingly, Drysdale shows up on the list of the 10 players most similar to Orel Hershiser in career value as measured by Player won-lost records.

The top 10 players most similar to Orel Hershiser in career value, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the next table.

Most Similar Players to Orel Hershiser in Value
Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
Orel Hershiser
519
195.0176.515.0
32.5
-3.2-0.27.00.3
David Cone
451
184.5153.718.1
35.1
-2.3-0.17.80.5
Don Drysdale
547
219.9204.614.8
33.1
-3.8-0.16.91.0
Rick Reuschel
579
219.9205.814.2
32.2
-6.0-0.27.50.6
Dwight Gooden
434
184.0156.019.4
35.1
-3.1-0.15.90.5
Luis Tiant
573
225.8194.918.6
37.8
-2.9-0.18.00.3
Curt Simmons
609
207.4197.411.0
29.0
-5.7-0.07.50.6
Mark Buehrle
518
195.5175.410.8
30.7
-1.1-0.07.00.8
Mel Harder
562
204.5185.814.4
32.0
-6.7-0.17.40.3
Cole Hamels
402
161.8143.913.6
28.8
-3.6-0.26.20.5
David Wells
660
206.9179.714.8
35.5
-1.1-0.17.00.3


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

Orel Hershiser
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1983LAN24
8
0.50.30.6200.1
0.1
0.40.40.453-0.00.0
1984LAN25
45
10.88.10.5721.7
2.5
10.18.80.5330.91.8
1985LAN26
37
13.810.30.5742.2
3.3
13.610.50.5642.03.1
1986LAN27
37
15.515.10.5060.7
2.1
16.014.70.5211.22.5
1987LAN28
40
16.615.20.5221.4
2.8
17.014.70.5361.83.3
1988LAN29
36
20.313.40.6024.0
5.5
18.315.40.5442.13.5
1989LAN30
35
14.614.30.5050.7
1.9
16.112.90.5552.13.4
1990LAN31
4
1.31.70.445-0.1
0.0
1.51.50.4970.00.2
1991LAN32
21
7.14.30.6221.6
2.1
6.64.80.5771.11.6
1992LAN33
35
12.412.90.4900.2
1.4
12.512.70.4960.41.6
1993LAN34
33
13.713.50.5050.7
1.9
14.412.80.5281.32.5
1994LAN35
21
7.89.00.463-0.3
0.6
7.39.50.434-0.80.1
1995CLE36
26
9.88.30.5440.8
1.8
9.78.40.5360.71.6
1996CLE37
33
14.010.50.5701.7
3.1
13.311.20.5421.02.4
1997CLE38
32
11.010.70.5070.2
1.4
10.511.10.486-0.31.0
1998SFN39
34
12.712.60.5030.5
1.7
11.913.40.472-0.30.9
1999NYN40
32
11.612.60.478-0.0
1.1
11.512.60.477-0.11.1
2000LAN41
10
1.43.70.270-1.1
-0.9
1.63.50.322-0.9-0.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
519
195.0176.50.52515.0
32.5
192.4179.10.51812.429.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
22
7.76.20.553 1.67.76.10.558 1.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
541
202.7182.70.525
34.1
200.1185.20.518 31.6


Jose Canseco
Jose Canseco burst onto the scene in 1986, winning the American League Rookie-of-the-Year award. In 1988, at the age of 23, he became the first player in major-league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. He led the American League in home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage and was unanimously elected American League Most Valuable Player.

The future looked unlimited. Instead, he never had another season as good as 1988.

Darryl Strawberry
Darryl Strawberry's career trajectory to that point was similar. He was the first player taken in the 1980 draft. He burst onto the scene in 1983, when he was elected National League Rookie-of-the-Year. By 1986, at age 24, Strawberry was the best player on a World Championship team. And in 1988, Strawberry, like Canseco, had his best season, leading his league in home runs and slugging percentage.

Unfortunately, the rest of Strawberry's career also played out much like Canseco's, and both players ended up being remembered more for the unfulfilled potential than for the genuine greatness they flashed early.

Jose Canseco's and Darryl Strawberry's career records, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the next table.

Jose Canseco Darryl Strawberry
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1983
 
12216.914.90.5320.71.9
1984
 
14721.016.60.5591.42.8
1985293.12.80.5230.1
0.3
11117.912.00.5992.63.7
198615720.419.60.510-0.0
1.5
13620.414.30.5892.43.7
198715921.618.90.5341.0
2.7
15423.917.00.5842.74.3
198815825.616.80.6033.7
5.4
15326.216.30.6164.05.6
19896510.47.00.5991.6
2.2
13418.815.30.5511.32.5
199013119.612.70.6063.2
4.6
15221.016.70.5571.63.0
199115421.516.00.5732.2
3.8
13919.014.70.5631.52.8
199211914.611.60.5571.3
2.5
435.45.10.5140.00.4
1993606.67.50.468-0.5
0.1
323.33.60.479-0.20.0
199411111.78.80.5711.1
2.4
293.12.40.5710.30.5
199510210.47.30.5891.2
2.3
323.32.00.6190.60.8
1996968.48.80.490-0.5
0.6
636.45.60.5330.20.8
19971079.811.40.464-1.0
0.1
110.30.90.246-0.3-0.2
199815117.514.20.5511.2
2.8
1019.46.20.6031.42.3
19991139.79.80.496-0.4
0.8
241.31.00.5560.10.3
2000987.67.30.512-0.0
0.9
2001765.96.00.495-0.2
0.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,886224.4186.50.54614.0
33.5
1,583217.7164.60.56920.235.3


1988 Postseason

The 1988 postseason had a chance to produce a repeat of the classic 1986 postseason, but both the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets lost in their respective League Championship Series. The result was a World Series matchup between the 104-win Bash Brothers, in their first of three straight World Series appearances, and the 94-win Los Angeles Dodgers.

It was expected to be an A's rout. But then this happened and the Dodgers went on to win in five games.

The top performers of the 1988 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the next table.

1988 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Orel HershiserLAN2.51.70.7
Kirk GibsonLAN1.80.70.6
Mickey HatcherLAN1.80.70.6
Steve SaxLAN1.61.10.4
Mike A. MarshallLAN1.71.10.4


Orel Hershiser's 1988 postseason was outstanding. His bullpen blew two of his three starts in the NLCS but he still managed a 12th-inning save of Game 4 the day after pitching 7 innings in Game 3 and he won the NLCS with a complete-game 5-hit shutout in Game 7.

In the World Series, he pitched two complete-game victories, including another shutout and another Series clincher - oh, and he batted 1.000 with a 1.667 slugging percentage.

Overall, Hershiser pitched 42.2 postseason innings with a 1.05 ERA.

The next table shows the top 10 postseason performances of the Divisional Era (1969 - 1993).

Best Postseason Performances: 1969 - 1993
(sorted by pWORL)
pWins pLosses pWORL
1Luis Tiant19752.91.11.1
2Rickey Henderson19892.30.60.9
3Paul Molitor19932.00.60.9
4Bert Campaneris19732.41.50.8
5Alan Trammell19841.90.70.8
6Don Sutton19742.31.10.8
7Mike Moore19891.90.60.8
8Catfish Hunter19732.21.00.8
9Mike Scott19861.90.70.7
10Bruce Hurst19862.51.50.7


Top postseason players in the 1988 postseason by round were as follows. Kirk Gibson's World Series record here is notable because it consisted of just one pinch-hit plate appearance. But, oh, what a plate appearance it was.

1988 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Orel HershiserLAN1.30.50.5
Kirk GibsonLAN0.80.00.4
Mickey HatcherLAN1.00.30.4

1988 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Dave StewartOAK1.10.50.4
Dennis EckersleyOAK0.70.10.3
Dave HendersonOAK0.70.20.3
Walt WeissOAK0.80.40.3
Carney LansfordOAK0.70.30.3
Mickey HatcherLAN0.80.30.3
Steve SaxLAN1.00.60.2
Jose CansecoOAK0.80.40.2
Ron HasseyOAK0.50.10.2
Mike SciosciaLAN0.60.30.2
Kirk GibsonLAN1.00.70.2
Kevin ElsterNYN0.50.10.2
Mike A. MarshallLAN1.10.80.2
David ConeNYN0.70.60.2
Tim BelcherLAN0.90.80.2


Best of 1988 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 1988 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jose Canseco17.211.62.8
Darryl Strawberry15.710.02.6

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Rickey Henderson4.01.71.2

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roger Clemens14.710.34.4
Mark Gubicza14.811.33.5


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jesse Orosco0.50.10.3
Atlee Hammaker0.40.10.3
Pascual Perez0.50.20.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tony Pena Sr.2.92.30.6


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sid Bream2.51.80.7
Greg Brock2.01.40.7


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bill D. Doran4.94.00.9


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tim Wallach5.33.81.5


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ozzie Smith7.86.21.6


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dan Gladden5.84.51.3


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dave Henderson5.54.31.2
Andy Van Slyke7.15.91.2


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dale Murphy7.86.01.7


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1988 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 Fisk8.46.61.2


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Will Clark19.613.92.1


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lou Whitaker13.011.51.0


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Wade Boggs19.415.42.1


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cal Ripken21.117.72.2


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Kevin McReynolds21.816.22.1


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Andy Van Slyke22.917.72.1


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jose Canseco24.017.82.5


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Roger Clemens14.910.42.3


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Doug Jones5.33.31.0


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 1988 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1988, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Doug Jones9.64.10.7002.73.6
Mark W. Davis9.26.00.6051.72.6
Dennis Eckersley6.93.40.6661.72.3
Steve Bedrosian7.44.40.6271.52.2
Bryan Harvey6.63.60.6461.52.1


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eddie Murray6.24.01.0
Brian Downing13.310.81.0
Rance Mulliniks7.95.80.9
Jack Clark10.48.30.8
Ken Phelps7.75.80.8


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
David Palmer1.01.00.4
Dennis Rasmussen1.41.70.4


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Wallace Johnson1.81.40.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mark Davidson0.40.10.2


Noteworthy Players of 1988

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1988 seasons.

Notable Debuts
The 1988 season saw the major-league debut of one player who has already been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and another player who should have been elected this year.

The next table compares the career records of Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Roberto Alomar Craig Biggio
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
198814320.217.00.5421.7
3.1
502.73.30.449-0.3-0.0
198915822.219.80.5291.1
2.6
13413.912.10.5361.32.2
199014719.419.00.5050.2
1.6
15016.416.80.494-0.30.9
199116123.621.00.5291.3
3.1
14914.514.00.5090.71.8
199215223.017.70.5662.8
4.4
16221.420.20.5150.52.1
199315323.417.40.5733.3
5.0
15521.519.10.5301.32.9
199410713.012.80.5050.4
1.5
11417.112.70.5752.33.6
199513015.016.10.482-0.2
1.0
14122.317.10.5672.84.4
199615321.816.30.5733.3
4.9
16222.719.50.5382.03.7
199711015.313.20.5371.4
2.5
16223.818.50.5632.84.5
199814717.419.10.476-0.6
0.9
16025.217.90.5843.75.4
199915923.016.50.5823.5
5.1
16023.020.50.5291.33.0
200015519.418.00.5191.1
2.6
10111.411.70.493-0.10.9
200115721.716.30.5723.0
4.6
15521.016.50.5602.33.9
200214916.517.70.483-0.4
1.0
14517.117.80.489-0.21.2
200314015.017.40.463-1.0
0.3
15318.218.20.500-0.21.2
2004564.45.60.438-0.6
-0.2
15617.719.50.476-1.40.0
2005
 
15520.417.50.5381.32.7
2006
 
14515.316.90.475-0.60.5
2007
 
14112.915.70.450-1.5-0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,377314.5280.90.52820.6
44.0
2,850358.5325.40.52417.944.7


In addition to Alomar and Biggio, 1988 saw the major-league debut of at least two pitchers who will probably join Alomar and Biggio in Cooperstown fairly soon: Randy Johnson and John Smoltz.

Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson John Smoltz
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
198841.81.30.5680.2
0.4
124.36.30.407-0.9-0.4
1989299.110.70.461-0.7
0.2
3314.412.70.5311.32.5
19903313.912.50.5260.7
2.0
3814.815.60.4850.11.5
19913314.013.50.5100.3
1.7
3814.613.50.5201.02.3
19923114.315.50.479-0.6
1.0
3617.116.00.5171.12.7
19933617.011.30.6012.9
4.2
3515.514.40.5191.12.4
19942311.28.50.5701.4
2.5
219.09.50.4850.01.0
19953016.57.50.6884.5
5.8
2911.810.80.5210.81.9
1996143.92.60.6040.7
1.1
3518.211.80.6063.85.3
19973016.28.40.6583.9
5.4
3616.414.80.5251.43.1
19983418.014.90.5481.8
3.5
2613.37.70.6333.24.2
19993518.513.30.5823.2
4.7
2913.510.80.5571.93.0
20003518.613.40.5813.2
4.7
20013519.112.50.6053.8
5.5
364.42.40.6441.01.4
20023519.110.40.6464.8
6.3
7510.03.90.7233.14.1
2003187.57.60.4960.2
1.0
625.72.40.7001.62.2
20043515.512.60.5522.0
3.5
737.83.50.6912.22.9
20053413.210.90.5461.2
2.4
3313.611.80.5351.42.5
20063311.811.30.5110.3
1.5
3515.313.60.5291.52.9
2007103.53.50.5030.1
0.5
3212.911.00.5401.42.6
20083011.511.50.5010.4
1.5
62.42.00.5440.30.5
2009227.07.40.486-0.0
0.7
154.96.50.429-0.7-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS619281.2220.90.56034.2
59.9
735239.7201.10.54426.648.5


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 1988 was the final season for two 300-game winners who have subsequently been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The career records of Steve Carlton and Don Sutton, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the final table of this article.

Steve Carlton Don Sutton
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1965150.90.90.495-0.0
0.1
196693.33.10.5110.2
0.4
3814.311.90.5451.62.7
19673013.111.00.5431.4
2.4
4313.214.40.479-0.11.0
19683514.313.90.5070.6
1.8
3612.012.00.5010.41.4
19693216.315.00.5211.2
2.6
4118.018.40.4940.42.0
19703416.117.50.479-0.2
1.3
4015.717.20.478-0.21.2
19713718.615.80.5411.9
3.4
3917.213.00.5702.73.9
19724125.114.90.6285.8
7.6
3317.913.50.5702.74.1
19734018.721.40.466-0.7
0.9
3320.014.20.5853.64.9
19743918.116.00.5311.5
2.9
4017.615.30.5351.62.9
19753716.416.20.5030.7
2.0
3516.214.70.5251.22.6
19763517.112.50.5772.8
4.0
3517.614.60.5471.93.2
19773620.415.50.5683.1
4.7
3314.713.10.5281.22.5
19783415.615.20.5060.7
2.0
3413.614.00.4930.21.4
19793616.914.90.5321.7
2.9
3312.414.00.470-0.30.7
19803819.913.20.6023.9
5.2
3213.110.60.5531.62.5
19812411.58.30.5812.0
2.8
239.68.00.5451.11.9
19823821.615.30.5853.8
5.3
3415.213.90.5231.02.2
19833717.716.80.5131.1
2.5
3111.011.50.490-0.20.8
19843413.012.00.5211.1
2.0
3311.611.50.5030.11.1
1985164.86.80.413-0.8
-0.3
3412.711.00.5350.82.1
19863210.313.80.427-1.4
-0.4
3411.911.10.5170.41.5
1987327.612.30.383-2.3
-1.3
3510.211.20.476-0.50.6
198840.51.50.237-0.5
-0.4
165.06.30.442-0.50.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS745337.9303.90.52627.6
54.5
785320.8295.30.52120.547.2




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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