Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1989 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 1989 season.

The Best of 1989

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
1Kevin Mitchell27.217.24.1
5.7
1Kevin Mitchell27.217.24.1
5.7
2Bret Saberhagen16.79.33.9
5.1
2Bret Saberhagen16.79.33.9
5.1
3Will Clark23.013.83.3
4.6
3Will Clark23.013.83.3
4.6
4Howard Johnson20.514.72.8
4.0
4Howard Johnson20.514.72.8
4.0
5Nolan Ryan16.211.52.6
3.9
5Nolan Ryan16.211.52.6
3.9
6Mark W. Davis10.75.22.5
3.5
6Cal Ripken22.519.32.4
3.9
7Tony Fernandez20.516.82.5
3.8
7Tony Fernandez20.516.82.5
3.8
8Bert Blyleven13.99.42.5
3.6
8Ruben Sierra25.220.42.1
3.7
9Cal Ripken22.519.32.4
3.9
9Bert Blyleven13.99.42.5
3.6
10Joe Magrane15.111.92.2
3.4
10Rickey Henderson22.617.32.1
3.5


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
1Bret Saberhagen16.010.23.1
4.4
1Kevin Mitchell23.515.93.0
4.4
2Kevin Mitchell23.515.93.0
4.4
2Bret Saberhagen16.010.23.1
4.4
3Howard Johnson20.914.82.9
4.2
3Howard Johnson20.914.82.9
4.2
4Will Clark20.513.12.5
3.7
4Will Clark20.513.12.5
3.7
5Orel Hershiser16.513.12.4
3.7
5Orel Hershiser16.513.12.4
3.7
6Robin Yount21.517.22.2
3.6
6Robin Yount21.517.22.2
3.6
7Lonnie Smith21.115.22.2
3.5
7Lonnie Smith21.115.22.2
3.5
8Mark Gubicza15.511.72.2
3.5
8Mark Gubicza15.511.72.2
3.5
9Wade Boggs20.016.02.0
3.3
9Ruben Sierra23.318.81.9
3.4
10Ruben Sierra23.318.81.9
3.4
10Rickey Henderson22.717.91.8
3.3


Two of the top players in the above tables are in Baseball Think Factory's Hall of Merit, but are not in the Hall of Fame (and are unlikely to be so any time soon): Bret Saberhagen and Will Clark. Both of them fall within the range probably a notch below "deserving" Hall-of-Famers but at the level that fills the gap if one removes all of the "mistakes" from the Hall of Fame and replaces them with the best available players.

Bret Saberhagen
The career record of Bret Saberhagen, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented next.

Bret Saberhagen
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1984KCA20
38
8.17.50.5210.3
1.1
8.16.80.5430.61.4
1985KCA21
32
15.98.50.6533.9
5.3
14.79.80.6002.74.0
1986KCA22
30
9.69.30.5080.3
1.2
9.27.60.5460.91.7
1987KCA23
33
15.610.60.5962.8
4.2
15.811.40.5802.53.9
1988KCA24
35
14.314.50.4960.1
1.5
15.913.40.5441.52.9
1989KCA25
36
16.79.30.6413.9
5.1
16.010.20.6103.14.4
1990KCA26
20
7.66.80.5280.5
1.3
8.46.50.5641.11.8
1991KCA27
28
13.28.00.6232.7
3.8
12.48.20.6022.33.3
1992NYN28
17
6.26.20.4990.3
0.9
5.85.70.5080.30.9
1993NYN29
19
7.46.70.5270.7
1.3
8.97.10.5551.31.9
1994NYN30
24
11.47.80.5942.3
3.2
12.08.00.6012.53.5
31
25
8.28.50.4900.3
1.1
9.610.10.4890.31.3
1997BOS33
6
0.91.90.323-0.5
-0.3
1.42.10.401-0.3-0.1
1998BOS34
31
10.98.80.5521.3
2.3
10.69.30.5340.92.0
1999BOS35
22
7.94.90.6151.6
2.3
7.65.40.5861.21.9
2001BOS37
3
0.91.30.415-0.2
-0.0
1.01.00.5010.00.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
399
154.9120.60.56220.4
34.2
157.6122.50.56320.934.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
10
3.13.90.436 -0.03.53.80.476 0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
409
157.9124.60.562
34.2
161.1126.40.563 35.2


One noteworthy aspect of Bret Saberhagen's career that got a fair amount of comment in the 1980s was that he tended to alternate good and less good seasons pretty consistently, especially in his twenties. For his career, in odd-numbered years, Bret Saberhagen started 200 games, pitching 1,388.1 innings with a 3.12 ERA, a traditional won-lost record of 98-50, 3 All-Star appearances and 2 Cy Young awards. In even-numbered years, Saberhagen started 168 games, pitched 1,159.1 innings with a 3.58 ERA, a traditional won-lost record of 68-65, 2 All-Star games and no Cy Young awards (although his excellent 1994 season kind of broke the streak).

The next table presents the ten players whose career value was most similar to Bret Saberhagen's career, at odd ages between 21 and 39 (or between 20 and 40). The table shows total career records for these players at both odd and even ages.



Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Bret Saberhagen
399
154.9120.60.56220.4
34.2
157.6122.50.56320.934.9
Tim Hudson
484
198.8167.50.54323.7
42.1
194.8164.60.54223.041.1
Whitey Ford
500
210.6164.40.56231.1
47.6
200.5180.00.52718.435.1
Andy Pettitte
533
211.6174.70.54823.6
44.4
204.7175.40.53919.840.2
Jim Palmer
560
242.7186.00.56633.6
53.3
237.7204.00.53822.242.5
Juan Marichal
471
232.2187.10.55432.3
50.6
220.9195.10.53122.640.8
J. Kevin Brown
487
204.6164.70.55426.4
45.2
203.3159.80.56028.046.6
Curt Schilling
571
207.0172.00.54625.5
44.9
203.3170.60.54424.243.3
C.C. Sabathia
510
204.7171.50.54421.4
41.6
204.0175.10.53819.339.7
Roy Halladay
416
171.5133.10.56323.7
39.7
169.8135.80.55621.537.6
Don Drysdale
544
220.1204.70.51817.3
35.7
223.8211.70.51415.934.8


Six of the ten players here are eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of those six, four are in the Hall of Fame; one other, Kevin Brown, is in the Hall of Merit, and the sixth player, Curt Schilling, has an excellent chance of eventually being elected to both Halls.

If Saberhagen's even-numbered years had matched his odd-numbered years (or if more of them had been like 1994), he very likely would have joined Ford, Palmer, Marichal, and Drysdale in the Hall of Fame.

Will Clark
Will Clark had four top-5 MVP finishes in his career (all in the first six years of his career), including finishing second in 1989 to teammate Kevin Mitchell. He finished his career with a career batting line of .303/.384/.497 and batted .319/.418/.546 in his final season. The main knock on Will Clark's Hall-of-Fame case is that his final season came at age 36 and he only amassed 8,283 career plate appearances.

The next table shows the ten players most similar to Will Clark through age 36, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Most Similar Players to Will Clark in Value
Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Fielding
Will Clark
1976
232.2179.515.7
31.8
18.40.13.0
Jose Canseco
1886
224.7186.714.3
33.7
16.20.31.9
Gil Hodges
1897
214.9163.519.2
34.4
14.2-0.13.4
Tony Perez
2027
243.3196.115.0
32.8
14.40.72.9
Rafael Palmeiro
2256
253.1215.29.5
28.9
18.4-0.52.2
Darryl Strawberry
1557
216.5163.719.8
34.7
15.80.42.9
Lance Berkman
1806
234.2182.317.6
33.7
21.2-0.61.5
Larry Doby
1529
214.4166.018.3
33.8
15.30.03.1
Mark Teixeira
1862
214.5177.511.8
26.5
14.2-0.22.3
Norm Cash
1774
189.9146.512.4
26.2
18.4-0.51.3
Joe Torre
2209
244.4209.713.6
32.0
13.4-0.93.0


Even stopping at age 36, the players most similar to Clark end up being right on the Hall-of-Fame/Merit borderline. His list includes two Hall-of-Famers, although one of them is generally viewed as a mistake and the other was just elected mostly for his managing. Clark's list also includes the position player who did the best in BBWAA voting without ever being elected (yet), Gil Hodges. The above list does, however, include three players who were elected to the Hall of Merit, including Joe Torre, who was elected to the Hall of Merit based purely on his playing career (as well as Rafael Palmeiro and Keith Hernandez).

The career record of Will Clark, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented next.

Will Clark
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1986SFN22
111
11.010.20.519-0.0
0.7
12.210.70.5320.21.1
1987SFN23
150
17.012.30.5801.3
2.5
17.012.90.5701.02.2
1988SFN24
162
21.214.40.5952.5
3.9
19.513.80.5862.03.3
1989SFN25
159
23.013.80.6243.3
4.6
20.513.10.6102.53.7
1990SFN26
154
18.615.70.5430.5
1.8
18.115.20.5440.51.7
1991SFN27
148
19.514.00.5822.0
3.3
19.213.40.5892.13.4
1992SFN28
144
17.712.90.5781.6
2.7
17.513.30.5671.32.4
1993SFN29
132
17.012.60.5761.4
2.6
14.312.70.5300.01.1
1994TEX30
110
11.49.30.5510.6
1.5
12.29.40.5661.01.9
1995TEX31
123
14.812.50.5420.5
1.6
13.111.30.5370.41.4
1996TEX32
117
12.511.00.5320.3
1.3
11.610.60.5210.11.0
1997TEX33
110
11.69.90.5410.3
1.2
11.39.20.5510.51.3
1998TEX34
149
15.714.30.522-0.0
1.2
15.713.70.5350.41.6
1999BAL35
77
7.36.90.514-0.0
0.5
7.76.80.5330.20.8
36
130
13.99.60.5911.5
2.4
13.09.80.5701.01.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,976
232.2179.50.56415.7
31.8
222.9175.80.55913.228.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
31
4.23.20.564 0.53.72.80.572 0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,007
236.4182.70.564
32.3
226.6178.60.559 29.3


The other two players who join Saberhagen and Clark in the top four on all four of the above tables were teammates on the team which won the most regular-season games in the 1980's, the 108-win 1986 New York Mets, Kevin Mitchell and Howard Johnson. In addition to being teammates on the '86 Mets, both Mitchell and Johnson played for a second pennant winner this decade, Mitchell with the 1989 Giants and Johnson with the 1984 Tigers.

The career records of Kevin Mitchell and Howard Johnson, as measured by Player won-lost records, are compared in the next table.

Kevin Mitchell Howard Johnson
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1982
 
524.44.10.5150.10.4
1983
 
271.62.80.360-0.6-0.5
198470.10.30.302-0.1
-0.1
11610.610.90.493-0.10.8
1985
 
12612.611.40.5260.61.5
198610711.99.00.5671.2
2.0
877.86.60.5420.61.1
198713116.513.20.5551.3
2.4
15720.615.20.5762.53.9
198814716.417.00.491-0.6
0.7
14816.913.90.5481.42.6
198915427.217.20.6124.1
5.7
15320.514.70.5832.84.0
199014021.318.70.5330.6
2.0
15319.718.20.5200.82.2
199111312.212.70.490-0.6
0.4
15621.319.90.5160.42.0
19929910.111.10.478-0.6
0.3
10010.912.50.466-1.1-0.2
19939312.011.30.514-0.0
0.9
717.68.50.472-0.60.1
19949513.110.20.5621.1
2.1
936.58.40.436-1.1-0.5
1995
 
864.65.70.444-0.6-0.2
1996646.86.60.505-0.2
0.4
1997201.01.10.473-0.1
0.1
1998513.73.10.5460.3
0.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,221152.3131.60.5366.3
17.4
1,525165.4152.80.5204.917.2


1989 Postseason

The 1989 postseason featured a relatively fresh batch of teams in Toronto, San Francisco and Chicago. But, at the end of it all, the repeat playoff team from 1988 won it all, the Oakland A's, who defeated their cross-bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants in four games after a 10-day delay because of a major earthquake.

The best players of the 1989 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are presented below.

1989 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Rickey HendersonOAK2.30.60.9
Mike MooreOAK1.90.60.8
Dave HendersonOAK1.80.70.7
Dave StewartOAK2.21.30.7


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1989 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Mike MooreOAK1.30.30.6
Dave HendersonOAK1.00.20.4
Rickey HendersonOAK1.00.20.4

1989 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Will ClarkSFN1.70.20.7
Rickey HendersonOAK1.30.40.5


Best of 1989 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 1989 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Kevin Mitchell16.59.83.1

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



The top two players in batting wins over non-pitcher average in the major leagues in 1989 were teammates on the San Francisco Giants, Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell.

The next table shows all sets of teammates who were 1-2 in the league in batting since 1939.

Teammates Finishing 1-2 in Batting Wins above Average
Player 1 Player 2
Team Season Player 1 eWins eLosses eWOPA Player 2 eWins eLosses eWOPA
BROGil Hodges15.510.3
2.4
Jackie Robinson15.710.7
2.2
MLNEddie Mathews16.910.8
2.8
Hank Aaron17.911.8
2.8
MLNEddie Mathews16.710.4
2.9
Hank Aaron16.210.9
2.4
SFNWillie Mays17.110.2
3.2
Willie McCovey15.19.8
2.4
SFNKevin Mitchell16.59.8
3.1
Will Clark15.910.2
2.7


Mitchell and Clark are the only one of these sets of players whose team made the World Series.

Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Devon White2.31.20.6
Vince Coleman2.91.70.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bret Saberhagen14.19.74.4


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe Hesketh0.40.10.3
Jeff Russell0.30.10.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Bob Boone2.11.40.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Will Clark3.02.10.8


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Robby Thompson5.44.41.0


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Terry Pendleton6.25.01.2


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Tony Fernandez7.25.91.3


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Rickey Henderson6.45.31.1


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Devon White6.15.01.1


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jesse Barfield7.15.51.6


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1989 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
Mickey Tettleton8.26.51.2


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Will Clark20.413.22.5


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Lou Whitaker18.815.41.8


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Wade Boggs19.616.11.7


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cal Ripken20.919.91.3


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Kevin Mitchell22.915.92.7


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Robin Yount19.916.02.0


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ruben Sierra23.318.81.9


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bret Saberhagen14.39.92.4


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Larry Andersen5.23.20.8
Tom Henke5.53.70.8


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 1989 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1989, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Mark W. Davis10.75.20.6732.53.5
Doug Jones8.95.40.6231.52.4
Jay Howell7.03.30.6771.62.3
Gregg Olson7.03.90.6451.42.0
Mitch Williams8.86.10.5911.12.0


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Harold Baines10.78.31.2


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
Bob Knepper1.21.00.4


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mark Carreon1.20.60.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Tom Lawless0.40.10.1
Bip Roberts0.20.00.1
Rex Hudler0.20.00.1
Lance Blankenship0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 1989

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1989 seasons.

Notable Debuts
No players who debuted in 1989 have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yet, although one almost certainly will as soon as he is eligible, Ken Griffey, Jr.. One player who debuted in 1989 has already been elected to Baseball Think Factory's Hall of Merit, Larry Walker.

The next table compares the career records of Ken Griffey, Jr. and Larry Walker, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Ken Griffey Jr. Larry Walker
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
198912714.915.30.493-0.2
0.9
201.51.40.5220.00.1
199015519.919.00.5110.2
1.6
13114.613.60.5190.21.2
199115420.316.60.5501.8
3.2
13616.215.40.513-0.21.0
199214218.016.40.5230.7
2.0
14320.314.90.5772.33.6
199315620.516.70.5511.8
3.4
13822.115.00.5963.14.5
199411115.312.20.5551.5
2.7
10315.811.30.5831.62.7
1995729.58.30.5350.7
1.5
13118.816.70.5290.31.7
199614019.214.80.5652.2
3.6
838.98.70.505-0.10.6
199715721.916.10.5772.9
4.4
15324.417.60.5812.44.1
199816122.819.10.5441.8
3.5
13016.114.30.5280.21.4
199916023.418.20.5632.5
4.2
12716.413.20.5540.92.1
200014520.017.10.5391.1
2.6
8611.110.60.512-0.10.8
200111112.712.90.496-0.3
0.8
14219.314.60.5691.63.1
2002706.67.60.462-0.6
-0.0
13619.615.10.5651.63.0
2003535.45.50.498-0.1
0.4
14317.615.10.5380.72.0
20048311.89.00.5671.3
2.1
8210.08.20.5470.61.3
200512817.617.10.506-0.0
1.2
9914.08.80.6152.23.1
200610914.113.20.5150.2
1.2
200714417.417.70.495-0.7
0.5
200814316.615.60.5160.1
1.4
20091179.89.40.5120.1
1.1
2010331.72.70.385-0.5
-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,671339.3300.70.53016.5
42.0
1,983266.9214.70.55417.236.3


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 1989 was the final season for two players who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame: one in his first year of eligibility, the other in his 15th, and last, year of eligibility.

The last table of this article compares the career records of Mike Schmidt and Jim Rice, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Mike Schmidt Jim Rice
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1972131.31.20.5200.0
0.1
197313114.212.00.5410.7
1.8
197416224.016.80.5893.3
4.8
242.11.40.6100.40.6
197515821.317.20.5531.9
3.4
14419.815.50.5611.93.5
197616023.616.10.5953.4
4.9
15317.317.60.495-0.51.1
197715321.414.90.5892.8
4.3
16018.314.00.5661.83.6
197814520.216.20.5551.6
3.0
16326.117.10.6044.15.9
197916024.117.10.5853.1
4.7
15821.218.80.5300.92.5
198015023.616.90.5823.0
4.5
12417.015.50.5230.31.6
198110217.110.60.6162.8
3.9
10815.214.40.5130.01.2
198214822.516.20.5802.6
4.1
14522.120.00.5240.62.2
198315322.317.00.5672.1
3.5
15526.022.00.5411.53.3
198415122.517.60.5612.2
3.8
15923.222.30.510-0.11.6
198515818.816.40.5340.5
1.8
14019.819.90.499-0.41.1
198616021.015.50.5742.1
3.5
15724.619.30.5602.23.9
198714722.216.80.5702.2
3.8
10812.814.50.468-1.10.0
198810812.613.10.491-0.4
0.6
13511.812.40.487-0.50.8
1989424.65.70.449-0.6
-0.2
564.54.60.495-0.00.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,401337.4257.40.56733.6
56.4
2,089281.7249.40.53011.033.3




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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