Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 1991 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 1991 season.

The Best of 1991

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
1Barry Bonds24.315.83.7
5.2
1Barry Bonds24.315.83.7
5.2
2Tom Glavine16.911.93.2
4.5
2Tom Glavine16.911.93.2
4.5
3Roger Clemens16.811.13.0
4.5
3Roger Clemens16.811.13.0
4.5
4Ryne Sandberg23.117.12.8
4.3
4Ryne Sandberg23.117.12.8
4.3
5Bret Saberhagen13.28.02.7
3.8
5Frank E. Thomas18.312.12.6
4.2
6Frank E. Thomas18.312.12.6
4.2
6Cal Ripken23.420.02.5
4.1
7Jose Rijo12.88.72.5
3.5
7Jose Canseco21.516.02.3
3.8
8Andy Van Slyke18.913.32.5
3.7
8Bret Saberhagen13.28.02.7
3.8
9Steve Avery15.211.62.5
3.7
9Andy Van Slyke18.913.32.5
3.7
10Cal Ripken23.420.02.5
4.1
10Steve Avery15.211.62.5
3.7


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
1Cal Ripken24.618.43.9
5.5
1Cal Ripken24.618.43.9
5.5
2Roger Clemens16.110.72.9
4.3
2Roger Clemens16.110.72.9
4.3
3Frank E. Thomas18.812.62.6
4.2
3Frank E. Thomas18.812.62.6
4.2
4Ryne Sandberg23.918.22.5
4.2
4Ryne Sandberg23.918.22.5
4.2
5Barry Bonds22.216.12.5
4.0
5Barry Bonds22.216.12.5
4.0
6Tom Glavine15.912.42.5
3.7
6Tom Glavine15.912.42.5
3.7
7Ken Griffey Jr.20.516.02.3
3.7
7Ken Griffey Jr.20.516.02.3
3.7
8Bret Saberhagen12.48.22.3
3.3
8Jim Abbott15.211.22.2
3.5
9Mickey Tettleton15.412.02.2
3.4
9Barry Larkin17.513.62.2
3.4
10Barry Larkin17.513.62.2
3.4
10Mickey Tettleton15.412.02.2
3.4


NL MVP Race
The vote for National League MVP in 1991 was extremely close. Atlanta Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton edged out Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds by two first-place votes (12-10) and 15 total points (274-259). Based on Player won-lost records, a case can be made that Bonds and Pendleton were two of the three best position players in the National League in 1991. The next table compares the 1991 seasons of Bonds, Pendleton, and Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who, based on Player won-lost records, was unfairly ignored by MVP voters (finishing a distant 17th in voting).

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Barry Bonds
153
24.315.80.6063.7
5.2
22.216.10.5802.54.0
Terry Pendleton
153
23.118.50.5562.0
3.7
21.617.50.5521.83.3
Ryne Sandberg
158
23.117.10.5752.8
4.3
23.918.20.5672.54.2


Looking at the three of them in a context-neutral setting, their performances were very similar in value with Bonds's superior offense being largely offset by Pendleton and Sandberg playing more valuable positions (with all three fielding their positions very well). The decomposition of eWins over replacement level for the three of them is shown in the next table.

Decomposition of eWORL
Wins over Average
Batting Baserunning Fielding Position Replacement eWORL
Barry Bonds2.3-0.0
0.3
-0.3
1.7
4.0
Terry Pendleton1.00.1
0.5
-0.0
1.7
3.3
Ryne Sandberg1.70.2
0.4
-0.0
1.9
4.2


Within context, however, shifting to pWins, Barry Bonds takes a clear and decisive lead over both Pendleton and Sandberg in pWins over either positional average or replacement level. Barry Bonds had an excellent season overall, batting .292/.410/.514, an OPS of .924. Breaking his batting down by leverage, however, shows why his performance looks so much better in context: in high/medium/low leverage situations Bonds's OPS's in 1991 were 1.086/.927/.825, respectively. In contrast, Pendleton and Sandberg performed about the same across all situations, regardless of the context.

Top NL Pitcher: Tom Glavine
According to Player won-lost records, the NL Cy Young voters got their vote right in 1991. The 1991 season saw Tom Glavine double his number of traditional pitcher wins, from 10 to 20, while lowering his ERA by more than 1.7 runs per 9 innings, from 4.28 to 2.55. It was the first of many great seasons of what would become a Hall-of-Fame career.

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

Tom Glavine
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1987ATL21
9
3.33.70.472-0.0
0.3
3.23.80.454-0.10.2
1988ATL22
36
11.414.70.436-1.1
0.1
11.612.40.4850.21.2
1989ATL23
29
11.711.30.5080.8
1.7
11.511.80.4930.41.4
1990ATL24
34
11.913.60.467-0.2
1.0
12.713.50.4850.31.5
1991ATL25
35
16.911.90.5863.2
4.5
15.912.40.5622.53.7
1992ATL26
35
15.611.80.5692.8
4.0
13.311.40.5401.82.9
1993ATL27
36
16.812.50.5732.8
4.0
14.414.50.4990.61.9
1994ATL28
26
10.89.90.5210.9
2.0
10.610.70.4960.41.5
1995ATL29
29
14.19.50.5993.1
4.2
13.610.50.5652.33.5
1996ATL30
39
15.711.90.5682.7
4.1
16.512.90.5612.74.2
1997ATL31
33
14.412.50.5341.7
3.1
15.813.20.5462.23.7
1998ATL32
33
15.310.70.5893.1
4.3
14.311.20.5612.33.5
1999ATL33
36
14.413.60.5151.1
2.4
14.813.40.5251.32.7
2000ATL34
37
14.711.60.5602.3
3.5
14.612.70.5331.62.9
2001ATL35
35
13.312.00.5261.3
2.6
14.714.40.5040.92.4
2002ATL36
37
15.412.50.5522.2
3.6
14.413.90.5091.02.4
2003NYN37
33
11.312.80.469-0.1
1.1
11.811.90.4980.61.8
2004NYN38
35
12.511.90.5131.0
2.3
13.412.00.5271.42.8
2005NYN39
33
13.112.90.5040.7
1.9
13.311.80.5301.42.5
2006NYN40
32
12.511.00.5321.4
2.5
13.213.60.4920.51.8
2007NYN41
35
11.312.00.4850.3
1.5
12.312.90.4890.41.7
2008ATL42
14
3.15.20.371-0.9
-0.5
3.95.10.436-0.40.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
701
279.5249.60.52829.1
54.5
279.8260.00.51824.350.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
36
14.614.70.497 2.213.912.80.521 2.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
737
294.1264.30.528
56.7
293.7272.80.518 52.9


AL MVP: Cal Ripken
The top player in the American League in 1991, as measured by eWins over either positional average or replacement level, won the 1991 AL MVP award, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken.

This was Ripken's second MVP award, his first coming eight years earlier. Ironically, Ripken's best season, as measured by Player won-lost records, was a season in which he finished 27th in MVP voting, 1984.

The next table compares Ripken's 1983, 1984, and 1991 seasons, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1983
162
24.919.30.5643.5
5.1
23.519.40.5472.74.2
1984
162
25.819.30.5724.5
6.2
25.119.50.5634.05.7
1991
162
23.420.00.5392.5
4.1
24.618.40.5723.95.5


1991 Postseason

The 1991 postseason saw two teams go from worst to first: the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins, who ended up meeting in one of the greatest World Series of all time, with five of seven games decided by one run, one in 12 innings, one in 11 innings, and another in 10 innings, the last two being elimination games won by the Twins in Games 6 and 7 to win their second World Championship.

The top performers in the 1991 postseason, as measured by pWins over replacement level, is shown in the next table.

I know it was said so often that it became cliche, but Jack Morris really was the best player in the 1991 postseason. I have previously written about the value of Morris's 10-inning, complete-game shutout in Game 7 of the World Series here.

1991 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Jack MorrisMIN2.31.50.6
Chuck KnoblauchMIN1.81.10.5
John SmoltzATL1.71.20.4
Kirby PuckettMIN1.81.20.4
Steve AveryATL1.40.80.4
Greg OlsonATL1.71.20.4
Alejandro PenaATL1.20.60.4
Mike PagliaruloMIN1.20.60.4
Dan GladdenMIN2.11.60.4
Mark LemkeATL1.91.40.4


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1991 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Jack MorrisMIN1.50.90.5
Mark LemkeATL1.00.50.3

1991 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Steve AveryATL1.00.50.4
Mike PagliaruloMIN1.00.30.4
Greg OlsonATL1.10.60.3
Chuck KnoblauchMIN0.90.30.3
John SmoltzATL1.20.80.3
Kirby PuckettMIN1.00.50.3
Dan GladdenMIN1.00.60.3
Alejandro PenaATL0.70.20.3
Zane SmithPIT0.90.60.3
Bobby BonillaPIT1.10.80.2
Carl WillisMIN0.50.10.2
Brian R. HunterATL0.80.40.2
Andy Van SlykePIT1.10.80.2
Jack MorrisMIN0.80.60.2
Rick AguileraMIN0.40.00.2
Juan GuzmanTOR0.50.20.2
David WestMIN0.40.10.2


Best of 1991 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 1991 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Frank E. Thomas17.010.73.1

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Otis Nixon2.31.50.4
Milt Cuyler1.60.80.4
Julio Franco1.91.20.4
Marquis Grissom2.61.80.4
Rickey Henderson2.31.60.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roger Clemens14.310.34.0
Nolan Ryan9.96.83.0
Jim Abbott13.310.33.0


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Dalton0.60.00.6


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Gilberto Reyes1.81.10.6
Tom Pagnozzi2.21.60.6


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mark McGwire3.42.70.7


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ryne Sandberg6.75.90.8


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Terry Pendleton6.35.21.1


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Greg Gagne4.93.90.9
Spike Owen5.84.90.9


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Joe Orsulak3.82.90.9


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Lance Johnson5.24.20.9


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sammy Sosa3.11.81.3


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1991 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 Tettleton12.510.31.7


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Will Clark19.013.52.0


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ryne Sandberg23.618.52.3


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Edgar Martinez19.416.11.7


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Cal Ripken24.418.83.6


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Barry Bonds21.716.22.2


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ken Griffey Jr.20.416.02.2


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Danny Tartabull17.112.91.7


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Roger Clemens14.510.52.2


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Duane Ward6.53.91.1


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 1991 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1991, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Bryan Harvey8.65.00.6331.62.5
Duane Ward8.44.90.6331.62.5
Mike Henneman7.23.50.6721.72.4
Mitch Williams9.05.90.6061.42.4
Lee Smith8.55.30.6181.42.4


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Frank E. Thomas11.87.41.8


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
Tommy Greene1.51.60.5


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Warren Newson1.00.40.3
Randy Bush1.20.80.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mookie Wilson0.20.00.1
Ray Lankford0.20.00.1
Henry Cotto0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 1991

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1991 seasons.

Notable Debuts
The list of players who made their major-league debut in 1991 is quite impressive. An All-Star team of players who made their major-league debut in 1991 is shown next.

All-Star Team of Players Whose Debut Season was 1991

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
CIvan Rodriguez
2,543
233.5234.30.4998.2
26.6
236.5229.50.50812.130.5
1BJeff Bagwell
2,150
275.4202.40.57622.3
41.3
270.1199.60.57521.239.9
2BChuck Knoblauch
1,628
208.5197.20.5148.5
24.8
202.2193.10.5127.323.3
3BJim Thome
2,540
273.8209.40.56724.8
47.4
270.5205.30.56825.347.4
SSRoyce Clayton
2,095
214.4238.20.474-7.5
10.3
224.5244.20.479-5.313.1
LFBernie Williams
2,076
259.9236.30.52411.6
31.7
255.9235.40.52110.130.0
CFKenny Lofton
2,098
268.6241.90.52612.3
32.4
269.5251.10.5188.128.7
RFReggie L. Sanders
1,767
224.7194.40.5368.1
24.8
215.5188.60.5336.622.8
SPMike Mussina
537
224.3173.20.56429.6
51.3
218.9170.20.56328.349.6
RPRoberto M. Hernandez
1,010
87.367.30.5657.3
17.5
54.149.00.5250.77.6


Last Hurrahs
The 1991 season was not the final season for any players who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yet. It was, however, the final season for two players who were elected to Baseball Think Factory's Hall of Merit, Dwight Evans and Rick Reuschel.

The final table of this article compares the career records of Dwight Evans and Rick Reuschel, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Dwight Evans Rick Reuschel
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1972182.12.00.503-0.1
0.1
218.16.80.5431.01.6
197311510.09.00.5260.3
1.1
3616.715.30.5221.42.7
197413317.613.80.5611.6
2.9
4115.916.10.4970.61.9
197512614.813.10.5300.5
1.7
3814.916.40.475-0.11.2
197614618.615.50.5451.2
2.5
3815.313.60.5291.52.6
1977737.77.00.5240.2
0.8
3917.912.90.5813.34.7
197814717.615.00.5400.9
2.1
3515.014.30.5110.92.2
197915217.016.20.512-0.1
1.2
3716.614.70.5301.72.9
198014615.715.10.5110.1
1.3
4113.613.50.5010.61.6
198110818.812.30.6042.9
4.1
258.28.70.4840.00.8
198216224.219.30.5562.1
3.7
198312614.913.40.5270.7
1.7
41.41.20.5410.20.3
198416225.619.90.5622.1
3.8
204.65.30.463-0.10.3
198515922.919.20.5441.5
3.1
3111.68.10.5892.33.2
198615221.015.80.5712.2
3.6
4212.214.80.453-0.60.5
198715419.115.30.5551.3
2.7
3414.511.60.5572.33.5
198814920.118.10.5270.5
2.0
3614.813.50.5231.42.6
198914617.215.40.5280.8
2.2
3212.911.80.5231.22.2
199012213.110.30.5601.3
2.7
155.46.10.469-0.10.5
19911018.89.20.490-0.3
0.4
40.41.10.264-0.4-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,597326.9274.90.54319.7
43.8
569219.9205.80.51716.935.1




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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