Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
Home     List of Articles



The 1997 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 1997 season.

The Best of 1997

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
1Roger Clemens18.69.84.4
6.1
1Roger Clemens18.69.84.4
6.1
2Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson16.28.43.9
5.4
2Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson16.28.43.9
5.4
3Pedro J. Martinez18.011.93.6
5.2
3Pedro J. Martinez18.011.93.6
5.2
4Barry Bonds24.917.43.3
5.0
4Barry Bonds24.917.43.3
5.0
5Greg Maddux14.29.23.0
4.2
5Craig Biggio23.818.52.8
4.5
6Ken Griffey Jr.21.916.12.9
4.4
6Ken Griffey Jr.21.916.12.9
4.4
7Andy Pettitte14.08.22.9
4.2
7Nomar Garciaparra22.919.32.6
4.3
8Craig Biggio23.818.52.8
4.5
8Greg Maddux14.29.23.0
4.2
9Nomar Garciaparra22.919.32.6
4.3
9Andy Pettitte14.08.22.9
4.2
10Jeff Blauser19.715.42.6
4.0
10Larry Walker24.417.62.4
4.1


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 Clemens19.19.25.0
6.6
1Roger Clemens19.19.25.0
6.6
2Pedro J. Martinez18.311.63.9
5.5
2Pedro J. Martinez18.311.63.9
5.5
3Barry Bonds24.817.43.3
5.0
3Barry Bonds24.817.43.3
5.0
4Craig Biggio24.318.03.3
5.0
4Craig Biggio24.318.03.3
5.0
5Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson15.59.23.2
4.6
5Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson15.59.23.2
4.6
6Greg Maddux14.49.03.1
4.4
6Ken Griffey Jr.22.015.93.0
4.5
7Ken Griffey Jr.22.015.93.0
4.5
7Greg Maddux14.49.03.1
4.4
8Mike Piazza18.512.82.9
4.2
8Jeff Bagwell22.614.02.9
4.4
9Jeff Bagwell22.614.02.9
4.4
9John Smoltz17.513.72.6
4.2
10Andy Pettitte13.78.52.6
3.9
10Mike Piazza18.512.82.9
4.2


Pitching in a Hitting Environment
The 1997 season was in the heart of the era that has been called (less judgmentally than its more popular name) the Sillyball Era. This was the season just after Ken Caminiti won his MVP award (and five years before he confessed that he was on steroids when he did so) and the season just before the Great Home Run Chase of 1998 when Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs and Sammy Sosa added 66.

It may, therefore, seem somewhat curious that, in the heart of this great hitting era, the top four players in major-league baseball in 1997, at least as measured by pWins over positional average (pWOPA) were pitchers.

The top four players in pWins over positional average in the most pitcher-friendly season since the Deadball Era, 1968, were also pitchers. By traditional statistics, the top pitchers of 1968 were much better: 22 wins, 1.12 ERA, 31 wins, 1.96 ERA, 21 wins, 1.60 ERA, and 22 wins, 1.95 ERA. In contrast, the most pitcher wins by any of the four 1997 pitchers was 21 and neither Maddux nor Martinez even won 20 games. Of the four, only Roger Clemens had an ERA below 2 (1.90).

But, in the context of their times, the top four pitchers of 1968 and the top four pitchers of 1997 stack up remarkably well.

These four pitchers' seasons are compared in the next table.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
 
Top Players of 1968
Bob Gibson
35
21.914.20.6074.5
5.9
21.414.70.5934.05.4
Denny McLain
43
23.015.70.5954.3
5.8
20.618.10.5311.93.4
Dave McNally
35
19.213.70.5853.4
4.7
17.915.00.5452.13.4
Luis Tiant
34
18.812.70.5983.6
4.9
18.013.50.5712.84.0
 
Top Players of 1997
Roger Clemens
34
18.69.80.6564.4
6.1
19.19.20.6745.06.6
Randy Johnson
30
16.28.40.6583.9
5.4
15.59.20.6283.24.6
Pedro Martinez
31
18.011.90.6013.6
5.2
18.311.60.6123.95.5
Greg Maddux
33
14.29.20.6083.0
4.2
14.49.00.6143.14.4


Craig Biggio
In The New Bill James Historical Abstract, Bill James argued that "Craig Biggio [was] the best player in major league baseball" at the time the book was published (after the 1999 season). I wrote about this claim in a previous article.

The 1997 season is a good example of where Bill James was coming from. In a season which saw 12 players hit 40 or more home runs, 6 players bat .330 or better, and 5 players slug over .600, the third-best position player in the major leagues batted .309/.415/.501 with 22 home runs.

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

Craig Biggio
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1988HOU22
50
2.73.30.449-0.3
-0.0
2.93.10.484-0.00.2
1989HOU23
134
13.912.10.5361.3
2.2
13.812.20.5321.22.1
1990HOU24
150
16.416.80.494-0.3
0.9
16.716.60.501-0.01.2
1991HOU25
149
14.514.00.5090.7
1.8
14.913.60.5221.12.2
1992HOU26
162
21.420.20.5150.5
2.1
21.520.10.5170.62.2
1993HOU27
155
21.519.10.5301.3
2.9
21.918.70.5391.73.3
1994HOU28
114
17.112.70.5752.3
3.6
16.413.40.5511.62.9
1995HOU29
141
22.317.10.5672.8
4.4
21.517.90.5462.03.6
1996HOU30
162
22.719.50.5382.0
3.7
22.220.10.5251.43.2
1997HOU31
162
23.818.50.5632.8
4.5
24.318.00.5753.35.0
1998HOU32
160
25.217.90.5843.7
5.4
23.619.60.5462.13.8
1999HOU33
160
23.020.50.5291.3
3.0
22.720.70.5221.02.7
2000HOU34
101
11.411.70.493-0.1
0.9
12.111.00.5230.61.6
2001HOU35
155
21.016.50.5602.3
3.9
19.618.00.5210.82.4
2002HOU36
145
17.117.80.489-0.2
1.2
17.617.40.5030.31.7
2003HOU37
153
18.218.20.500-0.2
1.2
18.617.80.5100.21.6
2004HOU38
156
17.719.50.476-1.4
0.0
18.618.50.501-0.51.0
2005HOU39
155
20.417.50.5381.3
2.7
19.618.30.5180.62.0
2006HOU40
145
15.316.90.475-0.6
0.5
15.316.80.478-0.60.6
2007HOU41
141
12.915.70.450-1.5
-0.4
12.815.80.448-1.5-0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,850
358.5325.40.52417.9
44.7
356.5327.40.52116.042.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
40
3.75.10.419 -0.44.14.90.457 -0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,890
362.2330.50.524
44.3
360.6332.30.521 42.6


1997 Postseason

In the 1997 postseason, the Cleveland Indians came two outs away from winning their first World Championship since 1948. Instead, the World Series was won by the Florida Marlins. Their win represented two firsts: the quickest trip from expansion team to World Champion (since broken) and first wild card team to win the World Series. In retrospect, the 1997 season was also the only one in the five years from 1996 through 2000 that did not end in a World Series win for the New York Yankees.

The top performers of the 1997 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown next.

1997 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Livan HernandezFLO2.21.30.8
Gary SheffieldFLO2.61.50.7
Jose MesaCLE1.80.90.6
Moises AlouFLO2.11.20.6
Mike MussinaBAL1.60.80.5
Tony FernandezCLE1.81.10.5
Greg MadduxATL1.81.30.5
Mike R. JacksonCLE1.20.40.5
Sandy Alomar Jr.CLE2.21.70.4
Matt D. WilliamsCLE2.21.60.4
Andruw JonesATL1.10.30.4
Scott EricksonBAL1.30.80.4
Charles JohnsonFLO1.71.20.4
Jeff FasseroSEA0.90.20.4
Robb NenFLO0.90.20.4
Edgar RenteriaFLO2.52.20.4
Marquis GrissomCLE2.52.10.4
Brady AndersonBAL1.61.00.4


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

1997 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Moises AlouFLO1.40.60.5
Chad OgeaCLE1.00.60.3

1997 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Livan HernandezFLO1.20.40.5
Jose MesaCLE1.00.30.4
Marquis GrissomCLE1.30.70.3
J. Kevin BrownFLO1.00.70.3
Scott KamienieckiBAL0.60.20.3
Matt D. WilliamsCLE0.90.50.3

1997 Postseason: Division Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Mike MussinaBAL1.20.60.4
Greg MadduxATL1.10.50.4
Jeff FasseroSEA0.90.20.4


Best of 1997 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 1997 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jeff Bagwell18.011.13.2
Larry Walker17.210.43.1

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Craig Biggio2.41.50.4
Alex Rodriguez1.60.80.4
Chuck Knoblauch2.11.30.4
Stan Javier1.30.50.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Roger Clemens15.28.96.3


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Pep Harris0.40.10.3
John Franco0.30.00.3


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Charles Johnson2.01.30.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jeff King3.22.21.1


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Fernando Vina2.92.20.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Edgardo Alfonzo4.63.21.4


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Rey Ordonez4.53.31.3


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Garret Anderson5.74.61.1


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Rondell White6.14.91.3


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Sammy Sosa7.26.21.0


Best by Position
Next, we look at 1997 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
Mike Piazza17.412.62.5


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jeff Bagwell22.714.52.7


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Craig Biggio24.819.03.1


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ken Caminiti18.714.12.0


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Nomar Garciaparra23.020.82.0


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Barry Bonds24.517.92.9


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ken Griffey Jr.21.816.32.8


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Larry Walker23.517.42.1


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Roger Clemens15.59.13.2


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Doug Jones5.12.61.2


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 1997 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 1997, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Randy Myers7.93.20.7132.43.1
Jeff Shaw8.13.80.6842.23.0
Roberto M. Hernandez8.74.90.6401.92.8
Mariano Rivera7.33.80.6591.82.5
Doug Jones6.53.00.6841.82.3


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Edgar Martinez14.410.71.5


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
Todd Stottlemyre1.11.40.4
Tom Glavine1.31.80.4
John Smoltz1.31.80.4


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bill Spiers1.30.60.4
Mark Sweeney1.71.20.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Doug Glanville0.20.00.1
James Mouton0.30.10.1
Johnny Damon0.20.00.1
Rich Amaral0.20.00.1
Pat F. Kelly0.20.10.1
Steve Bieser0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 1997

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 1997 seasons.

Notable Debuts
It is too early to tell if any players who debuted in 1997 will make the Hall of Fame. The two players with perhaps the best chance of eventual Hall-of-Fame induction were both still active in 2013.

The next table compares the careers (through 2018) of David Ortiz and Miguel Tejada.

David Ortiz Miguel Tejada
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1997151.01.20.457-0.1
-0.1
263.03.00.4990.10.3
1998867.07.80.474-0.7
-0.1
10511.912.90.480-0.10.8
1999100.20.70.199-0.3
-0.2
15919.318.00.5181.22.7
20001289.69.80.495-0.4
0.8
16021.318.10.5412.23.8
2001897.77.10.5220.2
1.1
16222.617.90.5582.94.6
200212510.08.60.5400.6
1.7
16225.718.50.5814.15.9
200312813.810.60.5651.2
2.6
16224.320.60.5412.44.2
200415017.212.60.5772.0
3.7
16224.921.70.5342.13.9
200515920.211.60.6353.8
5.7
16222.420.70.5201.43.0
200615119.111.30.6283.3
5.1
16220.719.80.5110.92.4
200714918.313.00.5852.0
3.9
13314.417.40.454-1.3-0.1
200810911.88.30.5891.5
2.7
15818.520.40.475-0.60.9
200915013.811.20.5521.0
2.5
15823.222.80.5040.52.2
201014516.010.90.5952.3
3.9
15618.120.50.469-1.10.4
201114514.811.50.5631.3
2.9
919.59.80.492-0.10.7
2012909.86.30.6071.5
2.5
201313714.910.50.5862.2
3.7
534.54.90.483-0.10.2
201414214.111.20.5561.1
2.7
201514614.311.80.5470.9
2.4
201615117.312.30.5842.2
3.9
2017
 
2018
 
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,405250.9188.30.57125.5
51.5
2,171284.5267.00.51614.635.9


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 1997 was the final season for two of the best players of the 1980s who are both well-deserving members of Baseball Hall of Fame, Eddie Murray and Ryne Sandberg.

The final table of this article compares the career records of Eddie Murray and Ryne Sandberg, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Eddie Murray Ryne Sandberg
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
197716016.512.90.5621.6
3.2
197816119.915.20.5681.8
3.2
197915919.914.40.5812.3
3.6
198015819.014.70.5641.7
3.0
19819913.19.10.5901.8
2.7
130.10.00.5570.00.0
198215119.013.10.5922.5
3.7
15618.219.20.487-0.80.6
198315620.313.20.6063.2
4.4
15819.520.70.485-0.51.0
198416222.214.80.6003.2
4.6
15625.319.10.5703.45.1
198515620.413.80.5972.6
3.9
15324.019.20.5562.33.9
198613713.213.90.487-0.7
0.3
15419.518.50.5140.82.2
198716017.517.30.503-0.8
0.6
13216.815.90.5130.61.9
198816116.817.20.494-0.7
0.9
15520.418.60.5231.12.6
198916018.315.90.5360.1
1.3
15721.618.10.5451.63.0
199015520.114.90.5751.6
2.9
15522.018.70.5401.73.1
199115319.316.20.5450.8
2.2
15823.117.10.5752.84.4
199215618.616.60.5280.1
1.4
15824.818.80.5682.84.5
199315415.217.80.462-2.2
-0.9
11713.213.70.491-0.20.9
19941089.99.60.507-0.2
0.9
576.97.10.493-0.10.5
199511311.48.80.5640.9
2.1
199615211.711.40.507-0.2
1.2
15019.616.70.5401.83.3
1997552.94.30.402-0.7
-0.3
13512.713.70.481-0.40.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS3,026345.4284.90.54818.6
44.9
2,164287.7255.10.53017.137.7




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.

Home     List of Articles