Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
Home     List of Articles



The 2001 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



This is the sixth article in my occasional series looking at various Major-League seasons through the prism of Player won-lost records. Previous seasons for which I've written articles are 1951, 1954, 1965, 1977, and 2012.

The 2001 season saw a number of historic events: a 116-win team, a team playing in its fourth consecutive World Series, and a team winning the World Series in only its fourth season of existence.

The 2001 season featured one player whose 57 home runs and 142 RBIs both finished third in the National League; a player who accumulated 425 total bases (the 7th-most of all-time), 64 home runs (5th-most all-time), 160 RBIs (2nd-most since 1938), and (deservedly) finished second in MVP voting. And, of course, not unrelated to those two players: it featured quite probably the finest offensive season in major-league history.

On the pitching side, this season saw 7 20-game winners, a 50-save season, two players who tied and set the record for career Cy Young awards. Counting the postseason, one pitcher pitched over 300 innings; his teammate struck out over 400 batters (regular plus postseason).

It was the final season for two players who were elected to the Hall-of-Fame on their first ballot with more than 97% of the vote. It was the first season for two players who won the 2001 Rookie-of-the-Year awards and will almost certainly someday join Ripken and Gwynn in the Hall of Fame.

Looking over the 2001 season through Player won-lost records, in preparing this article, the theme that stood out to me was that the 2001 season was a season of great players playing great.

The Best of 2001

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 Bonds28.015.55.3
7.2
1Barry Bonds28.015.55.3
7.2
2Curt Schilling19.312.44.4
6.0
2Curt Schilling19.312.44.4
6.0
3Eric Chavez21.713.24.3
5.8
3Bret Boone24.316.84.1
5.9
4Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson19.112.54.2
5.8
4Eric Chavez21.713.24.3
5.8
5Bret Boone24.316.84.1
5.9
5Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson19.112.54.2
5.8
6Jason Giambi21.512.83.7
5.2
6Jason Giambi21.512.83.7
5.2
7Mike Cameron21.715.03.4
5.0
7Alex Rodriguez22.917.53.3
5.0
8Alex Rodriguez22.917.53.3
5.0
8Mike Cameron21.715.03.4
5.0
9Freddy Antonio Garcia14.18.63.1
4.3
9Roberto Alomar21.716.33.0
4.7
10Roberto Alomar21.716.33.0
4.7
10Miguel Tejada22.517.92.9
4.6


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
1Barry Bonds29.415.75.9
7.9
1Barry Bonds29.415.75.9
7.9
2Alex Rodriguez25.317.44.6
6.4
2Alex Rodriguez25.317.44.6
6.4
3Sammy Sosa27.919.23.4
5.4
3Sammy Sosa27.919.23.4
5.4
4Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson17.111.93.3
4.8
4Luis 'Gonzo' Gonzalez26.218.03.2
5.0
5Luis 'Gonzo' Gonzalez26.218.03.2
5.0
5Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson17.111.93.3
4.8
6Javier Vazquez15.711.62.9
4.2
6Lance Berkman25.118.12.8
4.7
7Jason Giambi19.412.42.8
4.3
7Jason Giambi19.412.42.8
4.3
8Greg Maddux15.811.82.8
4.2
8Javier Vazquez15.711.62.9
4.2
9Lance Berkman25.118.12.8
4.7
9Bret Boone21.917.52.5
4.2
10Todd Helton20.412.82.8
4.2
10Greg Maddux15.811.82.8
4.2


It should come as no surprise to anybody who remembers the 2001 season or who has any sense of recent major-league history whose name is at the top of all four of the above lists. Barry Bonds's 2001 season was a truly historic season and Player won-lost records agrees. I have calculated Player won-lost records for all seasons since 1921. Over that time, Barry Bonds's 2001 season ranks as follows: 10th all-time in pWins, 10th all-time in pWOPA, 7th all-time in pWORL (#1 among non-pitchers in both pWOPA and pWORL since Mickey Mantle's 1957 season), 6th all-time in eWins, 2nd in eWOPA and eWORL, 7th in total batting wins, 8th in total offensive wins, 2nd in net batting and offensive wins, 4th in total eWins by a leftfielder, 1st in LF wins over positional average (eWOPA), 1st in Component 4 wins, 2nd in net Component 4 wins, 1st in combined Component 3 and 4 wins as well as 1st in net Component 3 & 4 wins. It's possible that I've forgotten something. Really, it was an extraordinary season. I originally called this season "the greatest season by the greatest player for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records." Since writing that, I have calculated the 1927 season - i.e., Babe Ruth's 60 home run season. So, that may not be literally true any more, but the spirit of the statement certainly remains.

How Much Do We Care About Context: Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Curt Schilling
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.

Looking at the above lists, a couple of "great players playing great" appear higher on the pWin lists, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, and a couple of "great players playing great" appear more prominently on the eWin lists, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa. What, if anything, can looking at these four players tell us about how much context matters?

The next table shows how these four players' 2001 season looks both in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Curt Schilling
35
19.312.40.6094.4
6.0
17.014.10.5472.44.0
Randy Johnson
35
19.112.50.6054.2
5.8
17.111.90.5883.34.8
Alex Rodriguez
162
22.917.50.5663.3
5.0
25.317.40.5934.66.4
Sammy Sosa
160
26.119.40.5742.4
4.3
27.919.20.5923.45.4


I will start with Alex Rodriguez. To some extent, his is the simplest story to tell. The 2001 Texas Rangers, outside of Rodriguez, were mostly terrible, particularly their pitching, which, as measured by Player won-lost records, was the worst in the American League. The Rangers were last in the American League in runs allowed per game by 0.5 runs, so it's not like Player won-lost records are alone on an island here in their view of Rangers pitching. But what does that have to do with Alex Rodriguez? Well, not much of anything, except that, because Rangers pitchers were giving up so many runs, all of the runs being generated by Rodriguez at bat, on the bases, and even in the field just weren't translating into team wins like you would have expected.

Was it Alex Rodriguez's fault that the Rangers had such a poor pitching staff? I would say no. Incidentally, contrary to reputation, 2001 was not the norm for Alex Rodriguez in his career, in terms of converting raw statistics into team wins. Here's how Alex Rodriguez's career lines (through 2012) look in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Alex Rodriguez, Career
2783
373.9297.20.55742.5
69.5
365.5292.50.55540.867.3


The other player who looks worse in context here, Sammy Sosa, is a bit of a different case. First, 2001 was actually fairly typical of Sammy Sosa's career, in terms of the disconnect between player performance and team wins.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Sammy Sosa, Career
2349
313.8281.40.5275.9
29.9
318.0270.50.54013.637.3


Second, this disconnect had much more to do with the timing of Sosa's performance than with the quality or performance of his teammates.

It's a little weird to talk about a guy who led his league in RBIs with 160 as being "un-clutch", but Sosa actually was a bit un-clutch. Looking at his 2001 batting splits, his OPS in high-leverage situations was 1.097, in late-and-close situations it was 1.102, in tie games it was 1.110, in innings 7-9, it was 1.176. Now, all of those OPS's sound really impressive - and that's because they are - except that Sammy Sosa's overall OPS for 2001 was 1.174. He had an OPS of 1.336 when the margin of games was 4 runs or more (in either direction). In fact, somewhat incredibly (I don't know that I've ever seen this before), he had a slightly higher OPS in team losses (1.193) than in team victories (1.156). None of this is to say that Sammy Sosa had a bad season in 2001: far from it. But the timing of his offensive performance didn't quite translate into as many wins for the Cubs as we would have expected.

At the opposite end of the context spectrum, Diamondbacks teammates Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling managed to leverage their excellent 2001 performances into even more team wins than expected. How much did that matter to the Diamondbacks and their fans?

Schilling's and Johnson's combined pWORL exceeded their combined eWORL by 3.0. The Diamondbacks won the NL West by 2 games over the San Francisco Giants. Take away those extra wins and the Diamondbacks might not even make the playoffs, much less win the World Series.

2001 Postseason

Overall, the best players in the 2001 postseason, as measured by pWins over replacement level were the co-MVPs of the World Series, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson. In fact, Schilling's and Johnson's postseason performances in 2001 rank 1st and 2nd all-time (since 1921 in total single-season postseason pWins and pWORL and 1st and 3rd in pWOPA.

2001 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Curt SchillingARI3.51.51.4
Randy 'Big Unit' JohnsonARI3.51.71.3


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

2001 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Randy 'Big Unit' JohnsonARI1.50.60.6
Scott BrosiusNYA1.20.60.4

2001 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Randy 'Big Unit' JohnsonARI1.60.50.7
Bernie WilliamsNYA1.30.30.6
Andy PettitteNYA1.20.50.5

2001 Postseason: Division Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Curt SchillingARI1.80.50.8


Best of 2001 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 2001 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Barry Bonds20.48.35.8

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



As I noted earlier in the article, Bonds's 2001 season was the best batting (and overall offensive) season for which I have calculated Player won-lost records.

Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Alex Rodriguez1.70.80.4
Pokey Reese1.40.50.4
Ichiro Suzuki2.21.40.4
Jimmy Rollins2.11.20.4
Derek Jeter1.50.80.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson14.69.84.8


The 2001 season was probably the second-best season of Mike Mussina's career and the season when he was most deserving of a Cy Young award.

Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Heath Murray0.60.00.6


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ivan Rodriguez1.71.10.7


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Todd Helton2.31.70.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ron Belliard3.52.80.6
Damian Jackson4.13.50.6


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Eric Chavez4.23.01.2


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Rey Sanchez5.64.21.4


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Geoff Jenkins5.24.31.0
B.J. Surhoff5.64.61.0


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Andruw Jones8.16.31.8


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ichiro Suzuki6.35.21.1


Best by Position
Next, we look at 2001 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).

It is this section that most highlights the theme of the 2001 season: great players playing great.

Catcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Ivan Rodriguez12.19.61.9


Ivan Rodriguez ranks 7th in career wins over Positional Average at catcher.

First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Todd Helton20.312.92.6


Todd Helton ranks 4th in career wins over Positional Average at first base.

Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bret Boone21.717.42.5


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Eric Chavez17.913.92.1


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Alex Rodriguez25.017.84.2


Alex Rodriguez ranks 2nd in career wins over Positional Average at shortstop.

Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Barry Bonds28.115.95.2


Barry Bonds ranks 1st in career wins over Positional Average at left field.

Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jim Edmonds19.715.31.9


Jim Edmonds ranks 5th in career wins over Positional Average in center field.

Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Sammy Sosa27.619.53.1


Sammy Sosa ranks 10th in career wins over Positional Average in right field.

Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson14.59.82.6


Randy Johnson ranks 5th in career wins over Positional Average among starting pitchers.

Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mariano Rivera4.82.80.8
Octavio Dotel5.23.20.8


Octavio Dotel ranks as the best relief pitcher of all-time, as measured by career wins over Positional Average.

Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Edgar Martinez13.19.51.5


Edgar Martinez ranks 1st in career wins over Positional Average at designated hitter.

Finally, here are the best at three oft-forgotten positions that can nevertheless matter: pitcher offense, pinch hitting, and pinch running. Even here, the theme continues: great players playing great.

Pitcher Offense
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Hampton1.81.50.8


Mike Hampton ranks 6th in career wins over Positional Average for pitchers on offense.

Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Craig Wilson (2001)1.50.60.5


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Tom Goodwin0.20.00.1
Al Martin0.20.00.1
Donaldo Mendez0.10.00.1


Donaldo Mendez ranks 4th in career wins over Positional Average as a pinch runner.

Noteworthy Players of 2001

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 2001 seasons.

2001 Seattle Mariners: most regular-season wins ever
The 2001 Seattle Mariners won a major-league record 116 regular-season games. The Mariners were mostly a good team from 1995 through 2003. Even so, outside of 2001, the team never won more than 93 games in a season (which it did in 2002 and 2003). Winning 116 games in one season seems like something of a fluke. So how did the Mariners do that?

Basically, they compiled a group of players who were almost all at least pretty good, but mostly not great, and who all had one of the best seasons of their careers. One thing I found in building Player won-lost records is that a team of players who are all a bit above-average will tend to win a lot of games - probably more than you'd think. And this effect is, essentially, multiplicative: surrounding better players with better players magnifies everybody's wins.

The table below shows everybody on the 2001 Mariners who had at least ten player decisions (pWins + pLosses). The first four columns show their Player won-lost record for the 2001 Mariners. Next to their pWORL I show two more numbers: their eWORL in 2001 and their highest career pWORL outside of 2001.

2001 Seattle Mariners
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWORL Best non-2001
pWORL
Bret Boone24.316.84.15.94.25.1
Mike Cameron21.715.03.45.02.63.3
Ichiro Suzuki24.718.12.74.63.43.9
Edgar Martinez14.58.42.84.33.14.7
Freddy Antonio Garcia14.18.63.14.34.02.9
Jamie Moyer13.38.82.53.82.63.5
John Olerud18.813.42.03.41.84.0
Aaron Sele13.19.62.13.32.42.9
Mark T. McLemore15.811.82.13.31.92.1
Carlos Guillen14.211.71.62.71.74.1
Paul Abbott10.68.61.32.31.21.3
David Bell13.812.00.92.00.71.9
Kazuhiro Sasaki6.94.50.91.70.71.7
Al Martin10.18.40.61.50.40.7
Stan Javier9.57.90.61.30.81.9
Dan Wilson7.67.50.51.21.02.0
John Halama6.66.9-0.10.70.51.6
------------------------------
Total (Players shown)239.7178.031.251.533.047.7


Two somewhat remarkable facts emerge. First, outside of 5th-starter John Halama, everybody else in the above table was above average. Second, if (virtually) everybody (of significance) on the 2001 Seattle Mariners had matched their best non-2001 season, the Mariners would have accumulated 4 fewer pWORL, i.e., they would have won 4 fewer games than they actually did.

Rookies-of-the-Year
Since Major-League Baseball began awarding separate Rookie-of-the-Year awards for the two leagues in 1949, there have been three seasons for which the two winners of the Rookie-of-the-Year award went on to have Hall-of-Fame careers: 1956, 1967, and 1977.

It seems all but certain that 2001 will be the fourth such year. The next table shows the career records (through 2012) for the two 2001 Rookies-of-the-Year.

Albert Pujols Ichiro Suzuki
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
200116123.417.80.5682.0
3.8
15724.718.10.5782.74.6
200215724.318.60.5672.1
3.8
15721.320.60.508-0.21.5
200315723.114.90.6073.2
4.7
15924.418.90.5632.23.9
200415421.513.40.6173.2
4.6
16121.621.10.506-0.01.7
200516120.714.50.5892.2
3.5
16221.021.50.494-0.70.9
200614323.212.70.6474.3
5.6
16121.821.20.5080.11.7
200715820.114.20.5872.2
3.5
16122.019.30.5331.42.9
200814819.112.30.6072.6
3.8
16221.322.70.484-0.90.7
200916024.814.70.6283.8
5.3
14622.018.70.5401.22.8
201015922.114.70.6012.7
4.0
16220.421.90.482-1.20.4
201114719.413.50.5902.1
3.3
16119.123.20.451-2.6-0.9
201215418.115.00.5471.1
2.5
16217.320.10.462-1.7-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS1,859259.8176.20.59631.7
48.4
1,911256.8247.30.5090.419.6


Farewell to Icons of Two Cities
Finally, 2001 was the final season for two players who spent their entire careers in one city - one on each coast - and amassed 3,000 hits, the adoration of millions, and easy election into the Hall of Fame on their first ballot in 2007.

Cal Ripken Tony Gwynn Sr.
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1981180.60.90.397-0.1
-0.1
198215921.717.90.5482.4
3.9
545.76.50.468-0.6-0.1
198316224.919.30.5643.5
5.1
8610.99.80.5250.31.0
198416225.819.30.5724.5
6.2
15825.318.20.5812.54.1
198516123.220.40.5322.4
4.0
15421.920.10.5210.31.9
198616222.020.10.5232.0
3.5
16022.020.10.5230.21.7
198716219.421.30.476-0.1
1.5
15720.919.30.5210.11.7
198816119.919.80.5020.7
2.2
13318.915.70.5470.92.2
198916222.519.30.5382.4
3.9
15820.919.20.5220.51.9
199016120.618.50.5271.8
3.2
14118.219.60.481-1.30.1
199116223.420.00.5392.5
4.1
13418.515.40.5450.92.2
199216219.518.90.5071.0
2.5
12816.613.80.5461.02.1
199316220.519.40.5141.3
2.8
12216.216.00.503-0.30.9
199411214.912.80.5381.6
2.8
11015.114.50.510-0.30.9
199514417.718.40.4910.4
1.9
13519.316.60.5370.51.9
199616320.619.20.5181.4
3.0
11614.013.50.510-0.30.8
199716219.317.00.5311.2
2.6
14919.717.00.5360.51.9
199816116.417.40.485-0.5
0.9
12714.112.10.5380.31.4
19998610.09.20.5220.5
1.2
11113.113.20.498-0.70.3
2000838.87.70.5330.6
1.3
363.84.20.473-0.30.0
200112811.514.00.451-1.2
-0.1
713.33.20.503-0.00.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS2,995383.3350.70.52228.2
56.5
2,440318.3288.10.5253.927.4




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