Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 2013 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records



Retrosheet released play-by-play data for the 2013 season just after Thanksgiving and I have recently updated my Player won-lost records to incoporporate the 2013 season.

This article takes a look at the 2013 season as measured by Player won-lost records.

The Best of 2013

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
1Miguel Cabrera21.814.93.4
5.2
1Miguel Cabrera21.814.93.4
5.2
2Chris Davis20.913.13.4
5.0
2Matt Carpenter23.416.83.2
5.1
3Max Scherzer14.27.93.4
4.5
3Chris Davis20.913.13.4
5.0
4Clayton Kershaw15.810.93.3
4.7
4Shin-Soo Choo23.616.92.9
4.9
5Matt Carpenter23.416.83.2
5.1
5Paul Goldschmidt22.915.32.9
4.7
6Zack Greinke13.38.92.9
4.1
6Clayton Kershaw15.810.93.3
4.7
7Paul Goldschmidt22.915.32.9
4.7
7Joshua Donaldson21.015.22.9
4.6
8Shin-Soo Choo23.616.92.9
4.9
8Max Scherzer14.27.93.4
4.5
9Joshua Donaldson21.015.22.9
4.6
9Andrew McCutchen23.417.42.5
4.5
10Jose D. Fernandez11.77.82.5
3.6
10Robinson Cano23.018.32.5
4.5


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
1Mike Trout24.016.73.4
5.4
1Mike Trout24.016.73.4
5.4
2Clayton Kershaw15.410.83.2
4.5
2Shin-Soo Choo23.317.12.7
4.6
3Chris Davis20.513.82.8
4.4
3Clayton Kershaw15.410.83.2
4.5
4Max Scherzer13.88.82.8
4.0
4Chris Davis20.513.82.8
4.4
5Shin-Soo Choo23.317.12.7
4.6
5Matt Carpenter23.018.02.4
4.3
6Matt Harvey11.57.42.6
3.6
6Andrew McCutchen22.516.82.4
4.3
7Miguel Cabrera20.815.72.5
4.3
7Miguel Cabrera20.815.72.5
4.3
8Andrew McCutchen22.516.82.4
4.3
8Max Scherzer13.88.82.8
4.0
9Jose D. Fernandez11.78.12.4
3.4
9Paul Goldschmidt21.515.52.2
3.9
10Matt Carpenter23.018.02.4
4.3
10Adam Wainwright15.712.92.2
3.7


Cabrera vs. Trout: Again
Just like in 2012, the top two finishers in the American League MVP voting were Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Unlike in 2012, where there was really very little question about who was better by most sabermetric stats (including Player won-lost records).

In 2013, on the other hand, the debate between Trout and Cabrera is somewhat more interesting. Specifically, it boils down to this: how much does context matter in determining player value?

The next table compares Miguel Cabrera's and Mike Trout's seasons, in and out of context.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Miguel Cabrera
147
21.814.90.5943.4
5.2
20.815.70.5702.54.3
Mike Trout
157
21.116.70.5592.0
3.8
24.016.70.5893.45.4


Mike Trout's 2013 performance translated into about 1.5 fewer actual wins than expected. Miguel Cabrera's 2013 performance translated into about 0.9 more actual wins than expected.

Part of this was because Trout's teammates were not as good as Cabrera's teammates, and so Trout had fewer opportunities to contribute to wins. But much of the difference was based on how the two of them performed in the most win-important situations.

In tie games, Mike Trout batted .301/.389/.593 with 32 RBI in 244 PAs. In games where the score margin was more than four runs (in either team's favor), Trout batted .466/.547/.863 with 24 RBI in 86 PAs. Trout's OPS by leverage in low-medium-high leverage went 1.055-1.035-.713; Trout batted .257/.386/.327 in 132 high-leverage plate appareances with only one home run.

In tie games, Miguel Cabrera batted .364/.462/.695 with 43 RBI in 223 PAs. In games where the score margin was more than four runs, Cabrera batted .250/.304/.375. Cabrera's OPS by leverage in low-medium-high leverage went .968-1.161-1.188; Cabrera batted .323/.459/.729 in 122 high-leverage plate appearances with 11 home runs.

I'm not suggesting that these splits are predictive of next year or necessarily reflect a talent of either player. But, in 2013, they really happened, and they contributed to real wins by the Detroit Tigers who could have missed the playoffs had they won as little as two fewer games. Based on that, Miguel Cabrera would have gotten my vote for 2013 American League Most Valuable Player.

Best Pitcher in Baseball: Clayton Kershaw
The top pitcher in three of the four tables above won his second Cy Young award in three seasons, with a second-place finish in between. It seems pretty clear to me that Clayton Kershaw has cemented his place as the best pitcher in the major leagues.

The next table presents the career record of Clayton Kershaw to date, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Clayton Kershaw
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
2008LAN20
22
6.97.10.4950.3
1.0
6.67.30.472-0.10.7
2009LAN21
31
9.79.10.5170.8
1.9
11.29.10.5501.62.7
2010LAN22
32
14.512.60.5351.6
3.0
13.311.60.5341.42.7
2011LAN23
33
17.011.60.5953.5
5.0
15.610.30.6023.44.7
2012LAN24
34
15.011.30.5702.6
3.9
15.211.20.5752.84.1
2013LAN25
35
15.810.90.5913.3
4.7
15.410.80.5883.24.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
187
78.962.50.55812.2
19.6
77.260.40.56112.319.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
9
2.72.30.542 0.62.62.30.527 0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
196
81.664.80.558
20.2
79.862.70.561 20.0


NL Central Center Fielders: Andrew McCutchen vs. Shin-Soo Choo
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen was voted the Most Valuable Player in the National League. Based on the tables shown above, McCutchen wasn't necessarily even the best center fielder in his own division. This is not a knock on Andrew McCutchen so much as this: Player won-lost records really, really, really liked Shin-Soo Choo's 2013 season for the Reds.

The next table compares Andrew McCutchen's and Shin-Soo Choo's 2013 seasons as measured by Player won-lost records.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Andrew McCutchen
157
23.417.40.5732.5
4.5
22.516.80.5732.44.3
Shin-Soo Choo
154
23.616.90.5832.9
4.9
23.317.10.5772.74.6


Unlike Cabrera vs. Trout, this one doesn't really have anything to do with context. To see what it does have to do with, the next table breaks McCutchen's and Choo's (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) Player won-lost records by factor: batting, baserunning, and fielding.

Batting Baserunning Fielding
Wins Losses WOPA Wins Losses WOPA Wins Losses WOPA
Andrew McCutchen15.411.1
1.9
1.91.1
0.4
5.24.90.2
Shin-Soo Choo14.710.4
1.9
1.81.8
-0.0
6.65.30.7


I think that there are two things that this table reveals. First, Shin-Soo Choo really did have an excellent offensive season in 2013. He was second in the National League in on-base percentage (.423), times on base (300), and runs scored (107). McCuthchen had a somewhat higher slugging percentage (.508 to .462), but even in terms of power, Choo matched McCutchen with 21 home runs. McCutchen gained a few runs on Choo for his baserunning, so, overall McCutchen was the better offensive player, but Shin-Soo Choo had an outstanding offensive season in 2013.

Second, and undoubtedly more controversial, the reason why Shin-Soo Choo beats Andrew McCutchen in Player won-lost records is because, according to Player won-lost records, Shin-Soo Choo was the best defensive centerfielder in the major leagues. I have to be honest here: Player won-lost records are my baby and I love them, but I pretty seriously doubt this result. Shin-Soo Choo was a corner outfielder playing out of position. Baseball-Reference shows Choo as -18 defensive runs according to BIS, Fangraphs shows Choo with a -15.5 UZR.

Why am I showing Choo as so much better? The one statistic that Choo has in his favor is that the Reds led the major-leagues in defensive efficiency at .715. They also led the major leagues in Total Zone runs (reported by Baseball-Reference) and, in fact, Choo rated as +13 runs in Total Zone. BIS's defensive runs saved and UZR both have the Reds a more pedestrian 8th in the major leagues. Player won-lost records, on the other hand, show the Reds as the best fielding team in the majors.

At the team level, I'm more inclined to believe that the team with the best defensive efficiency should have the best fielding statistics. So, certainly, I think that's a point in favor of Player won-lost records insofar as their view of the Reds as a team. But whether that translates into Shin-Soo Choo really being the best defensive CF in baseball? I'm a lot more skeptical of that one. On the other hand, Choo had 32 more putouts than McCutchen in 16 fewer innings and the Reds allowed 75 fewer hits on balls-in-play than the Pirates. So, you know, maybe Player won-lost records are right here.

If you adjust the above numbers to take away Shin-Soo Choo's fielding edge on Andrew McCutchen, McCutchen moves ahead of Choo in Player wins over either positional average or replacement level.

2013 Postseason

The 2013 postseason began with the Pittsburgh Pirates making their first postseason appearance in 21 seasons and ended with a rematch of the 2004 World Series and the Boston Red Sox third World Series win in 10 seasons.

The best players in the postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records are shown in the table below.

The top two performers were World Series star (and MVP) David Ortiz and NLCS star (and MVP) Michael Wacha.

2013 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
David OrtizBOS2.40.90.9
Michael WachaSLN2.61.60.9
Jonny GomesBOS2.41.20.8
Carlos BeltranSLN2.81.50.7
Clayton KershawLAN2.11.30.7
Jon LesterBOS2.31.40.7


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

2013 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
David OrtizBOS1.10.20.5
Jon LesterBOS1.20.50.5
Jonny GomesBOS1.20.60.4

2013 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Michael WachaSLN1.30.40.6
Koji UeharaBOS0.90.10.4

2013 Postseason: Division Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Adam WainwrightSLN1.10.40.5
Carlos BeltranSLN1.10.40.4
Clayton KershawLAN1.10.50.4
Pedro AlvarezPIT1.00.40.4
Juan UribeLAN1.00.40.4
Justin VerlanderDET0.90.40.4

2013 Postseason: Wild Card Round
pWins pLosses pWORL
Alex CobbTBA0.70.40.2
Francisco LirianoPIT0.60.30.2
Marlon ByrdPIT0.30.10.1
Desmond JenningsTBA0.30.00.1
Russ MartinPIT0.20.00.1
Delmon YoungTBA0.20.00.1
Ryan LudwickCIN0.20.10.1
Jay BruceCIN0.20.10.1
James LoneyTBA0.20.10.1
Neil WalkerPIT0.20.10.1


Best of 2013 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 2013 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Miguel Cabrera16.710.53.1
Chris Davis17.010.83.0
Mike Trout16.910.93.0

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jacoby Ellsbury2.31.10.6
Rajai Davis1.60.60.5
Elvis Andrus2.31.30.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Matt Harvey9.85.83.9
Clayton Kershaw12.58.73.8
Max Scherzer12.18.43.7


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Todd Redmond0.50.10.4


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Yadier Molina1.61.10.5
Russ Martin1.91.40.5


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Eric Hosmer3.02.30.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dustin Pedroia5.54.41.1


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Manny Machado5.74.11.5


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Andrelton Simmons6.24.81.4


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Alex Gordon7.15.71.3


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Shin-Soo Choo6.45.21.3


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Norichika Aoki6.44.81.6


Best by Position
Next, we look at 2013 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
Yadier Molina14.011.61.3


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Chris Davis19.413.82.2


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Robinson Cano20.717.41.8


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Miguel Cabrera20.615.82.4


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Troy Tulowitzki16.913.71.8


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Carlos Gonzalez15.912.51.4


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Trout17.211.72.6


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jay Bruce23.118.91.4


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Clayton Kershaw12.88.92.2
Matt Harvey9.96.12.1


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Koji Uehara4.41.91.1


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 2013 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 2013, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Greg Holland7.83.30.7052.12.9
Mark Melancon7.03.20.6891.82.5
Craig Kimbrel7.13.70.6601.52.3
Ernesto Frieri7.74.40.6341.42.3
Kenley Jansen6.83.40.6671.52.2


Uehara's failure to appear on that list is purely a function of the leverage in which he was used early in the season, not on his relative performance in high- vs. low-leverage situations. Obviously, the Red Sox recognized what they had and fixed that problem by the end of the season.

Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
David Ortiz13.810.71.6


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
Zack Greinke1.41.30.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Evan Gattis0.80.10.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Billy Hamilton0.50.00.2


Billy Hamilton made his major-league debut on September 3, 2013. Despite giving everybody else in baseball a 5-month head start, Hamilton was still the most valuable pinch runner in baseball in 2013.

Noteworthy Players of 2013

Finally, let's take a look at some players who had noteworthy 2013 seasons.
Notable Debuts
It is too early to judge the historical significance of players who made their major-league debut in 2013. The next table shows all players who made their major-league debut in 2013 and earned at least one pWin over replacement level.

Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Jose D. Fernandez20
28
11.77.80.6002.5
3.6
11.78.10.5902.43.4
Hyun-jin Ryu26
30
11.710.10.5361.4
2.6
12.610.60.5431.72.9
Yasiel Puig22
104
14.210.90.5661.2
2.4
14.111.40.5520.92.1
Evan Gattis26
105
13.510.80.5551.2
2.4
10.49.60.5200.31.3
Gerrit Cole22
19
7.66.70.5320.8
1.6
7.36.30.5350.81.5
Jedd Gyorko24
125
14.814.50.5050.1
1.5
15.214.20.5170.41.8
Wil Myers22
88
11.610.50.5250.4
1.4
10.910.20.5160.21.2
Jonathan Pettibone22
18
6.05.70.5130.4
1.1
6.36.60.4880.20.8
Nick Franklin22
102
11.211.40.494-0.0
1.0
11.411.80.492-0.11.0
Khris Davis25
55
5.44.10.5690.6
1.0
5.33.90.5810.71.1
Marcell Ozuna22
70
10.29.50.5160.1
1.0
8.89.10.492-0.40.5


Last Hurrahs
Finally, 2013 was the final season for two longtime teammates who won five World Series together: Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

The next table compares their career records, as measured by Player won-lost records. The numbers in this table include postseason games, since the postseason was such a large part of both of their careers.

Andy Pettitte Mariano Rivera
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
19953210.710.10.5150.5
1.7
224.24.30.493-0.00.5
19964016.912.40.5762.6
4.2
6911.04.00.7343.24.2
19973714.39.00.6142.9
4.3
687.53.90.6601.62.3
19983615.213.30.5341.3
2.8
647.72.20.7782.63.2
19993413.212.10.5220.8
2.1
748.22.80.7482.63.3
20003715.811.90.5702.2
3.7
768.94.30.6732.13.0
20013615.912.80.5531.9
3.5
8211.05.10.6822.63.7
2002239.66.30.6031.8
2.7
465.44.00.5740.51.2
20033816.913.50.5572.1
3.8
728.73.10.7392.63.5
2004155.64.90.5330.7
1.2
8310.94.10.7273.04.0
20053715.311.40.5732.7
4.0
738.13.40.7052.23.0
20063815.014.70.5061.0
2.6
647.13.40.6781.72.4
20073712.811.10.5351.1
2.4
706.64.00.6261.11.9
20083313.113.50.4920.1
1.5
647.72.60.7482.33.1
20093715.011.90.5582.0
3.4
787.33.40.6821.72.4
2010239.57.00.5771.4
2.3
676.13.50.6391.21.9
2011
 
666.32.80.6951.62.2
2012144.44.40.5010.1
0.6
90.70.30.6930.20.3
20133010.810.10.5190.6
1.7
646.93.80.6481.42.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS577230.1190.30.54725.6
48.6
1,211140.464.80.68434.248.0





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