Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 2015 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records

Earlier this week, I updated my Player won-lost records to incoporporate the 2015 season.

This article takes a look at the 2015 season as measured by Player won-lost records.

The Best of 2015

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
1Jake Arrieta17.610.84.4
5.8
1Jake Arrieta17.610.84.4
5.8
2Josh Donaldson25.017.13.8
5.3
2Josh Donaldson25.017.13.8
5.3
3Mike Trout23.716.03.7
5.2
3Mike Trout23.716.03.7
5.2
4Matt Carpenter23.114.83.7
5.0
4Matt Carpenter23.114.83.7
5.0
5Zack Greinke15.39.73.7
4.9
5Zack Greinke15.39.73.7
4.9
6Anthony Rizzo22.613.83.4
4.7
6Bryce Harper25.617.63.3
4.9
7Bryce Harper25.617.63.3
4.9
7Anthony Rizzo22.613.83.4
4.7
8Yoenis Cespedes23.216.73.1
4.5
8Yoenis Cespedes23.216.73.1
4.5
9Andrew McCutchen22.415.43.0
4.4
9Andrew McCutchen22.415.43.0
4.4
10Clayton Kershaw15.411.03.0
4.4
10Clayton Kershaw15.411.03.0
4.4


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
1Jake Arrieta15.79.73.9
5.2
1Jake Arrieta15.79.73.9
5.2
2Clayton Kershaw15.910.33.6
5.0
2Bryce Harper24.916.53.5
5.0
3Bryce Harper24.916.53.5
5.0
3Clayton Kershaw15.910.33.6
5.0
4Mike Trout23.616.83.3
4.8
4Mike Trout23.616.83.3
4.8
5Zack Greinke14.810.23.2
4.4
5Zack Greinke14.810.23.2
4.4
6Dallas Keuchel14.89.82.9
4.3
6Dallas Keuchel14.89.82.9
4.3
7Madison Bumgarner15.111.72.7
4.0
7Josh Donaldson22.817.22.6
4.1
8Josh Donaldson22.817.22.6
4.1
8Madison Bumgarner15.111.72.7
4.0
9Paul Goldschmidt21.014.22.5
3.8
9Max Scherzer15.512.52.4
3.8
10Jacob deGrom12.99.62.5
3.6
10Paul Goldschmidt21.014.22.5
3.8


American League MVP Race: Mike Trout vs. Josh Donaldson
According to Baseball-Reference, Mike Trout has led the American League in Wins above Replacement (WAR) for each of the last four seasons. Yet, for the third time in four years, Mike Trout finished second in AL MVP voting. In 2012, he fell victim to Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown. In 2013, he again lost to Cabrera, this time on the strength of Cabrera out-performing Trout in clutch situations. I wrote about that race, finding that Cabrera was more valuable than Trout, when measured in context, by pWins over either positional average or replacement level.

The 2015 American League MVP race is, to some extent, a repeat of the 2013 race, but with Josh Donaldson taking over Miguel Cabrera's role.

In 2015, Mike Trout batted .299/.402/.590, leading the American League in slugging percentage, OPS (.991), and ballpark-adjusted OPS+ (176). Trout actually performed slightly better in context. For example, in high-leverage situations, Trout's OPS was 1.125 (.325/.426/.699).

Josh Donaldson had an excellent 2015 season. But, in terms of raw stats, his batting line was somewhat less impressive than Mike Trout's (which is hardly a criticism - everybody in baseball this side of Bryce Harper had a less impressive batting line than Mike Trout): .297/.371/.568. Putting Donaldson's season in context, however, improved it considerably. For example, in high-leverage situations, Donaldson batted .351/.426/.713. In 176 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Donaldson had 79 RBI (0.45 RBI per PA); in 126 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, Trout had 49 RBI (0.39 RBI per PA).

Baseball Player won-lost records go through all of these plate appearances and figure out not only the expected value of the results, but the actual results in terms of how they translated into team wins and losses for the Anaheim Angels and Toronto Blue Jays. The results are summarized in the table below.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Josh Donaldson
158
25.017.10.5943.8
5.3
22.817.20.5702.64.1
Mike Trout
159
23.716.00.5973.7
5.2
23.616.80.5853.34.8


Neutralizing context, Mike Trout's 2015 season was clearly superior to Josh Donaldson's 2015 season. Putting their two seasons in context actually improves both players' records. But it improves Donaldson's more, such that Donaldson slips just (barely) ahead of Trout in pWins over either positional average or replacement level. Enough to justify voting for Donaldson over Trout for MVP? That is left as an exercise for the reader.

National League Cy Young Race: Jake Arrieta vs. Zack Greinke vs. Clayton Kershaw
The 2015 NL Cy Young race was fascinating to me - partly because, living on the North Side of Chicago, I had a rooting interest. But also, it was, I thought, a very interesting 3-way statistical battle. According to Baseball-Reference WAR, the top pitcher in the National League in 2015 was Zack Greinke (with 9.3). According to Fangraphs WAR, the top pitcher in the National League was Clayton Kershaw (with 8.6). Baseball-Reference had Kershaw third in the NL in WAR (7.5); Fangraphs had Greinke 4th in the NL in WAR with 5.9.

The difference between Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs is that Baseball-Reference Pitcher WAR is keyed off of runs allowed, while Fangraphs Pitcher WAR is keyed off of FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching - a function only of strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed). Are pitchers completely responsible for runs allowed? No, fielding matters. But pitchers are responsible for more than just walks and strikeouts and home runs. In my opinion, the truth is somewhere in between.

And who was in between Kershaw and Greinke? As it turns out, Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs agree about who was second in pitcher WAR in 2015: Jake Arrieta (8.7 at BB-Ref; 7.3 at Fangraphs).

Taking a simple average of BB-Ref and Fangraphs' WAR (rounded to one decimal place) shows Kershaw at 8.05, Arrieta at 8.00, and Zack Greinke at 7.60. Vary the weights you're inclined to give to BB-Ref and Fangraphs, and you can find a set of weights to put any of the three of them in first.

Player won-lost records use empirical weights (i.e., they are derived within my work, so that I, of course, believe they arecorrect). Strikeouts are more valuable (to a pitcher) than balls in play. But pitchers have some control over whether balls in play become outs or hits. And when you put it all together systematically, as I have done with Baseball Player won-lost records, it turns out, the most valuable pitcher (and player) in the National League in 2015 was the guy I was rooting for, Jake Arrieta.

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Jake Arrieta
33
17.610.80.6194.4
5.8
15.79.70.6173.95.2
Zack Greinke
32
15.39.70.6103.7
4.9
14.810.20.5923.24.4
Clayton Kershaw
34
15.411.00.5843.0
4.4
15.910.30.6073.65.0


2015 Postseason

The 2015 postseason was a wonderful celebration of new and exciting teams. Entering the playoffs, only 2 of the 10 2015 playoff teams had won a World Series in the Wild Card era (i.e., since 1995) and these two teams were two of the first three teams eliminated in 2015.

The NLCS featured a classic matchup of great young hitters vs. great young pitchers. The ALCS featured a classic matchup of power vs. speed. Pitching and speed won, and the World Series saw a wonderful performance that gave Kansas City its first championship in 30 years. The top players of the 2015 postseason are shown in the tables below.

2015 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Alex GordonKCA2.71.70.7
Marco EstradaTOR1.50.60.6
Jacob deGromNYN2.11.60.6
Eric HosmerKCA2.51.50.6
Wade DavisKCA1.30.40.5
Dallas KeuchelHOU1.30.60.5
Mike MoustakasKCA2.11.40.5
Alcides EscobarKCA2.21.70.5


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

2015 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Eric HosmerKCA1.10.50.3
Mike MoustakasKCA1.00.40.3
Alex GordonKCA1.00.50.3
Johnny CuetoKCA0.50.20.2
Ben ZobristKCA0.70.40.2
Noah SyndergaardNYN0.60.40.2

2015 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Daniel MurphyNYN1.00.30.4
Lucas DudaNYN1.00.30.4
Marco EstradaTOR0.90.50.3
David WrightNYN0.90.30.3
Alcides EscobarKCA1.00.50.3
Yoenis CespedesNYN0.80.30.3
Yordano VenturaKCA0.70.30.3
Wade DavisKCA0.70.20.3
Matt HarveyNYN0.70.40.3
Mike MoustakasKCA0.90.50.2
Noah SyndergaardNYN0.50.20.2
Alex GordonKCA0.80.50.2
Kelvin HerreraKCA0.40.10.2
Lorenzo CainKCA0.80.60.2
Curtis GrandersonNYN0.60.30.2
Eric HosmerKCA0.80.50.2
Ben ZobristKCA0.90.70.2

2015 Postseason: Division Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Jacob deGromNYN1.40.60.5
Jorge SolerCHN0.90.20.4

2015 Postseason: Wild Card Round
pWins pLosses pWORL
Jake ArrietaCHN0.80.30.3
Kyle SchwarberCHN0.60.00.3
Dallas KeuchelHOU0.60.20.3
Dexter FowlerCHN0.30.10.2


Just for fun, the next table compares the 2015 World Champion Royals with the only other Kansas City Royals team to win the World Series: the 1985 Royals. The 1985 Royals had bigger stars - Bret Saberhagen, George Brett - but the 2015 Royals had a deeper list of contributors. Both teams, of course, were excellent.

1985 vs. 2015 Kansas City Royals: Players sorted by pWORL

1985 Royals           2015 Royals
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
Bret Saberhagen16.08.53.9
5.3
Lorenzo Cain21.217.02.0
3.4
George Brett22.015.63.3
4.7
Eric Hosmer18.913.92.0
3.2
Charlie Leibrandt14.211.01.8
3.2
Edison Volquez13.111.01.4
2.8
Danny Jackson13.410.91.4
2.7
Kendry Morales15.312.61.0
2.6
Dan Quisenberry10.77.01.5
2.7
Mike Moustakas19.316.61.2
2.5
Hal McRae9.67.01.3
2.3
Alex Gordon12.710.11.3
2.1
Steve Balboni16.814.70.4
1.6
Wade Davis5.52.11.5
2.1
Mark Gubicza10.59.90.5
1.6
Salvador Perez13.112.11.0
1.9
Frank White18.118.20.1
1.5
Yordano Ventura10.69.80.7
1.9
Willie Wilson17.917.8-0.1
1.2
Alcides Escobar17.417.40.4
1.7
Bud Black12.813.7-0.2
1.2
Omar Infante12.411.40.6
1.5
Lonnie Smith14.614.5-0.3
0.8
Greg Holland5.23.10.8
1.4
Jim Sundberg8.38.50.1
0.8
Ryan Madson4.42.10.9
1.4
Jorge Orta6.66.7-0.1
0.7
Chris R. Young6.96.20.4
1.2
Buddy Biancalana5.35.20.2
0.6
Kelvin Herrera5.53.90.5
1.2
Darryl Motley12.012.5-0.4
0.5
Ben Zobrist7.56.70.4
0.9
Onix Concepcion9.911.6-0.4
0.4
Danny Duffy8.89.6-0.1
0.9
Pat Sheridan6.16.2-0.1
0.4
Jarrod Dyson6.86.10.3
0.8
Steve Farr2.42.20.1
0.4
Jason Vargas3.32.70.4
0.7
Omar Moreno2.11.90.1
0.3
Kris Medlen3.32.90.3
0.6
Mark Huismann0.60.20.2
0.2
Joe Blanton2.21.80.1
0.4
Joe Beckwith3.43.8-0.3
0.2
Luke Hochevar2.01.70.1
0.3
Mike LaCoss1.82.1-0.2
0.1
Paulo Orlando7.07.4-0.3
0.3
John Wathan3.13.7-0.2
0.0
Jeremy Guthrie8.410.5-0.8
0.3
Jim Scranton0.20.2-0.0
0.0
Franklin Morales2.32.3-0.1
0.2
Dennis Leonard0.00.00.0
0.0
Cheslor Cuthbert1.21.00.1
0.2
Dane Iorg3.84.3-0.3
0.0
Jonny Gomes1.00.80.1
0.2
Bob Hegman0.00.0-0.0
-0.0
Jason Frasor0.90.80.0
0.2
Tony Ferreira0.20.3-0.0
-0.0
Alexis Rios10.811.8-0.7
0.1
Jamie Quirk1.31.6-0.1
-0.0
Christian Colon2.93.3-0.1
0.1
Mike C. Jones1.72.3-0.4
-0.1
Drew Butera1.51.7-0.0
0.1
Larry Gura0.20.6-0.2
-0.2
Brandon Finnegan0.70.7-0.0
0.1
Dave Leeper1.01.7-0.4
-0.3
Louis Coleman0.10.00.0
0.0
Lynn Jones4.25.4-0.6
-0.3
Terrance Gore0.10.00.0
0.0
Greg Pryor2.33.4-0.6
-0.3
Aaron Brooks0.00.00.0
0.0
Raul Mondesi Jr.0.00.00.0
0.0
Michael Mariot0.00.0-0.0
-0.0
Scott Alexander0.00.0-0.0
-0.0
Orlando Calixte0.00.1-0.0
-0.0
Joba Chamberlain0.10.1-0.0
-0.0
Yohan Pino0.60.9-0.2
-0.1
Johnny Cueto3.95.4-0.6
-0.1
Eric Kratz0.00.2-0.1
-0.1
Francisco Pena0.10.3-0.1
-0.1
Dusty Coleman0.00.3-0.2
-0.1
Miguel Almonte0.10.8-0.3
-0.3


Best of 2015 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 2015 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bryce Harper16.99.83.4

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Billy Hamilton2.00.70.6

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jake Arrieta12.57.64.9
Clayton Kershaw13.28.34.8


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Drew Hutchison1.10.20.9


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Wilson Ramos1.41.00.4


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mike Napoli1.91.30.6


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Neil Walker5.34.60.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Adrian Beltre4.84.00.8


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Elvis Andrus7.05.91.1


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Yoenis Cespedes5.24.11.0


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Kevin Kiermaier6.64.91.7


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Colby Rasmus2.51.41.1


Best by Position
Next, we look at 2015 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
Stephen Vogt9.78.01.2


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Paul Goldschmidt20.714.22.4


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jason Kipnis16.414.61.2


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Josh Donaldson21.717.02.2


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Francisco Lindor13.411.71.2


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Yoenis Cespedes16.213.61.3


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Trout23.116.73.1


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Bryce Harper22.515.82.7


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jake Arrieta13.08.22.8
Clayton Kershaw13.58.72.7


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Zach Britton4.22.20.8


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 2015 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 2015, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Mark Melancon7.42.60.7362.12.8
Dellin Betances8.84.60.6561.72.7
Zach Britton6.52.00.7642.02.6
Hector Rondon7.73.90.6621.62.4
Shawn Tolleson7.43.70.6701.62.4


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Edwin Encarnacion9.26.31.2


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
Madison Bumgarner1.51.50.6


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Brett Wallace1.40.80.4


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Enrique Hernandez0.30.00.1
Jarrod Dyson0.30.10.1
Jonathan Villar0.20.00.1
Terrance Gore0.20.00.1
Dalton Pompey0.20.00.1
Pedro Florimon0.20.00.1
Sean Rodriguez0.20.10.1
Eduardo Nunez0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 2015

Top 2015 Player Debuts
It is far too early to know what kind of careers they will have, but the Rookie Class of 2015 certainly made an impressive debut. The next table shows the 2015 Player won-lost records of all players who debuted in 2015 and earned at least 1.5 pWins over replacement level (pWORL).

Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
Kris Bryant
151
22.916.40.5832.8
4.2
19.816.30.5491.32.6
Jung Ho Kang
126
15.511.40.5762.0
2.9
14.512.80.5310.81.8
Delino DeShields Jr.
121
15.412.80.5461.2
2.2
13.813.80.500-0.10.9
Francisco Lindor
99
13.611.80.5351.2
2.1
13.611.60.5391.32.2
Noah Syndergaard
24
10.49.50.5241.1
2.1
10.28.90.5321.22.2
Miguel Sano
80
8.66.00.5911.2
2.0
8.16.20.5670.81.6
Carlos Correa
99
13.612.90.5130.7
1.6
13.612.20.5261.01.9
Carlos Rodon
26
9.08.40.5200.6
1.6
8.48.40.4990.21.2
Addison Russell
142
15.214.40.5150.5
1.5
14.514.60.4990.01.1
Eduardo J. Rodriguez
21
7.76.80.5280.7
1.5
7.57.40.5030.31.1
Kyle Schwarber
69
8.26.20.5680.9
1.5
7.56.50.5380.51.0


Final Farewells of 2015: Tim Hudson and Barry Zito
Among the players whose final season was 2015 were two former teammates for the Oakland Athletics of Moneyball fame: Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.

The next table compares the career records of Hudson and Zito, as measured by Player won-lost records. The final row of the table shows their career totals across the five seasons when they were teammates.

Tim Hudson Barry Zito
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1999249.16.30.5931.6
2.4
20003313.810.80.5601.7
3.0
145.04.50.5250.30.8
20013614.911.10.5722.2
3.6
3514.010.60.5702.03.4
20023414.511.00.5702.0
3.4
3516.410.60.6073.24.6
20033415.49.70.6143.1
4.6
3513.514.00.4910.01.6
20042711.68.80.5681.7
2.8
3412.313.10.484-0.11.4
20052913.112.50.5131.0
2.2
3513.314.30.482-0.21.2
20063513.313.70.4920.5
1.8
3414.513.20.5230.92.4
20073413.810.90.5602.3
3.5
3412.215.10.447-0.80.6
2008239.37.40.5561.4
2.2
3212.215.50.441-0.90.4
200972.32.30.4950.2
0.4
3412.013.10.4790.11.4
20103515.513.00.5431.9
3.3
3411.512.70.474-0.21.0
20113314.012.20.5341.6
2.8
133.15.80.353-1.2-0.7
20122912.29.70.5582.0
3.0
3211.512.60.4770.11.2
2013218.57.70.5260.9
1.7
307.611.40.402-1.4-0.5
20143112.012.00.4990.6
1.8
2015247.29.00.443-0.4
0.4
30.30.40.400-0.1-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS489200.5168.10.54424.3
42.9
434159.6166.90.4891.918.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
RECORDS AS TEAMMATES16470.251.40.57710.7
17.4
15361.252.70.5375.511.8




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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