The 2016 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records
I have recently updated my Player won-lost records to incoporporate the 2016 season.
This article takes a look at the 2016 season as measured by Player won-lost records.
The Best of 2016
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.
The top 10 players in eWins above Positional Average and Replacement Level were as follows.
For the fifth season in a row, the pre-award discussion in the online sabermetric community focused in equal parts on how Mike Trout was clearly the best player in the American League and how Mike Trout was likely to be robbed of the American League MVP award. For the second time in those five seasons, these concerns were unfounded and Mike Trout won the MVP award. As the tables above show, Player won-lost records agree with the MVP voters (and sabermetic fans): Mike Trout was clearly the best and most valuable player in the American League in 2016.
The most similar player to Mike Trout through age 24, as measured by Player won-lost records, is Mickey Mantle. Here's how Trout and Mantle compare in context-neutral Player won-lost records (eWins) through age 24.
| ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ || ------ |
|Total, thru Age 24||809||120.0||85.6||0.584||16.3|
Mike Trout is the top player in 3 of the 4 tables above. Heading up the fourth table is Clayton Kershaw, who led Major League Baseball in pWOPA, despite missing more than two months with a bad back. The 2016 season was Clayton Kershaw's age-28 season. The next table shows the 10 players most similar to Clayton Kershaw in career value through age 28, as measured by Player won-lost records.
Six of the ten players on the list are in the Hall of Fame and the other four won a combined 11 Cy Young awards. Oh, and while these are the players most similar to Clayton Kershaw, Kershaw actually has more net pitching wins and pWins over positional average (pWOPA) through age 28 than any of the them. It's not exactly a breakthrough finding of Player won-lost records, but Clayton Kershaw has had a pretty good career so far.
My father was born in Cleveland and was a teenager when the Cleveland Indians last won the World Series.
I was born in Baltimore and was a teenager when the Baltimore Orioles last won the World Series.
My sons were both born on the North Side of Chicago and are teenagers this year.
Books will be - and already have been - written about this postseason, so let's just jump right to the numbers. The top performers in the 2016 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the table below.
Top postseason players by round were as follows.
Going into Game 7 of the World Series, the choice of who might be chosen as World Series MVP was an interesting contrast between the two teams. If the Indians won Game 7, that would have meant that the Indians won all three games started by Corey Kluber, who would have almost certainly been MVP barring something very strange - which then almost happened. In contrast, the Cubs seemed to have a dozen viable candidates and it seemed most likely to come down to who came up biggest in Game 7. And, indeed, the World Series MVP was given to the player who had the game-winning RBI in Game 7, Ben Zobrist. As measured by net Player won-lost records (pWins minus pLosses), Player won-lost records agrees that the most valuable player of Game 7 was Ben Zobrist, although the overall MVP of the World Series was Corey Kluber, in spite of his relatively poor Game 7 performance and the top player for the Cubs was Jake Arrieta, who won Games 2 and 6.
Now, back to earlier playoff rounds.
Best of 2016 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 2016 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.
Positional Average excludes pitcher offense
Positional Average excludes pitcher offense
Best by Position
Next, we look at 2016 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).
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 2016 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.
Historic Relief Pitcher Seasons
Over the last five months of 2016, Zach Britton pitched in 58 games, of which he finished 54, winning 1 game and saving 41. Overall, over those five months, he pitched 57 innings and allowed ONE earned run, good for a 0.16 ERA. As shown in the table above, that translates into a pWin winning percentage of over 0.800.
As impressive as Britton was, Andrew Miller was almost as good: 10-1, 12 saves, 1.45 ERA in 74.1 IP.
It turns out that both Britton and Miller had historic 2016 seasons, as measured by Player won-lost records. The next table shows the top 10 seasons in pWin winning percentage for players with at least 2.0 pWins in a season for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records.