Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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The 2017 Season as seen through the Prism of Player Won-Lost Records

As 2017 comes to an end, I thought it was time to look back at the 2017 season as measured by Player won-lost records.

The Best of 2017

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
1Max Scherzer15.09.83.4
4.7
1Max Scherzer15.09.83.4
4.7
2Corey Kluber13.57.53.2
4.4
2Jose Altuve22.015.83.2
4.6
3Jose Altuve22.015.83.2
4.6
3Mookie Betts24.918.13.0
4.5
4Zack Greinke15.210.83.0
4.3
4Corey Kluber13.57.53.2
4.4
5Mookie Betts24.918.13.0
4.5
5Nolan Arenado23.116.62.9
4.3
6Carlos Carrasco14.38.93.0
4.3
6Zack Greinke15.210.83.0
4.3
7Mike Trout17.711.82.9
4.0
7Carlos Carrasco14.38.93.0
4.3
8Clayton Kershaw13.38.92.9
4.0
8Chris Sale14.59.62.7
4.1
9Nolan Arenado23.116.62.9
4.3
9Clayton Kershaw13.38.92.9
4.0
10Stephen Strasburg12.37.72.9
3.9
10Mike Trout17.711.82.9
4.0


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
1Aaron Judge22.014.73.3
4.7
1Aaron Judge22.014.73.3
4.7
2Mike Trout17.811.33.2
4.2
2Chris Sale15.29.53.1
4.5
3Chris Sale15.29.53.1
4.5
3Max Scherzer14.510.03.1
4.3
4Max Scherzer14.510.03.1
4.3
4Corey Kluber13.78.13.0
4.3
5Corey Kluber13.78.13.0
4.3
5Mike Trout17.811.33.2
4.2
6Zack Greinke14.911.32.6
3.9
6Zack Greinke14.911.32.6
3.9
7Stephen Strasburg12.68.72.5
3.6
7Giancarlo Stanton24.518.72.3
3.9
8Jose Altuve21.416.82.4
3.8
8Jose Altuve21.416.82.4
3.8
9Giancarlo Stanton24.518.72.3
3.9
9Stephen Strasburg12.68.72.5
3.6
10Luis Severino12.68.82.1
3.3
10Nelson R. Cruz15.311.71.9
3.5


Key Performers / Award Winners
AL MVP: Jose Altuve vs. Aaron Judge
The American League MVP race generated a fair bit of discussion online, triggered by an article by Bill James which argued that Aaron Judge's performance translated into significantly fewer actual wins than one would have expected. I wrote an article in response to this.

To recap from that earlier article, Bill James is correct. The most valuable player in the American League (and, in fact, in all of MLB), measured by expected wins (relative to either positional average or replacement level) was Aaron Judge. Put in the context in which they performed, however, the most valuable player in the American League (measured against replacement level) was Jose Altuve.

Judge's and Altuve's 2017 performances are compared below.

Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
Jose Altuve
153
22.015.83.24.6
Aaron Judge
154
20.815.22.53.8


Games eWins eLoss eWOPA eWORL
Jose Altuve
153
21.416.82.43.8
Aaron Judge
154
22.014.73.34.7


AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber vs. Chris Sale
The American League Cy Young race was a two-player race which was won fairly easily by Corey Kluber over Chris Sale. For Kluber, it was his second Cy Young award. For Sale, the result strengthened his case as perhaps the best active pitcher to have never won a Cy Young award (yet).

The next table compares the career records of Kluber and Sale, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Corey Kluber Chris Sale
Season Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
2010
 
211.51.00.5970.20.4
201130.00.00.414-0.0
-0.0
584.83.10.6120.71.3
2012123.45.30.395-0.8
-0.4
3013.910.60.5671.93.1
2013268.68.10.5160.4
1.3
3013.411.80.5331.12.4
20143615.910.80.5962.8
4.3
2610.67.60.5841.72.7
20153213.012.20.5150.8
2.2
3113.611.70.5381.42.8
20163214.512.30.5431.6
3.2
3214.111.80.5441.63.1
20172913.57.50.6433.2
4.4
3214.59.60.6012.74.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS17069.056.10.5528.1
14.9
26086.367.10.56311.319.7


Max Scherzer
While the American League award winners are definitely debatable, the best player in the National League is much clearer, at least as measured by Player won-lost records. The top National League player in all four tables above is Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer.

The 2017 season is the fifth consecutive season in which Max Scherzer appears in one of the four tables at the start of my season article. Max Scherzer's career, as measured by Player won-lost records, is presented next.

Max Scherzer
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
2008ARI23
16
1.93.50.354-0.7
-0.4
3.33.40.4890.00.4
2009ARI24
31
11.311.10.5040.8
1.9
11.310.80.5120.92.0
2010DET25
31
11.812.90.478-0.4
0.9
11.511.30.5060.31.5
2011DET26
33
12.312.40.4970.2
1.4
11.712.60.481-0.21.0
2012DET27
32
11.99.00.5711.7
2.7
12.310.20.5451.32.4
2013DET28
32
14.17.80.6433.4
4.5
13.88.50.6202.94.1
2014DET29
33
15.410.10.6042.9
4.3
13.810.50.5671.93.2
2015WAS30
34
15.612.20.5612.6
4.0
15.412.50.5522.33.7
2016WAS31
34
16.813.20.5612.8
4.4
15.413.40.5341.93.5
2017WAS32
31
15.09.80.6063.4
4.7
14.510.00.5933.14.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
307
126.3102.10.55316.7
28.4
122.9103.10.54414.426.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
16
4.55.20.465 0.35.64.50.552 1.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
323
130.7107.20.553
28.7
128.5107.70.544 27.3


2017 Postseason

The 2017 postseason featured four series that went the full distance, from the Nationals - Cubs Game 5 that saw four consecutive Cubs reach base safely in four completely different ways without hitting the ball in the top of the fifth inning, through a 7-game World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros that featured two instant classics. The series ended with the Houston Astros winning the first World Series title in franchise history, making Sports Illustrated look like fortune-telling wizards.

The top players in the 2017 postseason, as measured by Player won-lost records, are shown in the next table.

2017 Postseason: Total
pWins pLosses pWORL
Justin TurnerLAN3.11.60.9
Jose AltuveHOU3.01.70.8
Justin VerlanderHOU2.71.70.8
Chris TaylorLAN2.81.40.8


Top postseason players by round were as follows.

2017 Postseason: World Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
George SpringerHOU1.40.70.4
Justin TurnerLAN1.30.90.3
Alex BregmanHOU1.10.70.3
Jose AltuveHOU1.00.70.3
Brad PeacockHOU0.60.20.3
Clayton KershawLAN0.80.60.2
Chris TaylorLAN1.10.90.2
Lance McCullers Jr.HOU0.70.60.2

2017 Postseason: League Championship Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Justin VerlanderHOU1.60.50.7
Chris TaylorLAN1.10.30.4
Justin TurnerLAN1.10.40.4
Jose AltuveHOU1.30.70.4

2017 Postseason: Division Series
pWins pLosses pWORL
Stephen StrasburgWAS1.30.70.5
Aroldis ChapmanNYA0.90.20.4

2017 Postseason: Wild Card Round
pWins pLosses pWORL
David RobertsonNYA0.40.10.2


Best of 2017 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 2017 in eWOPA by factor were as follows.

Batting
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Aaron Judge15.810.22.8
Giancarlo Stanton16.811.22.6
Mike Trout12.77.72.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Baserunning
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Dee Gordon2.91.60.6
Elvis Andrus1.90.90.5

Positional Average excludes pitcher offense



Pitching
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Corey Kluber11.87.74.1
Chris Sale13.19.14.0
Max Scherzer11.88.03.8
Stephen Strasburg10.37.03.3


Fielding, P
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Kendall Graveman0.70.20.5
Luke Jackson0.50.00.5


Fielding, C
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Manny Pina1.40.80.6


Fielding, 1B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Carlos Santana2.61.61.0


Fielding, 2B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Ben Zobrist2.11.40.7


Fielding, 3B
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Kyle Seager4.73.80.9


Fielding, SS
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Andrelton Simmons6.15.11.0


Fielding, LF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Marcell Ozuna7.06.20.8


Fielding, CF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Byron Buxton5.44.50.8
Jarrod Dyson3.72.90.8


Fielding, RF
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jason Heyward4.53.01.5


Best by Position
Next, we look at 2017 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
Buster Posey9.98.31.0


First Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Joey Votto19.515.01.3


Second Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jose Altuve21.016.62.3


Third Base
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Kris Bryant19.214.61.9


Shortstop
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Carlos Correa16.012.51.9


Left Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Marcell Ozuna22.718.51.8


Center Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Mike Trout17.011.22.8


Right Field
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Aaron Judge20.614.22.9


Starting Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Corey Kluber12.17.82.3
Chris Sale13.39.22.3
Max Scherzer11.98.22.1


Relief Pitcher
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Craig Kimbrel4.82.61.0
Alex Claudio4.52.41.0


I have to admit: I have never heard of Alex Claudio. Looking him up, he is a 25-year-old Texas Ranger who finished the season with a record of 4-2, 11 saves and 7 holds in 22 save/hold situations, with an ERA of 2.29 in 78.2 innings pitched across 69 relief appearances (he also started one game). As a relief pitcher, hitters batted .234/.275/.301 against Claudio, which Baseball-Reference says works out to an OPS+ of 60.

Digging a bit deeper, Claudio faced 307 batters as a relief pitcher. He struck out 55 (17.9%), walked 15, hit 2 (combined 5.5%), and allowed 3 home runs (0.98%). That leaves 232 balls in play of which 4 were bunts. Excluding bunts, the 228 BIP allowed by Claudio (in relief) broke down 157 ground balls (68.9%), 31 fly balls (13.6%), and 40 line drives (17.5%).

To put these figures in context, for the 2017 American League as a whole, batters struck out 21.4% of the time, reached via walk or hit-by-pitch 9.4% of the time, and homered in 3.4% of all plate appearances. On non-bunt balls-in-play, 25.9% of balls were line drives and 27.9% were fly balls.

Or, to try to put Claudio's performance into words, he was excellent at two of the "three true outcomes" (walks, home runs) and excelled at inducing ground balls on balls in play. Not necessarily "textbook" relief pitching, given the low strikeout rate, but it was extremely effective.

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 2017 in context, in terms of pWins and pWOPA.

Top Relief Pitchers of 2017, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
Kenley Jansen7.82.10.7862.73.5
Alex Colome8.33.90.6802.02.9
Corey Knebel9.15.30.6331.72.8
Craig Kimbrel6.62.20.7522.12.7
Wade Davis6.63.20.6771.62.3


Designated Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Nelson R. Cruz14.711.41.8


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
Travis Wood0.60.40.3
Ty Blach0.91.00.3
Madison Bumgarner0.70.80.3
Jacob deGrom1.01.50.3


Pinch Hitter
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jose Martinez1.00.50.3


Pinch Runner
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Danny Espinosa0.10.00.1


Noteworthy Players of 2017

Two weeks after winning a World Series ring as a member of the Houston Astros, Carlos Beltran announced his retirement after a wonderful 20-year-career in which Beltran hit 435 home runs, stole 312 bases (at a success rate of 86.3% - highest for any player in MLB history with 200 or more stolen base attempts), won 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, and was named to 9 All-Star teams.

It seems especially fitting that Beltran was finally able to win a World Series ring, as he was one of the finest playoff performers in major-league history. In 256 career postseason plate appearances, he batted .307/.412/.609 with 16 home runs, 42 RBI, and 11 stolen bases (with no caught stealings). The next table shows Carlos Beltran's career, as measured by Player won-lost records.

Carlos Beltran
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1998KCA21
14
1.62.20.424-0.3
-0.1
1.61.80.460-0.1-0.0
1999KCA22
155
19.921.40.481-0.8
0.8
22.220.70.5180.72.4
2000KCA23
98
10.111.50.466-0.8
0.1
10.711.80.477-0.60.4
2001KCA24
155
21.320.10.5150.7
2.4
21.418.30.5401.63.3
2002KCA25
162
20.020.20.497-0.2
1.5
21.019.40.5190.72.4
2003KCA26
141
18.615.50.5471.6
3.0
19.514.90.5672.33.7
27
159
22.618.70.5471.8
3.4
22.818.10.5582.23.8
2005NYN28
151
19.918.60.5170.4
1.8
18.618.00.5080.01.4
2006NYN29
140
23.014.60.6134.0
5.3
21.415.40.5832.84.1
2007NYN30
144
20.015.50.5632.0
3.3
19.516.20.5471.42.7
2008NYN31
161
24.217.90.5752.9
4.4
22.817.90.5612.23.7
2009NYN32
81
11.09.10.5490.9
1.6
12.09.00.5711.42.2
2010NYN33
64
6.87.00.494-0.2
0.3
7.66.90.5250.30.8
34
142
19.517.70.5250.2
1.6
20.317.20.5410.82.3
2012SLN35
151
20.716.00.5631.8
3.2
19.416.50.5411.02.3
2013SLN36
145
19.317.20.5290.4
1.8
18.516.30.5320.51.8
2014NYA37
109
10.010.20.496-0.3
0.8
9.910.20.494-0.30.7
2015NYA38
133
15.615.00.5100.0
1.2
14.814.10.5120.11.2
39
151
16.014.90.5180.3
1.8
15.314.10.5210.41.8
2017HOU40
129
8.69.50.477-0.3
0.7
9.310.60.467-0.60.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,585
328.9292.70.52914.2
38.9
328.7287.30.53416.941.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
65
8.96.00.595 1.88.75.80.600 1.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,650
337.8298.80.529
40.8
337.4293.00.534 43.3


To put these numbers in context, here are the 10 players most similar in career value to Carlos Beltran, as measured by Player won-lost records.