Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Don Sutton

Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records: Don Sutton

Don Sutton was elected to the Hall of Fame in his 5th year of eligibility, 1998, with 81.6% of the vote.

The first table below presents Don Sutton's career as measured by Player won-lost records.

Don Sutton
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1966LAN21
38
14.311.90.5451.6
2.8
14.813.20.5281.22.5
1967LAN22
39
13.214.30.480-0.0
1.2
13.914.40.4910.31.5
1968LAN23
35
12.012.00.5000.5
1.5
12.411.50.5191.01.9
1969LAN24
41
17.918.40.4940.6
2.3
18.018.30.4950.62.3
1970LAN25
39
15.717.20.478-0.1
1.4
15.718.80.455-0.80.7
1971LAN26
39
17.313.00.5702.9
4.2
17.313.50.5622.74.0
1972LAN27
33
17.913.50.5702.9
4.3
16.813.00.5642.63.9
1973LAN28
33
20.014.20.5853.8
5.2
16.212.90.5582.43.6
1974LAN29
40
17.615.30.5351.9
3.2
16.716.60.5010.82.1
1975LAN30
35
16.214.70.5251.4
2.7
15.013.40.5281.32.6
1976LAN31
35
17.614.60.5472.1
3.4
16.717.20.4920.31.7
1977LAN32
33
14.713.10.5281.4
2.7
14.614.00.5111.02.3
1978LAN33
34
13.714.00.4930.3
1.5
13.215.40.461-0.60.6
1979LAN34
33
12.414.00.470-0.2
0.9
12.912.80.5020.71.7
1980LAN35
32
13.110.60.5531.7
2.6
11.611.40.5060.61.5
1981HOU36
23
9.68.00.5451.3
2.1
9.47.30.5641.52.3
37
34
15.213.90.5231.3
2.6
14.813.40.5231.32.5
1983MIL38
31
11.011.50.490-0.0
1.0
12.711.70.5210.71.9
1984MIL39
33
11.611.50.5030.3
1.3
12.011.70.5070.41.4
40
34
12.711.00.5351.0
2.3
12.911.80.5220.82.1
1986CAL41
34
11.911.10.5170.6
1.7
11.911.90.5000.21.3
1987CAL42
35
10.211.20.476-0.3
0.8
11.312.10.483-0.11.1
1988LAN43
16
5.06.30.442-0.4
0.1
4.95.80.461-0.20.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
779
320.9295.40.52124.6
51.5
315.7302.00.51118.645.7
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
15
5.95.30.527 1.06.36.20.507 0.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
794
326.8300.70.521
52.5
322.1308.20.511 46.5


The next table shows the top 10 players most similar to Don Sutton as measured by Player won-lost records.

Most Similar Players to Don Sutton in Value
Net Wins by Factor
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
Don Sutton
779
320.9295.424.6
51.5
-16.5-1.123.2-0.4
Nolan Ryan
807
356.9328.124.6
55.8
-11.7-0.529.0-2.0
Tommy John
761
278.0247.923.6
47.3
-10.2-0.421.2-0.4
Robin Roberts
688
297.0269.824.8
49.5
-13.5-0.421.4-0.0
Fergie Jenkins
664
286.8250.926.8
50.7
-6.8-0.521.7-0.4
Steve Carlton
744
338.0304.231.6
58.9
-13.0-0.420.9-1.0
Tom Glavine
701
279.5249.629.1
54.5
-12.1-0.619.12.3
Bert Blyleven
697
291.3260.122.2
47.9
-6.00.228.70.8
Gaylord Perry
786
317.9289.323.8
51.3
-14.4-0.335.30.8
Jim Palmer
560
242.7186.033.6
53.3
-4.1-0.224.91.4
Bob Feller
561
252.5215.226.1
47.3
-11.9-0.222.8-1.2


To many people, the first name on that list probably seems fairly ridiculous. Don Sutton took five years to be elected to the Hall of Fame despite 324 career wins and is still frequently dismissed as a "mere career compiler". In contrast, Nolan Ryan was elected in his first year of eligibility with what was then the second-highest vote percentage ever (98.8%). In 1999, Major League Baseball created an All-Century team via fan voting. Nolan Ryan led all pitchers in voting. Don Sutton failed to even make the ballot.

And yet, the similarity is actually fairly obvious, even by traditional statistical standards. Sutton had 324 traditional pitcher wins in 774 games (756 starts) with a 3.26 ERA (8% better than park-adjusted league average) over 5,282.1 innings pitched. Ryan also had 324 traditional pitcher wins in 807 games (773 starts) with a 3.19 ERA (12% better than park-adjusted league average - Ryan pitched a bit more in a DH league) over 5,386 innings pitched.

I once read somebody online describe Don Sutton as "Nolan Ryan without the strikeouts and no-hitters." At first blush, this quote seems silly: is there even a Nolan Ryan without the strikeouts and no-hitters? But what it was intended to convey was that there is more than one way to be an effective major-league pitcher. And unstated in the quote, Ryan's major-league record 5,714 strikeouts were paired with a major-league record 2,795 career walks. In contrast, while Don Sutton only struck out 3,574 batters (7th all-time as were Sutton's 5,282.1 IP), he only walked 1,343 (25th all-time).

The next table, then, breaks down (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) Player won-lost records earned by Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton as pitchers.

Don Sutton Nolan Ryan
Wins Losses Net Wins Wins Losses Net Wins
Total Pitching274.2251.0
23.2
298.2269.229.0
------------------------------
Strikeouts & Walks73.944.2
29.7
121.794.227.5
Other200.3206.8
-6.5
176.5175.01.5


Strikeouts and walks (and hit-by-pitches) make up what I call Component 3 of Player won-lost records. Ryan's additional strikeouts generated a lot of additional player wins relative to Sutton, but his additional walks also generated a lot more losses. The result is that Sutton generated more Component 3 net wins than Ryan. Ryan actually made that back by out-performing Sutton in other components (e.g., Ryan allowed 151 fewer home runs than Sutton).

Put it all together, and I think it makes for an interesting comparison.



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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