Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Dwight Gooden

Dwight Gooden: Hall-of-Famer?

Dwight Gooden had one of the finest seasons in major-league history in 1985 at the tender age of 20. In my opinion, he also has a stronger Hall-of-Fame case than he has been given credit for.

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

Dwight Gooden
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1984NYN19
31
16.411.60.5873.0
4.0
15.812.30.5622.33.3
1985NYN20
35
21.311.00.6595.9
7.3
19.712.50.6114.35.8
1986NYN21
33
16.312.40.5692.5
3.7
15.113.50.5271.32.5
1987NYN22
25
12.710.30.5531.7
2.7
12.710.30.5521.72.7
1988NYN23
34
14.912.90.5371.6
2.8
13.913.90.4990.51.7
1989NYN24
19
8.07.70.5120.4
1.1
7.38.40.464-0.30.4
1990NYN25
35
15.412.10.5602.2
3.4
14.313.30.5191.12.3
1991NYN26
27
12.910.90.5431.5
2.6
12.511.20.5271.12.2
1992NYN27
33
13.012.90.5020.7
1.9
13.212.80.5070.82.0
1993NYN28
30
13.914.10.4960.4
1.6
14.313.60.5120.92.1
1994NYN29
7
3.03.70.446-0.3
0.1
2.73.90.408-0.5-0.2
1996NYA31
29
10.09.40.5130.3
1.3
10.09.40.5140.31.4
1997NYA32
20
7.17.00.5040.1
0.9
6.57.70.460-0.50.3
1998CLE33
23
7.36.90.5170.2
1.0
7.26.90.5110.20.9
1999CLE34
26
5.86.30.479-0.2
0.4
5.46.70.446-0.60.0
35
27
5.96.90.462-0.5
0.3
5.57.30.430-0.9-0.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
434
184.0156.00.54119.4
35.1
176.1163.90.51811.527.2


Those are very good numbers. In fact, Gooden's career totals, especially the pWOPA (and pWORL) numbers are enough to warrant serious Hall-of-Fame consideration.

Most Similar Players to Dwight Gooden
I recently introduced a set of tables that identify the players who were most similar to a particular player at a given set of ages based on Player won-lost records. The ten most similar players in career value to Dwight Gooden among players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records are shown in the next table.

Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
Dwight Gooden
434
184.0156.019.4
35.1
-3.1-0.15.90.5
David Cone
451
184.5153.718.1
35.1
-2.3-0.17.80.5
Lon Warneke
403
151.9129.615.3
27.7
-3.5-0.15.91.3
Orel Hershiser
519
195.0176.515.0
32.5
-3.2-0.27.00.3
Cole Hamels
402
161.8143.913.6
28.8
-3.6-0.26.20.5
Bob Lemon
613
198.3165.422.3
38.3
-1.0-0.15.50.7
George Uhle
575
168.3149.514.1
27.5
-1.1-0.13.60.6
Herb Pennock
357
134.3111.314.6
25.1
-3.0-0.07.20.6
John Candelaria
603
159.2137.614.7
27.8
-2.7-0.25.50.9
Don Drysdale
547
219.9204.614.8
33.1
-3.8-0.16.91.0
Dizzy Trout
535
169.2153.812.5
27.5
-2.10.17.00.4


That's a fairly impressive group of comps. The second player on the list was a teammate of Gooden's for both New York teams, David Cone. Cone is not in the Hall of Fame, but he is in the Hall of Merit. Four of the ten pitchers listed are all in the Hall of Fame (Lemon, Newhouser, Pennock, and Drysdale). Looking at the numbers here, it's certainly not obvious that Dwight Gooden had a Hall-of-Fame worthy career. But it's also not necessarily obvious that he didn't.

Young Dwight Gooden
Dwight Gooden burst onto the scene like few, if any, others have before him, leading the major leagues in strikeouts as a 19-year-old rookie in 1984 and having one of the greatest seasons ever the next season at age 20. At age 21, Dwight Gooden was the ace of a World Series winner.

The next table shows the ten players most similar to Dwight Gooden in Player won-lost records through age 28 (1993 for Gooden).

Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
Dwight Gooden
302
144.9115.819.8
31.1
-3.0-0.17.60.4
Juan Marichal
230
121.988.520.4
29.7
-2.8-0.07.90.4
Mel Harder
370
131.2110.113.7
24.7
-3.90.07.30.1
Bob Feller
303
156.1120.121.9
34.1
-3.50.09.70.1
Robin Roberts
327
152.4121.119.7
31.4
-3.7-0.110.40.4
Dizzy Dean
211
85.861.614.4
21.0
-1.50.16.40.5
Fergie Jenkins
269
119.797.215.1
24.4
-2.1-0.27.60.0
Hal Newhouser
379
164.9136.418.7
31.9
-3.2-0.19.51.2
Greg Maddux
282
126.6104.915.2
25.6
-3.6-0.09.30.5
Tom Seaver
269
133.499.920.8
30.6
-2.40.010.20.7
Wes Ferrell
374
135.0103.219.7
30.0
0.40.25.70.8


Now that's a list! Eight of the nine eligible players in the table are in the Hall of Fame. But Dwight Gooden's career didn't end in 1993.

Old Dwight Gooden
The next table shows the players most similar to Dwight Gooden in Player won-lost records from age 29 to the end of their career.

Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Pitching Fielding
Dwight Gooden
132
39.140.2-0.4
4.0
-0.1-0.0-1.70.1
Bill Krueger
215
39.540.2-0.2
4.1
-0.0-0.0-1.40.1
Felix Hernandez
101
36.638.7-0.9
3.3
-0.2-0.0-1.70.0
Fernando Valenzuela
161
49.853.9-0.6
4.4
-0.5-0.1-1.90.3
Ubaldo Jimenez
149
50.053.9-1.8
3.9
-0.1-0.0-1.60.1
Alex Kellner
144
45.248.7-0.4
3.8
-0.7-0.0-1.90.0
Michael Fiers
137
45.547.0-0.4
4.7
-0.50.0-1.80.1
Miguel Angel Gonzalez
137
45.249.8-2.2
3.0
-0.20.0-1.70.1
Paul Abbott
129
38.239.2-0.3
4.0
-0.1-0.0-1.0-0.0
Steve Parris
118
38.742.6-1.1
3.0
-1.0-0.1-1.50.1
Jordan Zimmermann
106
35.740.7-2.0
2.2
-0.5-0.0-1.40.2


With all due respect to him, who the heck is Bill Krueger? He was actually a contemporary of Dwight Gooden's who pitched mostly for the It turns out he was a pitcher for the Oakland A's.

Anyway, compared to the previous list, that's a whole lot of yuck. Gooden earned more pWORL in one year at age 20 than he did in the last seven years of his career.

One player in the above table actually makes for a fairly decent comp with Gooden. Fernando Valenzuela also burst onto the scene winning a Cy Young award at age 20. He also finished top 5 in Cy Young voting three more times, the last at age 25. In fact, Valenzuela actually shows up number one on a list of players most similar to Dwight Gooden through age 25. The next table compares Gooden and Valenzuela in Player won-lost records by age.

Dwight Gooden Fernando Valenzuela
Age Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss Win Pct. pWOPA pWORL
19
3116.411.60.5873.0
4.0
100.80.20.7640.30.3
20
3521.311.00.6595.9
7.3
2515.310.50.5922.84.0
21
3316.312.40.5692.5
3.7
3819.214.90.5632.74.1
22
2512.710.30.5531.7
2.7
3616.215.30.5151.12.4
23
3414.912.90.5371.6
2.8
3516.216.60.4950.41.7
24
198.07.70.5120.4
1.1
3515.714.70.5171.12.5
25
3515.412.10.5602.2
3.4
3918.315.00.5512.43.8
26
2712.910.90.5431.5
2.6
3816.917.70.4890.21.8
27
3313.012.90.5020.7
1.9
238.310.00.453-0.60.2
28
3013.914.10.4960.4
1.6
3411.513.20.467-0.40.6
29
73.03.70.446-0.3
0.1
3513.013.70.4880.31.4
30
 
20.71.70.282-0.5-0.4
31
2910.09.40.5130.3
1.3
32
207.17.00.5040.1
0.9
3210.711.20.490-0.20.8
33
237.36.90.5170.2
1.0
81.72.00.456-0.10.1
34
265.86.30.479-0.2
0.4
296.15.70.5160.41.0
35
275.96.90.462-0.5
0.3
3611.610.80.5180.81.9
36
 
196.08.80.404-1.3-0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Ages 19 - 25212105.177.90.57417.2
25.1
218101.887.20.53910.818.8
Ages 26 - 289039.837.90.5122.6
6.1
9536.840.90.473-0.82.6
Ages 29 - 3613239.140.20.493-0.4
4.0
16149.853.90.480-0.64.4


Both Valenzuela and Gooden were excellent through age 25 and mediocre from age 29 on. In both cases, however, Gooden was probably better (although not by much - if any - in the latter case). Perhaps the biggest semantic difference is from ages 26 - 28, when Gooden was still pretty good (but certainly no longer great), while Valenzuela had already fallen to his post-28 level of mediocre.

Overall, while the shapes of their two careers are vaguely similar, there's not really much comparison in terms of quality: Gooden had a much better career than Valenzuela.

Best Pitcher of the 1980s?
Jack Morris was elected to the Hall of Fame, in large part based on a claim that he was the best pitcher of the 1980s. The most common piece of evidence in support of this position is that Morris had the most pitcher wins in the 1980s. In addition to pitcher wins, Morris actually also has the most pWins of any pitcher in the 1980s. But that total barely makes the top 40 among all players. Personally, I think the pro-Morris argument is stronger than a lot of other sabermetric-inclined fans tend to think, but, that said, it's an argument of quantity (most innings, complete games) over quality.

Dwight Gooden was 15 years old when the 1980s began. He wasn't even drafted by the Mets until 1982 and he didn't make his major-league debut until the fifth season of the 1980s. Here are the top 10 players in pWOPA from 1980 through 1989.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Alan Trammell185.2158.220.6
33.7
2Robin Yount201.9170.018.7
33.1
3Rickey Henderson212.0167.218.3
32.7
4Lou Whitaker184.9156.617.8
30.7
5Ozzie Smith200.1175.217.6
31.7
6Cal Ripken180.2158.417.3
29.9
7Mike Schmidt187.1145.917.0
29.6
8Darryl Strawberry145.2106.415.1
24.5
9Dwight Gooden89.765.715.0
21.7
10George Brett162.2128.114.7
26.0


There's only one pitcher on that list.

Switching from wins over positional average to wins over replacement level gives a bit more weight to quantity over quality. The next table shows the top 20 players of the 1980s in pWOPA.

pWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Alan Trammell185.2158.220.6
33.7
2Robin Yount201.9170.018.7
33.1
3Rickey Henderson212.0167.218.3
32.7
4Ozzie Smith200.1175.217.6
31.7
5Lou Whitaker184.9156.617.8
30.7
6Cal Ripken180.2158.417.3
29.9
7Mike Schmidt187.1145.917.0
29.6
8Dwight Evans199.2163.513.8
27.9
9George Brett162.2128.114.7
26.0
10Eddie Murray179.9143.012.9
25.4
11Darryl Strawberry145.2106.415.1
24.5
12Wade Boggs152.7124.513.6
24.0
13Gary Carter149.5126.813.3
23.7
14Dale Murphy214.2186.48.6
23.7
15Andre Dawson204.1174.39.3
23.7
16Willie Randolph164.3147.511.5
23.3
17Dave Stieb138.6117.210.7
22.9
18Paul Molitor150.7128.910.6
21.8
19Bob Welch132.1116.810.9
21.8
20Kirk Gibson143.7114.511.6
21.8
21Jack Clark156.3123.610.7
21.7
22Dwight Gooden89.765.715.0
21.7
23Fernando Valenzuela138.6128.110.0
21.4
24Jack Morris147.3131.77.8
21.0
25Pedro Guerrero158.7129.110.1
21.0


Gooden manages to make the top 25 players of the 1980s even against replacement level, although four other pitchers manage to slip past him on the list: Dave Stieb, Bob Welch, Fernando Valenzuela, and Jack Morris.

But still, one could make an argument that perhaps Dwight Gooden was the best pitcher of the 1980s.

The Hall-of-Fame Case for Dwight Gooden
So, where does all of this leave us? Dwight Gooden had one of the best seasons in major-league history, an opening to his career that matched up with some of the best pitchers of the past sixty years, and an overall career that is comparable to a few guys who are on the borderline of the Hall of Fame.

I tend to be a pretty big-Hall guy. I also tend to be fairly open-minded about the type of player I support for the Hall-of-Fame, although if I have a preference, it's for peak cases over career cases (which obviously favors Dwight Gooden). Basically, if you can build a credible Hall-of-Fame case for a player - not a borderline case, but a clear "he belongs in the Hall" case - I'm inclined to support him, regardless of exactly how that case is built.

So what is Dwight Gooden's Hall-of-Fame case?

Dwight Gooden's Hall-of-Fame case is clearly a peak case and he clearly looks stronger in pWins than in eWins. In terms of Player Wins, Dwight Gooden's Hall-of-Fame case comes down to two tables.

The first table shows the top 10 players in pWOPA and pWORL for the 10 seasons from 1984 - 1993.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
          pWins over Replacement Level
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Roger Clemens143.099.121.9
33.8
1Rickey Henderson205.0155.121.5
35.4
2Rickey Henderson205.0155.121.5
35.4
2Roger Clemens143.099.121.9
33.8
3Dwight Gooden144.9115.819.8
31.1
3Cal Ripken217.1197.218.0
33.7
4Alan Trammell167.1142.618.2
30.0
4Ozzie Smith199.9174.017.7
31.8
5Cal Ripken217.1197.218.0
33.7
5Ryne Sandberg210.8177.717.0
31.7
6Ozzie Smith199.9174.017.7
31.8
6Dwight Gooden144.9115.819.8
31.1
7Barry Bonds174.4129.617.6
29.1
7Alan Trammell167.1142.618.2
30.0
8Darryl Strawberry177.0131.717.2
28.9
8Barry Bonds174.4129.617.6
29.1
9Ryne Sandberg210.8177.717.0
31.7
9Darryl Strawberry177.0131.717.2
28.9
10Lou Whitaker178.4153.415.2
27.9
10Lou Whitaker178.4153.415.2
27.9


The second table shows the top 75 players in career pWOPA over the past 75 seasons (1944 - 2018).

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Barry Bonds462.0314.961.0
91.4
2Mickey Mantle351.7230.450.3
73.9
3Willie Mays460.1334.749.8
82.0
4Joe L. Morgan373.8292.146.4
72.8
5Roger Clemens318.1228.146.3
74.6
6Hank Aaron491.8372.142.2
77.9
7Alex Rodriguez374.0297.242.1
69.1
8Warren Spahn353.5292.341.1
68.7
9Greg Maddux328.5271.339.9
68.5
10Tom Seaver308.9256.734.4
58.5
11Eddie Mathews320.9240.834.3
57.0
12Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson281.2220.934.2
59.9
13Mike Schmidt337.5257.534.0
56.8
14Albert Pujols346.2255.333.9
58.9
15Chipper Jones336.7258.533.8
57.0
16Mariano Rivera126.660.832.9
45.6
17Derek Jeter369.5322.432.9
59.6
18Yogi Berra245.3182.332.6
50.1
19Stan Musial370.6279.832.6
58.9
20Bob Gibson263.9217.631.7
52.5
21Ted Williams268.5185.631.3
49.7
22Jim Palmer242.8186.031.2
50.7
23Pedro J. Martinez193.6137.431.1
48.5
24Pee Wee Reese246.5192.230.5
48.2
25Frank Robinson394.8304.030.4
59.8
26Juan Marichal232.1187.129.7
47.8
27Whitey Ford210.3164.329.0
45.3
28Rickey Henderson427.2353.628.3
59.1
29Lou Whitaker306.1260.828.2
50.0
30Steve Carlton337.9303.927.6
54.5
31Cal Ripken383.5350.727.5
55.9
32Barry Larkin292.1249.427.0
48.2
33John Smoltz239.7201.126.6
48.5
34Manny Ramirez318.3250.526.6
50.1
35Duke Snider268.7201.026.1
45.4
36Jackie Robinson195.9140.126.1
39.7
37Mike Mussina224.2173.125.9
47.5
38David Ortiz250.9188.325.5
51.5
39Reggie Jackson366.5297.725.5
54.0
40Clayton Kershaw144.7104.625.0
37.0
41Tom Glavine279.4249.524.8
50.1
42Johnny Bench245.9197.324.6
42.3
43Al Kaline377.4301.924.6
52.7
44Jim Thome273.1208.924.5
47.0
45Alan Trammell283.4256.624.0
44.8
46Fergie Jenkins286.7250.823.6
47.3
47Frank E. Thomas253.7190.223.5
46.6
48Willie McCovey295.2220.823.4
44.5
49J. Kevin Brown204.5164.623.3
42.1
50Bobby Grich253.5217.723.3
41.5
51Curt Schilling206.9172.022.7
42.0
52Jeff Bagwell275.3202.522.7
41.8
53Mike Piazza213.0174.222.7
38.6
54Mike Trout157.0109.622.7
32.6
55Dennis Eckersley217.2174.422.4
42.3
56George Brett328.1274.922.4
47.3
57Bob Lemon198.3165.322.4
38.4
58Robinson Cano275.7235.522.3
41.2
59Miguel Cabrera289.2230.422.1
41.6
60Robin Roberts296.9269.722.1
46.6
61Mark McGwire219.8158.621.7
36.6
62Jim Edmonds256.8210.121.2
39.6
63Ozzie Smith335.8310.421.2
45.9
64Carlton Fisk250.8219.821.2
39.9
65Roy Halladay171.4133.120.9
36.9
66Hal Newhouser157.1124.020.9
33.4
67Early Wynn277.4252.520.8
43.5
68Billy Pierce218.8189.820.6
38.4
69Harmon Killebrew299.7236.120.6
42.9
70Roberto Alomar314.5280.920.6
44.0
71Don Sutton320.8295.320.5
47.2
72Tim Hudson198.8167.420.4
38.8
73Gaylord Perry317.7289.220.3
47.6
74Darryl Strawberry217.7164.620.2
35.3
75Tommy John277.6247.720.1
43.6


Being arguably the 2nd-best player in major-league baseball over a ten-year period and among the top 75 players over the past 75 years certainly is enough to get you into the Hall of Fame conversation. But is it enough to put him in? Coupled with Gooden's one-year (1985) and three-year (1984-86) peaks, I lean yes. Not that my opinion matters, of course.



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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