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
16.411.60.5873.2
4.3
13.410.40.5642.23.1
1985NYN20
35
21.311.00.6596.1
7.6
17.911.30.6134.25.5
1986NYN21
33
16.312.40.5692.7
3.9
14.813.10.5301.52.7
1987NYN22
25
12.710.30.5531.9
3.0
11.89.50.5551.82.8
1988NYN23
34
14.912.90.5371.8
2.9
15.115.00.5010.82.1
1989NYN24
19
8.07.70.5120.5
1.2
7.28.20.466-0.20.5
1990NYN25
34
15.412.10.5602.5
3.7
15.414.10.5221.52.8
1991NYN26
27
12.910.90.5431.6
2.7
12.511.10.5281.32.4
1992NYN27
33
13.013.00.5020.9
2.1
13.112.70.5091.12.3
1993NYN28
30
13.914.10.4950.5
1.7
13.112.40.5130.92.0
1994NYN29
7
3.03.70.446-0.2
0.1
2.43.50.409-0.4-0.1
1996NYA31
29
10.09.40.5130.5
1.6
10.59.80.5170.61.7
1997NYA32
20
7.17.00.5040.2
1.0
6.37.40.463-0.40.4
1998CLE33
23
7.36.90.5170.4
1.1
8.17.60.5130.41.2
1999CLE34
26
5.86.30.479-0.1
0.5
7.18.80.448-0.70.1
35
27
5.96.90.462-0.5
0.3
5.57.20.434-0.8-0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
433
184.1156.00.54122.0
37.8
174.2162.00.51813.829.5


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 twenty 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
433
184.1156.022.0
37.8
-3.1-0.18.30.6
Lon Warneke
377
144.3121.115.9
27.8
-3.4-0.16.31.2
David Cone
451
184.5153.820.7
37.8
-2.3-0.110.20.5
Cole Hamels
370
150.8131.117.1
31.1
-3.5-0.29.00.5
Bob Lemon
591
198.4165.423.5
39.6
-1.0-0.16.50.8
Orel Hershiser
516
195.1176.617.7
35.4
-3.2-0.29.60.4
Hal Newhouser
491
199.4171.020.3
36.8
-3.8-0.210.51.5
Herb Pennock
357
134.5111.514.7
25.3
-3.0-0.07.30.6
Zack Greinke
426
161.0135.019.2
34.3
-1.4-0.110.91.2
Claude Passeau
404
154.3136.113.8
27.2
-2.9-0.08.51.3
Don Drysdale
544
220.1204.717.3
35.7
-3.8-0.29.21.1
David Wells
660
207.0179.817.4
38.3
-1.1-0.19.50.3
Luis Tiant
573
225.8195.020.9
40.2
-2.9-0.110.10.4
Wes Ferrell
445
153.9124.919.1
31.2
0.10.24.81.0
Sandy Koufax
397
157.6126.321.1
34.0
-5.6-0.29.70.2
Billy Pierce
592
218.8189.822.4
40.2
-5.6-0.111.11.0
Ron Guidry
373
143.0111.117.9
30.0
0.0-0.010.50.4
Emil 'Dutch' Leonard
617
186.3166.015.1
31.7
-6.4-0.19.50.9
Dolf Luque
427
156.6139.312.4
25.3
-2.50.17.90.6
John Candelaria
603
159.3137.716.0
29.3
-2.7-0.26.70.9
Mark Buehrle
518
195.6175.514.6
34.5
-1.1-0.010.40.9


That's a fairly impressive group of comps. The player whose career was most similar in value to Gooden's 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. The second, third, and fourth players on the list, are all in the Hall of Fame. Overall, of the 20 pitchers in the above table, 7 are in the Hall of Merit (Cone, Newhouser, Lemon, Hubbell, Pierce, Reuschel, and Koufax) and 5 (Newhouser, Lemon, Hubbell, Gomez, and Koufax) are in the Hall of Fame.

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 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
301
145.0115.821.8
33.1
-3.0-0.19.30.4
Bob Feller
295
151.6117.721.3
33.5
-3.4-0.09.80.1
Juan Marichal
227
122.088.621.7
31.1
-2.8-0.19.10.5
Hal Newhouser
379
165.0136.519.2
32.5
-3.2-0.110.01.2
Robin Roberts
327
152.5121.220.7
32.6
-3.7-0.111.40.4
Tom Seaver
257
133.499.922.2
32.2
-2.40.011.60.7
Greg Maddux
276
126.6104.916.7
27.2
-3.60.010.70.6
Fergie Jenkins
268
119.797.216.2
25.6
-2.1-0.28.60.1
Dizzy Dean
199
80.757.114.1
20.3
-1.20.16.00.3
C.C. Sabathia
289
118.995.514.6
26.2
-0.1-0.09.7-0.0
Wes Ferrell
373
135.0102.820.1
30.3
0.30.25.90.8


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
39.140.20.2
4.6
-0.1-0.0-1.00.1
Bill Krueger
215
39.640.2-0.1
4.3
-0.0-0.0-1.30.1
Michael Fiers
105
34.837.4-0.1
3.9
-0.50.0-0.80.0
Paul Abbott
129
38.239.20.3
4.6
-0.1-0.0-0.5-0.0
Fernando Valenzuela
161
49.853.90.1
5.2
-0.5-0.1-1.20.3
Alex Kellner
144
45.348.7-0.0
4.2
-0.7-0.0-1.50.0
Steve Parris
116
38.742.6-0.5
3.7
-1.0-0.1-0.80.1
Paul Lindblad
398
34.432.50.0
4.2
-0.20.0-0.30.1
Ian Kennedy
126
45.451.6-1.1
4.1
-0.7-0.0-0.60.1
Ubaldo Jimenez
149
50.054.0-0.7
5.1
-0.1-0.0-0.60.1
Vicente Padilla
159
37.238.80.1
4.3
-0.2-0.0-0.50.1


With all due respect to him, who the heck is Alex Kellner? It turns out he was a pitcher for the Philadelphia and Kansas City A's in the 1940s and 1950s.

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
3116.411.60.5873.2
4.3
100.80.20.7640.20.3
20
3521.311.00.6596.1
7.6
2515.310.50.5923.14.2
21
3316.312.40.5692.7
3.9
3819.315.00.5643.14.5
22
2512.710.30.5531.9
3.0
3616.215.30.5151.32.6
23
3414.912.90.5371.8
2.9
3516.216.60.4950.72.0
24
198.07.70.5120.5
1.2
3515.714.70.5171.32.8
25
3415.412.10.5602.5
3.7
3918.415.00.5512.64.0
26
2712.910.90.5431.6
2.7
3816.917.70.4890.52.2
27
3313.013.00.5020.9
2.1
238.310.00.453-0.50.3
28
3013.914.10.4950.5
1.7
3411.513.20.467-0.30.8
29
73.03.70.446-0.2
0.1
3513.013.70.4880.51.7
30
 
20.71.70.282-0.5-0.4
31
2910.09.40.5130.5
1.6
32
207.17.00.5040.2
1.0
3210.711.20.490-0.10.9
33
237.36.90.5170.4
1.1
81.72.00.456-0.10.1
34
265.86.30.479-0.1
0.5
296.15.70.5160.51.1
35
275.96.90.462-0.5
0.3
3611.610.80.5171.02.2
36
 
196.08.80.404-1.1-0.3
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
Ages 19 - 25211105.177.90.57418.7
26.6
218101.987.30.53912.420.5
Ages 26 - 289039.837.90.5123.1
6.5
9536.840.90.473-0.23.3
Ages 29 - 3613239.140.20.4930.2
4.6
16149.853.90.4800.15.2


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 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 almost 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 Trammell185.0157.921.0
34.0
2Robin Yount201.7169.918.9
33.3
3Rickey Henderson211.9167.018.5
33.0
4Lou Whitaker184.9156.817.9
30.8
5Cal Ripken180.0158.217.6
30.2
6Ozzie Smith199.8175.017.4
31.5
7Mike Schmidt187.2145.916.7
29.3
8Dwight Gooden89.765.816.2
22.9
9George Brett162.1128.114.9
26.2
10Darryl Strawberry145.2106.414.9
24.3


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 Trammell185.0157.921.0
34.0
2Robin Yount201.7169.918.9
33.3
3Rickey Henderson211.9167.018.5
33.0
4Ozzie Smith199.8175.017.4
31.5
5Lou Whitaker184.9156.817.9
30.8
6Cal Ripken180.0158.217.6
30.2
7Mike Schmidt187.2145.916.7
29.3
8Dwight Evans199.6163.814.1
28.2
9George Brett162.1128.114.9
26.2
10Eddie Murray179.9143.113.1
25.6
11Dave Stieb138.7117.313.0
25.2
12Darryl Strawberry145.2106.414.9
24.3
13Wade Boggs152.6124.413.8
24.1
14Bob Welch132.1116.813.0
23.9
15Fernando Valenzuela138.7128.212.3
23.8
16Jack Morris147.3131.610.4
23.7
17Gary Carter149.8127.113.0
23.4
18Willie Randolph164.4147.611.7
23.4
19Andre Dawson204.2174.49.1
23.4
20Dale Murphy214.2186.68.2
23.3


Gooden manages to make the top 20 players of the 1980s even against replacement level, although four other pitchers manage to slip past him on the list: Dave Stieb, Fernando Valenzuela, the aforementioned Jack Morris, and Bob Welch.

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 Clemens143.099.224.0
35.9
1Roger Clemens143.099.224.0
35.9
2Dwight Gooden145.0115.821.8
33.1
2Rickey Henderson204.9155.021.7
35.6
3Rickey Henderson204.9155.021.7
35.6
3Cal Ripken216.8197.018.4
34.0
4Alan Trammell166.9142.418.4
30.3
4Dwight Gooden145.0115.821.8
33.1
5Cal Ripken216.8197.018.4
34.0
5Ozzie Smith199.7173.817.4
31.6
6Ozzie Smith199.7173.817.4
31.6
6Ryne Sandberg210.8177.716.6
31.3
7Barry Bonds174.4129.617.3
28.8
7Alan Trammell166.9142.418.4
30.3
8Darryl Strawberry177.1131.817.0
28.6
8Barry Bonds174.4129.617.3
28.8
9Ryne Sandberg210.8177.716.6
31.3
9Darryl Strawberry177.1131.817.0
28.6
10Bret Saberhagen114.887.415.6
25.6
10Lou Whitaker178.5153.415.4
28.0


The second table shows the top 75 players in career pWOPA.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 10 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Barry Bonds462.1315.160.3
90.8
2Babe Ruth306.4178.654.2
74.1
3Roger Clemens318.2228.251.1
79.6
4Mickey Mantle351.8230.750.2
73.9
5Willie Mays460.1335.249.6
81.8
6Joe L. Morgan374.0292.346.2
72.7
7Lefty Grove248.3169.644.9
63.8
8Greg Maddux328.5271.444.8
73.5
9Ted Williams369.6253.644.5
69.9
10Warren Spahn354.2293.643.8
71.8
11Alex Rodriguez373.9297.242.5
69.5
12Hank Aaron492.5372.942.2
77.9
13Lou Gehrig263.4158.040.2
57.8
14Stan Musial420.9312.139.9
69.4
15Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson281.3221.038.5
64.3
16Joe DiMaggio280.1192.038.3
57.5
17Tom Seaver309.0256.738.1
62.4
18Mel Ott361.9264.736.9
63.1
19Pee Wee Reese300.7238.735.2
57.0
20Bob Gibson263.9217.334.6
55.5
21Eddie Mathews320.6240.534.3
56.9
22Albert Pujols334.8243.534.1
58.0
23Pedro J. Martinez193.7137.533.9
51.4
24Jimmie Foxx276.4185.233.6
53.2
25Jim Palmer242.7186.033.6
53.3
26Mike Schmidt337.4257.433.6
56.4
27Derek Jeter369.4322.233.4
60.1
28Chipper Jones336.7258.533.3
56.5
29Yogi Berra245.4182.432.6
50.1
30Juan Marichal232.2187.132.3
50.6
31Steve Carlton338.0304.231.6
58.9
32Whitey Ford210.6164.431.1
47.6
33Frank Robinson395.0304.230.4
59.8
34Mike Mussina224.3173.229.6
51.3
35Mariano Rivera126.660.829.6
42.3
36John Smoltz239.8201.229.1
51.1
37Tom Glavine279.5249.629.1
54.5
38Rickey Henderson426.7353.328.7
59.4
39Lou Whitaker306.1261.028.4
50.2
40Cal Ripken383.3350.728.2
56.5
41Manny Ramirez319.0250.827.3
50.8
42Fergie Jenkins286.8250.926.8
50.7
43Bobby Doerr257.0208.726.4
45.1
44J. Kevin Brown204.6164.726.4
45.2
45Barry Larkin291.8249.426.3
47.5
46Duke Snider269.0201.226.2
45.4
47Bob Feller252.5215.226.1
47.3
48Jackie Robinson195.9140.126.1
39.7
49Clayton Kershaw134.896.526.0
37.1
50Reggie Jackson367.1298.325.6
54.1
51Curt Schilling207.0172.025.5
44.9
52David Ortiz251.8189.525.4
51.4
53Robin Roberts297.0269.824.8
49.5
54Jim Thome273.8209.424.8
47.4
55Al Kaline378.0302.324.7
52.8
56Don Sutton320.9295.424.6
51.5
57Nolan Ryan356.9328.124.6
55.8
58Rogers Hornsby183.7134.124.5
37.4
59Alan Trammell283.1256.224.4
45.2
60Johnny Bench246.3197.724.4
42.1
61Early Wynn309.3284.324.2
49.7
62Bill Dickey168.1126.123.9
36.4
63Gaylord Perry317.9289.323.8
51.3
64Roy Halladay171.5133.123.7
39.7
65Frank E. Thomas254.2190.823.7
46.7
66Tim Hudson198.8167.523.7
42.1
67Andy Pettitte211.6174.723.6
44.4
68Tommy John278.0247.923.6
47.3
69Bobby Grich253.6217.723.6
41.8
70Joe Gordon216.4172.523.5
39.2
71Bob Lemon198.4165.423.5
39.6
72Willie McCovey295.9221.623.3
44.4
73George Brett328.0274.922.8
47.6
74Lou Boudreau230.1191.222.6
39.5
75Mike Piazza214.0174.922.4
38.4


Being arguably the 2nd-best player in major-league baseball over a ten-year period and among the top 75 players over the past 80+ 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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