Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Ellis Valentine
Ellis Valentine as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records

In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to write an article about Ellis Valentine. Jeff Pearlman had a very interesting interview with Ellis Valentine last summer that is well worth a read. My article focuses on Ellis Valentine, the major-league baseball player, as evaluated by Player won-lost records, because, of course, that's what I do.

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

Ellis Valentine
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1975MON20
12
0.70.90.437-0.1
-0.1
1.10.80.5690.10.2
1976MON21
93
10.311.00.483-0.6
0.2
11.69.80.5410.61.4
1977MON22
127
16.916.30.509-0.5
0.8
18.315.50.5420.62.0
1978MON23
150
20.717.40.5430.8
2.3
22.417.40.5631.73.2
1979MON24
146
21.417.40.5521.1
2.6
18.717.30.519-0.21.2
1980MON25
86
13.210.10.5671.2
2.1
12.59.10.5811.42.2
26
70
8.98.60.508-0.1
0.6
7.88.20.488-0.40.2
1982NYN27
111
10.111.40.469-1.0
-0.1
11.010.70.506-0.20.7
1983CAL28
86
9.29.40.494-0.2
0.5
9.69.10.5120.20.8
1985TEX30
11
1.01.10.474-0.1
0.0
0.91.00.457-0.1-0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
892
112.4103.70.5200.5
8.8
113.899.00.5353.611.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
0
0.00.0 0.00.00.0 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
892
112.4103.70.520
8.8
113.899.00.535 11.8
Ellis Valentine's Peak
From 1977 through 1980, Ellis Valentine was a very good rightfielder for an up-and-coming Montreal Expos team that was on the cusp of entering probably the most successful period in its history. Unfortunately, Valentine never managed more than 350 plate appearances in a season after 1979 (his age-24 season) and played his final game at the age of 31.

The next table shows the 10 players most similar to Ellis Valentine from age 22 through age 25 (1977 - 1980 in Valentine's case), as measured by Player won-lost records who debuted since 1939.

Most Similar Players to Ellis Valentine in Value
Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Fielding
Ellis Valentine
509
72.261.22.6
7.8
3.1-0.02.8
Dwight Evans
478
58.849.53.6
7.8
2.5-0.02.4
Dom DiMaggio
403
55.648.62.1
6.4
1.40.13.2
Robin Ventura
620
76.866.05.5
11.0
2.40.12.7
Nick Markakis
626
78.575.40.3
5.9
2.60.12.2
Roger Maris
523
70.660.42.7
7.9
3.50.32.0
Paul Blair
572
62.155.31.5
6.4
1.20.22.5
George Kell
522
65.461.91.0
6.1
0.60.12.7
Jay Bruce
560
75.265.22.8
8.0
3.2-0.21.9
Johnny Callison
614
87.974.03.3
9.8
3.40.33.1
Travis Fryman
575
71.969.72.6
8.2
2.40.11.6


The most similar player to Ellis Valentine at these ages was a contemporary of his who has been elected to the Hall of Merit, Dwight Evans. Both players were excellent defensive right fielders: they each won one Gold Glove during the time period being compared (Evans would go on to win 7 more). Valentine had a bit more power - he out-homered Evans from age 22-25, 84 to 54 - and hit for a higher batting average, .291 to .268; but Evans was more willing to take a walk, so that Evans beat Valentine in OBP over these ages, .340 to .329.

Unfortunately for Valentine, the comparison ends there. Evans is in the Hall of Merit because he took a clear step forward as a hitter at age 28 and because he played for 20 years, until he was 39 years old.

The above table does include one Hall-of-Famer, although George Kell is a somewhat questionable Hall-of-Fame selection. Most of the rest of Valentine's comps perhaps give a better sense of how good a career Valentine might have had if he had maintained his early level for longer: good to very good and mostly memorable players who nevertheless ended their careers a clear level or two below even casual Hall-of-Fame consideration.

Ellis Valentine's Fielding
Ellis Valentine was a brilliant defensive right fielder, blessed with one of the best throwing arms of his (or any other) generation.

The next table shows the top 10 players in net fielding wins in right field for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records.

Career Net Fielding Wins, Right Field
(Context-Neutral, Teammate-Adjusted)
Player eWins eLosses eWin Pct. Net Wins
Mel Ott85.475.40.53110.0
Ichiro Suzuki78.868.90.5339.8
Jesse Barfield58.548.80.5459.7
Carl Furillo60.150.40.5449.7
Al Kaline77.668.20.5329.5
Roberto Clemente103.795.00.5228.8
Tony Oliva47.240.10.5417.1
Ellis Valentine35.429.10.5496.3
Roger Maris41.935.90.5386.0
Brian Jordan37.331.40.5435.8


As I noted above, Ellis Valentine had a very short career for a player as good as he was (only 6,453.0 career innings in RF, about 5 full seasons worth). This is evident here as Valentine had far fewer fielding decisions than anybody above him in the above table. And, in fact, Valentine has a higher winning percentage than all of the players above him in the previous table.

The next table ranks right fielders by career winning percentage for players with at least 10 fielding wins in right field.

Career Net Fielding Wins, Right Field
(Context-Neutral, Teammate-Adjusted)
Player eWins eLosses eWin Pct. Net Wins
Jim Piersall14.011.00.5603.0
Ellis Valentine35.429.10.5496.3
Tony Armas Sr.27.823.10.5464.7
Jesse Barfield58.548.80.5459.7
Carl Furillo60.150.40.5449.7
Chuck Workman13.611.50.5432.1
Brian Jordan37.331.40.5435.8
Lou Brock11.09.30.5421.7
Mike Kingery10.28.70.5421.6
Rick Miller10.18.60.5421.6


As I said above, Valentine's strongest fielding tool was his throwing arm. Player won-lost records are calculated across nine Components. Throwing arm comes into play most strongly in the last two of these: Component 8 - Baserunner Outs - and Component 9 - Baserunner Advancements.

The next table shows the top 10 players in net Component 8 and 9 fielding wins among all players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records. This table includes all positions. Fielding records are normalized at .500 for each component for each position, so that, for example, right fielders are compared relative to the average right fielder, while left fielders are compared to the average left fielder. Because of this, the table below may be somewhat biased against right fielders, in general, since right fielders tend to have stronger throwing arms, on average, than left or center fielders.

Career Net Fielding Wins
(Components 8 and 9)
Player eWins eLosses eWin Pct. Net Wins
Jesse Barfield23.616.60.5877.0
Carl Yastrzemski38.231.70.5466.5
Willie Mays47.441.30.5346.1
Roberto Clemente41.135.20.5385.9
Al Kaline35.229.70.5435.5
Jose 'Joey Bats' Bautista19.213.80.5815.4
Jeff Francoeur22.617.40.5655.2
Andy Van Slyke22.417.20.5655.2
Ellis Valentine16.311.20.5915.0
Indian Bob Johnson29.224.70.5424.5


As with overall fielding record, Valentine's relatively short career hurts him here. In terms of winning percentage, Valentine's is higher than everybody else in the above table who had at least 10 eWins.

Ellis Valentine's Place in Expos History
The Montreal Expos came into being in 1969. Like most first-year expansion teams, they were pretty bad (52-110, same as the expansion San Diego Padres the same season). The Expos started to put together the nucleus for their first sustained run of excellence in the mid-to-late 1970s with the debuts of Hall-of-Famers Gary Carter (who became a regular in 1975) and Andre Dawson (1977 NL Rookie of the Year). The Expos first great pitcher (and arguably the greatest pitcher in their history), Steve Rogers, debuted around this same time (1973).

Ellis Valentine was also part of this generation of Expos players who produced the team's first success. Valentine was the starting right fielder for the first Montreal Expos team to post a winning record (95-65) in 1979. Unfortunately for him, Valentine was traded mid-season the year the Expos made the only playoff appearance in their history.

Certainly, Ellis Valentine does not have an argument for being the best, or even one of the best, players in Montreal Expos history. As short and ill-fated as the Expos' history was, it nevertheless includes two current Hall-of-Famers and at least two more players likely to join them some day. But Valentine was a key contributor to perhaps the best stretch of sustained success in Expos history.

Because of the shortness of his Expos career, Valentine looks better compared to average than compared to replacement level. For whatever reason, Valentine's career also looks somewhat better when controlling for context than when not.

The next table shows the top 25 players in Montreal Expos history as measured by (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over positional average.

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Gary Carter1501163.0145.68.9
20.7
164.4135.514.626.1
Steve Rogers401171.3159.913.1
26.9
169.6156.613.727.4
Tim Raines Sr.1433202.3174.77.3
21.5
205.8171.010.925.0
Andre Dawson1440208.3178.99.6
24.3
202.3171.810.324.5
Vladimir Guerrero1004151.0130.54.4
15.7
146.9119.58.218.8
Javier Vazquez19278.276.25.0
12.6
81.275.07.214.9
Pedro J. Martinez11852.644.36.7
11.7
50.841.47.111.9
Dennis Martinez24196.389.38.1
16.4
98.794.76.815.4
Larry Walker67190.671.66.9
13.2
86.971.25.311.4
Rusty Staub51770.862.91.4
6.9
75.460.34.910.6
Bryn Smith28479.078.53.5
10.6
81.378.04.912.1
Ellis Valentine63686.875.42.4
8.7
87.472.34.310.5
Jeff Fassero26252.748.63.7
9.1
49.744.44.29.2
Jose Vidro973113.1108.03.0
11.9
110.7103.54.012.7
Pascual Perez7427.024.42.5
4.8
29.024.63.45.8
Livan Hernandez6929.629.51.7
4.8
30.928.33.06.1
Ron Hunt50957.357.00.5
5.0
60.255.03.07.6
Tim Wallach1766209.1197.61.9
17.2
206.3193.02.917.9
Bob Bailey951103.096.10.3
8.5
104.692.72.911.0
Marquis Grissom69191.978.05.1
11.8
91.281.72.89.6
Bill Gullickson17669.465.65.3
11.1
67.869.22.88.6
Ken Hill8635.129.14.6
7.6
34.732.42.86.0
Moises Alou60378.566.83.4
9.2
75.065.22.68.2
Delino DeShields Sr.53771.267.01.7
7.0
73.568.32.27.7
Rondell White74191.289.0-0.6
6.6
90.182.52.29.1


Ellis Valentine would probably not make the starting outfield for an all-time Expos team: that would most likely be Raines, Dawson, and Guerrero, with Larry Walker and Rusty Staub also entering the conversation long before Valentine. But Ellis Valentine was arguably one of the 25 best players in Montreal Expos history, which is pretty damn good.



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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