Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Player Won-Lost Records and the Hall of Fame

This report looks at what Player won-lost records look like for players who are in the Hall of Fame. It also looks at the players who sabermetric consensus views as the most glaring omissions from the Hall of Fame. At Baseball Think Factory, they have created an alternative to the Hall of Fame, called the Hall of Merit. The idea behind the Hall of Merit was to enshrine the same number of players as are enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but to attempt to do so more systematically, eliminating the mistakes (of both omission and commission) in the Hall of Fame.

The inductees of the Hall of Merit are listed in the Hall of Merit's Plaque Room.

The table below presents career Player won-lost records for players who have been elected to either the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Hall of Merit, or both, for players who made their major-league debut in 1941 or later (the first season for which I have calculated Player won-lost records for all games). The players are sorted here by pWins over replacement level (pWORL).

Hall of Fame and/or Hall of Merit Players
(Debut in 1941 or later)

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Barry Bonds
2,984
462.8315.760.4
90.7
453.5310.658.588.3
Willie Mays
2,992
459.8334.849.7
81.9
438.2330.141.772.8
Roger Clemens
709
318.2228.251.1
79.6
310.9227.547.775.9
Hank Aaron
3,298
493.0373.442.2
77.9
478.2364.839.574.3
Mickey Mantle
2,400
351.6230.550.2
73.8
339.6232.643.466.6
Greg Maddux
751
328.6271.444.7
73.5
320.0262.644.472.3
Joe L. Morgan
2,645
373.9292.246.3
72.7
364.2296.039.665.7
Warren Spahn
772
354.3293.643.7
72.1
340.9289.039.066.6
Stan Musial
3,025
421.2312.439.9
69.4
415.8314.936.065.4
Randy 'Big Unit' Johnson
619
281.3221.038.4
64.3
267.6218.532.557.6
Tom Seaver
664
309.1256.838.0
62.5
300.3261.431.255.5
Frank Robinson
2,804
395.4304.530.4
59.9
385.7294.131.159.7
Rickey Henderson
3,059
427.3353.828.8
59.3
420.8348.228.458.5
Steve Carlton
744
338.0304.331.4
58.9
325.0309.622.149.2
Eddie Mathews
2,388
320.0240.234.1
56.7
310.9242.928.450.7
Mike Schmidt
2,401
337.7257.733.6
56.3
334.2249.136.358.5
Cal Ripken
2,995
383.0350.528.0
56.2
375.0345.526.454.0
Nolan Ryan
807
357.0328.224.4
55.8
333.5300.725.654.8
Bob Gibson
576
264.0217.434.5
55.8
254.3219.828.349.2
Tom Glavine
701
279.5249.529.0
54.6
279.9260.624.050.1
Reggie Jackson
2,819
367.5298.725.6
54.1
350.3291.121.048.5
Jim Palmer
560
242.8186.033.6
53.4
236.0200.023.243.4
Al Kaline
2,828
378.4302.624.7
52.8
377.2301.124.953.0
Don Sutton
779
320.8295.324.4
51.6
318.0295.223.050.0
Gaylord Perry
786
318.1289.523.7
51.5
321.0284.627.555.2
Pedro J. Martinez
476
193.7137.433.8
51.5
182.7132.330.847.5
Mike Mussina
537
224.3173.229.6
51.3
221.1170.729.250.6
John Smoltz
728
239.8201.329.0
51.1
219.9189.025.045.2
Fergie Jenkins
664
286.9250.926.7
50.9
275.2257.617.441.4
Carl Yastrzemski
3,308
426.8363.618.0
50.9
442.4369.622.356.1
Juan Marichal
472
232.2187.132.3
50.8
222.6195.923.041.5
Manny Ramirez
2,296
319.3251.327.3
50.7
303.9243.223.946.4
Lou Whitaker
2,383
305.9260.828.3
50.0
293.3262.021.442.6
Yogi Berra
2,118
245.1182.332.5
50.0
219.8186.517.734.3
Robin Roberts
688
297.1269.824.8
49.9
297.4276.421.847.3
Whitey Ford
500
211.0164.531.1
48.0
202.0177.820.137.2
Bert Blyleven
697
291.3260.022.1
48.0
297.2266.422.048.4
George Brett
2,706
328.3275.122.8
47.5
326.5279.119.944.8
Paul Molitor
2,680
318.0273.019.8
47.3
311.2276.015.042.2
Barry Larkin
2,176
291.4249.126.2
47.2
279.4246.521.341.8
Phil Niekro
866
332.0321.317.9
46.9
325.4336.07.536.8
Frank E. Thomas
2,322
254.1190.723.7
46.7
248.7185.523.846.3
Robin Yount
2,853
367.0345.418.4
45.8
362.0340.018.645.6
Duke Snider
2,137
268.8201.126.1
45.3
275.1210.424.444.2
J. Kevin Brown
487
204.7164.826.3
45.3
205.0158.629.448.1
Ozzie Smith
2,572
334.9310.120.5
44.9
328.1317.013.638.1
Alan Trammell
2,289
282.8256.024.3
44.9
280.3258.921.642.3
Eddie Murray
3,025
345.5285.118.7
44.9
318.7276.310.435.2
Curt Schilling
571
207.0172.025.4
44.9
204.5173.123.643.0
Dave Winfield
2,970
393.4343.614.9
44.6
378.6333.812.841.4
Willie McCovey
2,584
295.9221.623.2
44.3
272.8209.418.738.4
Roberto Alomar
2,373
314.2280.520.9
44.1
303.2278.416.439.1
Pete Rose Sr.
3,561
438.3395.111.2
44.1
447.8414.26.040.1
Craig Biggio
2,849
358.3325.217.3
43.8
352.6325.614.240.6
Dwight Evans
2,597
327.4275.319.8
43.7
329.7277.020.144.2
Gary Sheffield
2,573
342.3290.117.6
43.4
335.1281.618.543.7
Brooks Robinson
2,895
353.3310.016.4
43.0
325.2304.25.530.8
Harmon Killebrew
2,432
300.1236.220.6
42.9
293.2227.721.743.4
Dennis Eckersley
1,071
217.2174.322.4
42.5
185.8166.011.729.2
Johnny Bench
2,158
245.9197.524.3
41.9
234.9191.322.039.0
Ken Griffey Jr.
2,671
339.4300.716.5
41.9
346.1293.623.448.7
Bobby Grich
2,004
253.4217.523.6
41.7
250.5216.222.740.7
Jeff Bagwell
2,150
275.2202.222.4
41.3
268.1199.820.338.8
Jim Bunning
598
239.3217.520.2
40.6
238.3228.614.435.2
Billy Pierce
590
218.9189.822.3
40.5
208.0191.515.833.6
Willie Stargell
2,355
293.8232.618.9
40.2
286.7222.920.541.2
Carlton Fisk
2,497
251.0220.421.2
39.9
247.0213.822.440.6
Wade Boggs
2,439
292.1254.518.6
39.8
299.2259.119.841.5
Roberto Clemente
2,432
353.1299.713.3
39.8
346.1297.711.037.1
Bob Lemon
594
198.4165.523.4
39.8
187.8170.115.631.8
Jackie Robinson
1,381
196.0140.226.1
39.7
192.7150.119.533.3
Edgar Martinez
2,055
212.6168.818.4
39.5
211.0166.418.839.7
Jim Edmonds
2,008
256.9210.221.1
39.5
249.6206.519.437.3
Willie Randolph
2,199
275.1246.719.6
39.3
266.2251.812.532.1
Rod Carew
2,467
294.9259.617.0
39.2
299.5263.417.540.0
Luis Aparicio
2,594
331.3325.712.5
39.0
329.6334.47.434.3
Graig Nettles
2,692
308.9270.616.2
39.0
296.0270.79.732.0
Mike Piazza
1,911
213.6174.622.4
38.3
199.8164.520.335.3
David Cone
451
184.5153.820.6
37.8
182.0162.515.232.6
Tony Perez
2,773
307.7256.814.8
37.7
294.2251.511.133.3
Nellie Fox
2,361
294.4276.214.8
37.7
280.7286.42.825.6
Darrell Evans
2,683
302.9259.414.8
37.4
300.0257.814.236.6
Ryne Sandberg
2,161
287.5255.016.5
37.0
295.8254.820.741.5
Mark McGwire
1,874
219.9158.721.9
36.7
214.1154.421.335.7
Billy Williams
2,484
330.0282.210.9
36.6
339.4280.216.542.4
Larry Walker
1,983
267.2215.017.2
36.3
273.7211.722.041.2
Don Drysdale
544
220.0204.717.2
36.0
224.6207.718.237.3
Dick Allen
1,748
236.7181.919.0
35.8
230.2178.617.634.1
Ernie Banks
2,525
310.1279.111.7
35.6
309.9263.519.642.8
Rick Reuschel
569
219.9205.816.8
35.1
215.4210.912.030.3
Ron Santo
2,243
292.9258.312.5
34.9
292.6244.619.441.2
Minnie Minoso
1,831
263.3214.215.2
34.6
251.6213.410.128.9
Sandy Koufax
397
157.7126.321.1
34.2
147.0136.210.723.8
Bret Saberhagen
399
154.9120.620.3
34.2
155.9121.620.534.4
Larry Doby
1,530
214.1165.818.3
33.7
201.0163.513.127.9
Tim Raines Sr.
2,481
313.6276.510.6
33.7
315.6272.713.536.6
Rafael Palmeiro
2,829
307.5267.29.1
33.3
308.7261.612.636.6
Jim Rice
2,089
282.1249.911.1
33.3
278.0249.59.331.4
Andre Dawson
2,624
347.5314.17.3
33.2
340.4300.710.835.8
Catfish Hunter
512
210.2193.214.9
33.0
210.5199.512.030.5
Reggie Smith
1,984
262.4220.013.0
32.5
267.6218.016.636.2
Jack Morris
552
224.0208.511.3
32.4
222.0213.27.929.3
Jimmy Wynn
1,917
267.0226.912.3
32.4
264.5218.315.635.2
Joe Torre
2,209
244.1209.313.5
31.9
237.1200.914.332.1
Will Clark
1,976
232.0179.315.8
31.7
224.8179.112.528.1
Gary Carter
2,293
241.4216.114.1
31.6
237.0206.916.533.4
Ken Boyer
2,033
257.3226.311.1
30.6
252.2217.713.031.9
Phil Rizzuto
1,658
204.1179.015.1
30.5
195.6191.94.420.1
Dave Stieb
452
171.8149.513.8
29.3
169.0146.513.829.1
Red Schoendienst
2,212
262.0251.48.2
29.1
257.2256.33.424.3
Orlando Cepeda
2,124
248.7207.49.6
28.8
240.0201.18.727.3
Ted Simmons
2,456
248.2231.78.5
28.3
236.5219.78.727.5
Tony Gwynn Sr.
2,440
318.7288.44.1
27.4
316.1281.56.529.4
Keith Hernandez
2,088
228.2185.411.6
27.3
225.5189.78.123.8
Ivan Rodriguez
2,543
233.0233.78.2
26.5
237.5230.512.230.5
Roy Campanella
1,214
126.894.617.4
26.4
125.6101.813.222.5
Hoyt Wilhelm
1,070
138.9116.410.4
26.1
109.399.54.317.1
Rich Gossage
1,003
131.2101.911.9
25.8
87.778.52.812.6
Bill Mazeroski
2,163
245.8247.84.8
24.7
241.9250.91.421.2
Kirby Puckett
1,783
236.7219.36.4
23.9
234.6214.57.725.0
Rollie Fingers
945
121.197.310.0
23.2
83.871.94.814.1
Bill Freehan
1,770
166.7154.18.4
21.3
171.9152.811.624.8
George Kell
1,793
216.1200.73.7
20.6
212.2192.85.922.3
Bruce Sutter
661
88.462.611.0
20.3
51.047.10.76.7
Ralph Kiner
1,472
208.0186.62.8
18.8
213.6172.512.928.5
Lou Brock
2,608
343.5333.5-8.8
18.4
351.6327.0-1.525.7
Richie Ashburn
2,184
278.8277.0-7.6
14.7
286.0275.1-3.219.4
Monte Irvin
764
96.380.44.8
12.0
91.677.24.211.1
Satchel Paige
179
29.729.00.6
4.0
23.722.30.93.6
Quincy Trouppe
6
0.10.4-0.1
-0.1
0.10.3-0.1-0.1
Willard Brown
21
1.92.5-0.3
-0.2
1.72.4-0.4-0.2
Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Avg Hall of Famer
1,869.8
288.1245.121.1
43.6
280.4243.118.440.4
Average Hall of Meriter
1,855.5
285.5239.322.3
44.5
278.7237.319.941.7
Avg HOF, not HOM
1,809.4
246.2225.88.8
28.6
239.9225.46.025.5
Avg. HOM, not HOF
1,796.6
262.6217.620.2
40.5
258.5216.218.938.9

Hall-of-Fame Players in bold.
Hall-of-Merit Players in italics.
Averages exclude Monte Irvin, Satchel Paige, Willard Brown, and Quincy Trouppe, whose careers were spent primarily in the Negro Leagues.


Excluding Negro League players, the Hall of Famer with the lowest career pWORL is Richie Ashburn. Ashburn looks somewhat better when evaluated using (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins, although he still ranks quite low even there.

Looking at Hall of Famers for whom Retrosheet play-by-play data covers their entire career, the average Hall of Famer has an average Player won-lost record of 246.2 - 225.8, with 8.8 pWOPA (pWins over Positional Average), and 28.6 pWORL (pWins over Replacement Level). Looking at the above table, the closest player to the average Hall-of-Famer is perhaps Willie Stargell.

Of course, Hall of Famers are not elected based on Player won-lost records, and even if they were, one would certainly want to consider more than simply career pWORL. For example, in the above table, ranking Hall of Famers by career pWORL, Jim Rice (33.3 career pWORL) and Sandy Koufax (34.2 career pWORL) end up very close to each other.

Sandy Koufax is sometimes put into the conversation for the greatest pitcher ever. Jim Rice is sometimes put into the conversation for the biggest mistake in the Hall of Fame.

Of course, Sandy Koufax is not in the Hall of Fame because of his career counting statistics. He's in the Hall of Fame because of an incredible four-year peak from 1963 - 1966. And Sandy Koufax's Player won-lost record reflects this. His pWORLs in 1963 and 1965 both led the major leagues and rank among the 20 highest single-season pWORLs of any seasons for which I have calculated Player won-lost records. Sandy Koufax also has one of the best World Series records in major-league history.

In contrast, Jim Rice has just one season that is among the top 75 in pWORL. Beyond that season, Rice was mostly a good, but not really great, player who stuck around long enough to accumulate a respectable career level of pWORL.

Even considering only the regular season, the short but brilliant nature of Koufax's career is apparent in the above table of Hall of Famers, in his pWins over Positional Average (pWOPA) of 21.1 which is close to the average value for all Hall of Famers (21.1). In contrast to Koufax, Jim Rice's career pWOPA, 11.1, is well below average for a Hall of Famer.

Hall of Fame vs. Hall of Merit

The next two tables extract those players from the previous table who are in one Hall, but not the other. Quincy Trouppe, who is in the Hall of Merit, but not the Hall of Fame, is excluded, as his entire career in the integrated major leagues consisted of 6 games in 1952.

Players in the Hall of Fame, but not the Hall of Merit

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Luis Aparicio
2,594
331.3325.712.5
39.0
329.6334.47.434.3
Tony Perez
2,773
307.7256.814.8
37.7
294.2251.511.133.3
Jim Rice
2,089
282.1249.911.1
33.3
278.0249.59.331.4
Catfish Hunter
512
210.2193.214.9
33.0
210.5199.512.030.5
Jack Morris
552
224.0208.511.3
32.4
222.0213.27.929.3
Phil Rizzuto
1,658
204.1179.015.1
30.5
195.6191.94.420.1
Red Schoendienst
2,212
262.0251.48.2
29.1
257.2256.33.424.3
Orlando Cepeda
2,124
248.7207.49.6
28.8
240.0201.18.727.3
Bill Mazeroski
2,163
245.8247.84.8
24.7
241.9250.91.421.2
Kirby Puckett
1,783
236.7219.36.4
23.9
234.6214.57.725.0
George Kell
1,793
216.1200.73.7
20.6
212.2192.85.922.3
Bruce Sutter
661
88.462.611.0
20.3
51.047.10.76.7
Lou Brock
2,608
343.5333.5-8.8
18.4
351.6327.0-1.525.7
           
Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Average
1,809.4
246.2225.88.8
28.6
239.9225.46.025.5


Players in the Hall of Merit, but not the Hall of Fame

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Barry Bonds
2,984
462.8315.760.4
90.7
453.5310.658.588.3
Roger Clemens
709
318.2228.251.1
79.6
310.9227.547.775.9
Mike Mussina
537
224.3173.229.6
51.3
221.1170.729.250.6
Manny Ramirez
2,296
319.3251.327.3
50.7
303.9243.223.946.4
Lou Whitaker
2,383
305.9260.828.3
50.0
293.3262.021.442.6
J. Kevin Brown
487
204.7164.826.3
45.3
205.0158.629.448.1
Curt Schilling
571
207.0172.025.4
44.9
204.5173.123.643.0
Pete Rose Sr.
3,561
438.3395.111.2
44.1
447.8414.26.040.1
Dwight Evans
2,597
327.4275.319.8
43.7
329.7277.020.144.2
Gary Sheffield
2,573
342.3290.117.6
43.4
335.1281.618.543.7
Bobby Grich
2,004
253.4217.523.6
41.7
250.5216.222.740.7
Billy Pierce
590
218.9189.822.3
40.5
208.0191.515.833.6
Edgar Martinez
2,055
212.6168.818.4
39.5
211.0166.418.839.7
Jim Edmonds
2,008
256.9210.221.1
39.5
249.6206.519.437.3
Willie Randolph
2,199
275.1246.719.6
39.3
266.2251.812.532.1
Graig Nettles
2,692
308.9270.616.2
39.0
296.0270.79.732.0
David Cone
451
184.5153.820.6
37.8
182.0162.515.232.6
Darrell Evans
2,683
302.9259.414.8
37.4
300.0257.814.236.6
Mark McGwire
1,874
219.9158.721.9
36.7
214.1154.421.335.7
Larry Walker
1,983
267.2215.017.2
36.3
273.7211.722.041.2
Dick Allen
1,748
236.7181.919.0
35.8
230.2178.617.634.1
Rick Reuschel
569
219.9205.816.8
35.1
215.4210.912.030.3
Minnie Minoso
1,831
263.3214.215.2
34.6
251.6213.410.128.9
Bret Saberhagen
399
154.9120.620.3
34.2
155.9121.620.534.4
Rafael Palmeiro
2,829
307.5267.29.1
33.3
308.7261.612.636.6
Reggie Smith
1,984
262.4220.013.0
32.5
267.6218.016.636.2
Jimmy Wynn
1,917
267.0226.912.3
32.4
264.5218.315.635.2
Will Clark
1,976
232.0179.315.8
31.7
224.8179.112.528.1
Ken Boyer
2,033
257.3226.311.1
30.6
252.2217.713.031.9
Dave Stieb
452
171.8149.513.8
29.3
169.0146.513.829.1
Ted Simmons
2,456
248.2231.78.5
28.3
236.5219.78.727.5
Keith Hernandez
2,088
228.2185.411.6
27.3
225.5189.78.123.8
Bill Freehan
1,770
166.7154.18.4
21.3
171.9152.811.624.8
 
Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Average
1,796.6
262.6217.620.2
40.5
258.5216.218.938.9


Hall of Fame
The first table finds 13 players whose full career is covered by Retrosheet who are in the Hall of Fame, but not the Hall of Merit.

Looking at the above table, the average "Hall of Fame, not Hall of Merit" player is probably Orlando Cepeda.

Hall of Merit
The list of players in the Hall of Merit but not the Hall of Fame is quite a bit longer than the reverse, 33 players in all. Most of the Hall of Fame's errors of commission - i.e., players in the Hall of Fame who don't really belong - were Veterans' Committee inductees who played in the 1920s and 1930s (or even earlier). Most of the Hall of Fame's errors of omission - i.e., players who are as good or better than most players in the Hall of Fame who have not been inducted - are players from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, who were overlooked by the BBWAA and have not had the opportunity to be inducted by more recent Veterans' Committees. The Hall of Merit has replaced the former group of players (players such as Sunny Jim Bottomley, George 'Highpockets' Kelly, and Lloyd Waner, et al.) with the latter group of players.

A couple of the players on this list were elected to the Hall of Merit based in part on games not included here. In addition to the aforementioned Quincy Trouppe, Minnie Minoso was given some Negro / Cuban league credit at the Hall of Merit.

The remaining 32 players fall into three possible categories.
1. Players not inducted into the Hall of Fame just yet
A few years ago, the two best players not in the Hall of Fame might have been Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo. A few days ago, the above table would have included Alan Trammell. Blyleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 while Santo finally made it (posthumously) in 2012. Trammell will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next summer. It is likely that some of the 32 players listed above will eventually be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

In theory, every player on this list still has a chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The most likely players to do so, however - especially within the next few years - are the 7 players listed here who are still on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Edgar Martinez, and Larry Walker. Realistically, some of these players are very unlikely to be elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA. Nevertheless, for now, I'm going to set these players aside in comparing the memberships of the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Merit.

2. Players hurt by character clause
There are some differences between the voting rules for the Hall of Fame and the Hall of Merit. This difference is probably most clear in one name from the above table: Pete Rose. Pete Rose was elected to the Hall of Merit in his second year of eligibility. To date, Pete Rose has not yet had a first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. He's outright banned because of betting on baseball.

Even for players who are technically eligible for the Hall of Fame, the Hall of Fame ballot contains an explicit "character clause": "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played (emphasis added). Most recently, the character clause has been invoked by a plurality of BBWAA voters to exclude players who used (or are strongly suspected of having used) steroids or similar performance-enhancing drugs. Six players in the Hall of Merit were named in the Mitchell Report: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro.

In addition, one more player from the above table whose Hall of Fame candidacy might have been adversely affected by the character clause is Dick Allen, who had several unfortunate incidents in his career. He might not have been elected even without the character issues, but he might have.

3. Players the Hall of Fame has missed (so far)
Excluding players who remain on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot and players whose Hall of Fame vote totals were negatively affected by character issues, I am left with 19 players for whom Retrosheet has full play-by-play records for their career who have been elected to the Hall of Merit, but not the Hall of Fame. Player won-lost records for these 19 players are repeated below.

Players in the Hall of Merit, but not the Hall of Fame
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Lou Whitaker
2,383
305.9260.828.3
50.0
293.3262.021.442.6
Dwight Evans
2,597
327.4275.319.8
43.7
329.7277.020.144.2
Bobby Grich
2,004
253.4217.523.6
41.7
250.5216.222.740.7
Billy Pierce
590
218.9189.822.3
40.5
208.0191.515.833.6
Billy Pierce
590
218.9189.822.3
40.5
208.0191.515.833.6
Darrell Evans
2,683
302.9259.414.8
37.4
300.0257.814.236.6
Graig Nettles
2,692
308.9270.616.2
39.0
296.0270.79.732.0
Willie Randolph
2,199
275.1246.719.6
39.3
266.2251.812.532.1
David Cone
451
184.5153.820.6
37.8
182.0162.515.232.6
Rick Reuschel
569
219.9205.816.8
35.1
215.4210.912.030.3
Bret Saberhagen
399
154.9120.620.3
34.2
155.9121.620.534.4
Reggie Smith
1,984
262.4220.013.0
32.5
267.6218.016.636.2
Jimmy Wynn
1,917
267.0226.912.3
32.4
264.5218.315.635.2
Will Clark
1,976
232.0179.315.8
31.7
224.8179.112.528.1
Ken Boyer
2,033
257.3226.311.1
30.6
252.2217.713.031.9
Ted Simmons
2,456
248.2231.78.5
28.3
236.5219.78.727.5
Dave Stieb
452
171.8149.513.8
29.3
169.0146.513.829.1
Keith Hernandez
2,088
228.2185.411.6
27.3
225.5189.78.123.8
Bill Freehan
1,770
166.7154.18.4
21.3
171.9152.811.624.8
Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Average
1,675.4
242.3208.616.8
35.4
237.7208.214.733.1


A comparison of the average HOF, not HOM player and the average HOM, not HOF player are summarized below.

Players in the Hall of Merit, but not the Hall of Fame
Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Hall of Fame
1,809.4
246.2225.88.8
28.6
239.9225.46.025.5
Hall of Merit
1,675.4
242.3208.616.8
35.4
237.7208.214.733.1


I think that if one looks closely, there's a great deal to be gleaned from that comparison. On a strict statistical basis, players in the Hall of Merit, but not in the Hall of Fame, had better, more valuable careers than players in the Hall of Fame, but not in the Hall of Merit. This is not a big surprise: the entire point of the Hall of Merit was to remove the least valuable Hall-of-Famers and replace them with "better" players and while the Hall of Merit mostly pre-dates the development of Player won-lost records, the electorate of the Hall of Merit was certainly using the same general "sabermetric" approach to player valuation.

The largest difference between any of the numbers in the preceding table are for eWOPA - (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over positional average. The average HOM-not-HOF player beats the average HOF-not-HOM player by 8.7 eWOPA. That number narrows to 7.6 when comparison shifts from average to replacement level. And the average HOF-not-HOM player and the average HOM-not-HOF player earned basically the same number of raw eWins, 239.9 vs. 237.7.

Lou Brock is the most extreme example of this. Brock played for 19 seasons, appearing in 2,616 games (35th all-time), and collecting over 3,000 career hits. His career length helped him to amass over 330 career pWins, but, in fact, he was actually slightly below average over his career as measured by Player won-lost records.
The other thing that emerges in the above table is that while both "average players" rate better in context - pWins - than context-neutral - eWins - the difference between pWins and eWins is fairly trivial for Hall-of-Merit-only players, while Hall-of-Fame-only players gain a more significant 3.1 WORL when player performance is put into the context of team performance. Of the 10 HOF-not-HOM players shown earlier, 8 of them had more career pWORL than career eWORL.

Tony Perez may be the best example of this. Tony Perez may be the only player in the Baseball Hall of Fame based primarily on his career RBI total (1,652, 28th all-time). The first sentence on Perez's page at the Hall of Fame's website reads: "One of the national pastime's great run producers, Atanasio 'Tony' Perez Rigal was among the best when it came to driving in big runs for Cincinnati's 'Big Red Machine' clubs of the 1970s." His Hall-of-Fame plaque reads, "A clutch performer throughout an illustrious 23-year career, he tormented the opposition with his ability to consistently drive in runs...."

Sabermetricians tend to disdain RBI's as a valid statistical measure of "value", arguing that RBI's are merely a function of (a) general hitting ability, which is better measured by other statistics (e.g., Perez's career batting line of .279/.341/.463), and (b) opportunity, which is outside of the control of a player. Perez, for example, batted 4th (and occasionally 5th) in his career, which tend to provide maximum RBI opportunities within a typical major-league lineup, and Perez tended to bat behind Pete Rose and Joe Morgan, who both finished in the top 5 in the major leagues in times on base every season from 1972 through 1977, which gave Tony Perez lots of baserunners to drive in.

There is definitely something to this. And, as can be seen in the above tables, Player won-lost records think that both Morgan and Rose (as well as Reds' teammate Johnny Bench) were more valuable players over their careers than Tony Perez. But there is value in actually driving in runs, and Tony Perez did drive in a lot of runs. Perez also hit better over his career with runners in scoring position - .284/.364/.470 - than with the bases empty - .265/.322/.442. He also hit better in high-leverage situations for his career - .300/.359/.491 - than in either medium- or low-leverage situations (.277/.341/.456 and .269/.331/.456, respectively). In late and close situations, Perez batted .300/.370/.490 for his career. In extra innings, Tony Perez batted .352/.427/.552. Was Tony Perez's "clutch performance" a skill? Maybe. Was Tony Perez's "clutch performance" real? Of course. The runs Perez drove in really scored and those runs contributed to real wins for Perez's teams.
In addition to comparing hypothetical "averages", I thought it would be instructive to compare two actual players: a "typical" HOF-only player, Orlando Cepeda, and a "typical" HOM-only player, say, Reggie Smith. Cepeda and Smith are compared in the next table.

Orlando Cepeda Reggie Smith
Age Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL Games pWins pLoss pWOPA pWORL
20
14815.614.6-0.1
1.0
21
15119.016.80.5
1.9
60.40.8-0.2-0.2
22
15119.218.4-0.6
0.9
15817.917.7-0.41.2
23
15220.416.01.3
2.9
15520.019.2-0.21.4
24
16218.714.71.1
2.4
14318.215.21.02.4
25
15619.814.71.9
3.2
14720.616.01.73.3
26
14218.013.41.6
2.9
15922.918.91.43.0
27
330.80.9-0.1
0.1
13118.914.31.73.1
28
14215.513.20.4
1.5
11515.412.41.32.4
29
15122.713.73.4
4.9
14320.317.01.02.4
30
15717.715.00.4
1.7
13516.214.40.21.4
31
15418.715.90.3
1.7
11215.712.81.02.0
32
14816.015.4-0.7
0.6
14821.516.11.83.3
33
717.76.70.1
0.6
12818.814.51.42.7
34
312.22.4-0.3
-0.1
688.18.5-0.50.1
35
14214.313.10.6
2.3
9013.110.80.81.7
36
332.62.6-0.0
0.3
411.41.9-0.20.0
37
 
10512.89.41.32.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER RECORDS
(in context)
2,124248.7207.49.6
28.8
1,984262.4220.013.032.5
(context-neutral)
2,124240.0201.18.7
27.3
1,984267.6218.016.636.2


The Cepeda-Smith comparison highlights the differences between Hall-of-Fame and Hall-of-Merit players discussed above. Smith beats Cepeda across the board - even moreso than perhaps the "average player" discussed above. But the gap between the two players is most striking in eWOPA (16.6 - 8.7) and least striking in pWORL (32.5 - 28.8).

Breaking the comparison down by seasons also reveals some potentially relevant distinctions between the two, I believe. While Smith has better career numbers across the board, Cepeda had the single best season of either of these two, in 1967 (Cepeda's age-29 season), when Cepeda won a (well-deserved) MVP award.

To some extent, the difference between Cepeda's and Smith's Hall-of-Fame case, I think, comes down to "narrative". Cepeda won a Rookie-of-the-Year award, challenged first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Willie McCovey for playing time at first base (and in left field) for several years, changed teams and won an MVP award for a pennant winner. For his career, Cepeda made All-Star teams in 7 seasons and appeared in the postseason in four seasons for three different teams, playing for one World Series winner.

Reggie Smith's career was somewhat close to Cepeda's in terms of "narrative" markers. But Smith only finished 2nd in Rookie-of-the-Year voting and never higher than 4th in MVP voting. But he was named an All-Star in 7 seasons, same as Cepeda, and matched Cepeda with four postseason appearances (although for only two teams) and one World Series win.

In fact, Cepeda and Smith met in the World Series once, in 1967. The results of that matchup are, perhaps, an appropriate summation of the two players. Cepeda's team won the World Series that year, 4 - 3, but Smith batted .250/.308/.542 with 2 home runs, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored, while Cepeda batted .103/.103/.172 (3-for-29 with 2 doubles) with 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Even tying their performances to team performance, Smith beat Cepeda in the 1967 World Series, as measured by pWins, 0.7 - 0.2.

Best Players in Neither the Hall of Fame nor the Hall of Merit

Finally, what players have the best Player won-lost records but are in neither the Hall of Fame nor the Hall of Merit? The table below shows all players whose career began between 1941 and 1990, who are in neither the Hall of Fame nor the Hall of Merit, and whose career pWOPA, pWORL, eWOPA, and eWORL sum to at least 100.

Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
Tommy John
761
278.2248.023.5
47.4
278.3257.419.143.3
Jim Kaat
974
271.2255.917.4
41.4
275.7274.510.735.8
Luis Tiant
573
225.8195.020.8
40.4
210.9197.511.930.9
Vern Stephens
1,719
246.9207.321.5
39.7
236.2202.818.435.9
Bert Campaneris
2,305
288.1281.215.2
38.0
287.9282.814.237.1
Dwight Gooden
433
184.1156.021.9
37.8
175.5162.114.430.2
Orel Hershiser
516
195.1176.717.7
35.4
193.7175.017.735.3
Toby Harrah
2,145
254.1233.514.6
33.4
257.0228.518.537.3


Additional Writing on the Hall of Fame

I have written several other articles about the Hall of Fame.
Hall-of-Fame Players
My goal is to write an article taking a look at every member of the Hall of Fame through the prism of Player won-lost records. I have been working my way back in time, starting with the most recent inductees.

Articles in my "Hall-of-Famers" series will be linked here as they are written.
Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records
Roberto Alomar
Luis Aparicio
Richie Ashburn
Jeff Bagwell
Ernie Banks
Johnny Bench
Craig Biggio
Bert Blyleven
Wade Boggs
George Brett
Jim Bunning
Rod Carew
Steve Carlton
Gary Carter
Orlando Cepeda
Andre Dawson
Larry Doby
Dennis Eckersley
Rollie Fingers
Carlton Fisk
Nellie Fox
Tom Glavine
Joe Gordon
Goose Gossage
Ken Griffey Jr.
Tony Gwynn
Rickey Henderson
Reggie Jackson
Fergie Jenkins
Randy Johnson
Barry Larkin
Greg Maddux
Pedro Martinez
Bill Mazeroski
Paul Molitor
Joe Morgan
Jack Morris
Eddie Murray
Hal Newhouser
Phil Niekro
Jim Palmer
Tony Perez
Gaylord Perry
Mike Piazza
Kirby Puckett
Tim Raines
Jim Rice
Cal Ripken
Phil Rizzuto
Ivan Rodriguez
Nolan Ryan
Ryne Sandberg
Ron Santo
Mike Schmidt
Red Schoendienst
Tom Seaver
Ozzie Smith
John Smoltz
Bruce Sutter
Don Sutton
Frank Thomas
Alan Trammell
Dave Winfield
Carl Yastrzemski
Robin Yount
Hall-of-Fame Elections
Every year, since 2013, when the Hall-of-Fame ballot is announced, I have written an article about the Hall-of-Fame ballot as well as articles about each of the players on the ballot. The articles on the individual players are linked within the above-referenced articles, as are links to additional Hall-of-Fame analysis which I did following these elections.

2013 Hall-of-Fame Ballot
2014 Hall-of-Fame Ballot
2015 Hall-of-Fame Ballot
2016 Hall-of-Fame Ballot
2017 Hall-of-Fame Ballot
2018 Hall-of-Fame Ballot




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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