Ichiro vs. Olerud
Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Ichiro Suzuki vs. John Olerud: True Measure of Clutch

Even within a single team, significant differences exist between Player Wins and Win Shares for individual players. For example, for the 2001 Seattle Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki earned 36 Win Shares but only 25 pWins, while John Olerudís Win Shares (21) and pWins (19) were much closer. So, Bill James says that Ichiro was worth 15 more Win Shares than Olerud, while I measure the difference between these two as less than half that. The difference here is due to a difference between the expected production and actual production of these two players. Let me try to explain.

Offensive Win Shares are based on Bill Jamesís Runs Created formula. One aspect of the latest incarnation of Jamesís Runs Created formula is that he attempts to give credit for clutch performance. One way in which this is done is by adding additional runs created to players who hit better with runners in scoring position than they do overall.
In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki batted 0.350, which led the American League. With runners in scoring position, he was even better, batting 0.445 in 137 at bats.
By my calculation, Bill James would credit Ichiro with 13 additional runs created because of this.
In 2001, John Olerud batted 0.302. With runners in scoring position, this dropped to 0.262 in 183 at bats.
By my calculation, Bill James would deduct 7 runs created from Olerudís total for this.
Why are hits with runners in scoring position worth more runs created than regular hits? Well, because hits with runners in scoring position drive in runs. So, how many runs did Ichiro Suzuki drive in as a result of his 0.445 batting average in 137 at-bats with runners in scoring position?
The answer turns out to be 55 RBI or 0.401 RBI per at-bat.
And what did John Olerudís 0.262 batting average with runners in scoring position produce?
A total of 73 RBI or 0.399 RBI per at-bat.
So, the actual production of Ichiro Suzuki and John Olerud with runners in scoring position turned to be just about the same.

How can this be?
Well, Olerudís 48 hits included 12 doubles and 6 home runs, plus he managed another 7 sacrifice flies.

In contrast, 52 of Ichiroís 61 hits with runners in scoring position were singles with only 6 doubles, 2 triples, and one home run. He also only hit 4 sacrifice flies.

Finally, about one-third of Ichiroís singles with runners in scoring position were infield singles, making it that much more difficult to drive in runners from second base.

Overall, 21 of 39 runners on second base scored on a single by Ichiro (53.8%), while 17 of 24 runners on second base scored on a single by Olerud (70.8%).
So, while adjusting runs created based on batting average with runners in scoring position probably improves runs created estimates in most cases, in these two cases, it appears that this difference of 20 runs created (+13 for Ichiro vs. -7 for Olerud) may not have been appropriate. In his Win Shares book, Bill James indicates that 1 Win Share for the 2001 Seattle Mariners had a cost of 3.03 runs, so 20 runs created would translate into nearly 7 Win Shares, which would push the 15 Win Share difference between Ichiro and Olerud down to only 8 Win Shares, which is much closer to the difference I find between these two players of 6 pWins.

In constructing Win Shares, Bill James attempts to apportion credit to players for individual wins. But his method of doing so is to merely estimate which players are really the most responsible.

Player Wins and Losses, on the other hand, look play by play to determine which players really are responsible for their teams' wins.

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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