Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Jesse Barfield

Jesse Barfield as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records



Controlling for context, the best non-pitcher in major-league baseball in 1986, as measured by eWins over either positional average or replacement level, was Jesse Barfield. I thought that Jesse Barfield had an interesting enough career that he warranted his own article.

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

Jesse Barfield
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1981TOR21
25
2.63.40.431-0.5
-0.2
3.32.70.5490.20.5
1982TOR22
139
15.014.30.5120.2
1.3
14.113.90.503-0.11.0
1983TOR23
128
14.113.20.5160.4
1.4
14.012.60.5250.61.6
1984TOR24
108
10.98.60.5590.9
1.7
11.69.40.5500.81.6
1985TOR25
155
23.616.00.5963.5
4.9
21.517.00.5571.93.3
1986TOR26
158
24.718.90.5662.5
4.1
24.718.90.5662.54.1
1987TOR27
159
19.917.90.5270.7
2.2
21.718.80.5361.12.7
1988TOR28
137
16.614.60.5320.6
1.8
16.214.70.5250.41.6
29
150
18.117.60.5060.0
1.3
19.816.60.5441.42.7
1990NYA30
153
20.416.20.5571.9
3.2
20.116.50.5491.62.9
1991NYA31
84
9.48.40.5290.3
1.0
8.97.90.5310.41.0
1992NYA32
30
2.13.30.392-0.6
-0.4
1.93.10.384-0.6-0.4
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,426
177.4152.50.5389.8
22.3
177.8152.30.53910.122.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
7
0.80.90.446 -0.00.90.90.516 0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,433
178.2153.40.538
22.2
178.8153.20.539 22.7


Jesse Barfield's Fielding
Jesse Barfield had the best outfield arm I have ever seen. Barfield led all American League outfielders in assists five times and was second twice in nine full major-league seasons. Amazingly to me, Barfield only won two Gold Gloves in his career - in 1986 and 1987 - although this was due, in large part, because outfield Gold Gloves were not position-specific during Barfield's career, so they tended to award Gold Gloves to three center fielders most seasons.

Player won-lost records are calculated in nine components. Component 8 is baserunner outs. Jesse Barfield has the most career net Component 8 fielding wins of any player for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records. The top 10 fielders - across all positions - in net Component 8 fielding wins are shown in the next table.

Top 10 Net Component 8 Fielding Wins
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Jesse Barfield10.35.8
4.4
Indian Bob Johnson12.69.0
3.6
Dom DiMaggio10.36.9
3.5
Jeff Francoeur8.75.4
3.3
Carl Yastrzemski13.410.5
2.9
Roberto Clemente15.612.7
2.9
Kirby Puckett8.45.7
2.7
Jim Edmonds8.45.8
2.6
Roy Cullenbine7.45.0
2.4
Bobby Higginson7.95.5
2.4


Component 9 measures baserunner advancement and is closely related to Component 8. Great throwing arms have two effects: the ability to throw out baserunners (Component 8) and the ability to discourage baserunners from trying to advance (Component 9). Jesse Barfield is in the top 10 for career net Component 9 fielding wins as well - again, across all positions.

Top 10 Net Component 9 Fielding Wins
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Willie Mays34.429.2
5.2
Al Kaline24.319.6
4.7
Jim Piersall17.313.2
4.2
Jose 'Joey Bats' Bautista13.69.7
3.9
Carl Yastrzemski24.821.3
3.6
Joe Rudi12.48.9
3.5
Dwight Evans21.518.4
3.1
Roberto Clemente25.522.5
3.0
Ellis Valentine10.27.3
3.0
Vada Pinson26.123.2
2.9


Note that fielding is measured against average at the same position. Since right fielders, on average, have stronger arms than leftfielders or centerfielders, Barfield is being compared against a stronger-armed average than, say, Carl Yastrzemski, who played mostly left field, or Andy Van Slyke, who was a centerfielder throughout his career.

Barfield's arm was his best defensive weapon, but he was above average at all four fielding components in right field.

Jesse Barfield's Career Fielding Record
eWins eLosses Win Pct.
Component 529.626.40.529
Component 67.16.70.511
Component 89.65.50.634
Component 912.310.20.548


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

Top 10 Right Fielders, Net Fielding Wins
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Mel Ott85.475.4
10.0
Ichiro Suzuki78.868.9
9.8
Jesse Barfield58.548.8
9.7
Carl Furillo60.150.4
9.7
Al Kaline77.668.2
9.5
Roberto Clemente103.795.0
8.8
Tony Oliva47.240.1
7.1
Ellis Valentine35.429.1
6.3
Roger Maris41.935.9
6.0
Brian Jordan37.331.4
5.8


Note, in particular, how many fewer fielding decisions Barfield accumulated than the players around him on that list, because of how short Barfield's career was.

Jesse Barfield's Hitting
Barfield was best known, I think, for his fielding. But, at his peak, he was also an excellent hitter. In 1986, he led the American League with 40 home runs. Measured by net batting wins over non-pitcher average, Barfield was the second-best batter in the American League in 1986. He was also among the top 10 AL hitters in 1985. The top 10 American League hitters in both of those two seasons are shown in the next two tables.

Top 10 Net Batting Wins, 1985 AL
eWins eLosses eWOPA
George Brett15.810.3
2.7
Don Mattingly16.912.3
2.3
Rickey Henderson14.510.1
2.2
Wade Boggs16.512.3
2.1
Eddie Murray14.810.7
2.0
Dwight Evans15.211.9
1.6
Jesse Barfield13.19.9
1.6
Darrell Evans13.210.1
1.5
Kirk Gibson14.010.9
1.5
Phil Bradley14.912.1
1.4


Top 10 Net Batting Wins, 1986 AL
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jesse Barfield15.211.0
2.1
Don Mattingly16.612.4
2.1
Wade Boggs14.811.1
1.9
Ken Phelps9.76.6
1.5
Kirk Gibson11.08.0
1.5
Kirby Puckett15.312.4
1.5
Brian Downing13.210.5
1.4
George Bell14.912.3
1.3
Dwight Evans12.910.4
1.3
Gary Gaetti13.811.3
1.3


Barfield was something of a hacker, striking out more than 100 times all 8 seasons in which he had more than 360 plate appearances including five seasons with 140 or more strikeouts. His walk totals weren't terrible, but were generally nothing special, peaking at 87. Strikeouts and walks are measured within Player won-lost records as Component 3. Barfield was not particularly good at Component 3. Component 4, on the other hand, measures what happens on contact - including home runs, in terms of the types of balls hit (e.g., line drives vs. ground balls, balls hit to the outfield vs. the infield). When he made contact, Jesse Barfield was one of the best hitters of his generation. The next table shows the top 10 batters in net Component 4 batting wins for the seasons for which Barfield played at least 100 games: 1982 - 1990.

Top 10 Net Component 4 Batting Wins, 1982 - 1990
eWins eLosses Net Wins
Dale Murphy63.532.6
30.9
Darryl Strawberry54.023.3
30.8
Mike Schmidt51.223.7
27.6
Pedro Guerrero51.826.5
25.3
Jack Clark45.022.6
22.3
Andre Dawson55.735.1
20.6
Eddie Murray58.437.9
20.4
Jose Canseco35.415.8
19.6
Eric Davis34.015.2
18.8
Lance Parrish47.528.8
18.7


The final table of this section presents the top 25 players in batting wins over non-pitcher average from 1982 through 1990. Even with his relatively poor plate discipline, Jesse Barfield was still one of the best hitters of his generation.

Top 25 Batters, 1982 - 1990
eWins eLosses eWOPA
Jack Clark100.569.4
14.2
Mike Schmidt103.572.2
14.0
Eddie Murray126.598.2
13.7
Darryl Strawberry103.673.2
13.5
Rickey Henderson114.887.9
13.5
Wade Boggs125.199.2
13.0
Dale Murphy131.1100.8
13.0
Pedro Guerrero109.580.2
12.9
Dwight Evans121.395.9
12.7
George Brett109.886.0
11.9
Kent Hrbek108.986.6
11.2
Robin Yount122.4101.8
10.3
Brian Downing110.490.5
10.0
Dave Winfield106.988.0
9.4
Alvin Davis89.371.4
8.9
Kirk Gibson89.170.9
8.7
Eric Davis66.947.8
8.5
Don Mattingly103.787.1
8.3
Cal Ripken126.9110.6
8.1
Andre Dawson116.295.9
8.1
Will Clark68.149.8
8.0
Tim Raines Sr.114.494.5
8.0
Jesse Barfield97.982.2
7.8
Fred McGriff51.336.6
7.4
Darrell Evans85.870.1
7.3


Most Similar Players to Jesse Barfield
The next table shows the top 10 players most similar to Jesse Barfield in career Player won-lost records.

Most Similar Players to Jesse Barfield in Value
Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Fielding
Jesse Barfield
1426
177.4152.59.8
22.3
7.5-0.88.6
Troy Tulowitzki
1286
170.9153.110.8
22.8
5.9-0.86.2
Dustin Pedroia
1502
192.6172.811.7
25.1
4.5-0.17.1
Matt D. Williams
1864
235.5208.011.3
28.8
6.8-0.46.4
Eddie Joost
1574
204.2185.911.3
27.0
3.3-0.56.3
Carl Furillo
1803
225.9187.913.7
30.4
5.3-0.310.2
Rico Petrocelli
1553
180.4168.18.3
22.5
4.7-0.75.1
Robin Ventura
2072
237.8203.117.0
34.6
7.3-0.47.6
Ken Keltner
1506
183.3165.57.0
21.2
1.40.16.7
Tony Cuccinello
1552
192.6185.54.8
20.6
0.8-0.15.9
Dwayne Murphy
1355
157.7144.05.5
17.0
5.8-0.55.0


This list is mostly very good players, some of whom had periods where they rose from very good to great.

One interesting feature of this list is that Barfield played fewer games than all but one of his most-similar players (Myer and Lazzeri both played over 1,700 games in their careers; the numbers shown above are the total number of their games for which I have play-by-play data and have calculated Player won-lost records).

Jesse Barfield's last season in which he played in more than 84 games was his age-30 season. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what happened to Jesse Barfield, but I assume it was injuries of some sort (Wikipedia cites "[i]njuries and general ineffectiveness" with no source). It's not that unusual for players to see a sudden decline in their playing time and/or effectiveness in their early 30's; it is somewhat unusual for it to happen to a player so quickly at exactly age 30 and it is actually fairly rare for a player as good as Jesse Barfield was in his prime to be entirely out of baseball by the age of 32.

The next table shows the 10 players most similar to Jesse Barfield in Player won-lost records from age 22 through age 30.

Most Similar Players to Jesse Barfield in Value,
Ages 22 - 30
(missing player games extrapolated)
Wins over Baseline
Player Games pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL Batting Baserunning Fielding
Jesse Barfield
1287
163.3137.410.6
21.9
7.8-0.97.9
Joe Cronin
809
119.2104.89.0
18.6
4.4-0.54.8
Troy Tulowitzki
1064
146.1127.311.0
21.1
6.6-0.75.4
Andruw Jones
1418
204.2168.115.3
29.7
8.00.06.5
Travis Jackson
904
131.2110.712.6
22.8
2.60.06.1
Tony Cuccinello
1106
145.4136.65.8
17.8
1.9-0.35.1
Rico Petrocelli
1223
147.2134.08.8
20.3
5.0-0.35.0
Dwight Evans
1193
152.1127.39.4
20.2
8.90.25.2
Tony Lazzeri
1064
147.0121.213.8
25.1
5.7-0.34.2
Sammy Sosa
1195
164.5146.03.5
15.8
7.6-0.54.7
Dustin Pedroia
1151
147.1132.09.3
19.5
3.70.15.7


Since I'm not sure exactly what happened to Barfield, I'm not sure how reasonable it is to look at these players as likely "what-ifs" for Barfield. Of course, the very nature of "what-ifs" are that they're purely hypothetical.

Setting aside Hall-of-Fame shortstop Joe Cronin, for whom I am missing data for much of his career, the most similar player to Jesse Barfield, from age 22 through age 30, is a very good match for Barfield (Barfield is also Jones's most-similar player for the same age range): brilliant defensive outfielder with pretty good home run power. Unfortunately, Andruw Jones fell off the same cliff as Barfield at the same time. Jones's last good season in center field was at age 29. He managed to reinvent himself somewhat, as an averageish corner OF/DH for a few years with the Rangers, White Sox, and Yankees, which helped boost his career value a bit vis-a-vis Barfield (Jones was also quite a bit more valuable than Barfield before age 30, including playing over 300 major-league games before age 22). But three more years as a league-average DH probably wouldn't have moved the dial much in terms of how Jesse Barfield's career would be remembered and evaluated today.

So, that was Jesse Barfield's career: one of the best outfield arms in major-league history; brilliant defense; very good hitter, albeit strikeout-prone; very short career for a player of his quality.



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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