Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Lee Smith

Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records: Lee Smith

Lee Smith was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Today's Game Era Committee in 2019.

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

Lee Smith
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1980CHN22
18
0.60.70.462-0.1
0.0
0.80.60.5650.10.2
1981CHN23
40
3.14.20.424-0.5
-0.1
3.63.80.486-0.10.4
1982CHN24
72
6.15.60.5240.4
1.0
6.25.50.5310.51.1
1983CHN25
66
8.75.10.6281.8
2.7
8.15.70.5851.22.1
1984CHN26
69
9.65.50.6392.2
3.1
7.87.30.5170.31.2
1985CHN27
65
10.26.00.6292.1
3.2
8.77.50.5370.61.7
1986CHN28
66
8.76.90.5590.9
1.9
8.37.30.5330.51.5
1987CHN29
62
7.55.70.5680.9
1.7
7.25.90.5490.71.4
1988BOS30
64
7.75.30.5931.2
2.0
7.06.10.5350.51.2
1989BOS31
64
5.13.70.5830.7
1.3
4.84.00.5430.40.9
32
64
8.74.20.6772.3
3.1
7.25.70.5560.71.5
1991SLN33
67
8.55.30.6181.6
2.6
7.46.40.5340.51.4
1992SLN34
70
7.14.70.6041.2
2.0
6.25.60.5230.31.0
35
62
6.04.60.5660.7
1.4
5.35.40.492-0.10.6
1994BAL36
41
4.73.20.5920.7
1.3
4.23.70.5360.30.8
1995CAL37
52
5.53.80.5890.8
1.5
5.14.20.5490.41.1
38
54
2.42.50.493-0.0
0.3
2.52.40.5090.00.4
1997MON39
25
0.81.20.394-0.2
-0.1
0.91.10.464-0.10.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
1,021
111.378.20.58716.9
28.6
101.288.30.5346.818.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
4
0.30.90.262 -0.20.50.80.396 -0.1
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
1,025
111.679.10.587
28.4
101.789.00.534 18.5


Relief pitchers might be the hardest position to evaluate statistically. My Leaders page shows leaders by position using context-neutral eWins. But, of course, one key aspect of elite relief pitchers is that they tend to pitch in high-context situations, which magnifies their value. Exactly how much that value should be "magnified" is very much a debatable position, however.

Even if we want to give full credit for the increased context of relief pitcher performance, however, there are two aspects to the change in context. First, it simply increases the quantity of player decisions, so that, for example, Lee Smith earned 189.5 pDecisions (pWins + pLosses) versus only 138.3 context-neutral Decisions (i.e., his average context in his career was 1.37).

Second, the timing of a player's decisions can also affect the overall quality of the player's performance. Lee Smith not only accumulated more pDecisions than context-neutral decisions; he also had a higher winning percentage within context than without.

Putting this together, the next two tables show the top 10 relief pitchers as measured by career pWOPA and career pWORL, respectively. For the purposes of these tables, I defined a player as a "relief pitcher" if he earned at least 10 (context-neutral) eWins in his career as a relief pitcher and more eWins as a relief pitcher than as a starting pitcher (note: Dennis Eckersley earned more player wins as a starting pitcher than as a relief pitcher).

Top 10 Relief Pitchers, based on pWOPA
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1Mariano Rivera126.660.80.67632.945.6
2Trevor Hoffman100.762.30.61819.530.3
3Lee Smith111.378.20.58716.928.6
4Frankie Rodriguez90.056.90.61316.626.8
5Joe Nathan78.948.30.62015.724.1
6Jonathan Papelbon67.836.80.64815.522.8
7Rich Gossage131.2101.80.56315.229.1
8Billy Wagner80.050.40.61414.923.8
9John Franco103.774.30.58314.926.2
10Craig Kimbrel54.925.90.68014.520.3


Top 10 Relief Pitchers, based on pWORL
Player pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL
1Mariano Rivera126.660.80.67632.945.6
2Trevor Hoffman100.762.30.61819.530.3
3Rich Gossage131.2101.80.56315.229.1
4Hoyt Wilhelm138.6116.00.54413.528.9
5Lee Smith111.378.20.58716.928.6
6Frankie Rodriguez90.056.90.61316.626.8
7John Franco103.774.30.58314.926.2
8Rollie Fingers121.097.20.55513.126.2
9Joe Nathan78.948.30.62015.724.1
10Billy Wagner80.050.40.61414.923.8

Players in Italics have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Two things jump out at me here, particularly with respect to the second table. First, if you accept the number of relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame, the voters have generally chosen the right ones. The top five eligible players will be Hall-of-Famers as of summer 2019, while four of the bottom five are not (although two are not eligible yet and a third is still on the BBWAA ballot). And second, Lee Smith fits comfortably with the Hall-of-Famers.



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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