Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
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Ron Santo

Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records: Ron Santo

Ron Santo was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee in 2012.

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

Ron Santo
Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWin Pct. pWOPA pWORL eWins eLosses eWin Pct. eWOPA eWORL
1960CHN20
95
10.410.30.501-0.2
0.6
10.110.60.487-0.50.3
1961CHN21
154
17.318.70.481-0.9
0.7
18.817.60.5170.42.0
1962CHN22
162
17.021.50.441-2.4
-0.9
18.420.20.476-1.00.5
1963CHN23
162
22.820.50.5271.0
2.6
23.619.60.5461.83.4
1964CHN24
161
22.818.60.5511.7
3.4
22.916.70.5792.84.3
1965CHN25
164
23.618.90.5561.9
3.5
23.317.50.5712.44.0
1966CHN26
155
21.618.70.5371.0
2.6
24.018.00.5722.54.1
1967CHN27
161
23.417.10.5772.7
4.4
23.616.80.5853.04.7
1968CHN28
162
24.018.20.5692.7
4.4
20.916.80.5541.93.4
1969CHN29
160
23.318.20.5612.3
4.1
21.617.90.5461.63.3
1970CHN30
154
20.717.00.5491.3
2.9
18.015.90.5300.51.9
1971CHN31
154
19.817.40.5330.7
2.2
18.516.80.5240.41.8
1972CHN32
133
17.014.40.5421.1
2.4
17.213.90.5531.52.8
1973CHN33
149
19.618.30.5170.1
1.6
17.316.50.512-0.11.3
1974CHA34
117
10.210.90.483-0.3
0.7
8.810.30.461-0.70.2
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
2,243
293.6258.80.53212.7
35.2
287.0245.10.53916.438.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
0
0.00.0 0.00.00.0 0.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
2,243
293.6258.80.532
35.2
287.0245.10.539 38.0


Ron Santo was widely regarded in sabermetric circles as the best player not in the Hall of Fame for probably at least 20 years before he was finally elected, maybe longer. This is, of course, no longer true, since Ron Santo was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2012, although, personally, I think it was somewhat disgraceful that he wasn't elected until after his death.
Ron Santo vs. Other Third Basemen
The next table shows the top 10 players in career (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over positional average earned at third base, among players for whom I have calculated Player won-lost records. (That includes full data going back to 1939 and at least partial data for every season since 1921.)

Top Career Third Basemen
eWins eLosses eWinPct eWOPA
1Mike Schmidt307.1234.20.56731.0
2Eddie Mathews294.4229.40.56227.6
3Chipper Jones259.6209.30.55421.3
4Wade Boggs276.6244.20.53116.2
5George Brett223.4189.50.54116.1
6Ron Santo277.7236.40.54016.1
7Scott Rolen248.9213.60.53814.6
8Adrian Beltre319.0287.30.52614.0
9Alex Rodriguez153.0125.70.54913.2
10Evan Longoria166.2141.60.54012.1


As measured by Player won-lost records, Ron Santo rates as the third-best third baseman of the past 70-80 years. Perhaps even more impressive, at the time of his retirement (after the 1974 season), Ron Santo might well have been the second best third baseman in major-league history, behind only Eddie Mathews.

How does the second-base third baseman in major-league history fail to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for over thirty years?

Ron Santo vs. Other Players of the 1960's
Basically, all of Ron Santo's prime fell within the decade of the 1960's. The next table presents the top 25 players of the 1960's as measured by (context-neutral, teammate-adjusted) eWins over both positional average and replacement level.

eWins over Positional Average
Top 25 Players
          eWins over Replacement Level
Top 25 Players
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL           Player eWins eLosses eWOPA eWORL
1Hank Aaron243.4180.722.0
39.1
1Hank Aaron243.4180.722.0
39.1
2Willie Mays221.5165.721.9
37.6
2Willie Mays221.5165.721.9
37.6
3Juan Marichal163.8136.620.9
34.0
3Frank Robinson218.6160.719.7
35.0
4Bob Gibson162.1136.519.8
33.0
4Juan Marichal163.8136.620.9
34.0
5Frank Robinson218.6160.719.7
35.0
5Bob Gibson162.1136.519.8
33.0
6Mickey Mantle151.5106.217.6
28.1
6Harmon Killebrew187.1137.517.3
30.5
7Harmon Killebrew187.1137.517.3
30.5
7Ron Santo207.2171.714.8
30.1
8Ron Santo207.2171.714.8
30.1
8Mickey Mantle151.5106.217.6
28.1
9Willie McCovey151.6109.114.1
24.7
9Don Drysdale171.5161.413.0
27.5
10Larry Jackson148.2134.513.4
25.7
10Roberto Clemente219.0179.810.6
26.7
11Al Kaline183.2141.513.3
26.5
11Jim Bunning164.6153.112.6
26.7
12Eddie Mathews149.6117.913.1
23.9
12Al Kaline183.2141.513.3
26.5
13Don Drysdale171.5161.413.0
27.5
13Carl Yastrzemski204.2167.411.2
26.2
14Jim Bunning164.6153.112.6
26.7
14Larry Jackson148.2134.513.4
25.7
15Sandy Koufax116.2100.412.5
22.3
15Willie McCovey151.6109.114.1
24.7
16Norm Cash159.4120.611.7
23.1
16Brooks Robinson196.2171.89.2
24.0
17Carl Yastrzemski204.2167.411.2
26.2
17Eddie Mathews149.6117.913.1
23.9
18Dick Allen125.796.411.0
20.0
18Norm Cash159.4120.611.7
23.1
19Jim Fregosi154.8141.610.7
22.6
19Jim Fregosi154.8141.610.7
22.6
20Roberto Clemente219.0179.810.6
26.7
20Billy Williams206.3175.07.2
22.6
21Dick McAuliffe145.3129.510.4
21.5
21Sandy Koufax116.2100.412.5
22.3
22Roger Maris140.4109.69.9
20.1
22Dick McAuliffe145.3129.510.4
21.5
23Gary Peters104.494.19.8
18.8
23Bob Allison167.7136.48.9
21.3
24Camilo Pascual122.6114.39.7
20.1
24Maury Wills201.0197.14.7
20.8
25Jimmy Wynn129.8103.29.6
19.0
25Frank Howard175.8146.87.3
20.4


By both of the measures shown above, Ron Santo was one of the 10 best baseball players of the 1960's. Yes, to some extent, this is to the advantage of Ron Santo, as the best years of his career lined up perfectly with the decade of the 1960's. But being one of the 10 best baseball players over any 10-year period is a damn impressive feat.

How does one of the top 7 or 8 baseball players of the 1960's fail to get elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for over thirty years?

Putting Ron Santo in Context
The argument most commonly made as to why Ron Santo was ignored for so long by Hall-of-Fame voters was that Ron Santo's statistical record had to be put into its proper context. Santo's prime years - the late 1960's - were the lowest-scoring period of baseball history since the Deadball Era.

In 1967, Ron Santo finished third in the National League in home runs with 31. In 2001, Luis Gonzalez finished third in the National League in home runs with 57.

In 1968, Ron Santo finished second in the National League with 98 RBI. In 2001, Todd Helton finished second in the National League in RBI with 146.
There is certainly a great deal of truth to this. Ron Santo's raw statistics are lower because of when he played. He also excelled in certain statistics that were, perhaps, less well-regarded in traditional circles (Santo led his league in on-base percentage twice and in walks four times).

But looking at Player won-lost records, something almost the reverse of this argument also appears.

I calculate Player won-lost records two ways: pWins, which tie to team wins and eWins, which control for context and the ability of one's teammates. For players with more pWins than eWins, their Player wins contributed to more team wins than one might expect; for players with more eWins than pWins, just the opposite is true: their Player wins translated into fewer team wins than expected. Or more briefly: a player with more pWins than eWins was better in context, a player with more eWins than pWins was worse in context.

As shown above, Ron Santo is an extremely strong Hall-of-Fame candidate when evaluated using eWins.

The next table looks at the top 25 players of the 1960's as measured in context, i.e., as measured by pWins over either positional average or replacement level.

pWins over Positional Average
Top 25 Players
          pWins over Replacement Level
Top 25 Players
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL           Player pWins pLosses pWOPA pWORL
1Juan Marichal175.8131.629.5
42.9
1Willie Mays239.0171.227.6
44.1
2Willie Mays239.0171.227.6
44.1
2Juan Marichal175.8131.629.5
42.9
3Bob Gibson169.8136.224.0
37.5
3Hank Aaron248.4185.721.8
39.3
4Hank Aaron248.4185.721.8
39.3
4Bob Gibson169.8136.224.0
37.5
5Sandy Koufax126.592.421.7
31.5
5Frank Robinson226.2164.221.4
37.2
6Frank Robinson226.2164.221.4
37.2
6Sandy Koufax126.592.421.7
31.5
7Mickey Mantle155.0105.719.6
30.2
7Jim Bunning164.7142.317.8
31.4
8Willie McCovey166.7113.618.8
30.3
8Harmon Killebrew192.4142.517.3
30.8
9Jim Bunning164.7142.317.8
31.4
9Willie McCovey166.7113.618.8
30.3
10Harmon Killebrew192.4142.517.3
30.8
10Mickey Mantle155.0105.719.6
30.2
11Whitey Ford104.682.415.4
23.8
11Brooks Robinson210.4174.814.6
30.2
12Brooks Robinson210.4174.814.6
30.2
12Roberto Clemente221.7180.911.3
27.5
13Jim Maloney125.3107.514.2
24.5
13Don Drysdale165.7153.913.5
27.4
14Roger Maris145.1106.113.9
24.2
14Maury Wills204.5188.210.9
26.7
15Eddie Mathews152.3118.913.9
24.8
15Al Kaline186.7144.913.2
26.6
16Don Drysdale165.7153.913.5
27.4
16Ron Santo206.3180.89.8
25.4
17Al Kaline186.7144.913.2
26.6
17Larry Jackson149.2136.912.7
25.3
18Denny McLain101.884.312.7
20.9
18Eddie Mathews152.3118.913.9
24.8
19Larry Jackson149.2136.912.7
25.3
19Jim Maloney125.3107.514.2
24.5
20Dick Allen129.297.012.4
21.6
20Roger Maris145.1106.113.9
24.2
21Dick McAuliffe147.2128.311.9
23.0
21Jim Fregosi157.7142.411.8
23.9
22Jim Fregosi157.7142.411.8
23.9
22Whitey Ford104.682.415.4
23.8
23Roberto Clemente221.7180.911.3
27.5
23Jim Kaat143.2134.111.0
23.2
24Jim Kaat143.2134.111.0
23.2
24Dick McAuliffe147.2128.311.9
23.0
25Camilo Pascual124.9114.310.9
21.4
25Carl Yastrzemski199.0168.58.1
22.9


Ron Santo still shows up in the above table, but only once, and even in pWORL, he's no longer a top-10 player; now, he's a top-25 player. To be clear, being one of the top 25 players in major-league baseball over a 10-year period is generally still good enough to get you into the Hall of Fame - the top 13 players in pWORL for the 1960's are all in the Hall of Fame, and 16 of the top 20. But Santo does look somewhat less impressive.

This is similar to an anti-Santo argument that I heard on occasion. The Chicago Cubs of the 1960's had four Hall-of-Famers, including Santo, and never won anything. Put that way, this argument falls apart at both ends. Ernie Banks's Hall-of-Fame peak was ending in 1960 and 1961, just about the time that Ron Santo's Hall-of-Fame prime was beginning, and Fergie Jenkins didn't join the Cubs until the middle of the 1966 season. And once Jenkins joined Banks (who was 36 years old by then), Santo, and Billy Williams, the Cubs had winning records every season that all four of them were in Chicago, from 1967 through 1971. They just could never quite win it all.

But the fact remains that Ron Santo spent a few years of his prime as the best player on 90- and 100-loss teams. It was certainly not Ron Santo's fault that the 1966 Cubs went 59-103, but, one could argue, how valuable can any player be if he's playing for a 59-103 team?



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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