Monday, July 7, 2008

The most indispensable seasons

I saw someone mention this idea once, but I can't remember where or what came of it. The question is which player seasons were the most indispensable, that is were most vital or necessary to their team making the post season or coming in first place?

I calculated this by subtracting from their Total Player Rating the number of games his team finished ahead of the team behind them. If a guy had a TPR of 7 and his team came if first by 1 game, he gets a 6. TPR tells us how many more games a team would win if an average player at a given position is replaced by the player in question. An average player has a zero TPR. It takes fielding, hitting and base stealing into account. The numbers in parantheses are their actual TPR and how many games ahead of the next team they were)

Bonds-2002-8.2 (11.7-3.5)
Yount-1982-6.3 (7.3-1)
Yastrzemski-1967-5.9 (6.9-1)
Schmidt-1980-5.9 (6.9-1)
AROD-2000-5.8 (6.8-1)
Brett-1985-5.7 (6.7-1)
Ruth-1926-5.5 (8.5-3)
Boggs-1988-5.4 (6.4-1)
Mays-1962-5.2 (6.2-1)

So Bonds is at the top again. The Giants finished 3.5 games ahead of the Dodgers for the wild card. Bonds had a TPR of 11.7. I have not looked at pitchers very carefully. But Ron Guidry had 6.4 pitching wins in 1978 and the Yankees beat the Red Sox by just one game. So he would get a 5.4. Also, as I scanned the seasons from 1900-1919, there did not seem to be many close races. A player could have a great year, but if his team easily came in first, he would not rank very high here. I did not look at pre-1900. I used the latest Baseball Encyclopedia by Pete Palmer and Gary Gillette.

Here are the Sept/Oct regular season numbers for the guys that Retrosheet has the numbers for

Bonds .362-.614-.681 (MVP)
Yount .341-.404-.563 (MVP)
Boudreau (MVP)
Yaz .417-.504-.761 (MVP)
Schmidt .294-.366-.677 (MVP)
AROD .241-.363-.565 (3rd in MVP)
Brett .261-.358-.512 (2nd in MVP)
Ruth (was not eligible for MVP)
Boggs .423-.551-.536 (6th in MVP)
Mays .337-.437-.673 (2nd in MVP)

Yaz was simply sensational in 1967. Maury Wills won the NL MVP in 1962, edging Mays 209-202. But Mays beat him in TPR 6.1 to 2.7. The leagues gave out the awards in the 1920s and the rules said you could only win once. Ruth won in 1923, so he was not eligible in 1926.

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