Not my fault: players who performed well when their team lost

Here are the 2011 leaders for most games with at least 0.10 WPA in team losses:

Rk Player Year #Matching
1 Carlos Lee 2011 21 Ind. Games
2 Matt Kemp 2011 18 Ind. Games
3 Joey Votto 2011 17 Ind. Games
4 Alex Gordon 2011 15 Ind. Games
5 Aramis Ramirez 2011 14 Ind. Games
6 Adam Jones 2011 14 Ind. Games
7 Matt Holliday 2011 14 Ind. Games
8 Miguel Cabrera 2011 14 Ind. Games
9 Jose Bautista 2011 14 Ind. Games
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/8/2012.

It’s not a surprise to see Carlos Lee up there. He had a nice season for a lousy team, meaning plenty of losses in which to accumulate those 21 games, plus not a lot of other great hitters on the team, meaning more chances to pick up RBI.

Similarly Adam Jones, Alex Gordon, and Aramis Ramirez had good seasons for bad teams.

While we’re at it, let’s look at the flip side. Here are the players in 2011 with the most games at or below -0.10 WPA in team wins:

Rk Player Year #Matching
1 Dan Uggla 2011 12 Ind. Games
2 Drew Stubbs 2011 12 Ind. Games
3 Adam Jones 2011 12 Ind. Games
4 Raul Ibanez 2011 12 Ind. Games
5 Starlin Castro 2011 12 Ind. Games
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/8/2012.

Whoa…Adam Jones is on there too. Weird. Checking his average leverage index, he was at 1.04 in 2011, meaning that it was a bit easier for him to amass either a bunch of positive or negative WPA.

Uggla, Stubbs, and Ibanez all had pretty bad years for good teams.

If you’re curious, here are the single-season leaders for the 6-year period 2006-2011:

For 0.10 WPA in team losses:

Rk Player Year #Matching
1 Carlos Lee 2011 21 Ind. Games
2 Adrian Gonzalez 2008 20 Ind. Games
3 Miguel Cabrera 2010 19 Ind. Games
4 Carlos Pena 2007 18 Ind. Games
5 Matt Kemp 2011 18 Ind. Games
6 Jacque Jones 2006 18 Ind. Games
7 Garrett Atkins 2006 18 Ind. Games
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/8/2012.

So Carlos Lee from last year has the most such games in a while.

And the -0.10 WPA in team wins:

Rk Player Year #Matching
1 Evan Longoria 2008 19 Ind. Games
2 Clint Barmes 2009 16 Ind. Games
3 Robinson Cano 2009 15 Ind. Games
4 Corey Hart 2008 14 Ind. Games
5 Yunel Escobar 2010 13 Ind. Games
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/8/2012.

19 thoughts on “Not my fault: players who performed well when their team lost

  1. 1
    Ed says:

    Longoria finished 11th in the MVP balloting in 2008; Cano was 17th in 2009. Not saying they didn’t deserve it, just interesting that they had so many -.10 WPA in team wins during otherwise quality seasons.

    • 4
      Tmckelv says:

      I think most players are going to have a certain amount of “clunker” games, but players on teams with a lot of wins end up on that list. Not to mention the fact that WPA in individual games is not on most voters’ minds duirng MVP voting.

      • 8
        bstar says:

        I’m not all that convinced that WPA stats should be in voters’ minds, unless it’s in really obvious cases, like Chipper Jones winning three straight games in the 1999 pennant race to oust the Mets and steal the MVP. The “game-winning RBI” stat has certainly gone the way of the dodo.

        • 9
          bstar says:

          FWIW, Chipper’s 3-game WPA total for Sep. 21-23, 1999, was 0.717.

        • 10
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          While not quite the same as WPA or GWRBI, Miguel Tejada had some big hits during the A’s 20-game winning streak in 2002. I remember this was often cited when writers made their case for him as MVP.

          I wouldn’t say that Chipper Jones “stole” the MVP from anyone else in 1999, he seemed to have as good a case as anyone.

          • 12
            bstar says:

            Well, OK, it went from a close race between he, Bagwell, and Matt Williams to a runaway slam dunk for Chipper Jones after that great weekend in 1999(29 of 32 first-place votes).

        • 13
          Andy says:

          WPA and GWRBI are not a good comparison. WPA is a very useful fact-based star that can tell us a lot with proper contextualization. GWRBI is a fundamentally flawed stat that occasionally tells us something useful, usually tells us something barely meaningful, and cannot be discerned without accompanying research.

          • 14
            bstar says:

            Agreed. That’s why it hasn’t stood the test of time. I think of it as a bit of a “precursor” to WPA, though.

  2. 2
    Dr. Doom says:

    Great post, Andy. While it doesn’t surprise me to see Carlos Lee near the top, I’m a little surprised to see him at #1. I know that a lot of his positive WAR was bolstered by his glove work, which was apparently pretty great, and wouldn’t apply toward WPA. So I’m a little surprised to see him above Kemp. Still, a very, very interesting list.

    • 6
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      I never thought I would see the words “Carlos Lee”, “glove work”, and “apparently great” in the same paragraph. To put it mildly, he does not have a good defensively reputation, particularly over the 2nd half of his career. “Usually adequate” might be the phrase most often used to describe his defense in left field.

      But there it is, a +21 Rfield for 2011, the best defensive WAR in the NL. Does anyone here really believe that?

      • 7
        Tmckelv says:

        I was taken aback by that also.

      • 11
        bstar says:

        He played half his games at 1B last year(79 starts there). That still doesn’t explain how he won the dWAR title. He coudln’t have been that spectacular at 1B; his UZR numbers were +2.9 in 79 games at first, and +8.3 in 80 games at left field. This after posting high negative numbers in UZR in left field in ’09 and ’10(-9.7, -17.4).

    • 15
      Doug says:

      The only players to match or better Carlos Lee 0.10 WPA games in team losses are these guys:
      – 23: Tommy Harper 1970
      – 22: Ken Singleton 1973
      – 21: Ron Santo 1964, Mark McGwire 1999, Barry Bonds 2004, Tony Bernazard 1985

  3. 3
    Hartvig says:

    I actually thought that Uggla would have been a good candidate to make both lists: he had 2 really good months, one mediocre and 3 REALLY bad months.

    I think it’s pretty impressive that Miguel Cabrera made the list even though Detroit only lost 67 games.

  4. 5
    Tmckelv says:

    RE: Cabrerra:

    These lists probably need to be generated on a “percentage of team wins” or “percentage of team losses” basis to show the leaders in these categories.

    • 16
      Doug says:

      Don’t know if this is another take on MVP, but here’s Andy’s first list sorted by the difference in team performance when a player has a 0.10 WPA and other games.

      Player, Team Record when WPA >= 0.10, Record in Other Games, Difference
      – Jose Bautista, 31-14, 0.689, 50-67, 0.427, +0.262
      – Matt Kemp, 30-18, 0.625, 52-61, 0.423, +0.202
      – Alex Gordon, 20-15, 0.571, 51-76, 0.402, +0.169
      – Aramis Ramirez, 18-14, 0.563, 53-77, 0.408, +0.155
      – Joey Votto, 24-17, 0.585, 55-66, 0.455, +0.130
      – Miguel Cabrera, 29-14, 0.674, 66-53, 0.555, +0.119
      – Carlos Lee, 14-21, 0.400, 42-85, 0.331, +0.069
      – Adam Jones, 13-14, 0.481, 56-79,0.415, +0.066
      – Matt Holliday, 16-14, 0.533, 74-58, 0.561, -0.028

  5. 18
    Jeff Allen says:

    My first thought when I saw the 2nd list was, where’s Adam Dunn? Turns out Dunn only went below -0.10 in 8 wins. The other 16 times he dipped below that mark, the Pale Hose lost.

  6. 19
    RW says:

    The original article writer said that Stubbs is on a good team; didn’t the Reds have a losing record in 2011?

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