More On Win Shares
By Paul Wysard
Several friends and colleagues, in response to the book review here last week, have asked for more information and numbers, especially regarding individual performances over the years.
Any serious fan, or folks who like to talk or write about baseball, ought to add Win Shares to their libraries. Besides being an interesting new method of evaluation, it also provides ready reference. If you are a Dodger follower, you can find the distribution of win shares among your players in your magic year of 1955. If you want confirmation of the fielding skills of Willie Mays, you can look it up --- a spectacular 103 fielding shares out of his total of 642. If you are a 19th Century buff, you can see how the early players fared, with statistical adjustments made by the authors for some different rules in force in those days.
The highest individual total in one season was built by the great Honus Wagner in 1908 --- 59. That was also the most by someone who was not on a pennant-winner, as his Pirates were nipped by one game that year. The highest for a player in a title year was 55 by Babe Ruth with the 1923 Yankees. The most shares in a season earned through batting alone was by --- you guessed it --- Barry Bonds in 2001, 52.2 of 54.
For pitchers, Walter Johnson's 54 in 1913 and Jack Chesbro's 53 in 1904 lead the list. Unfortunately, the teams of both of those dominant workhorses finished second. The WHIPs of 0.77 for the Train and 0.93 for Jack would make a 21st Century fantasy player drool with delight, as would, respectively, the 36 and 41 wins.
Miguel Tejada had 32 shares in 2002 and won the AL MVP award. Alex Rodriguez was at 35, providing more ammunition for those who believe ARod should have been the man. But voters also looked at September performance and team placement in the standings, so, as we noted in the original review, Win Shares do not necessarily equate to individual awards. And, it seems to me, that's fair enough.
Speaking again, in closing, of Bonds, with his home white trouser cuffs resting
neatly on two-toned shoes, he reminds one of a classic cricket player. Of course,
if he played that game, with the rules as understood here, he would probably score
100 runs in an hour or so... and we couldn't count Win Shares fast enough.
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