When I was working on the Hall of wWAR project a few months back, I felt a little guilty that postseason performance was not factored into the scores at all. After all, there's no "Postseason WAR", nor should there be. The postseason is different and the whole "replacement player" concept goes out the window.
It finally hit me to try cumulative postseason Win Probability Added (WPA) over the course of a player's career. The graph above shows the career leaders in World Series WPA (position players, pitchers are after the jump).
Here are the pitchers. You'll notice that seven pitchers have recorded at least 2.0 WPA over the course of their career while just one hitter has managed to. Pitching really does take over the playoffs, y'all!
So, a few things of note:
- I've only pulled World Series data so far. This data was a pain to pull, so I started with just the World Series. If we like it, I could look into the other rounds. But I'm wondering if they should be weighted differently. Think of it like Leverage Index. Shouldn't the World Series be worth more than the LDS?
- Look at all the Yankees! Yes, there are quite a few Yankees. This does have to do with the Yankees being in a lot of World Series. But some of the all time lowest scores are also Yankees. The Yankees have been given more opportunities to succeed, which would bump their WPA up. They also have many opportunities to fail, which would drag it down. There are also opportunities to do both, which would keep it around zero. So these guys with high scores are consistently good, and that's good for something.
- Babe Ruth ranks fifth all time among hitters—and fifteenth all time among pitchers. In fact, he has the highest single-game WPA for any pitcher in history. The dude was just good.
- The highest WPA in a single World Series game for a position player was Kirk Gibson.
- Jack Morris just missed appearing on the pitcher graphic. His WPA was 1.54. I hear he pitched a pretty good Game 7.
- The man with the most World Series PAs (296), Yogi Berra, ranked in a tie for 25th with 0.85 WPA.
- Holy Matsui! Godzilla owns a 1.213 OPS in two World Series. If you time those hits well, you can rack up some serious WPA. Willie Aikens appeared in just one World Series, but posted a 1.638 OPS. Yikes.
- Bloody socked Curt Shilling is tied for 31st all time (1.10 WPA) with Johnny Podres, Jim Palmer, and Bill Dinneen.
- I like to think that I've heard of a lot of baseball players. But there were three players on the pitchers list I simply don't know about, including the top guy. Art Nehf (#1) earned 184 wins and 23.1 WAR between 1915 and 1929. In five World Series (four with the Giants), he had a 2.16 ERA in 79 innings (but just a 4-4 record to show for it). "Wild Bill" Hallahan (#19) won 102 games from 1925 to 1939 (14.0 WAR) in his career, but owns a 1.36 ERA in five World Series starts for the Cardinals. George Earnshaw (#T-11) pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in the early 1930s, winning 127 games (17.6 WAR). In three World Series, he posted a 1.58 ERA in eight starts.
- Mike Stanton FTWPA!
All data is from Baseball-Reference. If you'd like to take a look at the cumulative data, here's an Excel sheet.
Anything else jump out at you? For the readers who buy into the whole Hall of wWAR concept, is this something that could be used to quantify postseason value? If so, how would you weigh the World Series vs. the LCS or LDS?