Top 25 Greatest MLB Player Seasons

The following table provides a glimpse into the top end range of WAA.  More detail explanation behind the mathematics involved in WAA will come in subsequent posts.  For now just think of it as a number that ranks players.

Below is a list of players who posted the highest WAA in one season. These are abnormal seasons. In a previous post showing the 2013 MLB leaders, Clayton Kershaw posted a 11.8 followed closely by Miguel Cabrera at 11.6 (Cabrera led most of the year).  Compare this to Cy Young posting a 21.6 in 1901 and Babe Ruth’s 20.5 in 1921.    In a nutshell, if every player on Cy Young’s team played average in 1901, the Boston Americans (Red Sox franchise) would finish with 21.6 more wins than losses based on Cy Young’s performance alone.  Boston finished 79-57 or 22 wins above losses that year.  WAA provides a measure as to how much Cy Young performance contributed to Boston’s success that year.  Had Cy Young been an average player with a WAA=0, the Boston Americans would have been a .500 team (68-68) in 1901.

Here are the top 25 single season leaders.   Note: The trailing 3 letter acronym is a franchise key using modern franchises.  SFN in 1936 refers to the San Francisco National team, or Giants, which were the New York Giants back then.

Year WAA BA/IP OBP/ERA PA/G RBI/W R/L Name_Tm BAT/PITCH Rank
1901 21.6 371.3 1.62 41 33 10 Cy_Young_BOS PITCH 1
1921 20.5 0.378 0.512 693 171 177 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 2
1931 20.2 0.341 0.446 738 184 163 Lou_Gehrig_NYA BAT 3
1927 18.2 0.356 0.486 691 164 158 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 4
1931 18.2 0.373 0.495 663 163 149 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 5
1920 18.1 0.376 0.532 616 137 158 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 6
1927 17.8 0.373 0.474 717 175 149 Lou_Gehrig_NYA BAT 7
1912 17.6 369.0 1.39 37 33 12 Walter_Johnson_MIN PITCH 8
1937 17.4 0.346 0.412 692 167 151 Joe_DiMaggio_NYA BAT 9
1937 17.3 0.337 0.436 701 183 137 Hank_Greenberg_DET BAT 10
1932 17.3 0.364 0.469 702 169 151 Jimmie_Foxx_OAK BAT 11
1930 16.9 0.381 0.423 611 165 152 Al_Simmons_OAK BAT 12
1930 16.8 0.356 0.454 709 191 146 Hack_Wilson_CHN BAT 13
1938 16.3 0.349 0.462 685 175 139 Jimmie_Foxx_BOS BAT 14
1949 16.3 0.343 0.490 730 159 150 Ted_Williams_BOS BAT 15
1936 16.3 304.0 2.31 34 26 6 Carl_Hubbell_SFN PITCH 16
1928 16.2 0.323 0.463 684 142 163 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 17
1930 16.1 291.0 2.54 32 28 5 Lefty_Grove_OAK PITCH 18
1926 16.0 0.372 0.516 652 153 139 Babe_Ruth_NYA BAT 19
1923 16.0 322.0 1.93 37 27 8 Dolf_Luque_CIN PITCH 20
1936 15.9 0.354 0.478 719 152 167 Lou_Gehrig_NYA BAT 21
1913 15.9 346.0 1.14 36 36 7 Walter_Johnson_MIN PITCH 22
2000 15.9 217.0 1.74 29 18 6 Pedro_Martinez_BOS PITCH 23
1942 15.8 0.356 0.499 671 137 141 Ted_Williams_BOS BAT 24
1902 15.7 333.7 1.29 34 23 11 Jack_Taylor_CHN PITCH 25