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Loss Shares
2004-06-04 17:22
by Jon Weisman

In the past couple of years, we've started to learn about Win Shares, the Bill James-devised system that takes player statistics and calculates a single number that shows how much they have contributed to team victories.

So we know how to quantifiy winners? But what about quantifying losers?

It occurred to me that it would be interesting to caluclate Loss Shares taking the same statistics and determining how much each player has contributed to a team's losses. I'm looking for a way to better distinguish the 0 win shares of a Joe Thurston, who might get 10 at bats this year, vs. the 0 win shares of a, say, Hideo Nomo, who plays a more considerable role.

"Studes," who compiles Win Shares at The Hardball Times, had already thought about this but initiated a different approach. He offers a statistic called Win Shares Above Average (WSAA), which compares an individual player's Win Shares to his Expected Win Shares - the Win Shares that an average player would produce in the same amount of playing time.

WSAA = Win Shares Expected Win Shares

I think that's a great idea, but I also feel that if we're talking about which players are hurting their teams, it might have more snap if we pursue the Loss Shares idea. That way, you could give each player a Win-Loss record. Studes was willing to indulge me on this, and gave me a formula to calculate Loss Shares:

Loss Shares = Expected Win Shares x 2 WS

If you're not interested in the reasons behind the math, skip the next paragraph.

The reason that it's EWS x 2 is because an average player would have Win Shares totaling a .500 record. Doubling that gives you a perfect record. Subtracting Win Shares from a perfect record gives you Loss Shares.

Studes warns that really good players will have negative Loss Shares because of the way the Win Share system works. "That's why it's not really useful to look at Loss Shares," he said, "and why the WSAA approach works best."

To accommodate both approaches, what follows is a chart with each Dodger player, his Win Shares-Loss Shares record, and his Win Shares Above Average. The players are ranked in order of Loss Shares how much each player has contributed to Dodger losses this season.

2004 Dodgers Through June 3

PlayerWS-LSWSAA
Green4-8(-1)
Encarnacion3-7(-2)
Nomo(-1)-5(-4)
Bradley5-5 0
Izturis7-51
Ross0-4(-1)
Weaver2-4(-1)
Perez4-41
Beltre8-42
Saenz0-20
Falkenborg0-2(-2)
Grabowski2-20
Ishii4-21
Lo Duca8-23
Dreifort1-10
Martin1-10
Ventura1-10
Alvarez3-11
Lima3-11
Roberts5-12
Cora7-13
Myers0-00
Thurston0-00
Werth0-00
Chen0-0(-1)
Mota4-0 2
Hernandez4-02
Jackson0-(-1) 1
Sanchez3-(-1) 1
Gagne5-(-1)2

No surprise: Hideo Nomo has been the Dodgers' worst player this year, while Shawn Green has been most responsible for the team's losses.

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