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WPA>= .260 In 1st Major League Game

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 4, 2011

Since 1919, which batter had the highest WPA in his first big league game?

Here is the list -

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos. Summary
1 1 Mark Quinn 1999-09-14 (2) KCR ANA L 5-6 4 4 2 3 1 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.711 3.578 1.912 5 DH
2 1 Bert Campaneris 1964-07-23 KCA MIN W 4-3 5 4 2 3 0 0 2 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.491 3.340 1.470 2 SS
3 1 Jarrett Hoffpauir 2009-07-03 STL CIN W 7-4 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.472 2.328 4.590 2 PH 2B
4 1 Roberto Pena 1965-04-12 CHC STL T 10-10 6 6 2 3 1 0 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.468 2.867 2.055 2 SS
5 1 Kosuke Fukudome 2008-03-31 CHC MIL L 3-4 4 3 1 3 1 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.467 2.200 1.800 5 RF
6 1 Barry Bonds 1986-04-20 PIT CHC W 10-8 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.445 1.886 4.450 7 PH CF
7 1 Eric Young 1992-07-30 LAD SDP W 6-5 5 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.435 1.823 1.937 3 2B
8 1 Ken Caminiti 1987-07-16 HOU PHI W 2-1 4 3 2 2 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.411 2.020 1.250 7 3B
9 1 Paul Janish 2008-05-14 CIN FLA W 7-6 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.386 -0.167 2.200 9 SS
10 1 Tomas Perez 1995-05-03 TOR CHW W 8-7 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.386 0.000 3.890 2 PR SS
11 1 R C Stevens 1958-04-15 PIT MLN W 4-3 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.370 1.060 3.060 4 1B
12 1 Frank Johnson 1966-09-07 SFG LAD W 3-2 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.357 0.895 2.160 4 LF
13 1 Keith Drumright 1978-09-01 HOU CHC L 11-14 5 4 2 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.356 2.270 2.252 2 2B
14 1 Kent Hrbek 1981-08-24 MIN NYY W 3-2 5 5 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.352 1.236 1.920 8 1B
15 1 Ricky Jordan 1988-07-17 PHI HOU W 10-4 4 2 2 1 0 0 1 3 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.350 2.391 1.407 7 1B
16 1 Sixto Lezcano 1974-09-10 MIL BAL W 6-5 5 5 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.349 0.312 1.600 6 RF
17 1 Josh Bard 2002-08-23 CLE SEA W 4-2 4 4 1 2 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.347 0.274 2.280 8 C
18 1 Johnny Callison 1958-09-09 CHW BOS W 4-1 4 3 1 3 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.333 2.389 1.257 8 LF
19 1 Alex Johnson 1964-07-25 PHI STL L 9-10 5 4 1 3 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.329 2.521 1.622 5 LF
20 1 Ruben Sierra 1986-06-01 TEX KCR L 3-5 4 3 1 2 1 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.328 2.786 1.330 5 CF
21 1 Matt Walbeck 1993-04-07 CHC ATL L 4-5 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.326 0.246 2.235 8 C
22 1 Chuck Tanner 1955-04-12 MLN CIN W 4-2 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.324 1.000 1.830 9 PH
23 1 Jim Leyritz 1990-06-08 NYY BAL L 4-5 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.322 0.908 3.920 2 PH 3B
24 1 Tim Conroy 1986-04-19 STL MON W 9-6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.322 1.000 6.840 1 P
25 1 Yunel Escobar 2007-06-02 ATL CHC W 5-3 4 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.320 1.636 1.438 2 3B
26 1 Chris Pittaro 1985-04-08 DET CLE W 5-4 4 4 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.320 1.057 1.860 9 3B
27 1 Joe Mauer 2004-04-05 MIN CLE W 7-4 5 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.312 1.856 2.077 8 C
28 1 Billy Parker 1971-09-09 CAL MIL W 3-2 5 5 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.310 -0.893 1.680 6 2B
29 1 Curt Ford 1985-06-22 STL CHC W 2-1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.309 0.000 3.180 9 PH
30 1 Dave Schneck 1972-07-14 NYM SDP W 3-2 4 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.306 1.161 1.140 4 RF
31 1 Brandon Crawford 2011-05-27 SFG MIL W 5-4 4 3 1 1 0 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.300 1.703 1.825 7 SS
32 1 George Wright 1982-04-10 TEX CLE W 8-3 5 4 2 3 1 0 1 3 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.300 2.663 .900 1 CF
33 1 Joe Keough 1968-08-07 (2) OAK NYY W 4-3 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.290 1.000 2.080 9 PH
34 1 Martin Prado 2006-04-23 ATL WSN W 3-1 4 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.287 1.474 1.532 8 2B
35 1 Willie McCovey 1959-07-30 SFG PHI W 7-2 4 4 3 4 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.287 3.778 .754 3 1B
36 1 Cesar Tovar 1965-04-12 MIN NYY W 5-4 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.283 -0.030 2.078 3 3B
37 1 Frank Ernaga 1957-05-24 CHC MLN W 5-1 4 3 2 2 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.283 2.229 .712 6 RF
38 1 Alvin Davis 1984-04-11 SEA BOS W 5-4 4 2 1 1 0 0 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.281 2.747 .688 6 1B
39 1 Ted Cox 1977-09-18 BOS BAL W 10-4 5 4 3 4 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.280 2.850 .994 2 DH
40 1 Bump Wills 1977-04-07 TEX BAL W 2-1 5 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.279 0.518 1.680 2 2B
41 1 Mike Redmond 1998-05-31 FLA MIL L 6-7 3 3 2 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.278 2.224 1.047 8 C
42 1 Pete Ward 1962-09-21 BAL MIN W 3-2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.278 1.673 4.690 8 PH
43 1 Dick Nen 1963-09-18 LAD STL W 6-5 4 3 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.275 0.648 2.805 9 PH 1B
44 1 Josh Harrison 2011-05-31 PIT NYM W 5-1 4 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.274 1.055 1.840 2 3B
45 1 Derrick Gibson 1998-09-08 COL FLA W 11-10 4 4 2 4 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.272 2.796 1.112 7 LF
46 1 Kazuo Matsui 2004-04-06 NYM ATL W 7-2 5 3 1 3 2 0 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.268 3.393 .820 1 SS
47 1 Bobby Locke 1959-06-18 CLE BOS L 6-7 2 2 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.268 2.363 1.570 9 P
48 1 Jim Ray Hart 1963-07-07 (1) SFG STL W 4-3 7 5 1 2 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.267 1.104 2.393 6 3B
49 1 Ezequiel Carrera 2011-05-20 CLE CIN W 5-4 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.263 0.940 3.850 5 PH DH
50 1 Bob Skinner 1954-04-13 PIT PHI W 4-2 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.261 1.000 5.190 2 PH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/4/2011.

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Now, this is a fun list of names, ain't it?

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 4th, 2011 at 1:23 pm and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

37 Responses to “WPA>= .260 In 1st Major League Game”

  1. Heh, I remember that Mark Quinn game. He had a fine cup of coffee that year.

  2. Except that wasn't Barry Bonds' 1st ML game. He came up at the end of May and later played in the continuation of the April 20 game. it is a data base error that it comes up as his first game.

  3. So, Willie McCovey hit 2 triples in his first game, and never did that again (2,587 more games).

  4. Richard Chester Says:

    I'm surprised that Bob Nieman did not make the list. In his first game in 1951 he hit home runs in his first two at bats, went 3-for-5 and had 4 RBIs.

  5. interesting list. i have a old base mag from 2001 and remember seeing Quinn's name as rookie of the year or close to it that year and than said to myself who the heck is that guy.

    On another note and completly off topic from this? Is there somewhere to post and ask for request on topics. I just recently started to follow all these blog posts or w/e you call them and find them all really interesting.

    I used to be big into fantasy baseball and we were talking about i wonder what is the best fantasy season ever compiled? Has anyone ever compiled such a list? Is there a forum somewhere i could join and discuss this?

  6. Frank Johnson (#12) is the only player to make the list with neither a run scored nor an RBI.

    Interesting play leading to this big WPA. Johnson had a 12th inning, two-out single with Willie Mays on first and the game tied. Unlike Enos Slaughter, Mays really did score from first on a single, although the run was unearned (hence, no RBI) as the scorer ruled an error on the catcher in failing to make the catch and tag out Mays.

    Another interesting sidebar: Johnson entered the game in 9th inning, replacing Jim Ray Hart, another player making this list, in the field.

  7. @4..I'm puzzled as well. No John Paciorek either. I guess I don't understand this stat. Was Tim Conroy's one BB in a 9-6 game more valuable than Niemann's two HRs of Paciorek's three hits and two BBs? Does it depend on the score of the game and/or at which point of the game a player accumulates certain stats?

  8. Bert Campaneris (#2) sure knew how to make his big games count.

    Including his career debut, Campy had only three 2-homer games in his career. Each time, he garnered the .260 WPA cutoff for this list. One of those WPA achievements is particularly remarkable since the As won the game 8-1.
    - 1971-05-12 OAK CLE W 8-1 0.279 WPA
    - 1970-09-15 (2) OAK MIL W 6-5 0.834 WPA
    - 1964-07-23 KCA MIN W 4-3 0.491 WPA

  9. @7, Howard.

    "Does it depend on the score of the game and/or at which point of the game a player accumulates certain stats?"

    Answers are yes and yes. The WPA for any plate appearance is the difference between the player's team's win probability before and after his plate appearance, subject to changes in the base/out scenario occuring during the plate appearance. Thus, WPA changes arising from a steal or a caught stealing occuring (for example) during a plate appearance are attributed to the base runner, and the WPA baseline for the batter is then reset.

  10. @4, @7.

    Another monster career debut that didn't make this list was this one.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TOR/TOR201008070.shtml

    Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia went 4-5 with 2 HRs and a double, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI. His WPA, though, was only 0.141 as the Blue Jays curised to a 17-11 romp over the Rays. Arencibia's 11 total bases are the most ever in any major league debut.

  11. @2, Kds.

    Re: explanation for Bonds first game.

    I'm guessing the same explanation might apply to this excerpt from Ken Griffey's 2008 game log.

    Apr 26 CIN @ SFG W,10-9 GS-9
    Player went from Cincinnati Reds to Chicago White Sox
    Apr 28 CHW BAL L,3-4 14-GF(14)
    Player went from Chicago White Sox to Cincinnati Reds
    Apr 28 CIN @ STL W,4-3 CG

    Griffey did go from the Reds to the White Sox in 2008, but it didn't happen in April, and Griffey didn't play two games in two different cities on April 28th.

  12. Spindlebrook Says:

    Tim Conroy's ML debut was back in 1978 for Oakland; the 1986 St. Louis game listed would presumably be the first time he batted.

  13. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Frank Ernaga is famous for homering and tripling off Warren Spahn in his debut, then getting only ten more major-league hits.

    I knew Dick Nen was a rookie when he hit the home run that helped the Dodgers win that crucial September 1963 game against the Cardinals, but a rookie playing in his first game? Wow. It was his only hit as a Dodger.

  14. Washington Nats Rookie Pitcher Tommy Milone swung at the first pitch thrown to him in his MLB career against the Mets and blasted a 3 run homer.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201109030.shtml

    I read somewhere he is the 7th pitcher to homer in his first at bat.

    I wonder if any other of the 7pitchers homered on the first pitch?.
    Also has any pitcher (or batter) had a 3 run homer or better, first pitch, first at bat?.

    Milone graduated from Saugus High here in California in 2005, thus played in the Foothill League so he did a lot of damage against my Hart High team I've done stats for the last 25 years.

  15. @ 14
    In the above referenced Box Score, repeated here

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WAS/WAS201109030.shtml

    There is no Play Description starting from the Bottom of the 2nd when Bernadina hit into a double play for the rest of the game.

    JA has mentioned in a few threads recently that trying to get info from the PI has been Bombing out.
    Just wondering if some bugs creeping into BB-Ref system?

  16. Richard Chester Says:

    @14

    P Clise Dudley homered on the first pitch in 1929.

  17. Evil Squirrel Says:

    I was one of the few who was AT that Mark Quinn game.... I had no idea at the time it was so rare for a player to homer twice in his debut, and always rooted against it happening again. Curse you, Arencibia!!!!

    So many fun things about that doubleheader though..... among them, Johnny Damon got hurt in the first game, which caused him to miss the second game (Quinn essentially replaced him in the lineup) and break up a long games played streak. The Royals bullpen was atrocious that year, and they blew 9th inning leads to the Angels in both games! The Angels manager at the time was Joe Maddon, who replaced the recently fired Terry Collins down the stretch. Maddon was also at the helm when the Rays gave up the 2 homers to Arencibia last year..... how about that?

  18. @14 Kevin Kouzmanoff (not a pitcher) hit a GS on the first pitch he ever saw. That was his only hit that day and he finished with a WPA of 0.218 so he fell short of this list

  19. Richard Chester Says:

    @14

    Here are the seven pitchers who homered on the first pitch:

    Clise Dudley 4/2/29
    Bill Lefebvre 6/10/38
    Don Rose 5/24/72
    Jim Bullinger 6/8/92
    Esteban Yan 6/4/2000
    Gene Stechschulte 4/17/2001
    Adam Wainwright 5/24/2006

    None were 3 or 4 run homers.

    Altogether, through 2006, 23 players have homered on the first pitch. I have not checked to see if any of the non-pitchers hit a 3 or 4 run homer.

    P Hoyt Wilhelm homered on his first at bat but not on the first pitch.

  20. @19

    Off the top of my head I can tell you that 1 or the 23, Daniel Nava last year, was a grand slam. Oddly enough, that remains the only HR he's ever hit in the majors.

  21. @17, Evil Squirrel.

    You're so right Evil about 2 homers being rare in a career debut. Aside from Quinn and Campaneris (on this list) and Arencibia, there's only one other: Bob Nieman of the Browns in 1951. He had a 5-2-3-4 line but only a 0.083 WPA, mainly because the Browns went down 5-0 in the first inning enroute to a loss to the Red Sox (hard to get much WPA starting from that hole). Here's the box.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS195109140.shtml

  22. Brandon Crawford's turned out not to be a very good hitter (shock!), but that grand slam in Milwaukee sure was fun.

  23. Arencibia had that monster first game and then went 1-30 after that to close out his cup of coffee.

    He looks promising though, good power, needs to develop some patience.

  24. #2, I wouldn't exactly call it a database error. The game was a continuation of a rain-delayed game (as I think you already knew.) It's an interesting question as to what, then, counts as Bonds' first game. This is more of a bookkeeping question.

    Bonds' player page says he debuted April 20, 1986...although he didn't play on that actual day in the majors..

    Tim Raines did the same thing, although not quite in his first game. In 1980, after just a brief appearance in the majors in 1979, he appeared in a continued game in June after he came up to the big team.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=raineti01&t=b&year=1980

  25. re: Griffey Jr in 2008

    The April 28th White Sox game was supsended that day and completed on August 25th. Griffey Jr. was traded from the Reds to the White Sox on July 31st.

    How about this:

    Apr 26 CIN @ SFG W,10-9 GS-9

    Apr 28 CHW BAL L,3-4 14-GF(14)
    (Game Completed on Aug 25 @ BAL)

    Apr 28 CIN @ STL W,4-3 CG

  26. I've got quite a few baseball cards with the names on this list. I think Campaneris gets overlooked in conversations about great shortstops. Not many have been starters on three consecutive World Champs.

  27. Kent Hrbek. Watched his first game on TV. I remember because the
    guy with the funny last name hit a classic moon shot homer into the
    right field bleachers.

  28. Richard Chester Says:

    @21

    If you read my post #4 you'll see that I mentioned that Nieman hit his 2 HRs in his first two at-bats, the only player to do so.

  29. Spindlebrook Says:

    @ 28

    Keith McDonald matched Nieman's feat back in 2000. McDonald ended up with only three ML hits, all of them home runs.

  30. Richard Chester Says:

    @29

    Thanks for the update. At least Nieman is the only one to do it in the same game. It would be interesting to see if McDonald has the most HRs for a player whereby all his hits were HRs.

  31. Richard Chester Says:

    @30

    I did a PI search and answered my own question. McDonald has 3 hits and 3 homers. 18 other players have one hit and one homer.

  32. I'm surprised at Leyritz's debut...yes, he pinch-hit the game-tying single, but he also made a game-ending throwing error in the next inning.

  33. Cecil Travis of the Senators is the only player ever to get 5 hits (all singles) in his career debut (a 12-inning game in 1933).

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WS1/WS1193305160.shtml

    Only 14 players have 4 hits in their debut. Three guys on this list (McCovey, Cox, Gibson) plus Russ Van Atta in 1933 are the only ones to get their 4 hits in just 4 AB.

  34. A question regarding WPA - why do teams start with a 50/50 chance of winning the game?

    The Angels (76-64) are at home playing the Mariners (58-81) today with Dan Haren on the mound against Anthony Vasquez. Do the Mariners really have a 50% chance of winning this game when it starts? I understand that it could be difficult to estimate the probability that the Mariners win the game when it starts, but isn't WPA based upon average teams facing each other? Someone has probably already made this criticism before but I just wondered what people's thoughts are about this.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I'm surprised at Leyritz's debut...yes, he pinch-hit the game-tying single, but he also made a game-ending throwing error in the next inning.

    I remember this game. I was listening to it on the radio while being driven to an end-of-school party. (Well, I remember his hit. I don't remember the error. Maybe I was already checking out the females by then?)

  36. Johnny Twisto Says:

    A question regarding WPA - why do teams start with a 50/50 chance of winning the game?

    It's a fair question. First of all, to be used as a stat to evaluate player performance, I think it makes sense to compare players to average. If you assume a team's chance of winning the game is better because its the Yankees vs the Orioles, or because Albert Pujols is up, you're probably right, but in practice you end up with every player's WPA being about 0 because they all performed as they were expected to.

    Secondarily, it's far easier to estimate win- or run-expectancy based on all the games that have reached that situation in the past, rather than trying to tweak tiny adjustments based on the exact players involved. How do you make those adjustments anyway? On what do you base your assessment of each player's/team's "true talent" at that moment?

    Now, if managers are to assess run- and win-expectancy, as they should (not necessarily looking up stuff online during the game, but they should have an innate sense of the numbers), they should be adjusting them mentally for the situation at hand. Having a runner on 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the 8th while down by 2 runs is one thing. When the batter is Albert Pujols and the pitcher is Ryan Madson, those general expectancies don't necessarily apply.

  37. McCovey, Cox, Gibson . . . and Russ Van Atta in 1933 are the only ones to get their 4 hits in just 4 AB.

    Van Atta is the only one of these four who was a pitcher. He made his debut for the Yankees in this 16-0 win over the Senators, three weeks before Cecil Travis broke into the Washington lineup.

    I'd make the obligatory joke about the Senators, but they won the AL pennant that year.