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Stephen Strasburg, best game scores in a debut, and happy birthday to us!

Posted by Andy on June 5, 2010

Well, Stephen Strasburg's major-league debut is just about upon us. I have even dedicated an entire Stat Challenge to him and his team.

Three years ago today, Sean posted the best Game Scores by a Reds pitcher in his major-league debut. Why do I bring this up today? Because it was the first post on this blog, three years ago. Happy birthday to the Baseball-Reference.com blog!

I also bring it up since the subject of best Game Scores in a major-league debut is relevant as we wonder how Strasburg will do on Tuesday and thereafter.Here are the top major-league debuts ranked by Game Score for the years in which we have the box scores:

Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
1 1 Juan Marichal 1960-07-19 SFG PHI W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 1 12 0 96
2 1 Karl Spooner 1954-09-22 BRO NYG W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 3 15 0 143 89 93
3 1 Steve Woodard 1997-07-28 (1) MIL TOR W 1-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 0 0 1 12 0 119 76 91
4 1 Jimmy Jones 1986-09-21 SDP HOU W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 5 0 90
5 1 Rudy May 1965-04-18 CAL DET L 1-4 GS-9 9.0 1 1 0 5 10 0 88
6 1 Pedro Astacio 1992-07-03 (2) LAD PHI W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 4 10 0 144 89 87
7 1 Jim Cosman 1966-10-02 STL CHC W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 2 5 0 86
8 1 Luis Tiant 1964-07-19 (2) CLE NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 4 11 0 86
9 1 Van Mungo 1931-09-07 (2) BRO BSN W 2-0 9.0 3 0 0 2 7 0 86
10 1 Mark Brownson 1998-07-21 COL HOU W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 1 7 0 101 63 85
11 1 Jeff Pico 1988-05-31 CHC CIN W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 0 6 0 104 70 85
12 1 Wayne Simpson 1970-04-09 CIN LAD W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 2 0 85
13 1 Tom Phoebus 1966-09-15 (1) BAL CAL W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 2 8 0 85
14 1 Al Worthington 1953-07-06 NYG PHI W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 4 6 0 85
15 1 George Hockette 1934-09-17 BOS SLB W 3-0 9.0 2 0 0 1 3 0 85
16 1 Danny Cox 1983-08-06 STL PHI L 0-1 GS-10 10.0 7 0 0 2 8 0 84
17 1 Dave McNally 1962-09-26 (1) BAL KCA W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 3 4 0 84
18 1 Dave Morehead 1963-04-13 BOS WSA W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 0 4 10 0 83
19 1 Mike Fornieles 1952-09-02 (2) WSH PHA W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 6 4 0 83
20 1 Mike Remlinger 1991-06-15 SFG PIT W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 3 4 0 127 77 82
21 1 Billy Rohr 1967-04-14 BOS NYY W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 5 2 0 82
22 1 Dick Rusteck 1966-06-10 NYM CIN W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 1 4 0 82
23 1 Nick Willhite 1963-06-16 (2) LAD CHC W 2-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 0 1 6 0 118 81 82
24 1 Lew Krausse 1961-06-16 KCA LAA W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 5 6 0 82
25 1 Johnny Cueto 2008-04-03 CIN ARI W 3-2 GS-7 ,W 7.0 1 1 1 0 10 1 92 68 81
Rk Gcar Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
26 1 Jason Jennings 2001-08-23 COL NYM W 10-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 5 0 0 4 8 0 124 75 81
27 1 Kirk Rueter 1993-07-07 MON SFG W 3-0 GS-9 ,W 8.1 2 0 0 3 5 0 115 73 81
28 1 Kevin Morton 1991-07-05 BOS DET W 10-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 5 1 1 1 9 1 103 70 81
29 1 Jeff Russell 1983-08-13 CIN SDP W 3-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 5 1 0 1 7 0 81
30 1 Mike Norris 1975-04-10 OAK CHW W 9-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 3 0 0 3 3 0 81
31 1 Charlie Beamon 1956-09-26 BAL NYY W 1-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 4 0 0 7 9 0 81
32 1 Chris Waters 2008-08-05 BAL LAA W 3-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 0 0 3 3 0 104 61 80
33 1 Bob Milacki 1988-09-18 BAL DET W 2-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 0 0 4 4 0 109 61 80
34 1 Pat Underwood 1979-05-31 DET TOR W 1-0 GS-9 ,W 8.1 3 0 0 1 4 0 80
35 1 Dan Larson 1976-07-18 (2) HOU MON W 14-1 CG 9 ,W 9.0 5 1 1 2 9 0 80
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/4/2010.

I'm sure the Nationals would be thrilled if Strasburg cracks this list with a score of at least 80. Notice, though, that this is a fairly broad sample of major-league starters. One great game doesn't make a great career and there are just a couple of big stars on the list.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 5th, 2010 at 10:28 am 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.

10 Responses to “Stephen Strasburg, best game scores in a debut, and happy birthday to us!”

  1. 5 Orioles and 4 Red Sox. 4 games against the Phillies. No relevance, just interesting.

  2. The problem is that unless Strasburg's got a perfect game or no-hitter going, there's almost no chance they'll let him go more than 6 innings. All the guys on the list above pitched at least 7, and all but 1 went 8 or more. No way Strasburg's cracking this list.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    If Strasburg pitches 6 perfect innings and strikes out 8, he'll have an 80. Then he gets pulled and the fans riot.

  4. It just goes to show you how differently pitchers are used today that there's basically not a single recent highly-touted guy on this list. If Strasburg cracks 80 it will almost certainly be the second-biggest baseball story of the season.

  5. Getting a high game score is hard. JR Richard struck out 15 in his debut, but since he game up a couple of runs, he only gets a 75.

    Spooner is a fun guy. He got an 88 in his second game. That was near the end of the season so Dodger fans had all winter to be excited about him. Then he gets hurt in spring training and is never the same.

    Googling around, several sites are mentioning a record Spooner has. They all say he struck out the first six batters he faced. A simple check of the box score here shows that isn't the case. In his first six batters, he worked himself into and out of a bases-loaded jam (BB-1B-Flyout-Flyout-BB-K). The six consecutive K's were in the seventh and eighth innings.

  6. Maybe somene with more computer savvy can check this out; what about Bobo Holloman? Is my PMS {which stands for Pre-Mature Senility in my case} kicking in, or do I remember something from my early youth about him throwing a no-hitter in his debut?

  7. Frank, looks like Bobo threw a Nono in his first career start, which was actually his 5th career appearance:

    Rk Gcar Gtm Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF
    1 1 4 Apr 18(1) SLB @ DET W,8-7 7-8 99 1.1 3 2 2 0 1 0 0 13.50 7
    2 2 6 Apr 19 SLB @ DET W,6-3 9-10 0 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 7.71 5
    3 3 9 Apr 25 SLB CHW L,4-6 4-5 5 1.2 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 6.75 7
    May Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF
    4 4 14 May 1 SLB WSH L,5-6 3-4 L(0-1) 5 1.1 4 2 2 2 1 0 0 8.44 10
    5 5 19 May 6 SLB PHA W,6-0 SHO W(1-1) 4 9.0 0 0 0 5 3 0 0 3.14 31
    6 6 23 May 12 SLB @ PHA W,7-3 GS-2 5 1.1 3 2 2 3 0 0 0 4.02 9
    7 7 32 May 24(1) SLB @ CLE L,1-5 GS-3 L(1-2) 11 2.1 1 4 4 5 0 0 0 5.50 12
    8 8 36 May 27 SLB CLE W,5-1 GS-6 W(2-2) 2 5.1 7 1 1 4 3 0 0 4.63 26
    9 9 41 May 31(1) SLB @ CHW L,4-7 GS-3 L(2-3) 3 2.1 4 4 3 2 1 0 0 5.26 13
    June Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF
    10 10 46 Jun 5 SLB NYY L,0-5 GS- L(2-4) 4 4.1 6 5 4 4 1 1 0 5.70 23
    11 11 47 Jun 6 SLB NYY L,2-6 8-GF 0 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5.34 7
    12 12 50 Jun 9 SLB BOS L,5-6 8-8 2 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 5.18 4
    13 13 51 Jun 10(1) SLB BOS L,2-11 6-6 0 1.0 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 5.29 5
    14 14 59 Jun 17 SLB @ NYY L,3-5 GS-5 L(2-5) 6 4.0 5 3 3 5 1 0 0 5.45 22
    15 15 65 Jun 21(2) SLB @ BOS W,2-0 GS-9 W(3-5) 3 8.0 2 0 0 5 3 0 0 4.50 28
    16 16 69 Jun 26 SLB @ PHA L,5-6 GS-7 4 6.2 10 4 4 2 1 0 0 4.61 29
    July Tm Opp Rslt Inngs Dec DR IP H R ER BB SO HR HBP ERA BF
    17 17 74 Jul 1 SLB @ CHW L,4-13 6-7 4 1.2 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 4.80 9
    18 18 78 Jul 5(2) SLB DET L,1-7 GS-4 L(3-6) 3 4.0 4 2 2 2 3 1 0 4.78 17
    19 19 80 Jul 7 SLB CLE L,3-6 8-8 L(3-7) 1 0.0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 4.78 2
    20 20 85 Jul 12(1) SLB @ DET L,7-8 2-7 4 5.0 6 1 1 5 1 0 0 4.55 25
    21 21 89 Jul 17 SLB NYY L,4-6 4 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4.52 1
    22 22 92 Jul 19(2) SLB WSH L,4-13 3-4 1 1.2 3 6 6 3 1 0 1 5.23 12
    SLB 65.1 69 41 38 50 25 2 1 5.23 305
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 6/5/2010.
  8. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Happy birthday to the Baseball-Reference.com blog! . . . [T]he first post on this blog . . . [was] three years ago.

    And our youngest daughter was born three years ago today. Happy birthday to Noelle! Sometimes I call her "Nono."

  9. One other thing -- Happy Birthday!

  10. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    To make Andy's list complete, I'd like to mention two World War II-era game scores.

    First, the debut of Al Jurisich, April 26, 1944: 12⅔ IP, 8 H, 1 R (earned), 4 BB, 7 K, for a game score of 87 and a loss. Jurisich's 87 is the highest debut game score for the period 1920-49.

    Second, the debut of Stubby Overmire, April 25, 1943: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R (unearned), 1 BB, 6 K, for a game score of 80.

    One other fun note: The highest game score in 1942 for a pitcher starting his debut game was 72 by the Boston Braves' Lefty Wallace, who won a grand total of five games in the major leagues. The '42 Braves also had two other young pitchers who debuted as relief pitchers who would go on to excellent careers as starters — Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain.