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May 12, 2011

Between The Numbers

Good Days for Debuts

by Jeremy Greenhouse

Armed with a WARP database, I trekked back to my debut article on MLB debuts. Here are the dates on which a group of players worth at least 100 career WARP debuted, as well as the names of the players who contributed the most to those totals:

Date

Combined WARP

Most

Second

Third

Fourth

4/2/2001

140

Albert Pujols

Ichiro Suzuki

Shea Hillenbrand

Courtney Duncan

4/29/1995

145

Andy Pettitte

Brad Radke

Esteban Loaiza

LaTroy Hawkins

4/26/1995

136

Ray Durham

Edgardo Alfonzo

Bobby Higginson

Marty Cordova

7/8/1994

108

Alex Rodriguez

Orlando Miller

   

4/8/1991

110

Jeff Bagwell

Darryl Kile

Mike Timlin

Orlando Gomez

4/3/1989

149

Ken Griffey

Steve Finley

Omar Vizquel

Dick Berardino

9/15/1988

101

Randy Johnson

     

9/3/1988

102

Gary Sheffield

Ken Hill

Rick Wrona

Brian Meyer

9/15/1987

101

John Burkett

Al Leiter

Jack McDowell

Kirt Manwaring

9/3/1986

124

Greg Maddux

Kevin Seitzer

Dave Clark

Bob Brower

5/30/1986

187

Barry Bonds

Doug Drabek

   

4/8/1986

104

Will Clark

Wally Joyner

Robby Thompson

Pete Incaviglia

5/15/1984

126

Roger Clemens

     

4/7/1984

111

Dwight Gooden

Mark Langston

Jeff Robinson

Ricky Horton

6/24/1979

122

Rickey Henderson

     

4/7/1978

128

Paul Molitor

Ozzie Smith

Denny Sommers

Chuck Baker

9/9/1977

108

Lou Whitaker

Alan Trammell

Hal Dues

Bobby Cuellar

4/7/1977

109

Eddie Murray

Steve Kemp

Bump Wills

Jim Norris

9/12/1972

109

Mike Schmidt

Bucky Guth

Terry McDermott

 

9/6/1967

119

Graig Nettles

Amos Otis

Pat Kelly

Hal King

4/12/1965

145

Steve Carlton

Cesar Tovar

Jim Lefebvre

Glenn Beckert

9/21/1963

150

Joe Morgan

Rico Petrocelli

Jerry Grote

Denny McLain

4/14/1962

142

Gaylord Perry

Denis Menke

Jim Hickman

Cal Koonce

4/11/1961

128

Carl Yastrzemski

Tom Haller

Dick Howser

Jake Wood

4/15/1958

172

Orlando Cepeda

Vada Pinson

Ron Hansen

Tony Taylor

4/17/1956

251

Frank Robinson

Don Drysdale

Luis Aparicio

Tito Francona

4/17/1955

141

Roberto Clemente

Larry Jackson

Jim King

Johnny Kucks

4/13/1954

218

Hank Aaron

Wally Moon

Bill Skowron

Vic Power

4/15/1952

132

Eddie Mathews

Johnny Temple

Jim Rivera

Dick Hall

5/25/1951

153

Willie Mays

     

4/17/1951

170

Mickey Mantle

Johnny Logan

Roy McMillan

Dee Fondy

4/18/1950

105

Jackie Jensen

Irv Noren

Chico Carrasquel

Clem Labine

You don’t see any of the all-time greats get called up in the dog days of August. In fact, you don’t see many good players at all get called up at that point in the season. Here is the quality of an average player, as measured by WARP/600 PAs, based on when he makes his first plate appearance of the season.

The best players debut early in the season, replacement-level types come up during the summer, and finally there are some decent September call-ups.

Following up on my Opening Day article on Opening Days, I find that Opening Day starters average right around 2 WARP per year, making them, unsurprisingly, league-average players. Those who did not start on Opening Day the previous year tend to increase their WARP from 1.25 to 1.4. Conversely, if they did start on Opening Day the previous year, they fall from 2.45 to 2.2.

Below, I plot in blue how a player’s career progresses based on how many consecutive Opening Days he starts. The dashed red lines show how many wins a player loses when he does not start Opening Day (but still plays that year).

Players who maintain the same Opening Day slot in the lineup from one year to the next go from 2.8 WARP to 2.4 WARP, which indicates that you have to be a superior player to maintain your lineup slot. Opening Day starting pitchers in consecutive years average 3.7 WARP in the first season and 3.1 in the second. There have been 186 players who have gone from the field one Opening Day to designated hitter the next, and they have on average fallen from 1.7 WARP to 1.2. The group of 23 players who moved to catcher after not having played it the previous Opening Day raised its collective average WARP from 2 to 2.5.

Jeremy Greenhouse is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jeremy's other articles. You can contact Jeremy by clicking here

Related Content:  Jim Murray

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