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Stats corner: Cole among best debuts for Bucs

Pirates/MLB Videos

By David Golebiewski
Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
 

Gerrit Cole's big league debut on Tuesday made PNC Park the nexus of baseball activity, attracting national media pundits and 30,000-plus fans to scrutinize the former No. 1 overall pick's every move. If anything, though, the hype didn't do Cole justice.

Nobody said he could hit, too.

Cole surrendered two runs in 613 innings, topping out at 99 mph on the radar gun and retiring 13 consecutive Giants hitters at one point. The 22-year-old also bested two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum at the dish, collecting two RBI by punching a fastball into right field with the bases loaded.

Few Pirates pitchers have ever enjoyed a better first major league start as measured by Win Probability Added (WPA), which estimates how much a player increases his team's chances of victory on a per-play basis. For example, players get ample credit for driving in runs with the bases loaded or escaping bases-loaded pitching jams because those plays greatly increase their club's chances of winning. The higher the WPA, the more praise a player deserves.

Cole's contributions on the mound and in the batter's box add up to the fifth-highest WPA ever for a Bucs pitcher making his first big league start. Rick Reed takes top honors, blanking a juggernaut Mets lineup over eight innings in 1988.

Impressive Piratesin 1st MLB start

Pitcher Date/Opp. Total WPA

Rick Reed 8/8/88 vs. Mets .478

Lee Tunnell 9/4/82 vs. Dodgers .440

Tim Wakefield 7/3192 vs. Cards .417

Larry Foss 9/18/61 vs. Cards .364

Gerrit Cole 611/13 vs. Giants .342

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

Cole produced in more pressure-packed situations during his first MLB start than other recent No. 1 overall pitching selections, including Stephen Strasburg (.076), David Price, (-.033) Luke Hochevar (-.059) and Pittsburgh's top pick in 2002, Bryan Bullington (-.35).

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

 

 
 


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