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Opening Day Nuggetpalooza: The Players

03.31.11 at 8:43 am ET
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Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday’s “Opening Day Nuggetpalooza: The Teams” enough to try today’s companion piece focusing on individual players and their Opening Day exploits.  Lots of leaders, trailers, and other oddities:

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* – Pete Rose, the all-time leader in opening day hits with 31, had 11 multiple-hit games on opening day, also the most since at least 1950, just ahead of Carl Yastrzemski (10) and Rod Carew (10).

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* – Active leaders in opening day hits (with 2011 club):

22 – Omar Vizquel, White Sox
21 – Todd Helton, Rockies
21 – Vlad Guerrero, Orioles
19 – Manny Ramirez, Rays
18 – Chipper Jones, Braves
18 – Derek Jeter, Yankees
18 – Paul Konerko, White Sox

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* – Guerrero is the all-time leader (since 1950) in opening day RBI with 19, just ahead of Jeff Kent and Frank Robinson, with 18 each. Vlad also enters 2011 sporting an 11-game hit streak on opening day, which appears to be the longest since at least 1950.

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* – Opening Day Career Batting Average Leaders (min. 30 such AB):

.484 – Ken Henderson (15-for-31)
.484 – Todd Walker (15-for-31)
.472 – Albert Pujols (17-36)
.467 – Jeff Kent (28-for-60)

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* – If you drop the at-bat minimum to 20, you’ll find that Arizona’s Xavier Nady is the active leader in opening day average at .481 (13-for-27), just ahead of Pujols’ .472.

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* – Lowest Career Opening Day Batting Average (min. 20 such AB):

.043 – Jay Johnstone (1-for-23)
.056 – Roy White (2-for-36)
.064 – Tim Foli (3-for-47)

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* – The lowest average on opening day by an active player is .087 (2-for-23) by Ty Wigginton of the Rockies. He’s “followed” by Oakland’s Mark Ellis (.095) and Philly’s Raul Ibanez (.129).

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* – Tampa Bay’s Manny Ramirez enters 2011 with 17 opening day strikeouts, just two shy of the all-time record of 19, held by Reggie Jackson. In addition, Manny’s five GIDP’s on opening day is tied for the most all-time (with Washington’s Pudge Rodriguez, Paul Konerko of the White Sox, and Spike Owen). All except Owen are active entering the season.

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* – Opening Day Home Run Leaders:

8 – Ken Griffey, Jr.
8 – Frank Robinson
7 – Willie Mays
7 – Eddie Mathews
6 – Carl Yastrzemski and seven others

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* – Included in the “seven others” with six opening day homers is the White Sox’ Adam Dunn, the active leader.

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* – In the 61 seasons since 1950, a player has hit two or more home runs on opening day 84 times. Seven different players have had two multi-homer games on opening day and three are active entering 2011: Adam Dunn, Albert Pujols, and Xavier Nady.

There have been just three opening day games in which a player has clubbed THREE home runs: Dmitri Young in 2005, Tuffy Rhodes in 1994, and George Bell in 1988.

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* – For all you youngsters out there who remember Carl Yastrzemski as just a hitter: Yaz is one of only six players since 1950 to steal a base in six different opening day games. He’s the only power hitter of the group, which also includes Rickey Henderson, Maury Wills, Eric Young, Joe Morgan, and Rod Carew.

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* – Tom Seaver has the most opening day pitching appearances since 1950 with 16, just ahead of Steve Carlton (15), Jack Morris (14), and Randy Johnson (14). Morris’ eight opening day wins is the most in baseball, while the YankeesBartolo Colon and Mets’ Johan Santana are tied for the active lead with five.

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* – Jimmy Key fashioned a career 7-0 record on opening day, while Phil Niekro was 0-7.

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* – Opening Day Career ERA Leaders (min. 20 such innings pitched):

0.68 – John Candelaria
0.92 – Rick Mahler
1.14 – Pedro Ramos
1.33 – Jake Peavy (active; White Sox)

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* – Opening Day Career ERA Trailers (same minimums):

8.14 – Jeff Suppan (active; Giants)
7.63 – Phil Niekro
6.99 – Carlos Zambrano (active; Cubs)
6.43 – John Smoltz

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* – Rollie Fingers amassed six opening day saves in his career, the most in baseball, just ahead of Lee Smith (5) and Randy Myers (5).

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* – The last time that an opening day starter recorded 10 or more strikeouts was two years ago, when the Red SoxJosh Beckett fanned 10 Rays in a 5-3 win. No pitcher has struck out 13 or more in an opener since Randy Johnson whiffed 14 in 1996 (and 1993).

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* – In 2000, the Tigers’ Hideo Nomo allowed three home runs to the Dodgers on opening day but still got the win, becoming only the second pitcher in the last 20 years to do so.

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* – Opening day complete game shutouts in 1968: Four. Opening day complete game shutouts in the last 18 years combined: Three.

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* – Josh Beckett’s one strikeout last opening night against the Yankees was the fewest by a Red Sox starter in an opener since Bob Stanley struck out none in 1987. Stanley and Bill Monbouquette (1961) are the only Sox starters since World War II with zero strikeouts on opening day.

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* – It’s been 15 seasons since an opposing starter has rung up seven or more strikeouts against the Red Sox on opening day (Texas’ Ken Hill fanned seven in 1996).

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* – Sixteen times since 1930 on opposing starter has struck out six or more Red Sox on opening day and the Red Sox are 1-15 in those games. It’s easily the worst such record in baseball in that span. The Red Sox are 12-7 when their starter fans six or more in an opener in that span.

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Thanks to the best baseball stats site on the planet, Baseball-Reference.com, for making this research possible.

Enjoy all the baseball!

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