By using www.fangraphs.com, we can surmise today's winners, losers, and also-rans. The raw numbers for today's matchup can be found here. I used the "wins probability added" metric to rank each competing player. First, the best:
First Star: Francisco Liriano
Liriano had his mid-season form on display right from the start of the contest. He walked three, allowed four hits, and of the 18 outs collected with him on the mound, 10 were of the strikeout variety. He pitched six innings and did not earn the decision, but his efforts kept the Buccos in a very tight game. He also went 0-for-2 from the plate, but did not strike out. His total WPA was .261 (.320 as a pitcher and -.069 as a hitter). He also turned a wicked 1-5-3 double play on a hard Samardzija bunt up the middle.
Second Star: Neil Walker
Walker had a pretty lackluster game. He made contact in each of his first three plate appearances, grounding into a double play in the second inning, grounding out to first base to lead off the fifth, and flying out to left in the seventh. Of course, we will all remember the last pitch of the game, where all ill-will was banished, and our hometown hero turned a 0-0 defensive struggle into a walk-off celebration for the ages. It has truly been an opening day to remember. His WPA was .258.
Third Star: Jeff Samardzija
Samardzija wasn't quite as dominant in the opener this season as he was last. Still he pitched seven full innings, allowing four singles, a double, and two walks while striking out three Pirates. Conversely, he was a hot mess at the plate, striking out once and bunting into a double play that could have put two runners in scoring position with just one out. His WPA was .216 (an impressive .398 on the hill and a soul crushing -.182 in the box).
Earning honorable mentions in today's matinee were Emilio Bonifacio (four-for-five, a .139 WPA), James Russell (0.2 innings pitched, one strikeout, .117 WPA), Jason Grilli (one inning pitched, one walk allowed, .114 WPA), and Bryan Morris (one inning pitched, one hit allowed, one strikeout).
First Worst: Carlos Villanueva
Villanueva faced one hitter, Neil Walker. He allowed the only batter he faced to drill a game ending home run in the bottom of the tenth. His opponent's OPS is 5.000 on the season. Yeah, it can't get much worse. He earned a -.386 WPA for his efforts.
Second Worst: Pedro Alvarez
Alvarez is a notoriously slow starter, so we shouldn't be surprised that he laid a goose egg on opening day. He grounded into a double play, flew out, and struck out twice, once looking and once swinging through his four plate appearances. He did figure into that wicked double play in the fifth inning, earning a putout and an assist on the play. His WPA was an unforgivable -.225 (SALE THE BULL!!!!)
Third Worst (Thirst): Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo had four plate appearances, and did worse than Alvarez, striking out in his first three plate appearances (all swinging). In his fourth appearance, he flew out to left field. His ending WPA was -.210.
Thanks for reading. Leave me some feedback if you'd like this kind of post-game, uh, post after every game.