I used the www.fangraphs.com metric Wins Probability Added (WPA) to calculate the big winners and losers for the marathon last night.
First Star: Starling Marte
Marte led off the bottom of the first inning by reaching base on a bean ball. Later, he would strike out three times swinging and ground out once into a fielders choice. His other three plate appearances resulted in a walk and a run in the sixth, a game-extending RBI single in the 12th, and a single in the 16th, leading to him scoring the game clinching run. He also had five putouts in center field on the night. His WPA was an exorbitant .599.
Second Star: Stolmy Pimental
Not too bad for a guy that we weren't sure would make the opening day roster. Pimental entered the game in the 13th inning. He went on to pitch four scoreless innings of three-hit ball, allowing two walks. He earned the win despite allowing two baserunners each in the 14th and 15th innings. His efforts paid off with a .420 WPA (.382 on the hill and -.038 at the plate).
Third Star: Luis Valbuena
Valbuena reached base five times last night, getting three hits and walking twice. He struck out three times and had two putouts with three assists. He ended up with a .399 WPA.
Fourth Star: Charlie Morton
In any other world Morton would have earned the victory last night. He pitched six strong innings, striking out six and allowing one walk and four hits, leaving in the seventh with a 2-0 lead. He finished with a .290 WPA (.343 on the mound and -.053 in the batters box.
Anthony Rizzo had 15 putouts and two assists for the Cubs. He drew a walk, was hit by two pitches, and hit a solo home run to lead off the 12th inning off of Jeanmar Gomez. Normally, an extra inning home run earns you a win (see Walker, Neil, opening day), but Rizzo wasn't that lucky. He posted a WPA of .249.
And...the not so good
First Worst: Starlin Castro
Castro posted the worst WPA on the night game, a -.380. He went 0-for-6 with two strikeouts, two putouts and two assists at shortstop.
Second Worst: Jose Veras
Veras blew a save opportunity in the 12th inning. He entered with a 3-2 lead and ended up relinquishing it on a hit and two walks for a -.338 WPA.
Third Worst: Clint Barmes
Barmes had a Pittsburgh worst -.333 WPA. He entered in the 12th inning as a pinch runner and stayed on as the first baseman. Although he scored the game tying run, he went hitless in two at bats, grounding into a double play. He had two putouts in four innings of field work.
Fourth Worst: Jose Tabata
Tabata came on as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning and stayed on in right field. He had one defensive putout, and in four plate appearances went 0-for-3 with one walk. He did eventually score the winning run, so it wasn't all bad. He had a -.293 WPA.
Fifth Worst: Carlos Villanueva
Not a good series so far for the curiously be-mustached Villanueva. He earned his second loss of the two-game old season for Chicago. In 1.1 innings pitched, he struck out one and allowed three hits, including the game winner to Marte. He finished at -.272 WPA.
A quick note. While watching the game last night, I noticed the inherent flaw in WPA. It was right around the time that Jody Mercer booted balls on consecutive plays in the field. For each play in the game, one player gets a positive WPA applied to his total, and the other gets a negative WPA. That's fine, but when Mercer booted the ball and the runner was called safe, the pitcher was penalized and the hitter was rewarded. I'm going to try and devise a slight alteration to the WPA calculation to account for this in the future, so stay tuned. Thanks for reading!