The best Opening Day debuts of 2023

March 31st, 2023

Opening Day is the start of a new season for everyone, but for some, it marks the beginning of a new era altogether. The full slate of games on the first day of the 2023 season gave us our first look at many of those players, from some of baseball's top prospects to the veterans who received the biggest payouts over the winter. Naturally, some had more memorable introductions than others.

Here are some of the best debuts from Opening Day 2023.

 (MLB debut)
0-for-2, BB, SB

Sure, it would have been nice if MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 prospect had gotten on the board with his first Major League hit. But even without that, the day was “a dream come true” for Volpe, who said of the experience: “It was probably the most fun day of my entire life.” Greeted warmly by the fans in the Bronx, Volpe contributed to a Yankees victory and certainly looked like he belonged in drawing a six-pitch walk and stealing second base off the Giants’ Logan Webb in the third inning.

 (Cubs debut)
3-for-4, R, RBI

After signing a seven-year, $177 million contract with the Cubs, the former Braves shortstop got off to a great start in front of the Wrigley Field faithful. After lining out in his first at-bat, Swanson knocked three straight singles, the first of which drove home the team’s first run of the season in the third inning. The Cubs went on to beat the Brewers, 4-0, to begin the Swanson Era in style.

 (Orioles debut)
2-for-4, 2 2B, BB, 3 R, SB

The Orioles did not make any offseason additions that jumped off the page after their breakthrough 2022 campaign, but one thing they did was bring in the veteran Frazier on a one-year deal. Coming off a down year in Seattle, Frazier turned the tables to help the Orioles outslug the Red Sox, 10-9. Batting out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup, he reached base safely and scored in three different innings in which Baltimore plated multiple runs.

(MLB debut)
2-for-4, HBP, R, RBI

The Red Sox invested heavily to bring Yoshida over from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, and so far, so good. Yoshida ripped four hard-hit balls (95-plus mph exit velocity) in his first Major League game and came away with a pair of base hits, including one to drive home a run.

(Cardinals debut)
2-for-4, 2 R, CS (as catcher)

A right knee contusion that forced an early exit in the Cardinals’ loss to the Blue Jays put a damper on an otherwise stellar performance by St. Louis’ new man behind the plate. The Cardinals brought in Contreras to replace Yadier Molina, and he made an immediate impact on defense, recording the first caught stealing of the MLB season by throwing out Matt Chapman at second in a tie game in the seventh inning. Contreras also notched two hits and started the Cardinals' go-ahead rally in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff single.

(MLB debut)
1-for-5, RBI

While it’s not the gaudiest stat line, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 prospect was able to check off his first career hit by ripping a line drive back up the middle against Toronto’s Alek Manoah in the second inning. He also notched a go-ahead RBI in the seventh when he beat out a potential double-play grounder by bursting down the line with a near-elite 29.5 ft/sec sprint speed. For good measure, the former third baseman showed off his rocket of an arm with a 100.2 mph throw from right field.

 (Rangers debut)
1-for-3, BB, HR, 3 RBI

The Rangers didn’t sign Grossman until mid-February, adding him to their outfield mix. The 33-year-old, now with his sixth team, delivered in a big way in a wild 11-7 win over the Phillies on Thursday at Globe Life Field. With Texas trailing, 5-2, in the fourth inning, Grossman thumped an Aaron Nola fastball over the wall in right-center field for a game-tying, three-run shot. That was part of a nine-run outburst, which was the most any team has scored in an inning on Opening Day since 1997.

 (Twins debut)
W, 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K

López’s debut with the Twins went about as well as it could have gone, as the veteran right-hander held the Royals through three innings before cruising through 5 1/3 innings in the Twins’ shutout win. López, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Marlins that sent AL batting champ Luis Arraez to Miami, used all five of his pitches against the Royals, and recorded strikeouts with his fastball, sweeper and changeup.

 (Mets debut)
SV, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

When Robertson signed with the Mets back in December, it was to help set up for Edwin Díaz. Instead, Robertson has stepped in at closer after Díaz’s devastating knee injury during the World Baseball Classic. Of course, Robertson is no stranger to the ninth inning, and the 37-year-old notched his 158th career save by retiring Miami in order to close out a season-opening, 5-3 victory for the Mets at Marlins Park.

 (Padres debut)
3-for-4, 2 2B, 1B

San Diego’s new $280 million man made the most of his first game with the Padres by tallying three hits, two of which were doubles. While Bogaerts' strong showing came in a loss, he was still able to give Padres’ fans a taste of his balanced approach in the batter’s box, as one of his doubles came in the form of a ball hit down the line on a pitch in on his hands, while the other was on a ball scorched into the left-field gap.

 (Athletics debut)
1-for-3 with a single, amazing catch to rob Mike Trout

Oakland’s No. 5 prospect had an Athletics debut to remember. It began with a spectacular defensive play during his very first inning in the field with his new club. Trout smashed a line drive that was headed for the right-center-field gap, but Ruiz covered 51 feet in 3.3 seconds and made a diving catch to rob the three-time MVP of his first hit of the 2023 campaign. According to Statcast, the play had a catch probability of 15 percent. In the eighth inning, Ruiz picked up his first hit with the A’s, a single to right field, before easily scoring all the way from first on a Tony Kemp double to tie the game. Ruiz’s sprint speed, according to Statcast, was 29.3 feet per second (30 feet per second is considered elite).