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Batters With WPA =.35+ In Post-Season Sudden Death Games

Posted by Steve Lombardi on March 9, 2011

Today is Aaron Boone's birthday. Related, I wanted to see which players in baseball history had a WPA of .35 or better in a post-season sudden death game.

Here's the list -

Rk Player Date Series Gm# Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos. Summary
1 Francisco Cabrera 1992-10-14 NLCS 7 ATL PIT W 3-2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.737 0.000 10.750 9 PH
2 Hal Smith 1960-10-13 WS 7 PIT NYY W 10-9 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.636 2.615 5.140 6 C
3 Troy O'Leary 1999-10-11 ALDS 5 BOS CLE W 12-8 5 4 2 2 0 0 2 7 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.532 4.869 1.456 5 LF
4 Jose Cruz 1980-10-12 NLCS 5 HOU PHI L 7-8 5 3 1 2 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.530 2.873 2.135 4 LF
5 Bucky Harris 1924-10-10 WS 7 WSH NYG W 4-3 5 5 1 3 0 0 1 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.472 2.624 2.270 2 2B
6 Yadier Molina 2006-10-19 NLCS 7 STL NYM W 3-1 4 4 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.428 2.039 1.605 7 C
7 Tony Womack 2001-10-14 NLDS 5 ARI STL W 2-1 5 5 0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.424 0.462 1.414 1 SS
8 Johnny Bench 1972-10-11 NLCS 5 CIN PIT W 4-3 4 4 1 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.423 0.718 1.493 4 C
9 Tris Speaker 1912-10-16 WS 8 BOS NYG W 3-2 5 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.417 1.559 2.322 3 CF
10 Ken Griffey 1995-10-08 ALDS 5 SEA NYY W 6-5 6 5 2 2 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.413 1.830 1.875 3 CF
11 Willie Stargell 1979-10-17 WS 7 PIT BAL W 4-1 5 5 1 4 2 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.411 1.416 .904 5 1B
12 Harry Walker 1946-10-15 WS 7 STL BOS W 4-3 4 3 1 2 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.405 1.896 1.222 7 LF
13 Max Carey 1925-10-15 WS 7 PIT WSH W 9-7 5 5 3 4 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0.404 3.449 1.675 2 CF
14 Rick Monday 1981-10-19 NLCS 5 LAD MON W 2-1 4 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.403 0.824 1.433 6 RF
15 Chris Chambliss 1976-10-14 ALCS 5 NYY KCR W 7-6 5 4 2 3 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0.403 0.237 1.195 4 1B
16 Tony Womack 2001-11-04 WS 7 ARI NYY W 3-2 5 5 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.387 0.523 2.230 1 SS
17 Yogi Berra 1960-10-13 WS 7 NYY PIT L 9-10 5 4 2 1 0 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.383 1.897 2.066 5 LF
18 George Foster 1972-10-11 NLCS 5 CIN PIT W 4-3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.375 0.000 4.810 5 PR
19 Elston Howard 1958-10-09 WS 7 NYY MLN W 6-2 4 3 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0.374 1.972 1.488 5 LF
20 Del Unser 1980-10-12 NLCS 5 PHI HOU W 8-7 2 2 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.372 1.339 3.055 4 PH RF
21 Edgar Renteria 1997-10-26 WS 7 FLA CLE W 3-2 6 5 0 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.364 0.413 2.258 2 SS
22 Aaron Boone 2003-10-16 ALCS 7 NYY BOS W 6-5 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.356 0.000 2.290 8 PR 3B
23 Joe Morgan 1975-10-22 WS 7 CIN BOS W 4-3 5 4 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.353 1.280 2.122 2 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/9/2011.

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Poor Yogi Berra and Jose Cruz - their teams ended up losing anyway. Ouch.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 4:01 pm and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Batters With WPA =.35+ In Post-Season Sudden Death Games”

  1. George Foster managed this as a pinch runner.

    Ran for Tony Perez at 1st base with the score tied in the 9th and no outs, went to 2nd on a single to left, to 3rd on fly out to right (probably bonus points there), and scored on a 2-out wild pitch to win the game and series.

    Other than being in the right place at the right time, not sure exactly what Foster did to merit such a high WPA. Was it that advancing on the fly ball out or scoring on the wild pitch were daring plays rather than routine plays? Does WPA (or can WPA) measure the "degree of difficulty" of executing a play in a particular situation?

  2. interesting that both of the "losers" also had an opponent on the list

  3. I know it's technically not a post-season game, but Bucky F. Dent had .382 WPA in the 1978 NY-BOS playoff for the AL East title, and it was most definitely a sudden-death game.

  4. The 1960 Yankees-Pirates game 7 is a good demonstration of what WPA is best for - measuring game-changing contributions in high-leverage situations.

    Hal Smith was a defensive replacement in the 8th and got a 64% WPA for his one at bat, his 2-out 3-run homer with the Pirates down a run in the 8th.

    Berra got a 34% WPA for his 1-out 3-run homer with the Yankees down 2 runs in the 6th, plus another 6% for his 1-out RBI groundout that tied the game in the 9th.

    Bill Mazeroski got a 37% WPA for his series winning homer in the 9th, but didn't make this list because he was -7% prior to that at-bat to finish the game at +0.299 WPA.

  5. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Wow, both Jose Cruz the father and Jose Cruz the son showed up in lists posted here today, and both of them were as a result of doing something good in a season-bracketing game that their team lost anyway.

  6. I remember game 5 1980 NLCS. Two guys on this list. Terry Puhl killed the Phillies in this game too. 4 for 6 with 3 runs scored. One of the greatest games ever, as well as one of the greatest series ever.

  7. @5 DoubleDiamond,

    You beat me to the Jose Cruz (father/son) comment about them showing up on both lists (4 hits in season opener & best WPA in sudden death game), with each as one of the very few where their team lost.

    Nice catch.

  8. John Autin Says:

    I had forgotten ... Francisco Cabrera's 1992 NLCS-winning hit was made possible by an error by that year's Gold-Glove winning 2B, Jose Lind, who made just 6 errors all season. (Lind's career .988 fielding percentage ranks 12th in MLB history.) The tying and winning runs were unearned.

    A couple more random Jose Lind notes:

    -- Lind did not HR in the 1992 regular season (135 G, 506 PA), and carried a streak of 225 G and 844 PAs into the playoffs. Then he went deep in the 8th inning of the NLCS opener, spoiling John Smoltz's shutout. (Lind, whose career isolated power was a mere .062 in the regular season, had a .179 ISO in 20 playoff games -- 2 HRs, 2 triples and 3 doubles in 76 PAs.)

    -- Lind played 1,038 games in the field and never played any position but 2B. Of the 99 modern players with at least 1,000 G at 2B, none played fewer total games or had fewer PAs than Lind.

    -- Lind had exactly 4,000 career PAs, making him one of 7 players in all MLB history with an exact multiple of 1,000 PAs. That list:

    1,000 -- Vern Law (1950-67), Ed Busch (1943-45), Guy Bush (1923-45)
    2,000 -- Charlie Bastian (1884-91)
    3,000 -- Dan Pasqua (1985-94)
    4,000 -- Jose Lind (1987-95)
    7,000 -- Dave Philley (1941-62)

  9. John Autin Says:

    Just for fun, the flip side of this topic ...

    The worst WPA marks for batters in a postseason sudden-death game:

    1. -0.387, Ralph Miller, 1924 WS game 7, 0 for 2, GIDP, team won.
    2. -0.369, Devon White, 1997 WS game 7, 0 for 6, team won.
    3. -0.351, Sid Bream, 1991 WS game 7, 0 for 4, GIDP, team lost.
    4. -0.346, Jeff Blauser, 1992 NLCS game 7, 0 for 4, team won.
    5. -0.337, Denis Menke, 1972 WS game 7, 0 for 4, team lost.
    6. -0.319, Chipper Jones, 2002 NLDS game 5, 1 for 4, walk, GIDP, team lost.
    7. -0.303, Adam Melhuse, 2003 ALDS game 5, 0 for 1, team lost.
    8. -0.302, Sam Rice, 1924 WS game 7, 0 for 5, GIDP, team won.

    Notes:

    -- How did poor Ralph Miller wind up atop this list in a game that he entered in the 9th inning, as a defensive replacement? Miller, who had only 16 PAs in the regular season (2 hits), came up in the bottom of the 9th, with 2 on, 1 out and the potential Series-winning run on 2B, and hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP -- scoring a colossal -0.33 on the WPA meter for that one event. He also made an out leading off the bottom of the 12th. Miller, 28, would never play another game in the majors.

    -- Go figure: Devon White led off all 7 games of the '97 WS for Florida but never scored a run -- yet the Marlins won the Series. Devo reached safely 11 times (including 3 doubles and a triple) and stole a base with no CS.

    -- Blauser can thank Mark Lemke for his spot on this list. In the 6th inning, trailing 2-0, after Atlanta loaded the bases with no outs, Blauser lined into a DP, 3B-unassisted, with Lemke committing the unpardonable sin of getting doubled off 3B on a liner that never left the infield. This one event accounted for -0.29 of Blauser's -0.346 WPA for the game; he went hitless in his other 3 trips, but all were in low-leverage situations.

    -- Sid Bream, as you know, scored the '92 NLCS game-winning run on Cabrera's single, his 5th run of that series. Less well-known (outside Atlanta) is that Bream was pretty much the goat of the 1991 WS, going 3 for 24 with no RBI or Runs. And if you've ever wondered why Bobby Cox didn't pinch-run for Bream in the Cabrera game, maybe he was still steamed from what happened in game 6 of the '91 WS: After Bream led off the 11th with a single, Cox sent in Keith Mitchell to pinch-run, and Mitchell was promptly thrown out trying to steal 2B.

    -- Denis Menke was the biggest "contributor" to Cincinnati's loss in the '72 WS. He went 2 for 24, and besides the game listed here, he had a -0.256 WPA in game 2 and a -0.160 WPA in game 4, both 1-run losses, going 0 for 4 with a GIDP in each game. His composite WPA for the Series was -0.806.

    -- I barely remember Adam Melhuse, but he had a nice year off the bench for Oakland in 2003, hitting .299 with 5 HRs, 7 doubles in just 77 AB, for a .957 OPS. In the deciding game of the ALDS, Melhuse pinch-hit for Jermaine Dye in a monster-leverage situation -- 9th inning, A's down a run but men on 2nd & 3rd and 1 out -- and took a called 3rd strike from Derek Lowe. (After Chris Singleton walked to load the bases, Terence Long also went down looking to end the series, which turned out to be his last game in an A's uniform.)

    -- #1 and #8 on this list (Miller and Rice) were both on the Senators in the 1924 WS game saved by Bucky Harris's heroics (see #5 on the positive-WPA list). Harris's biggest hit -- a 2-out, 2-run single that tied the game in the 8th -- also redeemed teammate Earl McNeeley, whose bases-loaded popup was the 2nd out of the inning. McNeeley would go 0 for his first 5 trips, but in the bottom of the 12th, he doubled home the game-winning run, after 2 errors had extended the inning. (This is one of the most famous WS games ever; it was mentioned in a recent thread that Washington SP Curly Ogden left the game after facing just 2 batters, a "platoon ploy" by the rookie manager Harris. Also in this game, NYG catcher Hank Gowdy -- the hands-down hero of the 1914 WS for the Miracle Braves -- flubbed a foul pop by his opposite number, Muddy Ruel, that would have been the 2nd out in the 12th; Ruel, 1 for 21 to that point in the Series, then doubled and eventually scored the winning run.)
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/WS1/WS1192410100.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool&utm_source=direct&utm_medium=Share&utm_campaign=ShareTool

  10. Doug #1. WPA takes a very simplistic view of assigning credit/blame. For the team in the field I think all goes to the pitcher. (Not positive about passed balls, but I think even with errors it goes to the pitcher.) For the batting team any event that involves a PA goes to the batter. If the event is base running only, like SB, CS, PO, WP, PB; then the credit goes to the base runner. I don't know what they do when several baserunners advance. If there were runners on the corners with a wild pitch, you could count the RE difference for the lead runner assuming the other doesn't move, and for the following runner assuming the lead runner always scores. But I don't know if that is how they do it. (or look at the lead runner assuming the other always moves up.)