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Greatest birthday performances from the last 20 years

Posted by Andy on January 31, 2011

Following are the best birthday performances by batters for each different age. I determined "best" by highest Winning Probability Added, and the searches are among games 1990-2010.

Age 20

Rk Player Age Date 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 Justin Upton 20.000 2007-08-25 ARI CHC W 3-1 3 3 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.131 1.216 .870 7 RF
2 Edgar Renteria 20.000 1996-08-07 FLA COL L 5-12 5 5 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.057 1.299 .882 2 SS
3 B.J. Upton 20.000 2004-08-21 TBD OAK L 0-5 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.049 0.529 .788 2 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 21

Rk Player Age Date 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 Mike Caruso 21.000 1998-05-27 CHW NYY W 12-9 5 5 2 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.180 1.356 1.175 2 SS
2 Jason Heyward 21.000 2010-08-09 ATL HOU L 4-10 4 3 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.052 0.530 1.100 2 RF
3 Elvis Andrus 21.000 2009-08-26 TEX NYY L 2-9 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.050 0.517 .877 9 SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 22

Rk Player Age Date 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 Sean Burroughs 22.000 2002-09-12 SDP SFG W 3-2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.380 0.000 4.560 9 PH
2 John Olerud 22.000 1990-08-05 TOR TEX W 6-4 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.196 1.747 1.048 6 DH
3 Andujar Cedeno 22.000 1991-08-21 HOU SFG W 13-4 5 5 2 3 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.148 1.737 .506 7 SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 23

Rk Player Age Date 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 Gregg Jefferies 23.000 1990-08-01 NYM MON W 6-4 6 6 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.365 1.759 1.659 3 2B
2 Austin Kearns 23.000 2003-05-20 CIN ATL W 9-8 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.193 2.326 .814 4 RF
3 Rocco Baldelli 23.000 2004-09-25 TBD TOR W 6-5 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0.179 0.248 .990 6 CF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 24

Rk Player Age Date 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 Colby Rasmus 24.000 2010-08-11 STL CIN W 6-1 5 5 2 2 0 0 1 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.301 3.018 1.338 5 CF
2 John Olerud 24.000 1992-08-05 TOR BOS W 5-4 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.299 1.337 5.820 6 PH
3 Conor Jackson 24.000 2006-05-07 ARI CIN L 8-9 5 5 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.265 2.477 1.728 5 1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 25

Rk Player Age Date 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 Chase Headley 25.000 2009-05-09 SDP HOU L 4-5 4 3 0 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.588 2.328 1.833 5 LF
2 Frank Thomas 25.000 1993-05-27 CHW KCR L 4-6 5 3 0 2 1 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.330 2.309 1.394 3 1B
3 Brant Brown 25.000 1996-06-22 CHC SDP W 9-6 9 9 1 5 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0.308 1.305 1.931 2 1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 26

Rk Player Age Date 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 Chris Denorfia 26.000 2006-07-15 CIN COL W 3-2 5 5 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.596 -1.132 3.062 1 RF
2 Allen Craig 26.000 2010-07-18 STL LAD W 5-4 5 4 1 2 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.579 2.842 2.472 3 1B
3 Jason Kubel 26.000 2008-05-25 MIN DET W 6-1 4 3 1 2 0 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.504 4.327 2.425 6 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 27

Rk Player Age Date 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 Chuck Knoblauch 27.000 1995-07-07 MIN BOS L 4-5 5 5 1 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.383 2.109 2.313 1 2B
2 B.J. Surhoff 27.000 1991-08-04 MIL TEX W 3-2 4 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.364 1.578 1.448 7 C
3 Warren Newson 27.000 1991-07-03 CHW SEA W 3-2 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.340 0.960 4.580 8 PH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 28

Rk Player Age Date 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 Derrick May 28.000 1996-07-14 (1) HOU NYM W 7-5 6 5 2 3 0 0 2 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0.595 3.578 1.116 6 LF
2 Scott Hairston 28.000 2008-05-25 SDP CIN W 12-9 9 7 2 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.406 0.929 2.059 1 CF LF
3 Jacob Brumfield 28.000 1993-05-27 CIN ATL W 5-4 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.341 0.000 6.390 4 PR LF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 29

Rk Player Age Date 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 Armando Rios 29.000 2000-09-13 SFG HOU W 3-2 4 4 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.358 0.644 1.213 6 RF
2 Albert Belle 29.000 1995-08-25 CLE DET W 6-5 5 3 2 3 0 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.330 3.070 1.194 4 LF
3 Craig Wilson 29.000 1999-09-03 CHW TEX L 4-10 4 4 1 2 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.224 2.037 .797 8 3B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 30

Rk Player Age Date 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 Ronnie Belliard 30.000 2005-04-07 CLE CHW W 11-5 3 2 2 2 1 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.545 1.910 2.013 2 PH 2B
2 Barry Bonds 30.000 1994-07-24 SFG NYM W 8-6 5 5 1 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.412 1.264 2.240 3 LF
3 Casey Blake 30.000 2003-08-23 CLE TBD W 7-5 5 5 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.382 2.038 1.245 3 3B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/29/2011.

Age 31

Rk Player Age Date 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 Derrek Lee 31.000 2006-09-06 CHC PIT W 7-2 4 4 1 2 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.390 2.617 2.135 4 1B
2 Mike Sweeney 31.000 2004-07-22 KCR DET W 13-7 6 5 2 2 0 0 2 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.334 4.935 1.092 3 DH
3 Tony Eusebio 31.000 1998-04-27 HOU NYM W 4-3 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.298 0.498 4.970 8 C
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 32

Rk Player Age Date 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 Terry Pendleton 32.000 1992-07-16 ATL HOU W 4-2 4 4 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.289 1.925 .976 3 3B
2 Carlos Guillen 32.000 2007-09-30 DET CHW W 13-3 5 4 2 2 1 0 1 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.258 2.056 1.008 3 1B
3 Wally Joyner 32.000 1994-06-16 KCR SEA W 4-1 4 3 1 3 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.245 2.171 .960 3 1B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 33

Rk Player Age Date 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 Jose Hernandez 33.000 2002-07-14 MIL PIT W 5-3 3 2 2 2 0 0 2 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.392 4.020 1.410 7 SS
2 Andruw Jones 33.000 2010-04-23 CHW SEA W 7-6 5 4 2 2 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.334 -0.245 1.508 3 LF
3 Joe Orsulak 33.000 1995-05-31 NYM SDP W 7-5 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.326 0.995 4.705 6 PH RF
4 Tim Wallach 33.000 1990-09-14 MON PIT W 4-2 4 4 1 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.326 0.978 1.705 4 3B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 34

Rk Player Age Date 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 Sandy Alomar 34.000 2000-06-18 CLE DET W 9-4 4 4 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.401 2.749 1.695 9 C
2 Terry Puhl 34.000 1990-07-08 HOU MON W 5-3 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.400 1.835 3.570 9 PH
3 Vince Coleman 34.000 1995-09-22 SEA OAK W 10-7 5 5 1 2 0 0 1 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.289 3.388 1.183 1 LF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 35

Rk Player Age Date 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 Hal Morris 35.000 2000-04-09 CIN CHC W 8-7 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0.461 1.236 5.400 4 PH
2 Jim Eisenreich 35.000 1994-04-18 PHI LAD W 5-4 5 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.430 0.327 1.960 6 RF
3 Hideki Matsui 35.000 2009-06-12 NYY NYM W 9-8 4 4 1 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.295 1.634 1.683 7 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 36

Rk Player Age Date 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 Andres Galarraga 36.000 1997-06-18 COL TEX W 10-9 5 5 1 2 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.510 2.267 1.680 4 1B
2 Robin Yount 36.000 1991-09-16 MIL NYY W 5-4 4 2 1 2 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.217 2.358 1.203 4 CF
3 Omar Vizquel 36.000 2003-04-24 CLE SEA L 2-4 5 5 1 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.188 1.882 1.052 1 SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 37

Rk Player Age Date 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 Kirk Gibson 37.000 1994-05-28 DET MIN L 9-10 2 2 2 2 0 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.626 2.976 2.260 7 PH CF
2 Tim Raines 37.000 1996-09-16 NYY TOR W 10-0 5 5 2 2 0 0 2 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.296 3.588 .632 2 LF
3 Vinny Castilla 37.000 2004-07-04 COL DET W 10-8 5 5 0 1 1 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.164 1.793 .960 4 3B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 38

Rk Player Age Date 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 Ellis Burks 38.000 2002-09-11 CLE TOR L 5-6 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.244 0.628 3.530 9 PH
2 Kirk Gibson 38.000 1995-05-28 DET CHW L 12-14 6 6 2 4 1 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.243 2.624 1.020 5 DH
3 Jeff Conine 38.000 2004-06-27 FLA TBD W 11-4 5 5 1 3 2 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.139 2.219 .850 5 LF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 39

Rk Player Age Date 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 Barry Bonds 39.000 2003-07-24 SFG ARI W 3-2 4 2 1 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.378 0.339 1.302 4 LF
2 Dave Winfield 39.000 1990-10-03 CAL OAK W 11-6 5 3 0 2 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.136 2.014 .712 4 RF
3 Mike Redmond 39.000 2010-05-05 CLE TOR L 4-5 3 2 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.119 0.906 2.117 9 C
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 40

Rk Player Age Date 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 Tony Phillips 40.000 1999-04-25 OAK BAL W 11-10 6 5 2 1 0 0 1 3 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.546 1.739 1.313 1 CF RF LF
2 Paul Molitor 40.000 1996-08-22 MIN TEX L 2-11 4 3 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.048 0.357 .635 3 DH
3 Jim Dwyer 40.000 1990-06-03 MIN CHW L 2-5 4 4 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.025 0.282 1.050 6 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 41

Rk Player Age Date 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 B.J. Surhoff 41.000 2005-08-04 BAL LAA W 4-1 4 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.050 0.592 .493 7 1B
2 Cal Ripken 41.000 2001-08-24 BAL TOR L 0-5 4 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.031 0.093 .890 5 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

Age 42

Rk Player Age Date 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 Paul Molitor 42.000 1998-08-22 MIN BOS W 4-3 5 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.139 -1.786 2.332 3 DH
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

The only other non-pitcher with an AB on his birthday is Julio Franco in this game, but his WPA was 0.000.

Prior to 1990, here are the best WPA performances on a birthday.

1970 to 1989:

Rk Player Age Date 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 Dave Henderson 31.000 1989-07-21 OAK BAL W 3-2 4 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.814 1.914 2.468 5 CF
2 Tony Perez 30.000 1972-05-14 (1) CIN STL W 4-3 4 4 1 2 1 0 1 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.808 3.147 1.728 4 1B
3 Willie Upshaw 21.000 1978-04-27 TOR KCR W 8-7 5 5 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.694 1.755 1.984 1 LF
4 Jim Beauchamp 33.000 1972-08-21 NYM HOU W 4-2 4 4 2 2 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.686 0.830 .923 7 1B
5 Dan Graham 26.000 1980-07-19 BAL TEX L 8-11 6 6 0 3 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.658 2.160 2.152 7 C LF
6 Joe Morgan 40.000 1983-09-19 PHI CHC W 7-6 5 5 2 4 1 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.625 4.005 1.146 1 2B
7 Ted Sizemore 28.000 1973-04-15 STL CHC L 6-8 5 4 0 3 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.529 3.230 1.668 2 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

1950 to 1969:

Rk Player Age Date 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 Bernie Allen 24.000 1963-04-16 MIN LAA W 11-10 7 6 1 3 0 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.690 1.969 2.814 5 2B
2 Frank Robinson 31.000 1966-08-31 BAL CLE W 5-1 5 5 1 4 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.662 3.065 1.128 3 RF
3 Ken Harrelson 23.000 1964-09-04 KCA NYY L 7-9 5 3 2 2 0 0 2 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.645 2.714 1.694 4 1B
4 Jim Hickman 26.000 1963-05-10 NYM CIN W 3-2 4 2 1 1 0 0 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.501 1.835 1.896 6 CF
5 Ted Kluszewski 28.000 1952-09-10 CIN BSN W 6-5 6 4 1 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.489 2.701 1.405 4 1B
6 Harmon Killebrew 26.000 1962-06-29 MIN WSA L 3-6 4 3 1 1 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.488 1.608 1.115 4 LF
7 Ray Boone 28.000 1951-07-27 CLE BOS W 3-2 5 4 2 3 0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.474 2.359 1.480 2 SS
8 Julian Javier 33.000 1969-08-09 STL SFG W 5-3 5 3 1 2 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.470 2.488 2.169 6 2B
9 Willie Mays 24.000 1955-05-06 NYG PIT L 2-3 4 4 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.463 1.975 2.272 5 CF
10 Joe Astroth 30.000 1952-09-01 (1) PHA WSH W 9-8 5 5 1 3 1 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.437 3.102 1.638 8 C
11 Orlando Cepeda 29.000 1966-09-17 STL CHC W 6-5 4 4 2 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.434 2.191 1.565 4 1B
12 Dave Philley 31.000 1951-05-16 PHA SLB L 9-10 5 5 1 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.417 2.211 1.616 3 CF
13 Lou Brock 27.000 1966-06-18 STL PHI W 3-2 4 4 2 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.408 1.766 .940 1 LF
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2011.

There's no WPA data from before 1950, so that's all we can find for now.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011 at 7:18 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

38 Responses to “Greatest birthday performances from the last 20 years”

  1. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Most total bases in a game on the player's birthday, 1920 to 2010:

    12: Nomar Garciaparra, 2002
    11: Kirk Gibson, 1995; Joe Morgan, 1983
    10: Raul Ibañez, 2009; Randy Winn, 2002; Joe Azcue, 1963; Don Lock, 1963; Duke Snider, 1950; Mike Kreevich, 1938

  2. I love this site, where else would I find Mike Redmond, my favorite Twins backup catcher, on a list with Barry Bonds and Dave Winfield?

  3. And we get Yount, Surhoff, and Molitor from that 1992 Brewers team, my favorite non-Cubs childhood team.

  4. The Molitor one at age 42 is a pretty cool. Molitor was up in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game with a man on first & third with two outs and he hit a BUNT single up the 3b line fielded by the catcher.

    I wonder if the catcher tried to get the third out at first or was it a clean bunt single. I would love to see a video of that play.

  5. What's even more interesting about that Molitor play was that Dennis Eckersly was pitching and both he and Molitor were playing their last seasons and would go into the HOF together in 2004.

  6. Hal Morris had 1 PA and he bunted and he's on top of the Age 35 list. Happy birthday.

  7. Maybe I'm hung up on semantics, but I have a hard time calling 1 single in 5 trips a "great performance" (as in Chris Denorfia's 26th birthday game). No doubt it was a huge hit, turning defeat into victory with 2 outs in the 9th. But without the accident of that max-leverage situation, Denorfia's game performance would have been mediocre at best.

    My problem with using WPA to measure "great performance" is that it eliminates many truly outstanding performances that had the misfortune to occur in low-leverage situations.

    Here's a birthday performance that seems pretty great to me:
    1980 World Series, game 1, Willie Aikens hit a pair of 2-run HRs, the second of which brought the Royals within a run in the 8th inning, but they ultimately lost the game. His WPA for that game was a modest 0.232 because his ABs occurred in relatively low-leverage situations. But it was a great performance.

    I grant that WPA is about the only measure I can see within the Play Index for ranking batter game performance on a purely objective scale. But it has too much in common with RBI for me to consider it a very good measure of performance.

  8. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Gibson's .626 WPA on 5/28/94 and .243 on 5/28/95 came in his final two big-league seasons. (In fact, his 5/28/94 WPA is the highest birthday score for any player 34 or older in the PI Era.) That's finishing strong.

  9. @7

    I was thinking some of the same things, JA. I wonder if TB would have been a better measure for this particular study, rather than WPA, although WPA does produce some interesting results.

    Also, as to your Willie Aikens example, there weren't ANY postseason results on the list (I'm guessing the search was regular-season only, but I guess it's possible that, since the postseason is so short, the chance of a great game happening by a player with a postseason birthday is pretty unlikely, so I'm not sure). I would really like to see what the best postseason birthday performances were - seems like it could be a pretty interesting list.

  10. I am looking at the Dave Henderson game from 1989 and trying to figure out how he is credited with a WPA that high. He had a single in the 6th (which didn't amount to much) and then a walk to lead-off the bottom of the 9th (which was huge with his team being down 1 run) and then he scored on a wild pitch on Tony Phillips' walk to tie the game, but a WPA of 0.814? I can understand Tony Perez' WPA of 0.8 - he drove in all 4 runs in a 4-3 victory, including a 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th to put the Reds up 4-3.

    Maybe I'm missing something about the Henderson game though. Does he get a lot of credit for scoring on the wild pitch? And how does Tony Phillips have a -0.438 WPA in that game? I think I'm just confused as to why the WPA is calculated as it is in this instance. It is apparently Phillips' worst game of the season, by far.

  11. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    And here's the worst birthday performance of the PI Era, as accomplished by Astros first baseman Mike Lamb.

  12. @10, Artie Z -- I think the 0.814 WPA for Dave Henderson's birthday game has to be an error.
    -- None of his PAs are listed among the Top 5 plays in the play-by-play; none of his other PAs came in a high-leverage situation.
    -- He neither drove in nor scored a run except that run he scored in the 9th.
    -- His lone hit (a 2-out single with a runner on 1st base) only advanced the runner 1 base.

    P.S. While checking other very high WPA games, I was reminded that WPA is completely agnostic as to the batter's actual contribution to the events; it only compares the state of things after the batter's PA to the situation before he came up. For instance, there was a famous play on 9/23/98 in which Geoff Jenkins came up with 2 outs, the bases loaded and his team down by 2 runs. Jenkins hit a fly ball to left that Brant Brown should have caught easily, but he dropped it and all 3 runners scored, handing the Brewers a victory. By WPA's accounting, Jenkins receives 82% of the "win credit" for that routine fly ball.

  13. Johnny Twisto Says:

    There is a "batter game score" which Sean uses to show yesterday's top performances on the front page during the season. But as far as I know, the number isn't used anywhere else -- on player pages, PI, etc. I've never missed it as we have plenty of other, better ways to measure hitters' performances. But I think it's probably exactly what you'd want for a single-game search like this.

    I don't know how it's calculated but I think the formula can be found somewhere in the bowels of the site.

  14. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The Dave Henderson game is a mistake. If you go through his PA you will see he is nowhere near +.8 for the game. I can't tell what caused the mistake though. He didn't get credit for Rickey Henderson's numbers; Rickey's WPA appears correct. The team's total WPA adds up correctly. I'm not going through the rest of the team now to see who got shorted, but someone must have.

    Things like this worry me. I don't know anything about programming, but if there's some bug which makes this Henderson game add up wrong, it seems more likely that other games have similar problems rather than it being a singular occurrence.

  15. More on Artie Z's comment @10 --
    "how does Tony Phillips have a -0.438 WPA in that game?"

    It might be a mistake. Phillips had 4 PAs in the game:
    -- 2nd inning, 2 out, none on, A's ahead by 1: Lineout.
    -- 5th inning, 0 out, none on, A's up by 1: Flyout.
    -- 7th inning, 1 out, none on, A's up by 1: Walk.
    -- 9th inning, 1 out, men on 3rd & 2nd, A's down by 1: Walk; 4th ball is wild pitch, scoring the tying run.

    Because the walk and the wild pitch happened simultaneously, the play-by-play does not show separate WPA values. I would think that the WPA value for the walk alone is negative, since (a) absent the wild pitch, it would have set up a DP and made it easier for Baltimore to escape the inning without allowing the tying run, and (b) with the winning run already on 2nd base, another baserunner added nothing to Oakland's win probability.

    But if Phillips's WPA account includes only the walk (and not the wild pitch), could the actual WPA value of that walk be such a big negative number? And why would his WPA account not get the benefit of the wild pitch, since WPA only looks at "before" and "after"? I don't get it.

    This points up what seems to me another huge limitation in the WPA method. It's true that, from a pure probability angle, his walk did hurt the A's chances; but for all know, he never got a pitch in the strike zone, so it's silly to blame him for accepting the walk.

    Someone might chime in here that WPA is not really about "blame" and "credit," and they'd be right in the strictest sense. But then, we must take care not to use WPA in a context which either explicitly or implicitly assigns such "blame" and "credit," without at least a cursory look "inside the numbers" to try and filter out the unintended consequences of the WPA methodology. And that's why, with due respect and consideration to Andy, I think it's unwise to run WPA tables under a heading of "Greatest Performances."

  16. @14, JT -- Do you know how WPA treats a wild pitch, in general? Does it go to the batter's account, or the baserunner's?

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Oh right, I overlooked the rest of Artie's comment. Some of the credit Henderson got must be taken from Phillips. But I don't think that explains all of it.

    Phillips is getting credited for both the BB and the WP. The BB is probably slightly negative. It's just not being added up right in the final tally.

  18. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Generally a WP would go to the baserunner, if it's a discrete "play."

  19. On the general question of use of WPA, I think this has been covered well. Among the alternatives are WPA/LI and RE24. (or REW, which is the wins version of RE24.) These both give credit for doing something in a more important base-out situation, while ignoring the inning and score which have so much to do with leverage. RE24 is listed on the tables above.

  20. Team down by 1 in the 9th, runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. The team has a 53% chance to win. Is the probability that the team wins really a lot less than 53% if the batter walks to load the bases?

    If Phillips' walk had a huge negative impact (unlikely) then why would Hassey's walk later in the inning have a positive impact?

    I suppose you could bound Phillips' contribution by looking at what the WPA is in that situation for making an out that does not score a run. Suppose he strikes out, so now there are two outs with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 9th. His WPA for that event can't be less than -0.53 (can it?), and making an out has to be vastly worse than walking to load the bases in that situation, doesn't it?

    I'm all for giving Hendu credit for scoring on the wild pitch, but it seems like an awful lot of credit for scoring the tying run.

  21. #20, the walk sets up a game-ending double play.

    All others, criticism of the use of WPA here is duly noted. The title of this post is probably worded a little too strongly.

  22. From the WPA Glossary page (http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/wpa.shtml):

    For cases where the batter makes no play: SB, CS, WP, PB, defensive indifference, balks, etc., we give all of the credit to the baserunner. For cases where there is a combo play for which the batter does put the ball in play, K + SB, BB + WP, etc., we pretend first that the batter play occurred, assess the WE and RE, and then apply the baserunning play and credit the baserunner. ... In the case of a baserunning play with two or more baserunners, we give all of the credit/blame to the lead baserunner whose state changes (advance a base or put out). There is a strong argument to be made for crediting the trailing runner some, but for me that is a level of complexity too far." (emphasis added)

    I think this explains Dave Henderson's absurdly high (and totally undeserved) WPA for that game:

    (1) Henderson is getting all the credit for scoring the tying run on the wild pitch to Phillips. And the WPA value of that event is enhanced by the win expectancy "snapshot" taken during the (purely hypothetical) moment between the walk and the wild pitch -- because Oakland's win expectancy actually went down when Phillips filled the open base (even though, in reality, the tying run had scored before Phillips even completed his stroll to first).

    (2) Henderson also receives the full WPA value of the winning run reaching 3rd base on the wild pitch.

    Without railing further against WPA, let me just say that the method pretty clearly breaks down on freak plays such as those described above.

  23. Phil Haberkorn in Indiana Says:

    OK, today is Ernie Bank's birthday and he's nowhere on this list. I don't think that's fair ! ! !
    Can't you dream up some kind of stat that takes into account players born during the offseason for a list like this? Some kind of fraction or ratio or sabermaterialistic thingie where you could pro-rate birthdays during the winter, and apply them to the regular season/playoff/World Series schedule?
    It shouldn't be any more difficult than accounting for differences between outdoor ballparks and domes, or natural grass and artificial turf.
    Please consider this a formal request for a "Calendar-Neutral" list of "birthday performances" to be posted.
    >

  24. Johnny Twisto Says:

    OK, my bad, so Henderson is getting the WPA credit for scoring. However, that still doesn't explain his total game WPA. Per the gamelog, his AB before the 9th were -2, -3, +2, putting him at -.03. He leads off the 9th with a walk, +13, putting him at +0.10. The following batters get credit for pushing him to third, so he's still +0.10. Then, the combined walk and wild pitch is +29. The walk is only going to push the WE down a couple points. So if scoring on the WP is worth about +31, Henderson is now +0.41. He finished the game +0.81. There's still a lot missing. I think there's a miscalculation beyond any questions of how WPA credit is awarded.

  25. On the pitching side:
    Best birtrhday game score, 1991-2010:

    4. 86, Trevor Wilson
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN199206070.shtml
    -- A 2-hit, 3-walk shutout. Wilson was not a high-strikeout pitcher, but he fanned the side in the 9th and got 5 of the last 10 batters on strikes.

    3. 88, Greg Maddux
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/ATL/ATL199404140.shtml
    -- 3 hits, no walks, 1 unearned run.

    2. 90, Doug Drabek
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU199507250.shtml
    -- A 3-hit, 0-walk, 9-K whitewash, the last of Drabek's 21 career shutouts. He retired 21 straight from the 1st into the 8th.

    1. 92, Vicente Palacios
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/HOU/HOU199407190.shtml
    -- A 1-hit, 1-walk shutout in which he retired the last 21 batters in order. Palacios started the day with a 5-game losing streak.

  26. @24, JT -- Henderson receives the WPA credit for his own advancement on the wild pitch AND that of the trailing runner, who advanced from 2nd to 3rd with 1 out.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Likewise, Phillips's early PA go -1, -2, +2, putting him at about -0.01 entering the 9th. If his walk costs a couple points, now he's at -0.03. And instead the box shows his total as -0.438.

    So Henderson has ~40 points too much, and Phillips ~40 points too few. There's the problem, almost certainly. JA wrote that "For cases where there is a combo play for which the batter does put the ball in play, K + SB, BB + WP, etc., we pretend first that the batter play occurred, assess the WE and RE, and then apply the baserunning play and credit the baserunner." There is a bug there, and the site is not calculating this split in WPA correctly.

  28. Er, JT, never mind my last remark -- irrelevant.

  29. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Henderson receives the WPA credit for his own advancement on the wild pitch AND that of the trailing runner, who advanced from 2nd to 3rd with 1 out.

    I understand that, but we know the entire play adds up to about 29% increase in win probability. Henderson gets credit for all the baserunner advancement, but we know the walk can't be worth more than a couple negative points. Plug the numbers in here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/other/wpa_inquirer.php

  30. Is it crediting him for moving to third on the first out?

  31. @30, Shazbot: No, the WPA for baserunner advancement on a batter out is credited to the batter. A baserunner only gets credit when the batter was not involved in the play.

  32. Al Simmons holds the career record for most home runs hit by a player on his birthday, with 5.

  33. I was at the game the night after Austin Kearns' 23rd birthday (5/21/2003). Kearns went 2-5, with 2 doubles and 3 RBI and the Reds beat the Braves 9-3. Also, Fat Ray King sat on Kearns' shoulder on a play at the plate, effectively destroying his career. To that point in his career, Kearns had played 152 games, and was hitting .313/.410/.530 with 26 HR and 100 RBI.

    Oh, what might have been.

  34. In case anyone is curious, here are the batters who played on a teen birthday 1950-2010. The highest WPA was .001

    Rk Player Age Date 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 Dave Duncan 19.000 1964-09-26 KCA CHW L 2-5 4 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.001 -0.169 1.062 8 C
    3 Frank Zupo 18.000 1957-08-29 BAL CLE L 4-13 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 -0.097 .000 9 PH C
    4 Tom Carroll 19.000 1955-09-17 NYY BOS W 4-1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 1 PR
    5 Bob Miller 19.000 1954-07-15 (1) DET BOS L 1-3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 9 P
    6 Von McDaniel 19.000 1958-04-18 STL CHC L 6-11 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 9 P
    7 Larry Dierker 18.000 1964-09-22 HOU SFG L 1-7 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0.008 -0.087 .330 9 P
    8 Harmon Killebrew 19.000 1955-06-29 WSH BOS L 5-7 4 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0.012 0.308 .830 7 3B
    9 Alex Rodriguez 19.000 1994-07-27 SEA DET L 1-3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -0.067 -0.659 .840 9 SS
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 1/31/2011.
  35. July 23, 2002: On his 28th birthday, Nomar Garciaparra hit 3 HRs and drove in 8 as the Red Sox harpooned the Devil Rays, 22-4. Boston trailed 4-0 after 2 innings, but scored 16 in the 3rd & 4th frames and held on for the win. Nomar hit all 3 HRs in those 2 innings.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS200207231.shtml

  36. On his 26th birthday in the 1936 All-Star Game, future Hall of Fame 2B Billy Herman went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NLS/NLS193607070.shtml

    The All-Star Game was played on Herman's birthday the next year; Herman was chosen to start the game again, batted #2 in the order again, and again he had 2 hits.

    P.S. Billy Herman played in 10 straight All-Star Games (1934-43) and went 13 for 30, a .433 average -- yet he never drove in a run.

    He also played in 4 World Series in a 10-year span (1932, '35, '38, '41), and came out on the losing end each time.

  37. Regarding the "Age 42" Paul Molitor at bat: As I recall, the bunt caught everyone by surprise and Molitor got to first easily. I was only 10 at the time, but I still remember it pretty clearly. One of the most exciting and memorable finishes to a game I've ever seen.

  38. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    Billy Herman . . . played in 4 World Series in a 10-year span (1932, '35, '38, '41), and came out on the losing end each time.

    File this under "Life as a Cub," with a cross-reference to "Damn Yankees."