FanDuel - WFBC

September 29, 2006

The "clutchiest" hits in MLB playoff history.:
From Ortiz to Branca, from Brosius to Gibson, a semi-statistical breakdown of the biggest hits in MLB playoff history. So who had the clutchiest hit ever?

Tony Womack?!


posted by grum@work to baseball at 12:26 PM - 49 comments

If they factored in statistical likelihood of the batter even GETTING a hit, Womack would be in first place by an even LARGER margin than before. Gibson's HR is the one I always consider the "clutchiest" because of his injury, his lack of use (before and after) and the fact that it HAD to be a HR, since he couldn't even leg out a hit to the outfield.

posted by grum@work at 12:29 PM on September 29

Nice find! Thought you didn't believe in "clutch" ;) Poor Byung Yung Kim, his name shows up three times! But not in a good way. The clutchiest hit I can remember from home, and all Mariner fans will remember it well, was Edgar Martinez knocking in Griffey from first with a double to beat the Yankees in 1995.

posted by vito90 at 12:52 PM on September 29

thanks Grum. I love this stuff. It's amazing to look at that list and to actually remember seeing some of those hits occur live on TV. That Arizona comeback, the Pujols bomb, Renteria as a young man with the Marlins, Boone, Brosius, Joe Carter jumping for joy, and Fransisco Cabrera driving in Sid Bream. Being a Reds fan, my favorite is the forgotten Joe Morgan hit from Game 7 of the '75 series. That should be even bigger since it came one day after Carlton Fisk hit the most dramatic homer in WS history. Great memories.

posted by ajsrest at 12:55 PM on September 29

I remember it, Vito. I remember whooping and hollering so much in my car I had to pull over so as not to wreck. Before that season and that particular moment, maybe the best thing about baseball in Seattle was the Kingdome. Ugghh.

posted by THX-1138 at 01:13 PM on September 29

and all Mariner fans will remember it well yeah, we yankee fans remember that one as well. thanks vito.

posted by goddam at 01:28 PM on September 29

Edgar Martinez knocking in Griffey from first with a double to beat the Yankees in 1995. The game--and play--that made me fall in love with baseball after a whole life spent in indifference to it. Just the best.

posted by Skot at 01:29 PM on September 29

Fransisco Cabrera driving in Sid Bream I was at work that night, watching the game with co-workers, and we jumped out of our chairs when Bream rounded third, and completely lost our minds when he scored. Sid Bream...a brown-eyed handsome man.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 01:56 PM on September 29

Joe Carter's home run has to be the clutchiest because of the fact that it won the World Series. Period!

posted by LaKeR4LiFe at 02:04 PM on September 29

End of story!

posted by yerfatma at 02:14 PM on September 29

Being a Reds fan, my favorite is the forgotten Joe Morgan hit from Game 7 of the '75 series. That should be even bigger since it came one day after Carlton Fisk hit the most dramatic homer in WS history. Great memories.I can think of TWO(2) more dramatic home runs in the World Series right off the top of my head, Joe Carter, and Bill Mazeroski. Hell, the Red Sox didn't even win the series, so Fisks' home run didn't end up meaning that much any way.

posted by tommytrump at 02:26 PM on September 29

1991 World series games six Kirby Puckett goes deep off of Charlie Liebrandt. The next game we saw the clutchiest pitching performance ever. Those two games say it all for me, when you are talking about clutch performers.

posted by daddisamm at 02:34 PM on September 29

Nice find! Thought you didn't believe in "clutch" I believe in clutch performances. I don't believe in clutch as a repeatable skill.

posted by grum@work at 03:01 PM on September 29

daddisam is 100% right. Kirby's homer is (or should be) the high water mark in this discussion.

posted by fatfryar at 03:26 PM on September 29

Carter? Kirby? What about Mazeroski?

posted by bs1119 at 03:29 PM on September 29

I am a young kid so the most clutch to me was the Luis Gonzalez walk off against the yankees.

posted by kidrayter2005 at 04:05 PM on September 29

Uh, Laker, Carter's homer didn't "win" the World Series in the same vein as Mazeroski's did. If it were in a Game Seven, then I'd agree with you.

posted by tglenn29 at 04:29 PM on September 29

Yeah, but Mazeroski's home run broke a tie. He had less pressure on him. I love this argument.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 04:55 PM on September 29

I agree with Grum...Kirk Gibson is my choice, at least during my lifetime. I also believe "clutch" is a repeatable skill, just ask anyone who ever watched Michael Jordan play. The biggest players embrace that pressure and make it their bitch (no disrespect intended by that comment).

posted by urall cloolis at 06:33 PM on September 29

Looking at the Mazeroski write up... A home team in a tie game in the ninth has a 65% chance of winning? I wouldn't have thought it'd be that high. After reading this list I want to find the '01 World Series on tape. That was a fun one. But Gibson gets my vote. I was 13 years old, the perfect age to witness such an event, especially with Vin Scully behind the mic. There's another key catagory: Who had the call?

posted by SummersEve at 07:00 PM on September 29

Has everyone forgotten about DAVID ORTIZ? I have to admit Gibson's and Martinez's are probably two of the greatest(especially Martinez's myself being a Red Sox fan),but you can't leave out Ortiz as being one of the greatest clutch hitters of all time. How many games has he won for the Red Sox? I can't count them. Thank you Minnesota. You could surely have used this him this year since the Twins are playoff bound and us Red Sox fans are waiting for next year.

posted by Ghastly1 at 07:04 PM on September 29

Great stuff to debate. But some of the omissions and the reasoning behind it make no sense. As Ghastly says, Ortiz is one of the great clutch hitters of our generation. But to quote the article: By the same token, this was bad news for Boston's Mr. Ortiz, whose team was so far behind in that 2004 league championship series against the Yankees that his best game-winning hit only increased the team's World Series odds by 13%. So, a hitter who leads his team back from an 0-3 deficit in a (say it with me now) LEGENDARY clutch performance is penalized because the team was left for dead? Sounds like BCS math to me. And I'm the LAST person you expect to praising the Red Sox.

posted by cjets at 07:29 PM on September 29

I was surprised that Chris Chambliss' series winning homer in the ALCS was not in the top ten.

posted by urall cloolis at 07:37 PM on September 29

i'll never forget fransisco carbrera's hit to drive in sid bream in 1992. i don't think i've ever been so exciting in my life! it was what makes sports so great!!!!!!! the range of emotions during that whole game was unbelievable.........damn that was a great moment in my life......we must learn to treasure all the great moments in our life! and as for the braves.......wait until next year!

posted by jakeamo15 at 07:49 PM on September 29

The thing that I remember most about Cabrera's hit was that it took about eight minutes for Bream to score and it took Barry Bonds about eight and a half minutes to get the ball into the infield. Cabrera probably could have rounded the bases twelve times by himself if Sid Bream wasnt in the way. I got up and got two beers and made popcorn, then almost finished the bag DURING the play.

posted by urall cloolis at 08:01 PM on September 29

urall cloolis, That was an unbelievable moment, and for the life of me I can't remember the KC pitcher who gave it up, but he was a dominant reliever, with a blazing fastball and Chambliss lasered it out of there! Only one better was Bucky Dent's.

posted by bigmickfan at 09:34 PM on September 29

as posted by jakemo15 and for the Braves.......wait until next year The Braves 14 division titles was a great success, but how many World Series did they win. Better than that, how many did they make it to? Winning the division is one thing. But all the good teams they had,one would think they would have a few more W.S. Champs than they do. Like you said ...wait till next year

posted by Ghastly1 at 09:45 PM on September 29

The Braves 14 division titles was a great success, but how many World Series did they win. Better than that, how many did they make it to? Winning the division is one thing. But all the good teams they had,one would think they would have a few more W.S. Champs than they do. Like you said ...wait till next year posted by Ghastly1 at 9:45 PM CDT on September 29 can baseball fans please just give the braves the credit they deserve and stop mentioning their lack of success in the playoffs. namely the world series. that argument/comment is been so overdone and has become tiresome. i don't even care......the braves have always beeen my team and they always will be. let it be. i just love baseball.

posted by jakeamo15 at 01:02 AM on September 30

So, a hitter who leads his team back from an 0-3 deficit in a (say it with me now) LEGENDARY clutch performance is penalized because the team was left for dead? No. By the analysis performed in the article, none of Ortiz's hits were clutch enough because none of them individually were enough to swing the balance of the series. Yes, taken together, they were, but the article is looking for the greatest single clutch hit of all time, not the greatest overall clutch performance.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:25 AM on September 30

What about Reggie Jacksons 3 HRs in one game? Hmmm or was it four? can baseball fans please just give the braves the credit they deserve and stop mentioning their lack of success in the playoffs. namely the world series. that argument/comment is been so overdone and has become tiresome. i don't even care......the braves have always beeen my team and they always will be. let it be. i just love baseball. No one remembers you for a good effort

posted by Fillyfan711 at 08:41 AM on September 30

What about Reggie Jacksons 3 HRs in one game? Hmmm or was it four? It was three, but none of them really made a big difference in the series. The Yankees were already ahead 3-2 in the series, and the first home run (the only one that might have a chance to be "clutch"), giving the Yankees a 4-3 lead (but in the 4th inning). The other two home runs were just piling on to increase the lead. No one remembers you for a good effort Well, that's not true. Everyone seems to remember Ted Williams, Ernie Banks and Don Mattingly. They never won a single playoff series (Williams was 0-1, Mattingly was 0-1, and Banks never played in the playoffs).

posted by grum@work at 09:06 AM on September 30

That was an unbelievable moment, and for the life of me I can't remember the KC pitcher who gave it up, but he was a dominant reliever, with a blazing fastball and Chambliss lasered it out of there! Only one better was Bucky Dent's. October 14, 1976 - Chris Chambliss' ninth-inning homer off Mark Littell in Game 5 of the ALCS wins the pennant for the Yankees. It was the Yankees 30th American League Pennant and first since 1964.

posted by hawkguy at 09:19 AM on September 30

Hell, the Red Sox didn't even win the series, so Fisks' home run didn't end up meaning that much any way. Other than making baseball relevant again and bringing in TV audiences that helped make it a multi-million dollar business, it didn't account for anything. They never won a single playoff series (Williams was 0-1 . . . Wouldn't Williams technically be 0-2 as his team lost a one-game playoff in '46 (I think Ted might have been hurt and not played)? </pedantic>

posted by yerfatma at 10:55 AM on September 30

If the 1975 Game 6 Fisk HR is considered "clutch", what about Bernie Carbo's 8th inning, two-out, 3-run blast to tie that same game? That hit was absolutely crucial at that time, and was one of the most electrifying moments that I've ever had while watching sports.

posted by judgedread at 11:59 AM on September 30

This is the beauty of baseball, right here in this discussion. I think we all have our "greatest clutch moments". The best part is being able to sit here together at our respective keyboards and talk about them. It's like your buddies sitting in your living room with a few beers going, "Hey, what about..." Thanks, Grum.

posted by Howard_T at 12:29 PM on September 30

Jack Clark's home run in the '85 LCS off of Tom Niedenfuer in Game Six.

posted by budman13 at 01:05 PM on September 30

Wouldn't Williams technically be 0-2 as his team lost a one-game playoff in '46 (I think Ted might have been hurt and not played)? Technically, no. That game counts as a regular season game. All stats for that are listed under regular season games, not "post-season". And in 1946, they made it to the World Series, so you must mean 1948. (note that Cleveland and Boston played 155 games that season) /super pedantic

posted by grum@work at 01:28 PM on September 30

Hell, the Red Sox didn't even win the series, so Fisks' home run didn't end up meaning that much any way. Other than making baseball relevant again and bringing in TV audiences that helped make it a multi-million dollar business, it didn't account for anything. Relevant for who? I thought baseball was relevant before he swung at that pitch, and still do. I also thought we were discussing 'clutchiness' here, not finances, so who cares whether it did or didn't make baseball a 'multimillion dollar business'.

posted by tommytrump at 02:55 PM on September 30

Really, when it gets right down to it, there are more dramatic hits - depending on who you talk to - but Maserovki's and Carter's hits are the clutchest for me - because, they were home runs to win the World Series. Doesn't get more effecting than that. I think the couteract each other nicely - one in game seven, one as a come-from-behind in game six. I think Kirk Gibson's was probably the most dramatic and Kirby Puckett's was part of the greatest World Series that I ever watched, but they're just not as important. But we could argue all day. Okay - let's.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 04:10 PM on September 30

How about the 1985 NLCS when Cardinals Ozzie Smith hits his first career left handed home run off the Dodgers Tom Niedenfuer as the late Jack Bucks screams "Go crazy folks go crazy!" Later in the same series Jack Clark hits another big homer to propel the Cardinals to the World Series which they eventually lose to the Royals and the blown call of umpire Don Denkinger

posted by m8nsman at 05:58 PM on September 30

I also thought we were discussing 'clutchiness' here The hit is no more or less clutch at the time it happened because they lost the next game. I'm lost by your logic.

posted by justgary at 06:09 PM on September 30

Gibson's HR is the one I always consider the "clutchiest" because of his injury, his lack of use (before and after) and the fact that it HAD to be a HR, since he couldn't even leg out a hit to the outfield. All that great stuff notwithstanding, the game was still tied, or at least I thought it was, at that point and it was game one of the series. I think the homerun by Aaron Boone was more clutch, by comparison, as it was a Game 7 walk off homer. Gibson's HR gets more play mostly because of Scully's memorable call. As for Ortiz, his clutch moments (there were at least three) definitely turned the series for the Sox. But hard to put all your eggs on one moment. I think Leyritz's three run shot vs. Atlanta in 1996 might have been one of the clutchiest of all time. That one seemed to turn the series.

posted by psmealey at 06:31 AM on October 01

All that great stuff notwithstanding, the game was still tied, or at least I thought it was, at that point and it was game one of the series...Gibson's HR gets more play mostly because of Scully's memorable call. The Dodgers were trailing by one run when Gibson came up to bat. And I don't remember Scully's call as much as I remember Jack Buck's "I don't believe...what I just saw!" announcement. (to listen to it and other famous calls click here)

posted by grum@work at 09:22 AM on October 01

Cool link Grum. I have heard about all of these clips at one time or another but getting to listen to them back-to-back and get a feel for the excitement they felt was just, well, neat-o. Russ Rodgers sounded like he was about to have a cardio. Of those nine calls his is my favorite. Back to "clutchiest", most here seem to mention HR'S but are there not some clutch singles, bunts, sacrifices?

posted by Folkways at 09:47 AM on October 01

No one remembers you for a good effort Well, that's not true. Everyone seems to remember Ted Williams, Ernie Banks and Don Mattingly. They never won a single playoff series (Williams was 0-1, Mattingly was 0-1, and Banks never played in the playoffs). That was a reference to the Atlanta Braves, not Individual Hall of Famers. None so memorable as Gibson

posted by Fillyfan711 at 10:14 AM on October 01

Thanks, Grum. Totally forget about that for some reason.

posted by psmealey at 10:40 AM on October 01

The hit is no more or less clutch at the time it happened because they lost the next game. I'm lost by your logic. The fact that they lost the next game makes the hit far 'less clutch', as 'clutchiness' is primarily determined by whether the team wins or loses. The Boston Red Sox lost the series, so, the hit was ultimately inconsequential. It may have been an exciting moment in baseball history, but clutch, no.

posted by tommytrump at 03:37 PM on October 01

Maybe not the cluchiest of all time but today in history: 1951 New York Giants third baseman Bobby Thomson hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to win the deciding game of a three-game playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, sending the Giants into the World Series.

posted by Folkways at 10:48 AM on October 03

Is it still clutch if you were getting the signs from another player with a telescope?

posted by yerfatma at 11:16 AM on October 03

Folkways: regardless of clutchiness, Russ Hodges' famous call of "The Giants win the pennant!" is my favourite sports call of all time. The fact that they lost the next game makes the hit far 'less clutch', as 'clutchiness' is primarily determined by whether the team wins or loses. The Boston Red Sox lost the series, so, the hit was ultimately inconsequential. I disagree. I believe "clutch" has to be determined "at the moment" it happened, the effect it had on the game in play, and the effect it had on the chances of winning the series before the next game is played. An example of "unclutchiness" would be the triumverate of Schiraldi/Stanley/Buckner in game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Regardless of how game 7 would have played out, what the three of them combined to do (turn "one-out-from-World-Series-champions" into "must play game 7 on the road") was huge. Maybe in people's minds, if they won in Game 7 it wouldn't be so bad, but from a purely statistical point of view (based on win probability, which is what the study used), it was a terrible blow. Another example would be Curt Schilling's performance in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series. It was a masterful pitching performance against the Jays, and it gave them a much better chance of winning the World Series. Just because Game 6 didn't go the Phillies way doesn't take away from the "clutch" pitching by Schilling in Game 5. Is it still clutch if you were getting the signs from another player with a telescope? Yes. I don't care if you know what pitch might be coming, you still have it hit it.

posted by grum@work at 11:18 AM on October 03

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