Monday, February 16, 2015

65 Years Of Tigers Walk-Offs


Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker had a knack for walk-off hits
(Photo credit: Detroit Free Press)

The most exciting way for a baseball game to end is the home team scoring in its last at bat to win the game.  This, of course, is commonly referred to as a walk-off victory.  I recently looked through the retrosheet database to find all the Tigers walk-off wins since 1950 which.  Retrosheet now goes back further than that, but I have not yet downloaded earlier years.  Here is what I found:

The Tigers won 429 walk-offs from 1950-2014.  That is 6.6 walk-offs per year or one out of every 25 games which is probably more than some realized.  Their 15 walk-offs in the 1968 championship season was the most they had in one year.  They had 12 in 1974 and 1988, but just one in 1975.

Table 1 shows that the most common walk-off event was a single - there were 172 of them.  Additionally, there 154 game-ending home runs.  The rarest walk-off event was a stolen base.  There was also a walk-of strikeout - sort of (I will get to that).

Table 1: Walk-off Events for Tigers, 1950-2014
Event
Count
Single
172
Home run
154
Double
28
Sacrifice Fly
18
Base on Balls
13
Wild Pitch/ Passed Ball
13
Reach On Error
9
Fielders Choice
9
Triple
6
Hit Batsman
3
Sacrifice Hit
3
Stolen Base
1
Data source: Retrosheet.org

Table 2 lists the Tigers with the most walk-offs where there was at least one RBI.  So, that excludes wild pitches, passed balls, reaching on error, some fielders choices and the stolen base.  The leader was second baseman Lou Whitaker with 20.  Whitaker is actually tied for fourth among all players trailing only Frank Robinson (27), Dusty Baker (25) and Jose Cruz (21).

The best player with no walk-offs was Norm Cash who had 1,820 career hits and 1,103 Runs Batted In, but no game ending knocks.  That seems bizarre and I don't have a good explanation for it.  Chris Jaffe talked a little bit Cash's walk-off futility in a Hardball Times article.

Table 2: Tigers With Most Walk-Offs, 1950-2014
Player
Count
Lou Whitaker
20
Al Kaline
16
Alan Trammell
14
Kirk Gibson
10
Lance Parrish
10
Willie Horton
10
Brandon Inge
9
Jim Northrup
9
Dick McAuliffe
8
Miguel Cabrera
8
Data source: Retrosheet.org

 Whitaker also had the most walk-off home runs (8) followed by outfielder Kirk Gibson (7).  Other leaders are shown in Table 3.  The Tigers have had eight walk-off grand slams, two of which came with the team three runs down.  Most of you probably remember the most recent one by speedster Rajai Davis last June.  Alan Trammell also accomplished the feat in June, 1988.

Table 3: Tigers With Most Walk-Offs Home Runs 1950-2014
Player
Count
Lou Whitaker
8
Kirk Gibson
7
Willie Horton
6
Brandon Inge
6
Al Kaline
6
Alan Trammell
5
Jim Northrup
5
Lance Parrish
5
Mickey Tettleton
5
Miguel Cabrera
5
Data source: Retrosheet.org

One of the oddest walk-off events was a steal of home by first baseman Earl Torgeson in July, 1955. They've also had three suicide squeezes to win games, the most recent by the mysterious Tito Fuentes in 1977.  They've had three walk-off hit batsmen, the last by outfielder Steve Kemp in 1979.

Then, in 2003 (and this could only have happened in 2003), the Tigers won a game on a strikeout. Second baseman Warren Morris struck out with Alexis Sanchez on third, but the pitch was wild allowing Sanchez to sprint home with the winning run.

So, there you have it - 65 years of Tigers walk-offs.  May they add a lot more to this list in 2015.

1 comment:

  1. "They've also had three suicide squeezes to win games, the most recent by the mysterious Tito Fuentes in 1977." I remember a Shane Halter (!) bunt with two out and a man on third winning a game at Wrigley in the 12th inning in 2000: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=200006040CHN.
    But it was on the road, so not a walk-off. I was there, and it was maybe the best game of an altogether forgettable Tigers season.

    ReplyDelete

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