Last month, Mike looked at the Yankees’ five biggest hits of the 2011 season in terms of WPA. Last November I did posts on both the 10 biggest WPA swings of the 2010 seasons and 10 biggest WPA games, and the annual tradition continues today with the Yankees’ offense’s top ten WPA games of 2011.
Fortunately Baseball-Reference can do the heavy lifting for us:
|1||Russell Martin||2011-08-25||NYY||OAK||W 22-9||6||5||3||5||1||0||2||6||1||0.559|
|2||Curtis Granderson||2011-05-24||NYY||TOR||W 5-4||5||5||2||4||1||0||0||1||0||0.509|
|3||Derek Jeter||2011-05-08||NYY||TEX||W 12-5||6||6||2||4||0||0||2||3||0||0.452|
|4||Curtis Granderson||2011-09-17||NYY||TOR||W 7-6||5||3||3||3||1||0||1||2||2||0.400|
|5||Russell Martin||2011-07-18||NYY||TBR||W 5-4||5||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||1||0.384|
|6||Eduardo Nunez||2011-09-21 (1)||NYY||TBR||W 4-2||3||3||1||2||0||0||1||1||0||0.379|
|7||Robinson Cano||2011-08-11||NYY||LAA||W 6-5||4||4||1||3||0||0||1||4||0||0.378|
|8||Russell Martin||2011-09-01||NYY||BOS||W 4-2||5||5||1||2||1||0||0||2||0||0.374|
|9||Mark Teixeira||2011-05-24||NYY||TOR||W 5-4||5||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||1||0.372|
|10||Nick Swisher||2011-06-19||NYY||CHC||W 10-4||5||5||1||3||0||0||1||4||0||0.367|
We’ll go in reverse order to build the excitement. On Sunday night, June 19, 2011, the Yankees were looking for a series win against the Chicago Cubs after splitting the first two, losing in execrable fashion in the Friday afternoon game against Doug Davis of all people, while pulling out an exciting 4-3 win in the Saturday contest. Tied 4-4 in the eighth of the rubber game, Nick Swisher clubbed a huge tie-breaking three-run shot to send the Yankees to a big interleague series victory.
The Yankees’ second (out of only three they’d have all season) walk-off victory of the season against the Blue Jays on May 24 appears twice on this list, with the first instance representing Mark Teixeira’s biggest game of the season. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Tex laced a 3-1 Frank Francisco offering into right field for the game-winning single, scoring Curtis Granderson (who we’ll see in just a little bit).
The 8th-biggest game of the season belonged to Russell Martin — who appears three times on the list, a True Yankee™ if I’ve ever seen one — who delivered the decisive blow against Daniel Bard on September 1 in a Yankee victory that secured their first series win against Boston since May 2010.
Next up is Robinson Cano, who, in the Year of the Grand Slam — at least, for the Yankees, who hit an MLB-leading 10 slams for the second-straight season, including three by Cano, not to mention an 11th in the playoffs, also by Cano — appropriately blasted one in the Yankees’ 6-5 win over the hated Halos on August 11.
Everyone’s favorite infielder Eduardo Nunez clocks in at #6, as his huge game-tying home run against Yankee kryptonite James Shields helped propel them to eventual victory in the first half of a doubleheader on September 21 that also paved the way for the team to be in position to clinch during the evening portion of the twin bill, which they did in rather dramatic fashion.
Russell the Muscle is back at #5, with easily the most boring entry on this list, but still an important one nonetheless. On July 18 against Tampa Bay he went 2-5, but more importantly, worked a bases-loaded walk that forced in the go-ahead run in the top of the 9th in a game the Yankees held on to win 5-4.
The 4th-biggest game of the season was Curtis Granderson’s against Toronto on September 17, as he clubbed a home run, picked up three hits and walked twice as part of a perfect day, helping the Yankees battle back from a 6-1 deficit.
Derek Jeter checks in at #3, as his two-home-run game against Texas on Mother’s Day in a 12-5 victory over the Rangers was responsible for nearly 50% of the Yankees’ win that afternoon.
Coming in at number two is the Grandyman again, this time for that wild 5-4 come-from-behind victory on May 24 that also landed Tex on this list. While Tex may have picked up the game-winning hit, he may not have even been in position to do so without Curtis, who had four hits in this game including a double in the bottom of the eighth that keyed a two-run rally, bringing the Yankees to within one, and a game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the 9th that plated Jorge Posada. Grandy then promptly stole second on Francisco’s first pitch to Tex, and scored the game-winning run. Heck of a game for Mr. Granderson.
And the biggest cumulative WPA game of the season came courtesy of none other than Muscle Martin for his 5-5 performance in the three-grand-slam game (he also had a solo shot) on August 25. His slam came with the Yankees down 7-6 (.443 WPA) and gave them a lead they would never relinquish.
As noted earlier, if you were an opposing team you really didn’t want to load the bases against the Yankees in 2011, as they hit an insane .337/.354/.601 with the bases juiced in 2011, 39% (139 tOPS+) better than they hit on the whole, and 58% (158 sOPS+) better than the league average with the bases loaded.