Carlos Beltran is officially a Yankee.
An extraordinarily clutch hit has become a rite of passage for newcomers to the Bronx, and, with last night’s walk off home run against Baltimore, Beltran finally earned his pinstripes…in a big way. Not only did the struggling switch hitter rescue the Yankees from a frustrating loss, but he did so from the very brink. By performing his heroics with two outs, Beltran became only the 22nd Yankee since 1938 (based on available data) to author a walk off with the Bronx Bombers one out away from defeat, and the 10th to do it with a long ball.
Sudden Death Heroes: Yankees Come From Behind Walk Offs with Two Outs
Note: Play by play data is mostly complete since 1950 with gaps beforehand. Sudden death situations are deficits with two outs in the final inning (ninth or later). Source: Baseball- reference.com
Thanks to his clutch at bat in the ninth, Beltran’s WPA for the entire game ranks as the fourth highest in Yankee history dating back to at least 1914. However, he couldn’t have done it alone. Although Beltran’s blast was the keynote, the Yankees’ ninth inning rally featured two other sudden death at bats. Without Mark Teixeira’s walk and Brian McCann’s single, Beltran would have been taking an earlier shower (without the Gatorade), so his two teammates deserve their share of credit as well.
Yankees’ 10 Best Games by Cumulative WPA, 1914-2014
Source: Baseball- reference.com
Teixeira is no stranger to coming through in the clutch. Since first donning the pinstripes in 2009, the first baseman has had 33 plate appearances with the Yankees one out from a loss, and over half the time, he has been able to stave off defeat. Teixeira’s OPS of 1.155 in these sudden death situations ranks high among the list of all Yankees since 1950 and is nearly double the team’s overall rate of 0.683 when facing a deficit with two outs in the final inning.
Yankees’ Highest OPS in Sudden Death Situations (min. 20 PAs), 1950-2014
Note: Play by play data is mostly complete since 1950 with gaps beforehand. Sudden death situations are deficits with two outs in the final inning (ninth or later).
Source: Baseball- reference.com
Considering the number of opportunities he had, when the going got tough, no Yankee got going more often than Mickey Mantle. In 108 plate appearances, the Hall of Fame centerfielder posted an OPS of 1.072 with the team’s back against the wall, including 12 home runs, the most of all players on the list. However, as impressive as Mantle was in times of desperation, his teammate Yogi Berra made the biggest impact. More than just pass the baton, Berra’s WPA in sudden death situations was a whopping 2.59 since 1950, outpacing similarly impressive totals by Don Mattingly (click here for a video of Mattingly’s late game heroics) and Alex Rodriguez. On 17 different occasions with the Yankees one out from defeat, Berra either tied the game or knocked in the winning run. No wonder the quotable catcher is most famous for saying, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Yankees’ Highest WPA in Sudden Death Situations, 1950-2014
Note: Play by play data is mostly complete since 1950 with gaps beforehand. Sudden death situations are deficits with two outs in the final inning (ninth or later). WPA is win probability added. Source: Baseball- reference.com
To truly become a Yankee, Beltran will need to make an impact in the post season, something the outfielder has had no problem doing throughout his career. In the meantime, however, he can breathe a little easier knowing he now has a signature moment as well as a storied place in the clutch annals of Yankee history.