September 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones
Much was written on the heroics of Chipper Jones blasting that two-out, three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon to beat the Phillies on Sunday. However, unless you dig deeper into the numbers, it’s tough to judge how that play compares to his previous heroics. I have done just that.
Based on the game logs I sifted through, it appears Chipper’s home run Sunday was the most valuable play of his career, thus making it the most valuable game of his career. The list I compiled below is the evidence.
As a note: The stat that this post is centered around is Win Probability Added (WPA). Considering I use it every day to recap game threads, I assume most of CAC’s readers have a general grasp of the stat. For those who don’t, FanGraphs has a great glossary for such things, and I recommend giving it a quick read to understand the list in more detail.
Without further ado, the 10 most valuable games of Chipper Jones’ career, according to WPA:
1. Sept. 2, 2012 (WPA: .875). 8-7 win vs. Phillies
Key play: Three-run homer with two outs in the ninth, down two runs, to win 8-7 (wWPA: 86%).
2. Sept. 11, 2005 (WPA: .841). 9-7 win vs. Nationals
Key play: Two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, down one run, to go ahead 8-7 (wWPA: 74%).
3. July 1, 1998 (WPA: .813). 6-5 win vs. Devil Rays
Key play: Two-run homer with two outs in the ninth, down one run, to go ahead 6-5 (wWPA: 70%).
4. Aug. 9, 1998 (WPA: .750). 7-5 win vs. Giants
Key play: Two-run single with two outs in the ninth, tied at 5, to go ahead 7-5 (wWPA: 41%).
5. June 7, 2009 (WPA: .685). 8-7 win vs. Brewers
Key play: Three-run homer with two outs in the fifth, down one run, to go ahead 5-3 (wWPA: 39%).
6. Sept. 14, 2007 (WPA: .594). 8-5 win vs. Nationals
Key play: RBI double with one out in the ninth, down one run, to tie at 5 (wWPA: 39%).
7. May 17, 2006 (WPA: .591). 6-4 win vs. Marlins
Key play: Three-run homer with no outs in the 11th, down one run, to win 6-4 (wWPA: 47%).
8. April 6, 2005 (WPA: .567). 2-1 win vs. Marlins
Key play: Solo home run with no outs in the 13th, tied at 1, to go ahead 2-1 (wWPA: 34%).
9. Sept. 22, 2004 (WPA: .546). 11-8 loss vs. Reds
Key play: Three-run homer with two outs in the seventh, down one run, to go ahead 8-6 (wWPA: -51%).
10. Aug. 22, 2005 (WPA: .543). 4-2 win vs. Cubs
Key play: Two-run homer with one out in the ninth, tied at 2, to go ahead 4-2 (wWPA: 41%).
Notes: wWPA is the winning team’s win probability added. Therefore, the minus on No. 9 shows how much it affected the Reds’ chances of winning. That loss was the result of a John Smoltz blown save.
Two of the three key plays against the Nationals were off Chad Cordero.
The key play against the Cubs was off Kerry Wood.
The one game on this list that was more of a compilation than final at-bat magic was No. 5. Chipper went 4-4 with a walk, triple, two homers and five RBIs.
Among the top 20 WPA games in his career, he never had more than three in one season. He had three each in 1998, 2005 and 2010.
Counting back the top 20 WPA games in Chipper’s career, 10 of the games were before he turned 30 years old, making it an even split. However, as you can tell from the list, only two of the top 10 were before his age 30 season.