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Grand Slams

World Series Grand Slams: Ranking the Best Five

In 118 World Series, there have been 21 grand slams hit. Some of these have been the cherry on top of dominating wins. Others have potentially swung the World Series. Let’s take a look at the five biggest World Series grand slams.

World Series Grand Slams:

World Series Grand Slams: No.5 – Jose Canseco, 1988

It’s Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead 2-0 after a Mickey Hatcher two-run shot in the bottom of the first. Canseco stands in with the bases juiced and two outs.

Canseco unloaded on the second pitch of the at-bat, launching it to straightaway center and off a camera just beyond the outfield wall. The AL MVP’s slam increased Oakland’s chances of winning by 38%.

While Canseco’s home run ranks fourth in win probability added, it is knocked down to No. 5 here because it came in the second inning. It is one of just three score-reversing grand slams in World Series history.

Naturally, the A’s would eventually lose this game and the series. His grand slam was Canseco’s only hit of the series as he slashed .053/.182/.211. Despite the struggles, he added 3.68% to Oakland’s total World Series win probability, finishing third among Oakland’s hitters.

World Series Grand Slams: No.4 – Tino Martinez, 1998

San Diego leads 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. After Kevin Brown struck out Scott Brosius, he allowed Jorge Posada and Ricky Ledee to reach before he was lifted for Donnie Wall.

Three pitches later, Wall grooved a pitch to Chuck Knoblauch who tied the game with a 36% boost to the Yankees’ win probability. This, of course, was only a three-run shot, but it swung the game massively for the Yankees.

Wall faced one more batter, allowing Derek Jeter to single. Mark Langston entered, retired Paul O’Neill before intentionally walking Bernie Williams and unintentionally walking Chili Davis.

Welcome Tino Martinez to the batter’s box.

In a tie game with two outs, the bases loaded, and a full count, Martinez blasts a pitch deep into the night at Yankee Stadium. The grand slam increased the Yankees’ win probability from 62% to 96%. They would go on to win the game 9-6 and eventually sweep the series.

Martinez’s home run is tied for the second-latest grand slam in World Series history with it coming with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. While its win probability added ranked fifth, it came in the third-highest leverage situation.

World Series Grand Slams: No.3 – Chuck Hiller, 1962

It’s Game 4 of a tightly contested World Series between the Giants and the Yankees. The squads split the games in the Bay, but the Yankees took Game 3. Entering the seventh inning, the Yankees and Giants are tied 2-2. Jim Davenport reaches on a walk, and Matty Alou follows two batters later with a double. After intentionally walking Bob Nieman, reliever Marshall Bridges got Harvey Kueen to pop out.

Enter Chuck Hiller.

Hiller scorches a pitch deep into right field at Yankee Stadium, increasing his Giants’ win probability by 40%. The Giants would win Game 4 7-3, eventually fighting to a Game 7 where Ralph Terry outdueled Jack Sanford in a Yankees’ victory.

Through 58 World Series, no National League player had ever hit a grand slam. Of the first seven World Series grand slams, six were hit by Yankees, and the other was hit by Cleveland’s Elmer Smith.

Hiller’s home run is tied for the second-largest win probability swing of any World Series grand slam. It came in the second-highest leverage situation. The only thing holding Hiller’s blast from being higher is that it came in a tied game rather than while his team was trailing.

World Series Grand Slams: No.2 – Ken Boyer, 1964

Two years later, an eerily similar situation unfolded at Yankee Stadium. It’s Game 4 of the World Series, and the Yankees lead the series 2-1.

The Yankees chased starter Cardinals’ Ray Sadecki just five batters into his outing, eventually scoring three runs in the first inning. The lead held until the sixth inning.

Yankees’ starter Al Downing had been cruising, but he allowed two singles to open the sixth. He coaxed a flyball out from Lou Brock and a grounder from Dick Groat, but a Bobby Richardson error let Groat reach.

Up steps cleanup hitter and soon-to-be NL MVP Ken Boyer.

Boyer’s blast to left more than doubled St. Louis’ chances of winning, taking it from 25% to 65%. The Cardinals held on to win the game 4-3, which turned into good omens as the Cardinals won the World Series 4-3 behind MVP Bob Gibson.

While Boyer’s grand slam was the only World Series grand slam when a team was trailing by three or more runs, it came in the sixth inning and with just one out on the board, slightly hurting its win probability added. Nonetheless, the 40% boost is tied for the second-largest swing on a grand slam in World Series history.

World Series Grand Slams: No.1 – Paul Konerko, 2005

The Astros lead Game 2 of the 2005 World Series 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Andy Pettitte outdueled Mark Buehrle, and he has just handed the game over to Dan Wheeler.

After getting two outs on three batters, Wheeler loses control, walking Tadahito Iguchi and hitting Jermaine Dye. Chad Qualls enters the game needing one out to send the Astros to the eighth with the lead. Houston has a 72% chance of winning the game.

Konerko had other plans, and it only took one pitch to reverse the score.

The White Sox legend added 58% to Chicago’s win probability, the largest swing of win probability on a grand slam in World Series history. Among all World Series home runs, it ranks fifth, and it is the highest-ranked home run from before the eighth inning.
The great irony is that Konerko’s blast is not the most memorable from the World Series – even in this game. Chicago surrendered their 6-4 lead in the top of the ninth before light-hitting Scott Podsednik sent White Sox fans home happy with a walk-off home run. Podsednik’s home run only added 41% to Chicago’s win probability, but it is one of just 16 World Series walk-off home runs.

Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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