August 14, 2018

David Bote Hits A Two-Out, Two-Strike, Pinch-Hit, Game-Winning Grand Slam For The Cubs

Late on Sunday night in Chicago, when the Cubs batted in the bottom of the ninth, they trailed the Nationals 3-0. Their win expectancy was only 4%.

Washington pitcher Ryan Madson retired Ben Zobrist on a grounder to first, cutting Chicago's win expectancy to 2%. Jason Heyward was safe on an infield single to second (5%). Albert Almora was hit by a pitch (10%). Kyle Schwarber fouled out to third (4%). Madson hit Willson Contreras, loading the bases (10%). Ian Happ pinch-ran for Contreras.

David Bote - a 25-year-old rookie - pinch-hit for the pitcher. Foul. Ball. Called Strike. Ball. Grand Slam to deep center. Cubs win 4-3!

Here is the Win Expectancy Chart for the game:

One of the Cubs rushing along the foul line to the plate seems not to quite believe what's happening is happening.
It was the first two-out, walk-off, pinch-hit grand slam with a team down by three runs in nearly 40 years Roger Freed of the Cardinals hit the penultimate home run of his 10-year career in the eleventh innings against the Astros on May 1, 1979. Freed would play only 27 more major league games. Bote was playing in his 34th major league game.

Jeff Sullivan, FanGraphs:
In recorded history, there have been 15 walk-off grand slams, with two outs, to erase a three-run deficit. Before Bote, the most recent had been hit by Ryan Roberts [of the Diamondbacks on September 27, 2011.] ...

Bote fouled off the first pitch he saw. He took the second pitch, which was close, but which was called a ball. He took the third pitch, too. This was called a strike ...

At that point, after the borderline call, Bote was behind 1-and-2. The next pitch was low, evening the count at 2-and-2. Now, 2-and-2 is certainly more hitter-friendly than 1-and-2, but at the same time, 2-and-2 is still a pitcher-friendly count. Here are the league-average wOBAs this season through each of the 12 possible counts:
Bote was in the fourth-worst count possible. ... [T]hat means the Cubs' chances of winning would've been even lower than they were when Bote first came up. ... The 2-and-2 pitch wasn't even that bad; Bote simply made perfect contact ...

There is a limit as to how much of a difference is ever possible to make with one swing of the bat. Bote just approached that limit. He achieved the event with the second-highest win-expectancy swing, and he did it in a pitcher-friendly count, which only makes it all the more remarkable. Baseball can hardly get more extreme, more dramatic ...
Here is a list of all of the grand slams hit in the bottom of the ninth (or tenth) with the home team down by three runs (referred to as an Ultimate Grand Slam). posted a list of the six pinch-hit UGSs since 1925, with video of the most recent two:
Samuel Byrd, Reds, May 23, 1936 vs. Pirates (no outs, team trailed 3-0)
Jack Phillips, Pirates, July 8, 1950 vs. Cardinals (one out)
Carl Taylor, Cardinals, August 11, 1970 vs. Padres (two outs, last homer of career, against the same pitcher off whom he hit his first home run)
Roger Freed, Cardinals, May 1, 1979 vs. Astros (two outs)
Brooks Conrad, Atlanta, May 20, 2010 vs. Reds (one out, ball bounced off Laynce Nix's glove, capped a seven-run comeback)
Brian Bogusevic, Astros, August 16, 2011 vs. Cubs (one out)

On Monday, Atlanta's Ronald Acuna "became just the fourth player in Major League history to begin both ends of a twin bill with a home run".

The other three:
Harry Hooper, Red Sox, May 30, 1913, against Senators (3-4, 1-0)
Rickey Henderson, Athletics, July 5, 1993, against Cleveland (6-5, 2-6)
Brady Anderson, Orioles, August 21, 1999, against White Sox (3-4, 5-8)
However, Atlanta was playing at home so while Acuna was the first player to bat for his team, he could not have begun either game with a home run because he came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. That is also true of Henderson and Anderson.

Harry Hooper is the only player to truly lead off both games of a doubleheader with a home run.

1 comment:

allan said...

I love seeing the center fielder breaking back in the first picture.