Gut-check time: Is this number high, low, or normal?

Paul Konerko‘s 400th HR was a game-tying shot in the 9th inning on the first pitch from Grant Balfour.

It’s the 12th time a Konerko HR in the 9th inning or later has won or tied the game or put his team in front. That’s 3.0% of his career HRs.

What’s your gut feeling on how Konerko’s rate compares to those of contemporary sluggers? The answer is below the jump.

For all players with 300+ who were active in 2011, here is the percentage of their career HRs that came in the 9th inning or later and were winning, tying or go-ahead (“W/T/G”):

PlayerPct.Total HRW/T/G HR
Aramis Ramirez4.7%31615
Adam Dunn4.6%36917
Todd Helton4.6%35016
Jason Giambi4.4%42819
Andruw Jones4.3%42218
Carlos Beltran4.2%30713
David Ortiz4.2%38116
Carlos Lee4.1%34114
Derrek Lee3.9%33113
Adrian Beltre3.8%31312
Miguel Tejada3.6%30411
Albert Pujols3.6%44516
Chipper Jones3.5%45716
Vlad Guerrero3.3%44915
Alex Rodriguez3.3%63221
Scott Rolen3.2%30910
Alfonso Soriano3.2%34011
Jim Thome3.1%60419
Paul Konerko3.0%40012
Ivan Rodriguez2.9%3119
Manny Ramirez2.7%55515
Lance Berkman2.5%3589
Mark Teixeira2.2%3177



Believe it or not:  Mark Teixeira has never hit a game-ending HR, and Lance Berkman has just one. Teix has just 4 game-ending RBI in his career; since he joined the Yanks in 2009, they’ve had 23 game-ending RBI, just one by Teixeira.

During his Cardinals career, Albert Pujols hit 10 of the team’s 29 game-winning HRs, including 7 of their 15 in extra innings. Pujols and David Ortiz share the MLB lead with 10 game-winning HRs since 2001.

21 thoughts on “Gut-check time: Is this number high, low, or normal?

  1. 1
    Doug says:

    Once or twice a year, based on 30+ HR seasons. That seems about right.

  2. 2
    Mike L says:

    John A. Are we looking to start the “clutch” discussion again?

    • 8
      John Autin says:

      Mike L — 🙂 No, I wouldn’t say that. I’m just trying to go with the pitch. The combination of the milestone and the situation led me to check Konerko’s record, and when I saw the numbers it seemed like a low percentage. The rest is obsessive-compulsive history.

  3. 3
    Doug says:

    None of these were walk-off shots but, on two occasions in 2001, Barry Bonds hit a tying or go-ahead HR in the 7th inning or later in consecutive games.

    Apr 17-18 against the Dodgers.
    – Bonds HR was the winning tally in two one-run games.

    May 18-19 against the Braves.
    – In first game, after Giants went ahead on Bonds HR, Braves pulled it out on a 9th inning rally culminating in a walk-off wild pitch.
    – In second game, Bonds HR pulled the Giants even, before adding additional runs in a 6-3 win.

  4. 4
    Doug says:

    Hank Blalock also had late game-tying or go-ahead HR in consecutive games in 2008.

    Sep 22 – game-tying shot in bottom of 9th, but Texas lost in 11
    Sep 23 – go-ahead 2-run HR in 7th, providing winning margin

  5. 5
    bstar says:

    On a lark, I was looking at Bo Diaz’ career with the Phillies, as I remember Pete Rose hilariously touting him for MVP of the NL in ’83 for his clutch hitting, and here’s the main reason why, a down-by-3 grand slam in the bottom of the ninth against the Mets:

    This gave Diaz a .910 WPA for that feat. I assume a grand slam down by three in the bottom of the ninth has to be the most powerful WPA event a batter can accomplish, no? My question is, since it was already a 9-6 game before Diaz’ HR, would his WPA possibly have been more if the run environment in the game had been lower(the score was 3-0)? It makes sense to me that had Diaz hit his salami in a 16-15 wind-blowing-out slugfest in Wrigley Field his WPA may not have been as high.

  6. 9
    Timmy Pea says:

    This isn’t a rundown Konerko post is it?

    • 12
      John Autin says:

      Timmy, you know me better than that! 🙂 I guess I don’t have much of a point here; I just wanted to show the range of late-and-close HRs among top contemporary longballers.

      (Besides, if I was knocking ‘Nerks, you know I’d work my around to a dig on his foot speed.)

  7. 11
    Neil L. says:

    JA, it doesn’t speak to the main point of your post, but I’m very interested in the mechanics of how you created your list from the Play Index.

    • 13
      John Autin says:

      Neil — There might have been a more efficient way, but all I did was first find the active players with 300+ HRs, and then used their individual Event Finders to round up the particular class of HRs I wanted.

      I tried doing an Event Finder covering all of MLB for the past 20 years, but it timed out, so I just went with a brutish method that I knew I could get done.

    • 15
      John Autin says:

      Just to finish up … I created the actual table used above by simply typing my findings into Excel, where I calculated the percentages.

    • 17
      bstar says:

      Neil, a way more brutish way to do it was my method when I checked Ryan Howard’s #’s(he came out about average, 3.8%). I just used the HR log on each player page and eye-scanned them. It doesn’t take as long as you think, and it gives the inning, the score at the time, etc. It also gives the WPA for every particular homer.

  8. 14
    James Smyth says:

    Surprised that Tex has never had one…but there was this in the postseason:

    • 16
      John Autin says:

      Good point, James. I should have mentioned that the Event Finder does not cover postseason games. I’m not really sure why, since the Batter-vs-Pitcher tool does include them, and the concepts are similar. But that’s the way it is.

    • 18
      Paul E says:

      In the words of “Tex”,”there are hits-and then there are big hits”. Spoken on the rare occasion of a post-season game winning hit struck off his own instrument of employment. Please feel free to pause mid sentence to add dramatic effect….

      It’s pretty bad when you make $22,000,000/year and they rave about your fielding at 1B. But, I don’t intend to start a “clutch” discussion

  9. 19
    TheGoof says:

    Don’t forget, of course, some guys don’t get pitched to as much in late innings when there could be a switch in who is winning. Not sure if that’s true of Tex, but at least a few of them have to have fewer times they face that scenario.

    • 21
      John Autin says:

      Goof, that’s a good point in general. But I can’t imagine that it would be the case with Teixeira, who has been in good lineups virtually his whole career.

  10. 20
    Tristram12 says:

    I’m guessing this number would be influenced by the team they play for. We know that really good teams and really bad teams play more blowout games, which probably have less 9th inning heroics. I would hypothesize that the leaders here played the majority of their time for .500ish teams.

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