I’m still reeling from watching the highlights of Delmon Young’s bases clearing double yesterday. Replaying it over and over makes me a bit misty-eyed. Living out-of-state, I don’t get to celebrate a lot with Orioles fans, so watching Camden Yards explode as Young’s line drive reached its apex gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
In an interview with David Laurila of FanGraphs, Joakim Soria described how he thought he made a good pitch. Young is a notorious first-pitch fastball hitter, so Soria threw him a first-pitch slider. It wasn’t grooved and it didn’t hang. It hovered, tempting Young to swing as if it were a first-pitch fastball, and then dropped low and slid away a few inches. Young just made good contact, and he made it at the right time: the bases were loaded and the Orioles were down by two runs. All three runners came around to give the Orioles the lead, and Young ended up on second with an extremely clutch double.
When Young stepped to the plate, the Orioles had a 36% chance to win the game. 30 or so seconds later, when Hardy slapped that same plate, that chance had increased to 89%. That 53% increase is the second-highest WPA in Orioles postseason history attributed to one batter, right behind Roberto Alomar’s go-ahead home run in Game 4 of the 1996 ALDS.
Here are the top ten single-game performances:
|1||Roberto Alomar||1996-10-05||ALDS||4||BAL||CLE||W 4-3||6||0.591|
|2||Delmon Young||2014-10-03||ALDS||2||BAL||DET||W 7-6||1||0.526|
|3||Boog Powell||1969-10-04||ALCS||1||BAL||MIN||W 4-3||5||0.440|
|4||Rich Dauer||1983-10-15||WS||4||BAL||PHI||W 5-4||4||0.439|
|5||Curt Motton||1969-10-05||ALCS||2||BAL||MIN||W 1-0||1||0.393|
|6||Eddie Murray||1979-10-11||WS||2||BAL||PIT||L 2-3||4||0.392|
|7||Dan Ford||1983-10-14||WS||3||BAL||PHI||W 3-2||4||0.387|
|8||John Lowenstein||1979-10-03||ALCS||1||BAL||CAL||W 6-3||1||0.387|
|9||Brady Anderson||1997-10-11||ALCS||3||BAL||CLE||L 1-2||5||0.367|
|10||Kiko Garcia||1979-10-12||WS||3||BAL||PIT||W 8-4||5||0.360|
If you restrict this list to just nine inning games, Young comes out on top. This is a fun conversation to have with your Orioles friends during Game 3. You could argue that Alomar’s performance was less impressive because he needed six plate appearances and 12 innings to tally that WPA. Young needed just one plate appearance in a nine-inning game. On the other hand, you could argue that Alomar’s dinger was more important because it sealed an ALDS victory for the Orioles, whereas Young's hit just put the Orioles up 2-0 in the series.
Whichever way you lean, don’t let the discussion overshadow what the team and its fans experienced yesterday. Here’s hoping Young has more moments like this one as the Orioles’ run continues.