Home > Uncategorized > A Specific Count Of Walk-Off, Pinch-Hit Grand Slams

A Specific Count Of Walk-Off, Pinch-Hit Grand Slams

This former pitcher made a game-winning contribution with a bat Tuesday night

No part of Tuesday’s baseball action was more exciting than what took place in a game against the always-hapless Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, who are in the early stages of what seems to be a lengthy existence as baseball’s worst team.

Through Wednesday, there have been 186 walk-off wins. Five of them took place Tuesday, but no one this season has stepped to the plate fresh off the bench with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and sent the fans home happy with a grand slam. That is until Brian Bogusevic met Carlos Marmol. There’s been a lot of focus on Marmol, who has blown five saves in which he’s allowed multiple runs; only Joakim Soria has more such outings.

But Bogusevic is the real story considering the lack of reasons to be positive about the Astros now and for a few seasons into the future, and the fact that Bogusevic now has all of two major league home runs to his credit.

I know some guys have hit a grand slam in their first at-bat in the big leagues — I remember the Red Sox’s Daniel Nava and the Marlins’ Jeremy Hermida. But I have serious doubts that anyone before Bogusevic can do what he did Tuesday after just one career homer. I guess we’ll find out with this post.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, a player has recorded a pinch-hit grand slam in his only plate appearance of a game 278 times since 1919. But to have such hits end the game, the number is much less as I guess you would expect. Other than Bogusevic, the most recent one was hit by the Braves’ Brooks Conrad in 2010 when he had just four home runs in his career. I’m not a Braves fan, but watching Conrad react as if the ball had been caught and then realize what actually happened was surreal.

Before Brooks, the last such home run to fit the criteria was hit by an Astro. Gregg Zaun went deep with the bases loaded off of good ol’ Byung-Hyun Kim to give Houston an insta-win in 2002.

Going back to 1950 — because that’s as far back as B-R.com gives us a game’s play-by-play — there have been 25 walk-off pinch-hit grand slams. A quick breakdown:

Hit with the score tied: 15

Hit while trailing: 10

Hit while trailing by three runs: 4

And in what I’ve decided to call the alone-in-the-backyard situation (because we go through this scene in our heads when we’re kids playing baseball in the backyard), two of those grand slams were hit when the batter’s team was trailing by three runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Both came from St. Louis Cardinals — Carl Taylor, who hit 10 career home runs, and Roger Freed, who hit 22 career home runs.

In all, these 25 players hit a total of 647 home runs before their walk-off shots. Philadelphia Phillie Davey Johnson had the most of any player at the time of said granny — 133. Baltimore Oriole Terry Crowley hit one on Aug. 8, 1982, which turned out to be the last home run of his career, 42 in all over 15 seasons.

And wouldn’t you know it — someone’s first major league home run actually was a walk-off, pinch-hit granny! Rick Joseph debuted with the Kansas City Athletics in 1964, but his first home run didn’t come until Sept. 16, 1967 with the Philadelphia Phillies when his team needed it the most. Joseph didn’t play past the 1970 season and retired with 13 career home runs.

Leon Wagner has the most career home runs of any of these 25 guys at 211. I guess it’s not too surprising that you don’t find a lot of iconic power hitters on this list. If a lot of these guys could hit in the first place, they wouldn’t be relegated to pinch-hitting duties. Bogusevic will enjoy the moment, but he probably doesn’t want to have his career defined by what he did as a pinch-hitter either.

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