Friend of Walkoff Walk Larry Granillo from the delightful blog Wezen Ball was the guest writer today at Baseball Analysts, and penned a heavily-researched piece on the history of walkoffs. (Shh! Nobody tell Lesley Visser!) Read it if you have ten good minutes to spare, but if you want to learn a quick nugget, here's a quick portion of his intro:
But the home run is not the only way to earn a walk-off victory. For our purposes, we'll use the most liberal definition of a walk-off victory (WoV), which is "a run-scoring event in the bottom half of the last inning of the game that gives the home team a winning margin." This means that any event that causes a run (or runs) to cross the plate can be considered a "walk-off". Base hits, ground-rule doubles, bases loaded walks, steals of home, sacrifice flies, passed balls, wild pitches, errors, balks, and even interference can all lead to a WoV.
I thought it'd be interesting, then, to do a study of these non-home run walk-off events. When you start looking at the data, you find that there are a lot of questions that can be asked: if Ruth, Mantle, Robinson, et al are the leaders for home runs, who are the leaders for the other categories? Is it a certain type of hitter? And what kind of situation leads to the most WoV's? Are there any seasons where the WoV was abnormally frequent?
Most importantly, we learn that the all time leader in walkoff walks (between 1954 and 2008) is 1960's outfielder Ron Swoboda, who showed patience under fire a whopping four times. Other players who have accomplished the shrimptastic event three times: Paul O'Neill, Jorge Posada, Gorman Thomas, and Darrell Porter. Royals pitcher John Wyatt must have been the Kenny Rogers of his day because he gave up a whopping five walkoff walks in his career. Yow!
Still, it's truly an act of kismet that the man who has recorded the most walkoff walks in history spent most of his career as a Met.