WPA, short for Win Probability Added, is a stat we use often here at BP Wrigleyville. It’s really a cool little number, and for the sake of not leaving anyone in the dark, I’ll briefly explain it. WPA is a measurement of the degree to which every play that happens throughout a game changes the team’s likelihood of winning, on a scale of 0 percent (the team has lost) to 100 percent (the team has won). Anything that’s positive (like a double) increases the team’s chances of winning the game, and anything negative decreases them.
We like home runs because they change a team’s chances of winning the game in one pure, self-contained moment. Let’s take a look at the biggest home runs the Cubs have had in the postseason so far, by WPA.
(5) It was Game Three of the NLDS, and the Cubs had Jake Arrieta on the mound, and had given him an early lead. We’d been spoiled into thinking that that was all he would need, but on this day that wasn’t the case. Just after the Cardinals took the lead back from the Cubs, Starlin Castro came up against Michael Wacha and tied the game with this:
Situation: Bottom 4th, 2-1 Cardinals, one out, none on
(4) With palpable tension in the air, the Cubs and Pirates were in the middle of the Wild Card sudden death elimination game. Already having produced the first run of the game with a first-inning knock, Kyle Schwarber delivered a crushing blow to all of Pittsburgh with this mammoth two-run shot:
Situation: Top 3rd, 1-0 Cubs, one out, one on
(3) Just as the Cardinals were busy working their magic, with light-hitting catcher Tony Cruz delivering an RBI double and a struggling Brandon Moss tying up the game, Anthony Rizzo crushed a home run off of lefty Kevin Siegrist to give the Cubs the lead in Game Four:
Situation: Bottom 6th, 4-4 tie, two out, none on
(2) Game Three of the NLDS was always going to be a pivotal moment in the series. The Cubs knew they needed to win both games at Wrigley Field to avoid going back to St. Louis and having the pressure be on them. And they delivered: Kris Bryant’s go-ahead two-run home run off of Michael Wacha just about did it for the Cubs this game:
Situation: Bottom 5th, 2-2 tie, one on
(1) The top home run on this list was not a game-winning home run, but it did electrify the home crowd and certainly deserves its large WPA score. After Jason Hammel singled in a run to cut the Cubs’ deficit in half in the early innings of Game Four, Javier Baez stepped up to the plate against John Lackey, who had dominated the Cubs in Game One. Baez earned the top spot on this list with the biggest home run of his career:
Situation: Bottom 2nd, 2-1 Cardinals, two on
And there you have it—the top Cub home runs of the postseason so far. Stay tuned for more …
Many thanks to friend of the site Alex Walsh (@ajwalshCubs) for help in compiling this list.
Lead photo courtesy Caylor Arnold—USA Today Sports.