The Yankees finished their first half with the best record in baseball at 56-32. This year’s team might not have as many fancy walk-offs or pie celebrations that last year’s team had, but there were still some unbelievable moments over the first half of the season.
Here are the top 5 moments, using WPA as the criterion. Each play increased the Yankees’ chances of winning by over 40%. As a result, you won’t see any moments that occurred in blow-out wins.
Each of these plays increased the Yankees’ chance of victory by 41%. Alex Rodriguez’s two-out, two-run single off David Aardsma turned a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning. Swisher’s home run against Minnesota was hit with two outs in the top of the ninth inning at Target Field. In each game, Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning.
4) Robinson Cano’s Two-Run Home Run off George Sherrill, 6/27 (Video)
This game is probably more remembered for the ninth inning rally the Yankees put together off Jonathan Broxton, but Cano’s home run in the tenth was the biggest play of the game. The home run increased the Yankees’ chance of victory by 42%. The WPA graph suggested that the Yankees only had a 0.4% chance of winning at one point.
3) Marcus Thames’ Game-Winning Home Run off Jonathan Papelbon, 5/17 (Video)
Thames’ walk-off home run led to the first pie of the year, and it also came off Jonathan Papelbon and the Boston Red Sox. The home run sealed the victory, increasing the odds from 57% to 100%. This was probably my favorite game of the year.
2) Alex Rodriguez’s Game-Tying Home Run off Jonathan Papelbon, 5/17 (Video)
Before Thames had a chance of hitting a walk-off home run, Alex Rodriguez hit a dramatic, game-tying home run that turned a 9-7 deficit into a 9-9 tie. A-Rod’s home run increased the chance of victory by 46%. Suffice it to say, Jonathan Papelbon did not have a good game.
1) Mark Teixeira’s Three-Run Home Run off Tony Sipp, 5/30 (Video)
After giving up a grand slam to Robinson Cano earlier in this series, Tony Sipp served up a three-run home run to Mark Teixiera that turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 Yankees lead. The home run changed the outcome by a season-high 48% and led to an eventual Yankee win.