MLB’s greatest hits of May 5-11

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(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The top 10 MLB players who delivered the most impactful game-turning base hits in clutch situations during the past week.

The first rule of baseball is to hit the ball. But some guys do it better, and in more timely situations, than others. We call those guys heroes. During the past week, several MLB players delivered mission-critical base hits that turned the course of their games. It’s time they got some recognition.

This countdown recognizes the 10 most game-critical base hits of the past week in MLB. Our measuring stick is Weighted Win Probability Added, which is the percentage improvement in a team’s chances of victory brought about by the hit in question.

Weighted Win Probability Added is one of that so-called New Stats, but it’s based on data that’s been around a while. Simply put, every at-bat improves or harms a team’s chances of winning, depending on the game situation and the at bat’s outcome. A three-run home run hit in the late stages of a tight game is far more susceptible to move the Weighted Win Probability needle than a solo homer hit in the early stages of a blowout.

One point of clarification before we begin. We’re only focusing on hits here, not on outs. Although Weighted Win Probability Added does an excellent job of assessing the value of base hits, it is less adequate in quantifying the value of an out. One illustration from this past week shows why.

In the 11th inning of Boston’s game with Baltimore May 8, Jackie Bradley Jr. scaled the fence to make a home-run-stealing grab of Trey Mancini’s deep fly. Had Bradley not made the play, the game would have ended then and there in a Baltimore victory. Since Baltimore’s chances of winning the game stood at 58 percent before Mancini swung, Bradley’s catch logically should have been valued at the difference between that figure and 100 percent, meaning 42 percent. After all, he literally prevented an Oriole win.

Instead, Weighted Win Probability Added saw only the fact that the second out of an extra inning had been recorded against the home team, and on that basis, it assessed the value of 4 percent to Bradley’s play.

That decision made perfect sense to a computer, and none at all to any thinking person applying the data.

With that as an explanation, here are the 10 biggest hits of May 5-11. The heading shows the hit’s rank, the hitter, the date and the Win Probability Added.

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