t-2. Enos Slaughter, 1956 New York Yankees. The Yankees were in trouble. Losers to the defending World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers in the first two games of the 1956 Classic, they trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth inning of Game Three at Yankee Stadium.
Dodger starter Roger Craig had to that point held the Yankees to a Billy Martin home run. And after Hank Bauer opened the sixth with a base hit, Craig set down Joe Collins and Mickey Mantle only to allow Yogi Berra to drive a single up the middle.
The next batter was Slaughter, a 40-year-old veteran of glory days a decade earlier in St. Louis, who had been obtained from Kansas City that summer. Still capable of putting the ball in play, Slaughter’s power had by then largely abandoned him, a fact attested to by his two home runs in 344 plate appearances that season.
But the veteran could still take advantage of a fat 3-1 offering. When Craig threw him just such a pitch, Slaughter drove it into the right field seats, scoring Bauer and Berra ahead of him and giving New York a 4-2 lead. The Yanks won 5-3, watched Don Larsen author his perfect game two days later, and claimed the Series in seven games. Slaughter Win Probability Added: 43 percent.
t-2. Tim McCarver, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals. With the 1968 World Series even at a game apiece, Detroit carried a 2-0 lead over the defending champion Cardinals into the fifth inning of Game Three at Tiger Stadium. Tiger starter Earl Wilson had limited the visitors to two hits, and he fanned Cardinal starter Ray Washburn to open the inning.
Then things began to unravel. Lou Brock singled, stole second and came home on Curt Flood’s double, reducing the St. Louis deficit to a single run. Roger Maris walked, knocking Wilson out of he game in favor of Pat Dobson, but Dobson erased cleanup hitter Orlando Cepeda on a foul pop.
McCarver was the last hitter between Dobson and escaping further damage, and he maximized that damage. His home run into the right field seats scored Flood and Maris ahead of him and shot the visiting Cardinals into a 4-3 lead.
St. Louis added three late runs to win 7-3, although the Tigers rallied to win the Series in seven games. McCarver Win Probability Added: 43 percent.
1. Scott Brosius, 1998 New York Yankees. The 1998 Yankees are ranked among the greatest teams of all time. Not only did they win114 regular season games, but they swept through the 1998 post-season with 11 wins in 13 games and a four-game sweep of the National League champion San Diego Padres.
That sweep might not have happened but for Brosius. At Jack Murphy Stadium for Game Three, the Padres carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth inning. But when Paul O’Neill opened the eighth by drawing a walk, Padres manager Bruce Bochy called on his closer, Trevor Hoffman, to get the final six outs. He retired Bernie Williams but walked Tino Martinez, bringing up Brosius.
The third baseman was known more for his bat-to-ball skills than his power although 19 regular season home runs testified to his potential. Hoffman accommodated, delivering a middle-in pitch that Brosius slammed over the 405-foot sign in dead center field. Brosius Win Probability Added: 53 percent.