3. Alex Gordon, 2015 Kansas City Royals. The New York Mets were two small outs away from winning game One of the 2015 World Series when Gordon produced an alternate reality.
Leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth inning at Kauffman Stadium, Mets reliever Jeurys Familia retired the first batter he faced, catcher Salvador Perez, on an easy ground ball. But Gordon lined a 1-1 pitch into the seats in right, tying the game 4-4 and sending it into extra innings.
That tie wasn’t broken until the bottom of the 14th, when Eric Hosmer’s sacrifice fly scored Alcides Escobar with the winning run. The Royals used that momentum to take the Series in five games. Gordon Win Probability Added: 47 percent.
2. Roger Peckinpaugh, 1924 Washington Senators. On the rare occasions when Peckinpaugh’s name is recalled today, it is usually as the goat of the 1925 World Series, when his eight fielding errors sabotaged the Washington Senators’ chances at a repeat of their World Series title. And even when Peckinpaugh did well, as he did in Game One of the 1924 World Series, things still didn’t work out.
In his usual spot at shortstop for the Senators against the New York Giants at Washington’s Griffith Stadium, Peckinpaugh came up in the bottom of the ninth with his team trailing 2-1. With one out and Ossie Bluege at first, Peckinpaugh drove an Art Nehf pitch into the gap in left field for a double, allowing Bluege to tally the tying run.
The Giants came back to win the game in 12 innings, although Washington prevailed 4 games to 3 in the Series. Peckinpaugh Win Probability Added: 48 percent.
1. Kirk Gibson, 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers. Gibson’s swing that night at Dodger Stadium is among the most memorable hacks in U.S. sport.
Out of the lineup with two injured knees and not expected to play, Gibson watched from the bench as his Dodgers, trailing 3-2, flailed against ace Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in the ninth inning.
First Mike Scioscia popped harmlessly to short, then Jeff Hamilton was caught looking at an Eckersley pitch. Only Mike Davis, pinch hitting for Alfredo Griffin, stood between Eckersley’s A’s and a Game One victory, and Davis somehow managed to wait out Eckersley for a walk.
That’s when Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda played his desperate hole card, summoning Gibson to pinch hit for pitcher Alejandro Pena.
Famously, Gibson hobbled to the plate on those two bad knees, nearly fell over swinging at and fouling off pitches, and working a full count. His only chance was to hope Eckersley would make a mistake in the strike zone, and eventually that’s what Eckersley did. Virtually throwing his upper body at the pitch, Gibson connected and watched the ball sail into the right field pavilion for a game-winning home run.
The Dodgers rode the momentum from that stunning moment to a five-game Series victory over the heavily favored Athletics. They did it without Gibson, whose home run swing came on the only appearance in that World Series his body would allow him to make. Gibson Win Probability Added: 87 percent.
Author's Note: Had events from this year's Game 1 been folded into the historical Game 1 item, Corey Seager's ninth-inning home run, with a 47 percent Win Probability Added, would have tied for third all-time. The Adolis Garcia walk off, with a 43 percent Win probability Added, would have tied for seventh all-time.