MLB Playoffs: Top 25 Single Season October Performances in MLB History
October is upon us, which means it is time for the 2010 MLB postseason. If baseball is a wonderful world in which the amazing can happen, then postseason baseball is a fantastic universe in which heroes are made and impossible dreams come true.
Every season, or so it seems, the MLB postseason gives us something that we'll cherish and remember forever.
To that end, let's have a look at the top 25 single season performances in Major League Baseball postseason history.
25. Jack Billingham, 1972 Cincinnati Reds
Could Jack Billingham have done more to help the Cincinnati Reds win the 1972 World Series? Probably not.
In three games, Billingham pitched 13.2 innings, allowing only six hits and a run while earning a win and a save.
When Billingham left Game 7 after five innings, the score was tied 1-1 and the only run against him was unearned.
24. Barry Bonds, 2002 San Francisco Giants
One of the very few players on this list to star for the losing team in the World Series.
After a career in which Barry Bonds had become labeled as a postseason choker, Barry was at the height of his powers in 2002 when the San Francisco Giants came within five outs of winning the Fall Classic before succumbing to the Anaheim Angels.
It wasn't for Bonds' lack of trying, though; Barry hit .471 with a 1.994 OPS in the series with four home runs, 13 walks, six RBI, and eight runs scored in seven games.
23. Lou Gerhig, 1928 New York Yankees
The 1928 New York Yankees swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series on the strength of the hitting of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Gehrig, for his part, hit .545 with a 2.433 OPS and four home runs, nine RBI, six walks, and no strikeouts in four games.
21. Hank Gowdy, 1914 Boston Braves
In 1914, the Boston Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics, allowing the A's to only score six runs in four games, and Hank Gowdy was at the center of it all.
Gowdy caught all four games from start to finish while hitting .545 with a 1.960 OPS for a deadball-era Braves team that hit .244 with a .663 OPS for the series.
Gowdy had three of the Braves' six doubles in the series, in addition to one of their two triples, five of their 15 walks, and the only home run hit by either team.
20. Johnny Bench, 1976 Cincinnati Reds
In the 1976 NLCS, Johnny Bench hit .333 with a 1.051 OPS to lead the Big Red Machine past the Philadelphia Phillies and into the World Series.
Then, in the Wrold Series, he hit .533 with a 1.667 OPS as the Reds swept the New York Yankees.
19. Lou Gehrig, 1932 New York Yankees
Gehrig only had to play in the World Series, of course, because Major League Baseball didn't have divisional rounds back in 1932.
Nevertheless, Gehrig went 9-for-17 in the 1932 Series, with three home runs, eight RBI, and nine runs scored. He batted .529 and collected 19 total bases in the four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs.
18. Hideki Matsui, 2009 New York Yankees
It might seem like perhaps Hideki Matsui's 2009 postseason performance looms large in our memory banks because it was so recent.
After a rough go of it in both the ALDS against Minnesota and the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Matsui positively caught fire against the Phillies in the World Series, hitting .615 with three home runs and single-handedly delivering the clinching Game Six for the Yankees with a home run and six RBI.
17. Charlie Keller, 1939 New York Yankees
Batting .438 and hitting a double, a triple, and three home runs in a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, Charlie Keller had seven of the Yankees' 27 hits and eight of the Yankees' 20 runs scored.
16. Waite Hoyt, 1921 New York Yankees
In 1921, the New York Yankees lost the World Series to the New York Giants, but you can't blame Waite Hoyt.
All Hoyt did was pitch 27.0 innings–as in, three complete games–without giving up a single earned run.
In a stunning Game 8 performance (don't ask) Hoyt allowed one unearned run in the top of the first inning on a groundout-walk-foul out-walk-E6-groundout sequence, and that was all the scoring in the deciding game of the series.
15. Whitey Ford, 1960 New York Yankees
You can't blame the New York Yankees loss in the 1960 World Series on Whitey Ford. He pitched two complete game shutouts and only allowed two batters to even get past second base.
14. Carl Hubbell, 1933 New York Giants
Carl Hubbell pitched two complete games, allowing only three unearned runs, in the New York Giants 4-1 World Series victory over the Washington Senators.
In a pivotal Game Four in Washingon, Hubbell pitched 11 innings, allowing only one unearned run in a 2-1 victory over Monte Weaver and Jack Russell.
14. Darin Erstad, 2002 Anaheim Angels
There are two players tied for the single-season postseason hits record with 25, and Darin Erstad is one of them. Plus, it was Erstad that led off the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 2002 World Series with a home run as the Giants squandered a 5-0 seventh-inning lead and ultimately the series.
13. Marquis Grissom, 1995 Atlanta Braves
The other player with 25 hits in a single postseason, Marquis Grissom was the leadoff man for the only Atlanta Braves team of the 1991-2005 run to actually win a Fall Classic.
Grissom was ridiculous in the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies, batting .524 with three home runs and 22 total bases in only four games. After essentially taking the NLCS off against the Cincinnati Reds, Grissom caught fire again in the World Series, hitting .360 with nine hits, and going 3-for-4 with a walk in the pivotal Game 4 in Cleveland.
12. Don Larsen, 1956 New York Yankees
11. Sandy Koufax, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers
In a Game 2 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the 1965 World Series, Sandy Koufax gave up two runs, only one earned, while striking out nine and walking only one, but took the loss.
Koufax wouldn't give up another run, pitching a shutout while striking out 10 in Game 5, and then coming back and pitching a shutout and striking out 10 more in Game 7.
10. Francisco Rodriguez, 2002 Anaheim Angels
No one had ever heard of him before the 2002 postseason, but Francisco Rodriguez emerged big time for the Angels, going 5-1 in 11 relief appearances, striking out 28 batters in 18.2 innings pitched.
9. Bob Gibson, 1967 St. Louis Cardinals
During the 1967 regular season, Bob Gibson broke his leg and was out from July 15 to Sept. 7. After tuning up with five starts in September, Gibson was back in form for the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
Gibson pitched a 2-1 complete game victory in Game 1, a 6-0 nine inning shutout in Game 4, and then a 7-2 nine inning decision in Game 7.
He also hit a home run in Game 7, struck out 26 batters in 27 innings pitched, and had a 0.704 WHIP.
8. Orel Hershiser, 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers
In a seven-game NLCS against the New York Mets, 1988 Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser pitched in four games.
In Games 1 and 3, Hershiser left the game after seven innings with the lead, only to watch the bullpen blow it.
In Game 4, Hershiser pitched the 12th inning for the win after a dramatic ninth inning comeback by the Dodgers.
In Game 7, Hershiser took over, pitching a complete game shutout.
In the World Series, he allowed seven hits and two runs in 18.0 innings pitched, striking out 17 and walking six on his way to two complete games and a shutout for the world champion Dodgers.
7. Christy Matthewson, 1905 New York Giants
In 1905, the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Athletics in five games, and Matthewson was recockulous.
Christy pitched three complete-game shutouts, allowing only 13 hits in 27 innings while striking out 18 and walking only one.
Matthewson pitched Games 1, 3, and 5, out-dueling Eddie Plank, Andy Coakley, and Chief Bender.
6. Rick Dempsey, 1983 Baltimore Orioles
One of those things that makes baseball wonderful: Rick Dempsey was a .233 lifetime hitter in 24 big league seasons. In the 1983 regular season, he hit .231 with a .634 OPS and four home runs in 128 games.
Dempsey struggled in the 1983 ALCS against the Chicago White Sox, batting only .167 with two hits in 13 trips to the plate.
But in the World Series, Dempsey became a legend. He hit .385 with four doubles and a home runs in five games, leading all Orioles hitters and winning the series MVP.
5. Jack Morris, 1991 Minnesota Twins
4. Curt Schilling, 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks
Forget the bloody sock; the 2001 postseason is the one that made Curt Schilling a legend.
No player has ever pitched more than the 48.1 innings Schilling pitched in the 2001 postseason, nor struck out more than the 56 batters Schilling struck out.
In six starts over three rounds of postseason play, Schilling allowed only six earned runs and walked only six batters, and his WHIP never got up to 0.700 in any series.
In the World Series, Schilling won Game 1, left Game 4 with a lead, and left Game 7 in a tied game.
He performed well enough to be named Series co-MVP with Randy Johnson.
3. David Ortiz, 2004 Boston Red Sox
Down 3-0 in the ALCS against the hated New York Yankees, David Ortiz delivered walk-off home runs in Games 4 and 5 to keep the Boston Red Sox alive. He didn't have a hit in Game 6, but he got the party started with a first inning two-run home run in Game 7 and the Red Sox went to the World Series.
Remember when we were all Red Sox fans?
2. Reggie Jackson, 1977 New York Yankees
In a six-game 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson hit five home runs, including three in the deciding Game 6.
It was a mythical performance.
1. Billy Hatcher, 1990 Cincinnati Reds
The 1990 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds was the first one I ever watched from start to finish, so I remember first hand the fact that Billy Hatcher's name kept getting called throughout the four games it took Cincinnati to dispatch the A's.
But you have to see the stats to believe them.
After an impressive NLCS in which he hit .333 with a home run and a double against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hatcher simply caught fire against the A's.
When the smoke had cleared, Hatcher had gone 9-for-12 in 15 trips to the plate, batting .750 with an .800 on-base percentage.
And, when the A's induced Billy Hatcher into a double play in the top of the first inning of Game 3, it was the first time in the Series that they had retired him.
The A's finally took Hatcher out of the game themselves by plunking him in the top of the first of Game 4. Herm Winningham replaced Hatcher in the order, but by then the damage was done.
It was truly the most amazing postseason performance from a hitter we've ever seen.