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The Braves' Brian McCann Makes History

All Brian McCann does is win.
All Brian McCann does is win.

Brian McCann had two at-bats in the final game of the series against the Astros: a pinch-hit, game-tying homer with 2 outs in the 9th inning followed by a two-run walkoff homer in the 11th. Has this ever been done before?

I did a search using Baseball-Reference's marvelous Play Index to find all the games in which a substitute hit two home runs in a game his team won. There have been 47 such games since 1919. Of those 47, only a handful hit both game-tying and go-ahead home runs late in the game (8th inning or later):

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt AB H HR RBI WPA Pos.
Brian McCann 2011-05-17 ATL HOU W 3-1 2 2 2 3 0.858 PH C
Scott Hairston 2007-08-03 SDP SFG W 4-3 3 2 2 4 0.828 LF
Ryan Howard 2006-05-14 PHI CIN W 2-1 2 2 2 2 0.626 PH 1B
Jeff Bagwell 1992-05-10 HOU PIT W 6-4 2 2 2 2 0.665 PH 1B
Mike Young 1987-05-28 BAL CAL W 8-7 4 3 2 3 1.087 PH DH
Del Rice 1961-06-18 LAA KCA W 5-3 2 2 2 3 0.693 PH C
Jeff Heath 1949-08-27 BSN CIN W 6-5 2 2 2 2 unknown LF
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/17/2011.

Let's go through the 6 games before McCann's to see if any match his feat:

  • Hairston's tying homer (a 3-run job) came in the bottom of the 8th; he then hit a walkoff solo shot in the 10th.
  • Howard's tying homer came in the top of the 8th; he hit another to take the lead in the 12th (he was also intentionally walked in the 10th).
  • Bagwell's tying homer also came in the top of the 8th; he hit his go-ahead homer in the 10th.
  • Young hit his tying homer in the bottom of the 10th, followed by a walk-off in the 12th. His walkoff actually was a 2-run shot that came while his team was down 1, which is even more impressive than McCann's feat.
  • Rice's homers came in the same two innings as McCann's--the 9th and 11th--but his team was on the road, so the latter was not a walk-off.
  • Heath's game came before reliable play-by-play in the boxscores on Baseball-Reference, but from what I can tell, he likely homered in the bottom of the 9th to tie it and in the 10th for a walk-off win. I can't be 100% certain, but if that's the case, his game would be as impressive as McCann's.
As near as I can tell, then, Brian McCann is only the third player in history to not start a game but still hit a game-tying homer in the 9th inning (or later) and a walkoff homer in extra innings.

Another aspect of McCann's performance that was rare was that he hit 2 home runs in his only two plate appearances coming off the bench. Only 28 players have done that. One of them, Art Shamsky, actually hit 3 homers in 3 at-bats!*

* Seriously, check out the box score for that game.  Shamsky came up in the 8th with his Reds trailing the Pirates, 7-6. He hit a 2-run homer to give his Reds an 8-7 lead. In the 10th, with the Reds trailing 9-8, he hit a solo homer to tie it. In the 11th, with the Reds trailing 11-9, he hit another 2-run shot to tie the game again. But the Reds gave up 3 runs in the 13th and lost, 14-11. Shamsky didn't get another at-bat. His game WPA was 1.503, and his team lost!

Anyway, here is a list of the 10 most recent batters before McCann to hit 2 homers in 2 at-bats off the bench. I think you'll recognize the most recent guy to do it:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt AB H HR RBI WPA Pos.
David Ross 2009-06-14 ATL BAL L 2-11 2 2 2 2 0.001 C
Jason Lane 2003-09-23 HOU SFG L 3-10 2 2 2 3 0.003 CF
Orlando Merced 2002-06-23 HOU SEA L 5-10 2 2 2 4 0.008 LF
Brooks Kieschnick 2001-05-29 COL LAD W 7-2 2 2 2 3 0.142 LF
Rich Becker 1999-05-29 MIL SDP L 3-12 2 2 2 2 0.001 RF
Jeff Conine 1997-08-26 FLA CHC W 11-0 2 2 2 5 0.006 1B
Robin Ventura 1996-05-28 CHW TOR W 8-5 2 2 2 3 0.144 PH 3B
Kirk Gibson 1994-05-28 DET MIN L 9-10 2 2 2 4 0.626 PH CF
Darrin Jackson 1994-04-06 CHW TOR W 9-2 2 2 2 2 0.013 PH RF
Jeff Bagwell 1992-05-10 HOU PIT W 6-4 2 2 2 2 0.665 PH 1B
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/17/2011.

Yeah, that's right. The last 2 guys to achieve this feat are the Braves' current catching tandem. Aren't our catchers great?

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