With the second half about to get underway, I thought it was an appropriate time to look back on the biggest moments of the first half.
In terms of how I ranked these plays, there's a ton of different ways to do it, including just arbitrarily picking my favorite ones. Instead, I decided I wanted a little more order to the chaos, so I used the tried and true Win Probability Added to order our list. Essentially, these 5 plays added more win probability than any other plays from the first 3+ months of the season.
For your enjoyment, I’ve included the home and away broadcast calls when available.
5. Eddie Rosario bases-clearing double. WPA +43%
The Braves were down 2-0 in the 6th inning, with the bases loaded and 2 out. Rosario cranked a doubled out to the right-centerfield gap that initially looked like it only tied the game, with the last runner being tagged out at the plate. The Braves would challenge the play and the call on the field was overturned. Rosario had a 3-run double, the Braves had a lead, and Rosario even advanced to 3rd on the throw.
4. Orlando Arcia hits a game-tying HR in the 9th. WPA +47%
In what arguably was the wildest game of the year, the Braves came back from a 9-2 deficit against the Mets and got it all the way to 10-9 with one out in the bottom of the ninth. David Robertson had been one of the best relievers all season to that point and the Braves had just two outs left. That's when Arcia launched a 3-2 high fastball 414 ft to left centerfield to tie the game. Ozzie Albies would finish the job with a 3-run homer in the 10th to give the Braves a 13-10 victory.
3. Kevin Pillar hits go-ahead 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th. WPA +49%
This was nationally televised game on big FOX so only broadcast for this one, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. The Braves were down 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th. Kevin Pillar hits a 2-run pinch-hit homer, and the Braves were no longer down 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th. Pillar has been everything the Braves could've ever hoped for off the bench this season, and while this is his biggest contribution of the season, it certainly hasn't been his only contribution.
2. Sean Murphy hits a walk-off 2-run HR. WPA +55%
Walk-off homers are also pretty self-explanatory. The only reason the WPA on this isn't higher is because the Braves were only down one run and had the free runner on 2nd. Also there was still no one out when Murphy walked it off. But this was big. This was Murphy’s first home run in a Braves uniform and after a slow first 10 days or so, Murphy would spend the next three months being the best catcher in baseball offensively and defensively. And this was the start of it.
I had the Reds broadcast of this call but it was corrupted for reasons I don't really understand.
1. Eddie Rosario hits go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth. WPA +73%
What else was number 1 going to be? You hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning with 2 outs and down a run, you get the number 1 spot. This was massive swing in every sense, really. The Braves had just lost a series to the historically bad Oakland A’s and were one out away from dropping a series to the Diamondbacks. That swing not only flipped that one series, but as we sit here six weeks later, the Braves haven't lost a series since. The Braves won that game, turned into the best team in baseball, and haven't looked back. Braves seem to be making a habit out of getting things figured out in Arizona.
Here’s to more second half moments.