With the Braves needing every last win they got in order to reach the postseason this year, the significance of every last at-bat victory seems even more magnified. Every single one of the Braves' 13 walk off at-bats is now worth a playoff spot all by itself. Without any one of those, the Braves would not be where they are now, facing down the Giants in a best of five series to extend Bobby's managerial career (barring the results of a possible game #163 of course).
Frankly, narrowing this down just a top five is really difficult. Some of my favorite moments of the season aren't in this list. You are completely welcome to disagree with my choices because I am not sure I got it right. This was a ton of fun to write because I did very little except pull up highlights of Braves game-winning hits and watch them repeatedly. Anyone who needs any reason to feel excited about the Braves being in playoffs should probably do the same.
Before I get to the list, just some quick info:
- The Braves had at least one walk-off win in every month of the year (not including October). The best month was May, in which the Braves walked off four different times.
- Jason Heyward, as you might expect, led the Braves in walk-off hits with three. Brooks Conrad only had one walk-off, but if you include his walk-off grand slam, he scored the winning run three different times.
- Neither of Omar Infante's walk-offs made my top five, but it's interesting to note that they both came against the Marlins, both in the eleventh inning. The Marlins were the team most victimized by Braves' walk-offs, allowing three.
- Six of Billy Wagner's seven wins came as a result of walk-offs, making him the biggest beneficiary from the Braves' bullpen.
And now, your top five:
5) May 18, Error'd off-This one is mostly schadenfreude, but still enjoyable. David Wright fields a patented chopper from Melky Cabrera and throws it directly into the tarp past firstbaseman Ike Davis, allowing Brent Clevlen (remember him?) to come around from third. This immediately followed a failed bunt attempt, proving that the most important thing is big situations is putting the ball in play.
4) August 29, Delayed Celebration -I went back and forth on where to put this one. It has historical significance, as this was the first game to end with a reviewed home run call. It came with two outs, even two strikes. Plus, those red jerseys were really good for the Braves this year, enough that the sight of them make me happy. This was McCann's only walk-off of the year, but it was definitely memorable.
3) April 20, Empty Dugout -Coming in extra innings helps, but that's certainly no guarantee for reaching this top five, as there are three other extra inning walk-offs that did not make it. This one was great for several reasons. First, the Braves had had to rally and score three in the 9th inning just to send this game to extras, with big two out back-to-back home runs from Glaus and Heyward. Second, it came against the hated Phillies, and that shot of Charlie Manuel staring out at the field is just classic. And third, that celebration was original and awesome-the camera panning across the empty dugout is one of the most memorable clips from the season
2) April 18, The J-Hey Kid -You knew one of Heyward's big hits would make this list. I think this one is probably the most memorable of the rookie's walk-off heroics. This is another two out hit, but it's even greater because it comes with the Braves trailing by a run; an out equals a loss in this situation. It also featured a play at the plate (albeit not a very close one). It was also the first time we'd seen that stoic 20 year-old really let his emotions loose. This was the first walk-off of the year, and the first time we'd see the magic of the red jerseys. One more thing to note is that this game and game #3 featured back-to-back walk-offs. Now, you know what's coming next.
1) May 20, Crazier than a Goat Roping - This has to be the highlight of the MLB 2010 season. There's not much I can say about this that has not already been said. One thing you might not remember is that this was the third walk-off in three straight days for the Braves. Wright's error on May 18th is featured above, and just missing the top five list is a Jason Heyward double that beat the Reds on May 19th. The Braves also had a walk-off win against the Diamondbacks on May 14th, marking that as easily the most exciting week of the Braves' season.