The new year is almost upon us, and with it will come a fresh start and fresh hope for the Cleveland Indians. But before we turn our calendars to 2012, we at Wahoo’s on First wanted to look back at the highlights of the 2011 season.
This week, we’ll be counting down the top Tribe plays of the 2011 season, as determined by Win Probability Added (check out the FanGraphs Saber Library entry for a full explanation). Next on the countdown: Orlando Cabrera‘s pinch-hit home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks, June 27.
The Indians had already started to cool off after their early-season hot streak by the time of their late-June trip to Phoenix. Cleveland had already fallen two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central before the game began at Chase Field against the eventual NL West champions.
At first, it looked like the game would be a slugfest. The Indians opened the scoring with Asdrubal Cabrera‘s two-run home run off of Ian Kennedy in the first inning, and the Diamondbacks responded with three quick runs against Mitch Talbot in the bottom of the first frame.
But things quieted down after the first, and neither side scored until Travis Buck and Lonnie Chisenhall‘s back-to-back RBI singles in the sixth put Cleveland ahead, 4-3. Things looked good as Talbot, Joe Smith, and Tony Sipp kept Arizona’s bats quiet—at least, until the bottom of the eighth inning, when Kelly Johnson smacked an RBI triple off of the normally dominant Vinnie Pestano to tie the game, 4-4.
Arizona closer J.J. Putz made quick work of Cleveland to start the ninth inning, inducing flyouts from Chisenhall and Lou Marson to make it two down with nobody on for Pestano’s spot in the lineup. So Manny Acta sent up Orlando Cabrera.
For all the good he had been doing in the clubhouse, Cabrera was having a poor season on the field. The second baseman entered the game hitting .243 on the year with just a .562 OPS and only 3 home runs to his name. In his last 40 games, he’d hit a mere .200/.230/.271.
But this time Cabrera came through pretty well. After missing the zone for ball one, Putz hung a slider right in O-Dog’s wheelhouse. Here’s what happened:
Nope, that ball’s not coming back. This was the last home run Cabrera hit in a Cleveland uniform.
Chris Perez closed it out for the save and the Indians won, 5-4. At .410 WPA, this was by far the biggest at-bat Cabrera had while with the Tribe.
The Full Countdown
No. 1: Travis Hafner’s Walk-Off Home Run, May 13
No. 2: Travis Hafner’s Walk-Off Grand Slam, July 7
No. 3: Asdrubal Cabrera’s Game-Winning Homer, August 27
No. 4: Austin Kearns’ Go-Ahead Home Run, July 4
No. 5: Jack Hannahan’s Game-Tying Home Run, June 8
No. 6: Travis Buck’s Go-Ahead Home Run, May 21
No. 7: Travis Buck’s Game-Tying Double, July 9
No. 8: Travis Hafner’s Game-Tying Double, July 25
No. 9: Orlando Cabrera’s Game-Winning Homer, June 27
No. 10: Matt LaPorta’s Walk-Off Home Run, July 30