Ryan Howard’s Top Five Biggest Home Runs

Last night, with the Phillies trailing the Astros 5-2, first baseman Ryan Howard hit a go-ahead grand slam off of lefty reliever Tony Sipp. The FanGraphs win expectancy chart illustrates just how important the home run was:

Based off of historical data, the Phillies had a 12 percent chance to win prior to Howard’s at-bat, given their deficit and the game state, according to Baseball Reference. After Howard’s home run, the Phillies were 86 percent favorites, representing a whopping 74 percent shift in win expectancy. Howard, who has hit a lot of home runs, has gone deep in more important spots, but Thursday night’s grand slam ranks among his top five. Here is that top five.

5. June 20, 2009 vs. Baltimore Orioles

Orioles starter Brad Bergesen had twirled a gem against the Phillies, shutting them out over six innings while his club went ahead 3-0. But the Phillies got to him in the bottom of the seventh, plating a pair of runs before he was replaced by reliever and future Phillie Danys Baez. Baez entered with his club clinging to a 3-2 lead, and the Phillies threatening with runners on first and second and one out. Baez got Pedro Feliz to fly out to deep center, allowing Matt Stairs to tag up and go to third, giving the Phillies runners on the corners with two outs. Howard was next, and the Orioles didn’t have a lefty ready to bring in to tackle him. With a 1-1 count, Baez fired a letter-high four-seam fastball, which Howard belted into the Phillies’ bullpen in center field.

Howard’s three-run home run created a 51 percent shift in win expectancy.

4. September 16, 2008 @ Atlanta Braves

The Phillies went into the top of the eighth down 7-6 and appeared to be running out of steam. Julian Tavarez retired the first two batters he faced, but walked Jayson Werth before he was replaced by lefty Mike Gonzalez with Ryan Howard up next. The count went full, then Gonzalez threw a 93 MPH fastball on the outer edge of the plate. Howard went the opposite way, depositing a two-run home run about ten rows up in the seats in left field to put the Phillies ahead 8-7.

Howard’s two-run shot shifted the win expectancy by 52 percent.

3. June 3, 2007 vs. San Francisco Giants

With a four-run deficit to overcome in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies got to work against Tim Lincecum. The Phillies led off the inning with a single followed by two doubles, the latter of which plated two runs. Lincecum was able to retire the next two batters, but was pulled with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard coming to the plate. Lefty Jack Taschner entered, and Utley walked to put runners at first and second with two outs for Howard. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Howard took Taschner out to center field for a three-run shot, putting the Phillies ahead 8-7.

There is, unfortunately, no available video of the blast. It shifted the win expectancy by 52 percent.

2. August 7, 2014 vs. Houston Astros

The Phillies entered the bottom of the eighth trailing the Astros 5-1, but they were able to damage reliever Josh Fields. Carlos Ruiz led off with a double, and Cody Asche immediately singled him home. Domonic Brown struck out, but Ben Revere singled to put runners on first and second with one out. Manager Bo Porter brought in lefty Tony Sipp to switch Jimmy Rollins over to the right side, but Rollins singled to load the bases. Chase Utley hit a fly ball to left field, too shallow to score Asche from third, so Howard came to the plate with the sacks full and two outs before doing this:

Howard’s grand slam shifted the win expectancy by 73 percent.

1. September 19, 2012 @ New York Mets

The Phillies went into the top of the ninth trailing 2-1 after Cole Hamels and Matt Harvey left the game after a pitcher’s duel. Manager Terry Collins opted to bring in lefty reliever Josh Edgin to close the game out, and it appeared to pay off as Edgin struck out Jimmy Rollins and Ty Wigginton to begin the inning. But Chase Utley worked an eight-pitch walk to keep the game alive, bringing Howard to the plate to do this:

Howard’s two-run homer shifted the win expectancy by 75 percent. By this metric, this was the biggest home run of Howard’s career.

Howard has hit eight post-season home runs, but none of them ranked among his top five in terms of shifting win expectancy.

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  1. DrPete

    August 08, 2014 06:58 PM

    Awesome post.
    Interestingly, fan graphs rates just Dom Brown (yes, really) and Howard as “Clutch” amongst Phils regulars this year. Sample size, etc.

  2. tom b

    August 08, 2014 07:10 PM

    i understand your point bill, but i can’t call it a big homerun since it comes in the middle of a lost season for a lousy team.

    • Richard

      August 08, 2014 07:33 PM

      it’s not a point; it’s simply the five homeruns that scored biggest by Win Probability Added – i.e., were the biggest in terms of their own games

  3. Bob

    August 08, 2014 09:44 PM

    I was hoping the HR he hits against Pittsburgh in 2009 against Matt Capps would be up there. They were down 4 runs heading into the bottom of the ninth. Stairs hit a lead off HR. Two base runners later, Howard hit a HR a few feet away from me to tie the game. Paul Bako wound up winning it like 4 batters later. Crazy game.

  4. amarosucks

    August 10, 2014 12:55 PM

    218/299/378 (seriously, 378!?!)

    -0.8 WAR

    cut him. most overrated phillie ever

    • Bob

      August 11, 2014 01:35 PM


      He is not overrated from what he has done. But you maybe the worst Phillie fan I have ever seen. Should go and root for another team.

      Maybe we should go and get Prince Fielder or Chris Davis!!!!

    • Alex Riley - Hitter's Count

      August 12, 2014 01:25 PM

      Wow, you’re not smart. Overrated?!? He’s not good any more but that doesn’t make him overrated.

  5. Andrew Finkernagel

    August 11, 2014 02:28 AM

    Hey, cool. I was at that game in Citi Field. Didn’t see that coming at all while reading the article and trying to figure out what #1 would be.

  6. Rohan

    August 11, 2014 03:51 PM

    I was at the Giants game in 2007. Victorino ended that game with a walkoff home run on his Hula Figuruine Day!

  7. LoneWolf360

    May 09, 2015 03:38 AM

    Ryan Howard is Amazing, and is climbing up the charts without the help of steroids and whatever other performance enhancing drugs there are. That right there makes him way more amazing/legendary, then any other names that’s it the top 100 home run stats that have used and been caught or accused of using steroids! Shame on them all! They all should be removed from the history of baseball. Much respect going out to Ryan Howard for doing it the real honorable way!

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