Wojciechowski: The Raul Ibanez special

From Jason Wojciechowski at Baseball Prospectus on October 11, 2012:

Today is one of those days when everybody is alike. One-day-old babies and 103-year-old grandfathers can sit down and converse (well, sorta) about how neither of them has seen anything like what happened yesterday. By which I mean: no manager has ever pinch-hit for a 100-WARP future Hall-of-Famer making $31 million with a 40-year-old late-blooming pretty-good-but-not-really-memorable player and had that pinch-hitter go on to hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off homer in extra innings of a playoff game. This has never happened, and we should all be rejoicing. (Except Orioles fans. You’re exempt.)

Is that perhaps an overly specific way of defining what happened in yesterday’s Orioles-Yankees contest as regards Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez? You could say that. If you’re the nitpicking type. But fine, I’ll broaden the question.

Here’s a list of players who have hit two homers in two at-bats in a playoff game after not starting the game:

  • Raul Ibanez, 10/10/12 vs. Orioles

Still unique! How about removing the at-bat requirement, simply leaving players who have hit two or more homers in a playoff game after not starting:

  • Raul Ibanez, 10/10/12 vs. Orioles

Well! What about two homers in two trips to the plate in the playoffs, whether as a sub or not?

  • Raul Ibanez, 10/10/12 vs. Orioles

This one is perhaps less surprising — what are the odds that a player who has hit two homers in his first two at-bats would be substituted out of the game? It would require an injury or ejection, presumably.

In the regular season, two homers in two trips as a sub is more common: it’s happened 29 times since 1918, beginning with Jess Doyle for the Tigers (against the Yankees, in a loss) and most recently accomplished by Scott Hairston, last July 31st, helping the Mets lose 3-2 to the Nationals. (Starters have done it another nine times, with Vladimir Guerrero in 2005 being the most recent.) Ibanez is the first Yankee to manage the feat.

But of course Ibanez didn’t just hit two homers in two trips as a sub. He hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and a game-winning homer in the 12th. Finding comparable games requires a little more work to whittle down the above list of 29. How is it possible to be in Ibanez’s position? Well, the team has to be at home and that team must have won the game. Limiting the list of 29 like so leaves us with 11 occurrences. This is always fun. Let’s take a look.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=18629

Originally published: October 11, 2012. Last Updated: October 11, 2012.