Over the past decade, the Tampa Bay Rays have hit 1,767 home runs.
A total of 116 players tallied these long balls against 617 different pitchers across baseball. Evan Longoria had the most for the Rays as he launched 201 of the 1,767 dingers (11.3%) for the Rays. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees surrendered the most taters to the Rays as Tampa Bay blasted 34 taters against the now retired southpaw. No wonder the guy has always seemed so angry when he pitches against Tampa Bay.
There have been many meaningful...and meaningless longballs knocked out of the park by the Rays this past decade. Today we’ll be checking out the highest leverage taters of the 2010s.
We will do this using Baseball-Reference’s Leverage Index (LI), which is defined below:
Within a game, there are plays that are more pivotal than others. We attempt to quantify these plays with a stat called leverage index (LI). LI looks at the possible changes in win probability in a given situation; situations where dramatic swings in win probability are possible (e.g. runner on second late in a tie game) have higher LIs than situations where there can be no large change in win probability (e.g. late innings of a 12-run blowout).
The stat is normalized so that on average the leverage is 1.00. In tense situations, the leverage is higher than 1.00 (up to about 10) and in low-tension situations, the leverage is between 0 and 1.0.
So here they are, in ascending order:
10. Sean Rodriguez - 4.59 LI
Opponent: Oakland Athletics
Situation: In the bottom of the 11th at Tropicana Field, Sean Rodriguez was at the plate with the game tied at two. With two outs already in the inning, the Rays had managed to get runners at second and third. On a 2-2 count, Rodriguez golfed a pitch, deep down the left field line, clearing the low wall and ending up in the seats just beyond 162 Landing for a game ending three-run walk-off home run.
A side note: the Rays would not have another walk-off home run for another three years following Rodriguez’s blast.
9. Brandon Allen - 4.59 LI
Opponent: Los Angeles Angels
Situation: Stepping up for what would be his first at-bat in a Rays uniform, recent waiver claim Brandon Allen faced Angels closer Jordan Walden with the Rays trailing by one in the bottom of the 9th at Tropicana Field. With B.J. Upton at first and two outs in the inning, Allen sent a ball flying through the cosmos and it landed just short of the Rays video board in right-center field for a game winning walk-off two run home run.
8. Steven Souza Jr - 4.62 LI
Opponent: Baltimore Orioles
Situation: In the top of the 10th inning in Baltimore, Steven Souza Jr was at the plate with the game knotted at 3 and runners on first and second base. Not deterred by an R2D2 wail, Souza clubbed a pitch to dead center field. Adam Jones gave chase, but the ball sailed over his head and easily cleared the center field wall for a go-ahead three run blast to give the Rays a 6-3 advantage.
7. Carlos Pena - 4.70 LI
Opponent: Philadelphia Phillies
Situation: Trailing by one in the top of the eighth inning in Philadelphia, Carlos Pena was at the plate with runners on first and second and one away. Los then walloped the first pitch he saw. After ricocheting off the moon, the ball descended back towards Earth and landed among the first few rows in right field for a go-ahead three run home run.
6. Matt Joyce - 4.98 LI
Opponent: New York Yankees
Situation: The Rays had just tied the game at 1 in the top of the ninth in New York, and now Matt Joyce was at the plate with two down and runners on the corners. He took this opportunity to twist his ankle and line a pitch towards the short-porch in right field. The ball found a home in the second row of seats for a go-ahead three run blast.
5. Steven Souza Jr - 5.29 LI
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Situation: Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the 8th at Tropicana Field, Steven Souza Jr was at the plate with runners on the corners and one away. With the ‘money’ count of 3-1, Souza crushed a pitch to the deepest part of the park, landing on the Ducky’s Deck in center field for a go-ahead three run blast.
4. B.J. Upton - 5.40 LI
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Situation: Trailing 2-1, in the bottom of the 9th with a runner on first and nobody out, Upton stepped up to the plate and decided to be the hero. Upton would take a chest high pitch and lace it through the air and into the seats in left-center field for a walk-off two run home run.
3. Matt Joyce - 5.65 LI
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Situation: The game was tied at 4 after the Rays had rallied from a 4-1 deficit. Now the bases were filled with Rays in the top of the 8th and there were two outs as Matt Joyce stepped to the plate. With a 2-0 count, Joyce get a hold of one and send a ball soaring through the vast center field in Minnesota. Denard Span ranged back on the ball, but kept backtracking until he ran out of room the ball just barely cleared the wall for a go-ahead grand slam.
2. Dan Johnson- 5.79 LI
Opponent: Chicago White Sox
Situation: The 2011 Tampa Bay Rays were losers until Dan Johnson decided to put them on his back and proceed to take the initial crawl in the Rays trek towards the postseason. Starting the season with a record of 0-6, the Rays trailed 7-6, having already scored twice in the top of the 9th. They had runners on the corners and one away, as Johnson drilled a pitch deep into the right field corner and into the seats for a three run go-ahead home run.
1. Daniel Robertson - 6.89 LI
Opponent: Miami Marlins
Situation: Entering the bottom of the 9th of the revered Citrus Series, the Rays trailed the Marlins 4-1. After plating a run, the Rays still trailed 4-2. Tampa had the bases juiced, but also with two outs. Daniel Robertson was called upon to pinch hit for Adam Moore and on the second pitch of the at-bat, Robertson barreled a pitch and sent it halfway up the seats in left-center field for a walk-off grand slam, sending Tropicana Field into a frenzy.