Chipper Jones has had a fantastic career, but he's never had a more valuable at-bat than his walkoff homer Sunday evening. According to Baseball-Reference's version of win probability, the Braves had just a 14% chance of winning when he stepped to the plate--a figure that quickly became 100% when he smoked the ball deep into the right-center field seats. That's a Win Probability Added (WPA) of +86%, the largest WPA swing that Chipper has ever had.
For some context, that WPA is more than the Brooks Conrad grand slam, and the most by a Braves player since 1997. Here are the Braves' 10 most valuable plays (by WPA) in the Chipper Jones Era (1995-2012):
|1||1997-09-15||Fred McGriff||SFG||down 4-3||b9||1--||2||+90%||HR|
|2||1996-08-24||Fred McGriff||CHC||down 5-3||b9||1-3||2||+89%||HR|
|3||2012-09-02||Chipper Jones||PHI||down 7-5||b9||-23||2||+86%||HR|
|4||2007-09-05||Matt Diaz||PHI||down 8-6||b9||123||2||+82%||2B|
|5||2010-05-20||Brooks Conrad||CIN||down 9-6||b9||123||1||+80%||HR|
|6||1995-09-24||Mike Devereaux||MON||down 4-3||b10||-23||2||+75%||1B|
|7||2011-08-15||Freddie Freeman||SFG||down 4-3||b9||123||2||+74%||1B|
|2005-09-11||Chipper Jones||@WSN||down 7-6||t9||1--||2||+74%||HR|
|9||2005-09-07||Ryan Langerhans||NYM||down 3-2||b10||123||2||+73%||1B|
|2010-04-18||Jason Heyward||COL||down 3-2||b9||123||2||+73%||1B|
Fred McGriff sure had a flair for the dramatic, huh? You can see that Chipper's previous high WPA play came in 2005, a 2-run go-ahead homer off of the Nationals' Chad Cordero. That play is the only one on the list that didn't come in Atlanta, which makes sense because it is much easier to have a huge WPA swing in the bottom half of an inning, when one at-bat can result in either a walkoff win or the final out of a loss. Similarly, only the Brooks Conrad slam came with less than 2 outs.
Chipper's homer also tied for the fifth-highest WPA of 2012. The top 10 is after the jump.
|1||Jun 8||Ryan Roberts||ARI||OAK||down 8-6||b9||12-||2||+91%||HR|
|May 29||Josh Willingham||MIN||OAK||down 2-0||b9||1-3||2||+91%||HR|
|3||Apr 8||Alex Avila||DET||BOS||down 12-11||b11||1--||2||+90%||HR|
|4||Apr 14||Todd Helton||COL||ARI||down 7-6||b9||1--||2||+89%||HR|
|5||Sep 2||Chipper Jones||ATL||PHI||down 7-5||b9||-23||2||+86%||HR|
|Jul 3||Aramis Ramirez||MIL||MIA||down 12-11||b10||-2-||2||+86%||HR|
|May 2||Ian Desmond||WSN||ARI||down 4-3||b9||-2-||2||+86%||HR|
|8||May 8||Rod Barajas||PIT||WSN||down 4-3||b9||--3||2||+85%||HR|
|9||Jun 24||Derek Norris||OAK||SFG||down 2-1||b9||12-||2||+83%||HR|
|Jun 14||Brayan Pena||KCR||MIL||down 3-2||b9||12-||2||+83%||1B/E6|
Again, note that all of these plays came at home, with 2 outs, and all of them were walkoffs. It's also fun to note that the two biggest WPA plays didn't just come against the same team (the A's)--they came against the same pitcher (Brian Fuentes) less than 2 weeks apart.
By the way, the highest WPA play of Chipper Jones' postseason career came in his first playoff game, Game 1 of the 1995 NLDS against the Rockies. He hit a solo, tiebreaking homer off of Curtis Leskanic in the top of the 9th inning that day; the HR was worth +38% WPA. As you know, that postseason ended with the Braves winning their only World Series title since coming to Atlanta.
If Chipper's farewell season continues to go as magically as it has thus far, I'm guessing we'll see him hit another game-winning playoff homer along the way to a career-bookending championship. It'd only be fitting.