A new addition to Burning River Baseball in 2013 is the Top Ten Offensive Play list. This season we have kept track of every walk-off hit, every last at bat win and any other offensive play that seemed exceptional so we could rank them at the end of the year. Only 32 plays made the final cut, including eleven walk off hits, two inside-the-park-home runs, two mammoth home run shots and a plethora of other situations of importance or great interest. Jason Kipnis and Mark Reynolds lead team with five a piece, but Jason Giambi outshone everyone with four that all made it into the top 15. These were whittled down to just the very best, but there were so many amazing plays that we had to cheat a little. Plays that were very similar were put together so that there are actually 21 plays listed in the top 15. Just enjoy them, these are good.
Five that Almost Made It:
Jason Giambi & Carlos Santana Beat the Twins in 10
Drew Stubbs Just Wants to Go Home
Jason Kipnis & Carlos Santana Get Homers the Hard Way
Surprise Bunt Gives Indians 2 Run Lead - Jason Kipnis 5/3
Carlos Santana Super Shot Gets Indians Into Play-Offs
10. Mike Aviles - September 1st - Super Salami
The Indians had trouble with the Tigers all year and things looked dim again on September 1st after they had already lost three straight to Detroit. Facing Joaquin Benoit, the Tigers closer, super-sub Mike Aviles came to bat with the bases loaded. He used a short sweet swing to set a ball just on top of the bullpen. It wasn't a long shot, but it was enough to get the Indians the 4-0 win.
9. Jason Giambi - May 27th - The Wise Old Master Still Has Some Thump
Even though the Indians eventually lost this game, it doesn't get much more exciting than this hit. The score was 2-1 in the eighth inning when Drew Stubbs struck out to start the inning. The Indians had scored on a sacrifice fly and had only hit safely four times, so Terry Francona went to his bench for some Goon Squad magic. Jason Giambi pinch hit for Ubaldo Jimenez and crushed the third pitch he saw 50 feet past the fence in center field to tie the game.
8. Mark Reynolds - May 6th - That Would Have Been Out of Yellowstone
When defining what made an exciting play, we knew that home runs of a certain length should be included, but didn't have a set distance. This ridiculous monster mash by Mark Reynolds set a standard that no one else came even close to for the rest of the year. The blast landed high in the bleachers, a true distance of 457 feet according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker. The home run brought back memories of 1997 when Mark McGwire became the only player to ever actually hit the score board in the history of Jacob's/Progressive Field. This has to be one of the longest and highest home runs in Indians history.
7. Drew Stubbs - May 3rd - Walk-Off double shot? I'll Have Another
This was a big game for the Tribe that saw Jason Kipnis knock in four (including one on the bunt that there is no video of listed above) and Drew Stubbs hit two doubles in regulation, but that was not enough. It all came down to this 10th inning monster double (Stubbs third in a row), that scored Mike Aviles from second. Just another walk-off win from the 2013 Cleveland Indians.
6. Michael Bourn - July 27th - From Start to Finish
This game featured two of the top starters in all of baseball at the time and the game proved the billing accurate. Bourn hit the second pitch thrown by Rangers' ace, Yu Darvish over the right field wall, making it seem like this might not be the case. Instead, the Indians only had two hits during the rest of the game and Justin Masterson, Joe Smith and Chris Perez combined to shut out Texas. This makes this home run just as important as any walk-off, despite occurring at the opposite side of the game.
5. Jose Ramirez - September 9th - Speed Kills & Forces Errors
Ramirez was the only rookie hitter to be given a chance this year with the Indians and he really impressed after his jump straight from AA. In his sixth game (but only his second at bat) he had his first career hit. This particular play in the top ten however, involved his base running after the hit. Drew Stubbs came up next and hit a ground ball to third. Ramirez was running on the pitch, which broke up any chance at the double play, but that wasn't the end. He went to third on the throw to first, then scored when the ball went into the outfield.
4. Mark Reynolds - April 3rd - Starting Things Off Right
The Indians knew this was going to be a special season early on when they won their first two games against Toronto, the second on this giant Reynolds home run. Reynolds gave the Indians the lead in the 11th inning and it stood up as the Indians started off 2-0. The distance was impressive and provided some foreshadowing for his first two months as a Cleveland Indian.
3. Michael Bourn - July 30th - You Can't Catch the Flash
Bourn and Stubbs brought a new dimension to the Indians offense this season after many years of little to no team speed. This play shows all that speed can do, as Bourn grounds into a routine double play into a two run play. Down two with one out in the fifth against Chicago, Bourn beat out the double play and stepped on pitcher Andre Rienzo's foot in the process. While he was hobbling around, Lonnie Chisenhall came around third to score the game tying run.
The importance of this play showed later in the game when Ryan Raburn had another exciting play, hitting a two out, two run, go ahead single in the eight inning that provided the winning margin.
2. Jason Giambi - July 29th & September 24th - You Can Put it on the Board....Yes!
It seemed like every hit by Giambi this season came at an important time, and amazingly, he hit two pinch hit, walk-off home runs against the White Sox. First, pinch-hitting for the struggling Mark Reynolds, Giambi lead off the ninth inning with a huge solo home run to center.
The next time, in a much more important game, he pinch-hit for Matt Carson who had came on defensively at the top of the ninth. After a blown save by Chris Perez turned a one run lead into a one run deficit, Michael Brantley started the bottom of the ninth off with a single. Giambi then came through with a huge home run that was pulled down the right field line. This was a microcosm of the Indians entire season against the White Sox where they went 17-2, including a 14 game winning streak. The second walk-off made Giambi the oldest player in baseball history to hit a walk-off home run and tied an Indians record with three pinch hit home runs.
1. Jason Kipnis, Mark Reynolds & Yan Gomes - May 17th-20th - Walk-Off Weekend
At this point, you may be thinking, "he said their were eleven walk-off wins, but only two have been listed in the top ten so far." That is because the best are being saved for last. Toward the end of May, the Indians swept a four game series against the Seattle Mariners, but it wasn't any normal sweep. The Tribe won the first, second and fourth games of that series in walk-off fashion, including two tenth inning three run home runs. The official number one offensive play of this year was the Kipnis home run as it came with two outs and was a rocket shot out to right.
Gomes hit the second three run home run in the 10th inning with nobody out. Renolds' wasn't actually a hit, but a fielder's choice that scored Kipnis from third with the bases loaded.
All video courtesy of MLB.com