Last time, I looked at 2014’s five best pitching performances, by WPA, in a losing effort. This time we take a gander at the five best offensive performances that came in a loss. Just like the pitching performances we looked at earlier, there is one very specific way to appear on this list: have a career day during a close game, and then watch your bullpen mess the whole thing up.
It should be noted that the single greatest individual game in baseball history — which would be a whopping 1.503 WPA, or more than Ben Zobrist, Salvador Perez, or Yan Gomes provided all of last season — came from a hitter in a loss. The date was August 12, 1966, and the man was Art Shamsky, who would ultimately contribute 6.8 WAR during his eight seasons as a utility outfielder. On August 12, 1966, Shamsky did not even receive the start, but was allowed to chill in the dugout for the first seven innings before being brought in on a double-switch as a defensive substitution in the top of the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, Shamsky cranked a two-run homer to give his Cincinnati Reds a one-run lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates would tie the game in the top of the ninth, sending the contest to extra innings. The Pirates scored one run in the top of the tenth, which Shamsky answered with a solo homer. The Pirates then scored two runs in the top of the eleventh, which Shamsky answered with — duh — a two-run homer. In the top of the thirteenth, the Pirates scored three runs off of the impeccably named Billy McCool, and the other hapless Reds went down in order in the bottom of the 13th, leaving Shamsky in the hole on the game’s concluding pitch. We recognize you and mourn with you, Art Shamsky.
On to 2014:
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