Blake did have some good seasons with both Cleveland and Los Angeles, and went to the playoffs with both teams. He was rarely exceptional, but he generally provided good value for a guy who did not become a major-league regular until he was 29. In memory of his career, let’s look at his three biggest hits according to Win Probability Added.
Blake did play in 27 playoff games, but his three biggest hits according to WPA all came during the regular season. Somewhat surprisingly, none of them were home runs or even game-winning hits. All three came with the Dodgers (for Cleveland fans who are wondering — the fourth biggest was a Dodgers hit, too).
3. April 14, 2010. Neither the Dodgers nor Diamondbacks ended the 2010 season well, but this game was early enough in the season to retain that “spring feeling.” It was a back-and-forth affair, with the Dodgers taking the lead, then losing it. In the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers were down 6-7. Manny Ramirez led off the inning with a double, and was promptly pinch-run for by Jamey Carroll. After James Loney struck out (plus ça change!), Casey Blake had his one hit out of six tries in the game, doubling in Carroll to tie the game (.424 WPA). Blake’s heroics ended up going for naught, as the Diamondbacks ended up taking the game in extra innings.
2. April 21, 2011. If Dodgers fans thought 2010 was tough… On this day, at least, they won. Blake did have a big home run in this game, a solo homer that broke a 1-1 tie with two outs in the bottom of the seventh against the Braves. However, that was not his biggest play of the game according to WPA. The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of that inning, Jamey Carroll was on second with two outs. Blake singled him in (against Craig Kimbrel) for .427 WPA and tied up the game. While the Dodgers would not win the game until the bottom of the twelth on a Matt Kemp two-run homer (.313 WPA), Blake’s ninth-inning single was the WPA swing (on the Dodgers’ side) of the game.
1. April 15, 2010. Just a day after #3, Blake had his biggest (WPA) moment. Once again, it was not the game-winning hit. The Diamondbacks jumped ahead of the Dodgers 3-0, but the Dodgers tied the game up in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run dong. Arizona went back up 5-3 on a Justin Upton solo home run and, later, an error in the field by our hero. In the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers pulled within one on a Manny Ramirez RBI. After James Loney got a hit (no, seriously), Blake singled in Manny Ramirez, and, as a bonus, Stephen Drew returned Blake’s earlier favor and committed an error, which allowed The Machine (a.k.a. James Loney) to score, as well, tying up the game. In a re-run of this blog entry, Ethier had the game winning-hit in extras, but Blake’s hit-plus-error was the Dodgers’ biggest WPA play of the game at .468.
Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.