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The clutchest White Sox performances of 2014

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Jose Abreu's walk-off grand slam would normally lead most teams' lists, but one teammate has him beat

David Banks

For the last two years, we've looked at the top 10 hitting performances in terms of Win Probability Added (if you're unfamiliar with WPA, the 2012 post explains it).

Last season, Alejandro De Aza made the biggest impact in a single game,posting a WPA of 0.604 on Aug. 7 against the Yankees.

That's a pretty impressive day's work in a season that didn't have many of them, but this time around, White Sox hitters produced six different games that would've had ol' Alejandro beat.

Let's jog through them. You can click on the dates for the recaps and highlights, and the WPA for the win expectancy chart.

No. 10: Tyler Flowers vs. Rangers

Aug. 4 | WPA: 0.481

We start with a shortcoming of WPA -- it doesn't have a way of adjusting for rain-shortened games. In this case, Flowers went 3-for-3 with a triple, a game-tying homer in the fifth inning, and a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the sixth. The game was called after the top of the seventh.

Because the game lasted only 6½ innings, Flowers' two-run single in the bottom of the sixth was effectively a tie-breaking hit in the bottom of the eighth. But in terms of win expectancy, they're two very different situations. Flowers' single gave the Sox a two-run lead in the bottom of the inning, but if it's treated like the sixth, it loses a bit of its impact.

  • Win expectancy in the sixth inning: 84.5 percent
  • Win expectancy in the eighth inning: 94.6 percent

Given that handicap, it's impressive that Flowers was even able to crack this list at all.  It would've been No. 5 in 2013.

No. 9: Marcus Semien vs. Tigers

April 23 | WPA: 0.520

This one's a lot more straightforward: Semien went 1-for-4, but his lone hit was a two-out grand slam in the seventh inning that turned a two-run deficit into a two-run lead.

No. 8: Adam Dunn vs. Yankees

May 23 | WPA: 0.541

And this one's even more direct than Semien's slam. Dunn went 1-for-4 with a walk, but the hit was a big one: a two-out walk-off homer that turned a probable Yankee win into this:

No. 7: Avisail Garcia vs. Athletics

Sept. 10 | WPA: 0.550

Less thunderous but just as effective, Avisail Garcia busted a shutout bid and a win at the same time, delivering a two-run single off Luke Gregorson to give the White Sox a 2-1 lead. Garcia nudged himself ahead of Dunn because he drew a leadoff walk in the fifth inning with the Sox trailing by 1, and his two outs weren't killers.

No. 6: Dayan Viciedo vs. Indians

May 4 | WPA: 0.702

Now we're getting into huge figurative swings, starting with the guy with very large literal swings. The White Sox trailed 3-1 with one out in the ninth inning before Dayan Viciedo blasted a three-run shot off John Axford It basically killed Axford's career as Cleveland's closer, as he only recorded one more save for the Tribe ... three months later.

No. 5: Alexei Ramirez vs. Indians

April 13 | WPA: 0.713

Viciedo torched Axford for his second blown save of the season, and here we see Ramirez taking responsibility for the first. Axford started the ninth with a 3-2 lead, and Ramirez ended it with a two-run homer with one out, as well as a classic pose from 2008:

While Viciedo's blast overcame a bigger deficit, Ramirez noses him out because walk-offs count a little bit more. And no, Steve Stone's poor pacing on the call didn't detract from the score, though maybe it should have.

No. 4: Leury Garcia vs. Twins

April 2 | WPA: 0.742

The least likely name on this list, Garcia delivered his biggest performance in the second game of the season. Unlike the rest of the games ahead of him (and the two immediately behind him), Garcia didn't leave the yard. He compiled his WPA with a ninth-inning single that cut a two-run deficit in half, and then reached with a bunt single to lead off the bottom of the 11th. He came around to score on walk-off #WILDPITCHOFFENSE courtesy of Sad Samuel Deduno.

No. 3: Dayan Viciedo vs. Twins

Sept. 13 | WPA: 0.833

Now we're back to the usual WPA enhancers -- walk-off homers. In this case, with the White Sox trailing 6-5 with one out in the ninth nning, Dayan Viciedo killed Glen Perkins with a two-run walk-off blast. Adding to the walk-off, he was also drilled in the chest by Jared Burton in the seventh inning, which pushed the tying run into scoring position with one out.

No. 2: Jose Abreu vs. Rays

April 25 | WPA: 0.846

Jose Abreu delivered the second-clutchest performance of the season with the most year's most satisfying swing that resulted in a walk-off grand slam with two outs against testy Tampa Bay closer Grant Balfour.

Look at him at the 0:30 mark. I can't quite make out what he says; he's either furious or ready for SPRING BREAK!

Abreu also helped the cause earlier in the game with a first-inning RBI single, and a solo shot in the third. What could possibly beat a game-ending salami and a six-RBI night?

No. 1: Tyler Flowers vs. Athletics

Sept. 8 | WPA: 0.998

The Tyler Flowers Game, that's what. Flowers homered on two consecutive pitches -- the first of which tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning and sent mild-mannered Eric O'Flaherty into his own conniption fit.

When he next came to the plate three innings later, it was Jesse Chavez's turn to feel the pain:

Conor Gillaspie may not know what WPA is, but he can feel it. When he's the one doing the hugging, you know something amazing just happened.