Top 15 World Series Performances of All-Time
Top 15 World Series Performances of All-Time
The World Series is the culmination of everything we work for, read, root for and follow all year long and well into the winter. Sometimes, no matter how much we want it to be great, the World Series lets us down. Sometimes, it’s just not that exciting. Sometimes, it’s over before we know it.
But other times, it’s just incredible. The World Series is the ultimate stage for greatness, and for every year that lets us down, there are the moments that remind us why we are fans. There are the moments that stick with us for the rest of our lives.
Sometimes, it’s a one game, or one at-bat, performance. Other times, it’s a collective performance over the course of anywhere from four to seven games. But in any way, shape, or form, these are the memories that stick with us. These are the memories that are passed down from our fathers and grandfathers. These are the memories that are ingrained in our memories, the ones that come directly to mind at the end of every October.
This list includes both single-game performances as well as series-long success. There is undoubtedly a biased towards more recent performances, one that is unavoidable thanks to TV replays and some great calls by the likes of Jack Buck (spoiler alert!) that I can still hear in my sleep. It’s difficult to compare a hitting performance from this decade to a pitching performance from a century ago, but we’re going to give it a shot.
15 - Pablo Sandoval, 2012
It’s early, only two games in, but Pablo Sandoval got off to a great start in game one, becoming only the fourth player in World Series history to homer three times in one game. Two of the other three players to do so appear on this list, with only Albert Pujols last season failing to make it. Sandoval hit his in the tone-setting first game of this year’s series, with two of them coming off of Justin Verlander, and establishing the San Francisco Giants as a force to be reckoned with in a series many were prepared to hand to the Detroit Tigers.
14 - Roberto Clemente, 1971
The Pittsburgh Pirates bookended the 1970’s with a pair of titles, and Roberto Clemente was the main reason why they won the first one. Clemente hit .414/.452/.759 with two home runs (coming in games six and seven of the series) en route to a World Series MVP award.
13 - Willie Stargell, 1979
In their second trip to the World Series, Willie Stargell tossed the “We Are Family” Pirates on his back, hitting three home runs, including go-ahead homer in 6th inning of clinching 7th game. He hit .400 in series, winning the MVP award in the process.
12 - Bobby Richardson, 1962
The only player on our list to have his performance come in a losing effort, Bobby Richardson set all-time record for hits in a WS with 13 and hit .406. The record has since been tied, but his 13 hit performance in a seven-game series has yet to be broken.
11 - Billy Hatcher, 1990
The Cincinnati Reds were given little to no chance to beat the Oakland A’s entering the 1990 World Series, and responded by sweeping the impending juggernaut in four games. Billy Hatcher led the offensive change for the underdog Reds, hitting .750 with an .800 batting average in the series.
10 - Bob Gibson, 1967
Few pitchers have ever been more dominant than Bob Gibson was in the 1960’s, and his performance in the 1967 World Series was perhaps Gibson at his best. He made three starts, finishing all of them, going 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, and just 14 hits allowed in 27 innings.
9 - Kirby Puckett, 1991
“We’ll see ya tomorrow night!” We wouldn’t have heard that fantastic call from Jack Buck had it not been for the performance of Kirby Puckett. After saving a run with a leaping catch at the plexi-glass wall at the old Metrodome , Puckett forced a seventh game with a walk-off home run in the 11th inning. The amazing performance gets boosted by the frenzied Minnesota Twins crowd and Buck’s iconic call, but those take nothing away from Puckett’s influence towards the Twins victory. Also as easy to make this list would be the performance that followed in game seven by Twins pitcher Jack Morris, who threw 10 shutout innings for the series-clinching victory.
8 - Don Larsen, 1954
Still the only person to ever accomplish the feat, Don Larsen’s perfect game in game five of the 1956 World Series is still the pinnacle single-game pitching performance in baseball history. The combination of performance and stage has yet to be replicated.
7 - Joe Carter, 1993
Ending the World Series with a home run is the ultimate dream of every child who ever picked up a whiffle-ball bat in his back yard, and Joe Carter is one of only two players to get to enjoy it in real life. His game six home run capped off a good but not great series for Carter, in which he hit .280 with two home runs. He wasn’t even the best player in that series (that would be Lenny Dykstra, who hit .348/.500/.913 with four home runs in the series for the Philadelphia Phillies), but it was Carter’s home run that will be the lasting memory.
6 - Randy Johnson, 2001
After already earning a pair of victories in his two starts in the series, including a three-hit shutout, the Arizona Diamondbacks called on Randy Johnson to come on in relief in game seven. He earned a third win in the clinching game helping the Diamondbacks knock off the New York Yankees, who were on a historic stretch of four World Series titles in five years.
5 - Bill Mazeroski, 1960
The other World Series-ending walk-off home run, Bill Mazeroski gets put ahead of Carter because his game in game seven. Mazeroski hit two home runs in the series despite hitting just 11 during the regular season.
4 - Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, 1928
In the 1928 World Series, the tandem of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig put on a show that has never been matched in World Series history. Ruth hit .625/.647/.1.375 in the Yankees four game sweep, hitting three home runs in the clinching game four and going 10-for-16 in the series. Gehrig, not to be outdone, hit .545/.706/.1.727 in the four games, posting the highest OPS ever in one series, and homering in three of the four games.
3 - Christy Mathewson, 1905
It’s tough for us to put pitching performances from the turn of the century into context, but going 3-0 with three shutouts is amazing in any era. That’s what Mathewson did in 1905. In 27 innings of work, he allowed just 13 hits and walked just one batter, utterly dominating the Philadelphia A’s.
2 - Reggie Jackson, 1977
Three home runs on three pitches in a series-clinching game. In New York. In October. Reggie Jackson hit five home runs in the series, hitting .450 in the series and winning the MVP. It’s tough to top the theatrics of Reggie in October.
1 - Kirk Gibson, 1988
No one has ever done more with one at-bat than Kirk Gibson did in 1988. We’ve all seen the footage of Gibson hobbling out of the dugout and of Buck’s call (actually the radio call) of Buck screaming “I don’t believe what I just saw!” after Gibson hit his walk-off pinch-hit home run off the previously untouchable Dennis Eckersley. It was the only plate appearance of the series for the ailing Gibson, whose knees rendered him unable to participate. But he made the most of it, leaving us with the most memorable World Series performance of all-time.