Home runs may be flying out of major league ballparks at an alarming rate, but there are still few greater thrills in sports than a clutch postseason home run.
The past decade certainly had some hair-raising home runs in October, and the advent of social media has helped expand the reach and heighten the significant of these big moments.
Here’s a look at some of the greatest home runs from the past 10 years:
Raul Ibañez, Game 3 2012 ALDS
Raul Ibañez found himself in an unlikely position and an unlikely hero during Game 3 of the ALCS between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided he would pinch-hit Alex Rodriguez with Ibanez. Of course, Ibanez blasted a game-tying home run that sent the game into extras. Oh, but he was not done there. In the 12th inning Ibanez was back up and sent the first pitch into the second deck to end the game and give the Yankees a 2-1 series lead.
Justin Turner, Game 2 2017 NLCS
Few players have performed in the clutch during the MLB postseason the way Justin Turner has for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That was evident in Game 2 of the 2017 NLCS. The Dodgers infielder entered the game with a 1.074 OPS in the playoffs and walked up to the plate with two on and two out in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth against Cubs pitcher John Lackey. Turner blasted a 1-0 pitch over the center field wall to give the Dodgers a 3-1 win and go up 2-0 in the series, which they won in five games.
Edwin Encarnación, 2016 AL Wild Card
In a game that will be most remembered for Orioles manager Buck Showalter leaving Zack Britton in the bullpen, it was Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnación who was the hero. As these two AL East foes were stuck in a 2-2 ties since the sixth inning, Encarnación put an end to things when he blasted a three-run shot into left field off Ubaldo Jiménez to send the Blue Jays to the ALDS.
José Altuve, Game 6 2019 ALCS
The Astros were on the verge of eliminating the Yankees from the 2019 ALCS when DJ LeMahieu hit a game-tying two-run home run in the top of the ninth. The Yankees' newfound life did not last long, though. In the bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman issued a two-out walk to George Springer to bring up Altuve. Chapman hung a slider on the outside corner and Altuve crushed it into left-center field end the series and clinch Houston's second pennant in three years.
José Bautista, Game 5 2015 ALDS
Call this one the Bat Flip Heard ‘Round the World. The Texas Rangers had just taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh after Russell Martin tossed a ball back to pitcher Aaron Sanchez that ricocheted off Shin-Soo Choo’s bat allowing a run to score. The game was played under protest from that point, but the Blue Jays loaded the bases on three consecutive errors in the bottom half of the inning. Josh Donaldson tied the game after Rougned Odor mistimed a bloop over his head.
Enter José Bautista. The Blue Jays slugger blasted a moonshot into left field, staring at it from the batter’s box and tossing his bat toward the Rangers dugout as the Rogers Centre went into a frenzy and the Blue Jays advanced to the ALCS. Bautista’s bat flip was a viral sensation shared as a Twitter gif or Vine.
David Freese, Game 6 2011 World Series
Game 6 of the 2011 World Series was one for the ages. Down to their last out in the ninth inning, David Freese hit a fly ball off the wall that Nelson Cruz misplayed, tying the game to send it into extras. But his true heroics were saved for later. After the Cardinals tied the game up again — and again down to their final out — in the 10th inning, Freese led off the 11th and finally put an end to things with a walk-off home run to center field. The homer forced a Game 7 — which the Cardinals won — and allowed Joe Buck to channel his father’s famous call of Kirby Puckett’s walk-off World Series home run 20 years earlier, saying, “We will see you tomorrow night” as the ball landed.
Howie Kendrick, Game 7 2019 World Series
The Houston Astros were just eight outs away from winning their second World Series in three years when starting pitcher Zack Greinke, who dominated Washington hitters all night, ran into trouble in the seventh inning. He allowed a solo home run to Anthony Rendon and walked Juan Soto, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to go to the bullpen for Will Harris to face Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick had come up big earlier in the playoffs with a go-ahead grand slam in Game 5 in the NLCS, but this one would be even bigger. On the second pitch he saw from Harris – a 90 mph cutter – Kendrick skied the ball down the right field line when it clanked the foul pole. Minute Maid Park was stunned in silence as the Nationals took a 3-2 lead that would propel them to an improbable World Series title – the first in franchise history – winning every game on the road.