Mark Canha ended the Oakland A’s 2017 home schedule on a positive note on Wednesday, when he drilled a walk-off homer against the Mariners. It was the team’s 11th walk-off win of the season, but they’ve beaten that number before as recently as 2012 (15, including playoffs). More importantly, it was the eighth time they’ve ended the game with a dinger, which is a number that gets them a prominent place in the league’s history books.
According to Mike Selleck, the A’s Baseball Information Manager, this is the all-time MLB leaderboard for single-season walk-off homers:
- 9: Indians, 1995
- 8: Padres, 1986
- 8: A’s, 2017
That’s the whole list. No other team has ever reached eight before, as Selleck confirmed in a follow-up. Below this group, the magic number is six — that’s the total for 2017 runners-up Baltimore and Pittsburgh*, as well as the next-highest A’s teams from 2004 and 2012. This year’s Oakland squad hit more walk-off dongs than all but two other MLB teams in history.
* neither BAL nor PIT has home games remaining this year
Granted, they’re still in last place, because contending teams are also able to win games sometime in the preceding eight-plus innings, but at least things are getting better there too. They enter their final series at 73 wins with a chance to reach 77, after failing to break 70 either of the last two seasons.
Much of that improvement is thanks to their increased power, as their 229 jacks rank fourth-most in franchise history (behind 1996, 2000, 1999), with third place within reach. Their .190 isolated slugging percentage is currently a franchise best, though on the other hand so is their 24.5% strikeout rate — by a lot. (Also new highs: their 11.3% swinging strike rate, and their 14.3% HR/flyball rate.) The entire lineup is sort of like Chris Carter, except for the actual Chris Carter himself who is stuck at Triple-A Nashville. His new dragon name is Trogdor the Ironic.
Now that we’ve established this as the Year of the A’s Walk-Off Homer, it is clearly our duty to go back and re-watch all eight of them. Here we go!
May 7 | Ryon Healy
The season was still young, and most of the players in that video thumbnail still-frame are long gone just months later. But Healy gave Oakland an early highlight, as this was the second straight game in which the A’s walked off against the loathsome K-Rod. In fact, this was an afternoon finale after a night game, so they busted K-Rod twice in less than 24 hours. Click that link to revisit photos of Healy wearing a Dubble Bubble bucket on his head during his post-game interview.
May 8 | Jed Lowrie
Oakland struck again the very next night. It took 11 innings against the Angels, but they came through with their third straight walk-off victory — the sixth time in Oakland history and first since 2004, per Selleck. It was also Lowrie’s second dinger of the game, because he doesn’t believe anything in life is worth doing unless you can double it.
May 19 | Mark Canha
Exactly one player is going to show up on this list twice, and it’s probably not the guy you were expecting. Actually, it should have been Healy, who put a ball over the wall in the 9th inning only to watch Jackie Bradley leap up and pull it back. Instead it was the next batter, Canha, leading off the 10th. He only played in 53 games this year and racked up just five homers, but he sure did time them exquisitely.
July 4 | Franklin Barreto
Happy Independence Day! Barreto, the team’s No. 1 prospect, got the fireworks started early in just his 10th career game. Click the recap link above for one of the best images of the season — Adam Rosales walking up to pie Barreto during the interview, only to present a second pie for Barreto’s Spanish-language interpreter. Classico.
July 15 | Khris Davis
Of course Khrush was going to show up here eventually. He’s hit 42 dingers this year, so one of them was bound to be a walk-off. Much like last season with his basketball jump-shot celebration at home plate, he sealed this triumphant trot by using his helmet as a bowling ball, though his roll resulted in a ... is there a word for a gutterball where the ball flies straight up? No matter. Khris Davis and Steph Curry, Oakland’s kings of practicing other sports using equipment from their own sport.
July 29 | Rajai Davis
Rajai doesn’t hit a lot of homers, but he’s got a knack for finding one at the most dramatic moments — most recently Game 7 of the World Series against Aroldis Chapman. Getting a walk-off from him sometime this year oddly seemed as inevitable as one by Khris, and finally it happened at the end of July. Raj went 4-for-5 on the day.
July 30 | Yonder Alonso
Alonso was the A’s lone All-Star rep this year. It was the first time he’d ever been chosen, and he earned it by transforming himself into a power hitter. By early July he’d already more than doubled his career-high homer total, and all told he’s nearly doubled his overall career total from the previous seven seasons combined (39 vs. 27, so far). His walk-off came the day after Rajai’s, both against a team that is officially going to the 2017 postseason as a Wild Card.
Sept. 27 | Mark Canha, again
I’d like to finish this list the same way it began, with an appreciation for the childlike delight that is Ryon Healy. Keep your eye on him during the celebration — he’s at the head of the pack, skipping and hopping like a doofus; he reaches down and flings the bat toward the dugout like a Little Leaguer who’s about to get yelled at by the coach; and then he stands at the plate with arms outstretched, leaping up and down with 10 times the animation of anyone else in the frame. I love every second of Healy in this clip, and he’s right there at the front of the celebration in all the other walk-offs too, ready with a high-5 and a bear hug. He’s the drunkest person on your softball team, but in the good way.
But this was Canha’s homer, so let’s not forget to acknowledge what he did to inspire Healy’s antics. Let’s harken back to his first walk-off, back in May, which happened to come on Bay Area Hip-Hop Fireworks Night. The San Jose native and UC Berkeley alum knew exactly what the moment called for.
First, I do a pout
Put a look on my face like I smelled the A’s dugout
Perhaps even more amazing than these eight walk-offs is that none of them came courtesy of anyone named Matt — no Olson, no Chapman, not even Joyce. The Matts have combined for 61 homers and their fair share of clutch moments, but we’ll have to wait until next year to see them earn a pie. Same goes for Chad Pinder.
As for the three walk-offs that weren’t homers:
- May 6: Adam Rosales singles off DET’s K-Rod (box) (recap)
- June 15: Khris Davis singles off NYY’s Giovanny Gallegos (box) (recap)
- Sept. 8: Jed Lowrie singles off HOU’s Ken Giles (box) (recap)
It wasn’t a great season for the A’s in the standings, but it was a fun year at the Coliseum. Congrats to Oakland on your walk-off success! Here’s NBCS with a wonderful recap of the campaign’s highlights.