Wednesday May 20th, 2015

Ryan Zimmerman may not number among the majors’ elite sluggers, but his game-winning home run on Monday night against the Yankees placed him in elite company. It was the 10th walk-off homer of his career, a total that ties him for 10th place all-time.

Zimmerman's 10th-inning blast off Andrew Miller—the first runs Miller has allowed in 18 1/3 innings this season, incidentally—capped the Nationals’ comeback from what had been a 6–2 deficit in the fifth inning. The Nationals had jumped out to a 2–0 lead early on the strength of solo homers by Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, rallied for three in the bottom of the fifth after falling behind, then tied the game in the sixth on a Wilson Ramos solo homer. With the score tied in the bottom of the 10th, Miller struck out Desmond, walked Yunel Escobar and then, on a 2–2 count, left a 96-mile-per-hour fastball right over the plate. Zimmerman bashed it off the rightfield foul pole, giving Washington an 8–6 win.

The homer was Zimmerman's fifth of the year and his first walk-off homer since July 26, 2013, which he hit off the Mets' LaTroy Hawkins. The first walk-off homer of his 11-year major league career came against the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang back on June 18, 2006. In addition to victimizing the Yankees twice, he's walked off twice against the Phillies and three times against the Marlins.

Via the Baseball-Reference.com Event Finder, which goes back to 1938 but has gaps in the play-by-play record, and MLB.com, which reported a more complete account of the players whose record Jim Thome broke in 2012, Zimmerman is tied for 10th in that department:

rank player walk-off home runs
1 Jim Thome 13
T2 Jimmie Foxx 12
  Mickey Mantle 12
  Stan Musial 12
  Frank Robinson 12
  Babe Ruth 12
T7 David Ortiz 11
  Tony Perez 11
  Albert Pujols 11
T10 Dick Allen 10
  Harold Baines 10
  Barry Bonds 10
  Adam Dunn 10
  Jason Giambi 10
  Reggie Jackson 10
  Mike Schmidt 10
  Sammy Sosa 10
  Ryan Zimmerman 10

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That's some excellent company: eight Hall of Famers plus at least a few more who are on the way. Zimmerman is in at least a nine-way tie for 10th place, but it's important to note that there may be others who had 10 or 11 walkoffs in their career, some of which came before 1938 or aren't attached to play-by-play accounts. For example, B-Ref can't account for any of Ruth's walkoffs, since his final year was 1935, and of the dozen that Foxx and Musial hit, it can only account for one from the former and 10 from the latter. Mel Ott, who clouted 511 homers in his career, has just four recorded walkoffs via B-Ref but 425 homers whose timing is uncertain beyond the game and date.

More definitively, Zimmerman is third among active players behind Pujols and Ortiz, a pair with 998 combined homers at this writing (527 for the former, 471 for the latter). By comparison, Zimmerman has just 189 career homers—not only the lowest total on that list, but also a bit more than half of the next lowest total from the group (Allen's 351). He may not hit them as often, but he certainly makes them count.

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