Inside Brett Phillips’ game-winning hit: A deep dive on Game 4’s biggest moment

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

There is a reason why you should never skip ahead to the last line of a novel. Sure, you might find out how the story concludes. But you miss out on every reason why you should care in the first place. The magic is in the journey.

The ending of Game 4 was straightforward. Rays postseason superhero Randy Arozarena dove into home and the moment his gloved hand touched the plate, the game was over. The Tampa Bay Rays won 8-7 and knotted the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers at two games apiece. Thanks for coming folks, drive carefully!

Oh, but there was so much more than that. The journey of that play, like the journey of the game, and like the journey of this completely wacky season, was magical.

“I’m still trying to catch my breath,” Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier said. “Forty minutes after it’s over with. It’s really incredible.”

Let’s begin our guide through the biggest plate appearance in the life of one Brett Phillips with a factoid. The aim in this little corner of our World Series coverage is to venture deep into the weeds of each game’s biggest play, or at least a play that is both impactful and suggests larger truths. In Game 3, we chose Max Muncy ‘s two-run single, both because it was the play that had the largest statistical impact on the outcome and because it was emblematic to the way the Dodgers approach offense.

That play was the only high-leverage plate appearance of Game 3. According to the FanGraphs.com version of leverage index, with the cutoff for high leverage set at any play with an index of 1.5 or more, Game 4 had 33 such plate appearances. Thirty-three!

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