The ten most positive plays in the 2007 Cubs season in terms of Win Probablility Added (all praise and credit to Fangraphs.com):
10.) July 1st, Cubs @ Pirates: Cliff Floyd hits late 2-run homer to beat Bucs, 8-6
.366 Win Probability Added (WPA)
Floyd broke a 5-5 tie when he connected in the 7th inning of a game that began Tuesday night, June 30th, then was suspended due to heavy rains, and completed Wednesday morning. Floyd’s longball landed in the Allegheny River, making him the 21st player to put a ball in the water since PNC Park opened in 2001.
9.) September 15th, Cubs @ Cardinals: Alfonso Soriano connects for 2-run, eighth-inning shot to key 3-2 win
In the opener of a day-night doubleheader, Alfonso Soriano pounded a 3-2 pitch from Ryan Franklin to put the Cubs ahead and hang the Cardinals with a ninth straight defeat. The win gave the Cubs a two-game margin over the Brewers.
8.) April 22nd, Cardinals @ Cubs: Mark DeRosa’s 2-run single in the last of the ninth sends Cards and Cubs to extra innings
On a day that saw 18-mph outbound winds, the Cards and Cubs combined for 33 hits. The Cubs trailed 9-7 in the last of the ninth when DeRosa plated Michael Barrett and Alfonso Soriano with a wind-blown single off Cardinal closer Jason Isringhausen to tie the game at 9-9. In the tenth inning, however, Albert Pujols connected for the Cards’ fourth home run of the afternoon, and St. Louis won 10-9.
7.) September 12th, Cubs @ Astros: Ryan Dempster induces 3-6-1 double play to preserve 3-2 victory
Dempster almost blew a 3-1 ninth-inning lead, allowing the home team to draw within a run, before filling the bases with just one out. Dempster then got Eric Munson to ground the ball to Derrek Lee, who started the game-ending double play, which finished with Dempster taking Ryan Theriot’s throw at first. The win lifted the Cubs back into a first-place tie with the Brewers.
6.) May 6th, Nationals @ Cubs: Ryan Theriot ties game with ninth-inning single
The Cubs trailed 3-2 in the ninth when Theriot faced Nats closer Chad Cordero with pinch-runner Jason Marquis on second base. Theriot fouled off four 2-2 pitches before singling to drive home Marquis. Daryle Ward’s 10th-inning single gave the Cubs their first one-run victory of 2007.
5.) July 16th, Giants @ Cubs: Aramis Ramirez hits a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning as Cubs win 3-2
The Cubs trailed 2-1 with two outs in the last of the eighth, before Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee singled to bring Ramirez to the plate. The Cub third baseman then ripped a double to bring home Theriot and Lee and help the Cubs stay within 3 1/2 games of the NL Central-leading Brewers.
4.) September 17th, Reds @ Cubs: Aramis Ramirez’s two-run triple ties game in the ninth
Clinging to a one-game margin over Milwaukee, the Cubs staged a dramatic ninth-inning rally to beat the Reds. With the Cubs down 6-4, Ramirez’s line drive to right center eluded Cincy’s diving centerfielder, Norris Hopper and scored Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee to tie the game. After Daryle Ward was intentionally walked, Mark DeRosa drove in Ramirez with an infield hit that secured the win.
3.) September 2nd, Astros @ Cubs: Derrek Lee hits a 2-run homer in the eighth to complete a breathtaking Cub comeback
On a day when both the Brewers and Cardinals had already won, the Cubs clawed back from a 5-1 deficit to beat lowly Houston. Lee came to bat with one out in the eighth inning and Alfonso Soriano on first base, driving his 17th home run of the season into the left field basket. The game was also notable for a spectacular diving catch in left-center field by Jacque Jones
2.) June 25th, Rockies @ Cubs: Soriano’s two-run single erases horrific top of the ninth in Cubs win
The Cub bullpen spit up an 8-3 ninth inning lead, allowing the visitors to score six runs and go ahead, 9-8. With two runners on and two out in the home ninth, Rockies second baseman Kaz Matsui booted a ground ball hit by Ryan Theriot, Matsui’s first error of the season. Soriano then came up and rapped the game-winning, two-run single. “That's the best moment I've had with Chicago so far," Soriano said afterward.
1.) June 29th, Brewers @ Cubs: Ramirez crushes Cordero and Brewers with ninth-inning blast
The Cubs won their seventh game in a row to reach .500 for the first time in since May 10th. The Cubs trailed the first-place Brewers 5-3 going into the bottom of the ninth against Milwaukee closer Francisco Cordero. Derrek Lee hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-4. Then Ramirez buried a hanging slider from Cordero, scoring Mike Fontenot ahead of him and cinching the 6-5 Cub victory, a win that drew the Cubs to within 6 1/2 games of the Brewers. Lou Piniella’s post-game reaction was controlled. "Let's just play them one at a time," Piniella said. "It's fun for me watching them play with the intensity they're playing with. They're starting to be a confident bunch that they can come from behind. Right now, everything's going well. Let's just play them one at a time, and not get too excited about it."
If you’re keeping score at home, Ramirez was the key figure in three of these top 10 plays, Soriano was the star in two, and Floyd, DeRosa, Dempster, Theriot and Lee headlined one each.
Finally, remembering that the context in which WPA resides is the individual game and that it is disconnected from things like a team’s position in the standings, I thought it was remarkable that four of the Top 10 Cub Plays of 2007 (#2, #4, #7, and #9) occurred within a 15-day span.
It’s no wonder we all felt lightheaded throughout most of September.