Sports Reference Blog

Biggest Comeback Wins in Baseball History

Posted by Alex Bonilla on January 29, 2019

So your team is down 7 runs in the 7th inning, and you're tempted to accept defeat when you realize that you're watching baseball and one hot inning could change the end result. Wouldn't it also be nice to have some facts on your side about other teams that have accomplished improbable comebacks?

Well, Baseball-Reference is here to help with a new page that tracks the biggest comebacks in baseball sorted by the lowest win expectancy a winning team faced before mounting their comeback. Win Expectancy is a measure based on play-by-play, so this measure is available in full back to 1974 and mostly complete back to 1925.

In the regular season, we have 2 situations where a team was at 0.01% win expectancy before eventually winning. On June 29, 1952, the visiting Chicago Cubs were down 8-2 to the Cincinnati Reds with 2 outs and nobody on base in the top of the 9th inning. One more out would've ended the game, but the Cubs managed to get a string of 7 runs and ended up escaping with the victory.

The 2nd situation happened with the 1990 Phillies, who were down 11-1 to the Dodgers in the 7th inning. From there, Von Hayes drove in 2 runs in the 8th inning, and that led to a full-force comeback in the 9th inning, including a 3-run homer by John Kruk. Philadelphia went on to leave Dodger Stadium that night with a 12-11 win.

We also have a table for most improbable postseason comebacks. At the top of the list is the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics, who came back from an 8-0 deficit in the 7th inning to win Game 4 of the World Series, a series they would go on to win. More recently, you may recall the Red Sox coming back from a 7-0 deficit to take Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS from the Rays. Even if Tampa Bay went on to the World Series, Boston fans could take minor solace in J.D. Drew driving in Kevin Youkilis for the game-winning run in Game 5.

Check out the rest of the most improbable comebacks in baseball history on Baseball-Reference. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us through our feedback form.

2 Responses to “Biggest Comeback Wins in Baseball History”

  1. Bud Norton Says:

    Somewhat regrettable that, due to relying on games where you have the play-by-play data, you can't include the Tigers coming back from 10 runs down in the 9th inning to win their very first major league game, in 1901, vs. the Milwaukee Brewers.

  2. Mark Parens Says:

    August 29, 1986 Tigers vs Angels. Angels score 8 in bottom of the 9th to win 13 to 12.