One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the walk-off home run. If you’re one of the few players to hit a walk-off home run then you know just how memorable of an experience it can be. Walk-off home runs are a thrilling ending to a game, but lots of people have questions about how it gets scored. Do all runs count on a walk off home run?
As a general rule, all runs count on a walk off home run. The player who hit the walk-off home run is allowed to run around the bases and score, but if that player misses a base or overruns another baserunner, that batter is called out and the home run does not count as a run.
Although a walk-off home run counts as run over 99% of the time, there have been a few times in baseball’s history where a walk-off home run did not count as a run.
What is a Walk-Off Home Run?
To understand why a walk-off home run counts as a run, we first need to understand what exactly a walk-off home run is and why they call it a walk-off home run.
A walk-off home run occurs when the home team hits a home run in the bottom half of the last inning, and that home run wins the game. It’s called a walk-off homerun because this type of homerun ends the game and the home team is able to walk off the field with a victory.
This means that if you are the home team and you are down by a run or two in the last inning, the game can end with one swing of the bat. This is one reason why a walk-off home run is such an exciting event to see in baseball.
All Runs Count on a Walk Off Home Run
People have a common question of whether or not a batter has to run the bases during a walk-off home run. After all, a baseball game ends right after the winning run scores in the bottom half of the last inning. If there are other runners on base who will score and win the game before you cross home plate, do you have to run the bases on a walk-off home run?
According to the official rules of the MLB, if a batter hits a walk-off home run the normal base running rules apply. If the batter doesn’t run the bases on a walk-off home run then they are liable to be called out on the play. So as a general rule, you have to run the bases on a walk-off home run.
So if you’re one of the lucky few who get the chance to hit that coveted walk-off home run, it’s a good idea to run the bases. Although there can be situations where the batter who hit the walk-off run doesn’t need to score, the batter will need to run all of the bases if they want to receive credit for that home run.
Walk-Off Home Runs Are an Exception to The Rule For Ending Games
Traditionally, baseball games will end as soon as the home team is up in the bottom of the last inning. This is why there are additional types of walk-off hits like walk-off singles and walk-off doubles.
According to the official MLB Rules, a game of baseball can end in three ways:
- After the visiting team has completed the last inning and the home team is ahead
- When the visiting team is ahead after the last inning is completed
- When the home team scores the winning run in the last inning
The official MLB also lists out an exception to this rule, which references how the game can end when the home team hits a home run to win the game:
“If the last batter in a game hits a home run out of the playing field, the batter-runner and all runners on base are permitted to score, in accordance with the base-running rules, and the game ends when the batter-runner touches home plate” (Rule 7.01(g)).
Because normal base-running rules apply during a walk-off home run, this also means that the baserunners need to touch all the bases or they will be called out.
What Happens if You Miss a Base on a Walk Off Home Run?
Although it might seem crazy that a batter would miss a base on a walk-off home run, it has happened a few times in baseball’s history.
Probably the most notable walk-off home run where a batter missed a base is when the Mets’ third baseman, Robin Ventura, hit a walk-off grand slam that resulted in a single.
In this walk-off grand slam, the Mets were tied with the Braves 3-3 in the bottom of the 15th inning in game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series (NLCS). The bases were loaded with one out and Robin Ventura crushed a 2-1 pitch over the right-field wall for a walk-off grand slam.
As you can partly see from the video below, both Mets fans and players were so enthusiastic about this grand slam, that they all began storming the field and celebrating before Robin Ventura could even make it all the way around the bases. In fact, Robin Ventura was only able to touch first base before he was rushed by excited players and fans.
Because Robin Ventura was only able to touch first base, he was ruled to have gotten a single instead of a grand slam. For this play, the Mets were still able to win the game because there were other runners on base that were able to score and put the Mets ahead of the Braves. If for some reason he was not able to touch first base, Robin Ventura would have been called out.
For a look at how that incredible play unfolded, check out the 45 second YouTube clip below.
Walk-Off Home Runs in the World Series
Baseball has been around for over 150 years so one would think that there have been some walk-off home runs in the World Series. But has there ever been a walk-off home run to win the World Series?
Prior to the 2021 MLB season, there have been sixteen games where a World Series game has ended with a walk-off home run. Out of those sixteen walk-off home runs, ten of them have occurred after the 1988 MLB season.
For a complete list of all the walk-off home runs to win a World Series game, check out this article from Wikipedia that includes a list of all the times a World Series game has ended in a walk-off home run.
Or if you’re interested in watching all sixteen of those walk-off home runs to win a World Series game, check out the YouTube clip below from the MLB Vault where they put together a playlist of every single World Series game that ended in a walk-off home run.
Has a Pitcher Ever Hit a Walk Off Home Run?
If you follow Major League Baseball then you know it’s common knowledge that pitchers in the MLB aren’t known for their hitting abilities. In fact, whenever pitchers are placed into the batting order they are almost always the last batter. So if you’re wondering about walk-off home runs you might also be wondering if a pitcher has ever hit a walk off home run.
There have been 32 walk-off home runs by pitchers in Major League Baseball, with the last occurrence happening on April 25, 1986, by the San Diego Padres pitcher Craig Lefferts.
According to an article by ESPN, Lefferts, who is one of 32 pitchers to hit a walk-off home run, wasn’t even supposed to pitch that night. It wasn’t until the seventh inning when he found out there was a chance he would be playing that night. And luckily for Lefferts, it turned out the manager wanted to use him towards the end of the game.