Jose Altuve sealed his name in the history books when he took New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman deep in the ninth inning to clinch the American League pennant for the Houston Astros. He now finds himself in rare company as one of only 11 players to hit a series-ending home run.
It's almost impossible to determine where Altuve's blast fits on a list of the best ones, but we decided to try. Every possible factor, from the stage of the playoffs to the circumstances of the game itself, was taken into consideration. Here's our look back at baseball's 11 series-ending homers, ranked from worst to first.
Note: Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round The World" is not included here because the 1951 NL playoff is officially considered a regular-season series.
When: Oct. 4, 2016
Who: Edwin Encarnacion vs. Ubaldo Jimenez
Series: AL wild-card game
Scenario: Tied 2-2, Bottom 11
This is perhaps the signature moment in the wild-card game's brief history. A dramatic playoff meeting between two longtime AL East rivals ended with Encarnacion's titanic extra-inning blast. Would the outcome have changed if Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter used closer Zack Britton instead of Jimenez? We'll never know. This homer is ranked 11th because the argument about whether a one-game playoff truly counts as a "series" will go on forever, but that doesn't take anything away from the magnitude of the moment or Edwin's epic bat drop.
When: Oct. 9, 1999
Who: Todd Pratt vs. Matt Mantei
Series: NLDS, Game 4
Scenario: Tied 3-3, Bottom 10
An otherwise forgettable series between the wild-card New York Mets and the two-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks ended in dramatic fashion thanks to the unlikeliest of heroes. Pratt, a career backup catcher who was forced into a starting job when Mike Piazza was injured earlier in the series, just barely got this one out of Steve Finley's reach and over the wall in straightaway center field to send the Mets on to the National League Championship Series. It was Pratt's only postseason home run, and though you might have forgotten about it, few people in Queens ever will.
When: Oct. 8, 2004
Who: David Ortiz vs. Jarrod Washburn
Series: ALDS, Game 3
Scenario: Tied 6-6, Bottom 10
If you're looking for the origin of Big Papi's legend, this is it. Ortiz capped a monster series - he hit .545/.688/1.000 - by sending Washburn's first and only pitch of the game over the Green Monster to end a Boston Red Sox sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. This one loses some points because it's barely even a top-five personal moment for Ortiz - his playoff resume is that deep. But the Red Sox don't reverse the curse without it.
When: Oct. 19, 2019
Who: Jose Altuve vs. Aroldis Chapman
Series: ALCS, Game 6
Scenario: Tied 4-4, Bottom 9
You could sort of feel it coming when Chapman walked George Springer to bring Altuve to the plate, and the diminutive superstar was very ready for that slider. Maybe this series didn't live up to all of our expectations after that epic Yankees-Astros battle in 2017, but it was worth it for this ending. Some day, this homer could lead the highlight reel at Altuve's Hall of Fame induction.
When: Oct. 16, 2014
Who: Travis Ishikawa vs. Michael Wacha
Series: NLCS, Game 5
Scenario: Tied 3-3, Bottom 9
Ishikawa is probably not the player most San Francisco Giants fans were expecting to author one of the lasting images of the team's string of success earlier this decade. While his personal success was fleeting after this homer - he retired only two years later - he forever lives on in Giants lore after wrapping up their third pennant in five years with this blast into the right-field porch. Bonus points for Joe Buck's call that gave a nod to Thomson.
When: Oct. 14, 2006
Who: Magglio Ordonez vs. Huston Street
Series: ALCS, Game 4
Scenario: Tied 3-3, Bottom 9
Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS was played on a bitterly cold night in Detroit, but nobody cared that they couldn't feel their toes when Ordonez launched his pennant-winning homer against the favored Oakland Athletics. This moment carried a lot of historical weight for the Tigers, who were making their first playoff appearance in 19 seasons and had lost an AL-record 119 games only three years earlier. Combine that with Detroit's economic downturn at the time, and you had a moment of unbridled ecstasy for a city and region that truly needed it. The players surely understood all of this, as evidenced by baserunner Placido Polanco's joyful leaps around the diamond.
When: Oct. 14, 1976
Who: Chris Chambliss vs. Mark Littell
Series: ALCS, Game 5
Scenario: Tied 6-6, Bottom 9
It might shock those who are under 30 years old to learn that 1976 marked the Yankees' first playoff berth in 12 years, but what a return to October it was. Chambliss' epic shot set off a truly incredible celebration inside Yankee Stadium, which featured what seemed like all 56,821 fans in attendance storming the field. Chambliss had to abandon his trot coming around third base for his own personal safety. Years later, he revealed that security escorted him back onto the field and through the crowd to officially touch the area of home plate - the plate itself was stolen. Bonus points for Howard Cosell's unparalleled articulation characterizing it on the microphone.
When: Oct. 9, 2005
Who: Chris Burke vs. Joey Devine
Series: NLDS, Game 4
Scenario: Tied 6-6, Bottom 18
Burke's 2005 blast gets the edge over Altuve's among the Astros' series-winning walk-offs. Why? Because he ended what was, to that point, the longest game in MLB playoff history by both time (five hours, 50 minutes) and innings (18). The lead-up to the moment featured two grand slams (one for each team, a first in postseason history), a five-run Astros comeback in the eighth and ninth to tie it, and winning pitcher Roger Clemens entering as a pinch hitter before making his first relief appearance in 21 years. So, of course, in a wild game like this, it was the little-known Burke who got to end the series. Sure, it was just a best-of-five showdown, but it's still pretty hard to rival Burke in the 18th.
When: Oct. 16, 2003
Who: Aaron Boone vs. Tim Wakefield
Series: ALCS, Game 7
Scenario: Tied 5-5, Bottom 11
Old Yankee Stadium might never have been louder than when Boone sent the Red Sox home to end one of the most memorable LCS games ever contested. Mariano Rivera collapsing on the mound in exhaustion and tears of joy while Boone circled the bases is perhaps the lasting image from this iconic affair between baseball's two most bitter rivals. New York lost the World Series, but Boone's blast continues to echo on its own in Yankee - and baseball - lore.
When: Oct. 13, 1960
Who: Bill Mazeroski vs. Ralph Terry
Series: World Series, Game 7
Scenario: Tied 9-9, Bottom 9
Mazeroski punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame by ending it with a long drive over Yogi Berra's head and out of Forbes Field, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates their first title in 35 years. It was the first World Series to end on a walk-off home run. Almost 60 years later, many still consider this game to be the greatest ever played, with Maz's blast serving as the most fitting ending.
When: Oct. 23, 1993
Who: Joe Carter vs. Mitch Williams
Series: World Series, Game 6
Scenario: Trailing 6-5, Bottom 9
Carter made it back-to-back World Series wins for the Toronto Blue Jays with this low liner off Mitch Williams, and gets the top spot by a hair over Mazeroski thanks to one critical tie-breaker. Of the 11 series-ending homers in playoff history, Carter's was the only one to be hit while his team was behind. Blue Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek's iconic call of "Touch 'em all, Joe!" continues to echo across an entire nation to this day.