Top Correa playoff HR? SS ranks favorites

October 5th, 2021

HOUSTON -- might not have been able to grow a beard had he tried. He had just turned 21 years old, had never had a sip of alcohol, had yet to shoot a commercial and wasn’t married or about to become a father. It was October 2015, and the fresh-faced Correa was about to etch himself into Houston postseason lore.

The Astros, just two years removed from losing a club-record 111 games, had the defending American League champion Royals on the ropes in the 2015 AL Division Series. Houston led the best-of-five series, 2-1, and had a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of Game 4 at Minute Maid Park with Correa at the plate.

Correa walloped a two-run homer to put the Astros ahead, 5-2. And when Colby Rasmus went back-to-back with a homer of his own, the Astros were up, 6-2, and six outs away from reaching the AL Championship Series. Alas, the Royals mounted an improbable rally by scoring five runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to win, 9-6. They eliminated the Astros two days later in Kansas City.

Still, Correa’s performance -- 4-for-4 with two homers and 11 total bases -- in that playoff game helped rocket him to stardom and started him down the road to becoming one of the most clutch postseason performers of his generation. Correa enters this year’s ALDS against the White Sox with 17 career playoff homers, which is tied for ninth all-time with Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz and Jim Thome.

One more homer would tie him with teammate Jose Altuve and Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson with 18. Two more ties him with Albert Pujols and former teammate George Springer with 19. The only men who have hit more postseason homers beyond that are Manny Ramirez (29), Bernie Williams (22) and Derek Jeter (20).

“I feel like I live for these moments,” Correa said. “I enjoy them and embrace them.”

Before the Astros meet the White Sox in Game 1 on Thursday, Correa sat down with and ranked his top five playoff homers and what each swing meant to him:

1. 2019 ALCS, Game 2 vs. the Yankees at Minute Maid Park

Details: Correa hit an 11th-inning walk-off blast to right field off J.A. Happ to even the series and cupped his hand around his ear as he rounded third base, which became a trademark for him. The homer also had a special personal meaning for Correa, who dedicated the swing to 17-year-old cancer patient Jalen Garcia in Houston.

Correa: “That’s No. 1. The story behind it -- I had the Correa Family Foundation and I had just visited one of my kids the day before and I promised him the next time I hit a homer, I’m going to point and I’m going to dedicate that homer to you. To hit the walk-off, I put my hand up to my ear. That was born there. And then when I was running to first, I started pointing out. He was in the hospital watching and he was super happy. For me, hitting the homer was special because, obviously, it tied the series 1-1. We were at home and we couldn’t afford to lose two games. And also it brought happiness to a kid that was going through a tough time and wasn’t smiling very often. It was special. That was a fastball, like up middle-away-ish. I hit it to right field.”

2. 2020 ALCS, Game 5 vs. Rays at Petco Park

Details: Correa crushed a pitch from Rays reliever Nick Anderson for a walk-off homer in San Diego, where the ALCS was played with no fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Astros staved off elimination with a 4-3 win but wound up losing in seven games.

Correa: “That’s probably my second favorite because I called it. I told Altuve I was going to go deep and I told some of the guys I was going to go deep. I visualized it, that same pitch, driving it to right-center [field]. When he threw it and I hit, it was like I [had] lived it already. So that was one was very special. It was a fastball up and away.”

3. 2020 ALDS, Game 4 vs. the A’s at Dodger Stadium

Details: Correa’s three-run homer off Frankie Montas at Dodger Stadium (neutral site) capped off a five-run fourth inning to make it 5-3, and the Astros rolled to an 11-6 win to take the series, 3-1.

Correa: “That was a good one. Montas, he’s got really good stuff. He was very nasty that day and he happened to make one mistake to me and I capitalized on it. That day, I was feeling really good at the plate, so I saw a hanging slider and recognized it and drove it into the seats. Obviously, an important game like that, especially the year for us, too, and everything we went through in 2020 -- that was a special one, also.”

4. 2017 World Series, Game 5 vs. the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park

Details: It was an epic game that saw the Astros hit three game-tying homers, with Houston scoring four times in the seventh inning, capped by Correa’s two-run homer off Brandon Morrow that made it 11-8. The Astros won, 13-12, in 10 innings to take a 3-2 lead in the series.

Correa: “It was as high-scoring game, and to be able to give the team a three-run lead at the time -- I think Altuve was on base -- it was huge. That series, man. ... That series was intense against a great team, so that one was one of my favorites, also. It was a fastball up out of the zone, I think. I hit it like 45 degrees or something like that, so it just barely went out in the Crawford Boxes. It was one of the highest homers of the year. ... I was hoping for a sac fly but it went out. It was great.”

5. 2015 ALDS, Game 4 vs. the Royals at Minute Maid Park

Details: Correa’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot off Ryan Madsen, put the Astros ahead, 5-2, in the seventh inning.

Correa: “That homer was very special -- being a rookie in my first playoffs and delivering in a big way to give your team the lead in such an important game. That one was special. I remember going to the clubhouse after the game and obviously a lot of players were tweeting about the homers and all that, and I felt like I made it. 'I’m in the big leagues. People officially know me.' It was special. That was a good one. First homer was of the game was off [Yordano] Ventura -- rest in peace -- a two-seam in at 96-97 [mph]. That [second] one was Ryan Madsen, a changeup.”

Correa enters the postseason with a chance to add to his legacy, which is on very firm ground in Houston. Taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Correa became a cornerstone player in an Astros dynasty that’s won four AL West titles in five years, reached the ALCS the last four years and played in two World Series, winning it all in 2017.

He’s a free agent at the end of the season at 27 years old, and knows his time in Houston could be coming to an end. Correa hasn’t ruled out returning to the Astros, but for now is focused on the playoffs and proving Houston with a few more memorable home runs.

“I want to focus on winning,” he said. “I’m wearing the 'H' across my chest every day and I’m focused on helping the team win a championship. … Coming from Puerto Rico at 17 years old, I was kind of scared at that point, and the city and the fans and the organization, they took care of me and treated me kindly. I became a man here in this city. It’s always going to be a special place.”