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Reds Nd2
03-18-2007, 11:17 PM
http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070318&content_id=1848467&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp


Nobody knew hitting better than Ted Williams, and it was Williams who famously said that hitting a pitched baseball is "the single most difficult thing to do in sport." That applies whether it's Game 7 of the World Series or a Tuesday night in June.

Hitting is hitting, and hitting is hard. It requires both talent and concentration to thwart a pitcher who is trying to get you out.

That's why the notion of the "clutch hitter" is such a tough one to figure out. The task of hitting requires 100 percent focus and dedication, and you can't go higher than 100 percent. The idea that some hitters, especially already great hitters, get better in big spots or momentous games seems counterintuitive.

Yet the concept remains strong. Ask a fan, or even an opponent, about Derek Jeter, and "clutch" is one of the first words you'll hear. The same goes for David Ortiz. Pesky little guys can earn the label too -- players such as Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein and Brewers infielder Craig Counsell.

To analysts, a clutch hitter is simply a good hitter who has performed well in magnified situations. The appellation is all about history, what you have done. It tells you nothing about what you're going to do.

But in others' eyes, the word clutch carries an almost mystical glint.

"Absolutely," said D-backs manager Bob Melvin, when asked if the clutch hitter really exists. "And sometimes it's not the guy that's hitting .330. Sometimes it's the guy that's hitting .250 that rises to that occasion."

In-depth examinations have revealed that a player's past performance in key situations holds very little predictive value. Just because a player has come up short in the World Series before, it doesn't mean he'll do it again.

At the very least, though, in a given postseason game, or at a pivotal moment in the pennant race, a hitter will succeed or not. And talent alone will not determine the outcome of the at-bat.

"It's all about distractions," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Some guys can't hit in a blowout game. Some guys are not clutch hitters. It's about distractions. They're distracted by the consequences -- the game is over and we lose if you don't get a hit. Part of how you become a clutch hitter is you learn how to clean out distractions and concentrate on the process."

Many players and managers believe that the ability to perform when pressure is at its highest is not an innate talent, but a learned skill.

"It's not a skill you can't learn if you're willing to keep an open mind and learn," La Russa said. "Guys who are good hitters can be clutch hitters if they care enough about being the go-to guy."

If hitting in the clutch is truly any different from hitting in any other game, that's the difference. One fundamental in hitting is clearing out everything but the essentials.

When Crash Davis, the catcher in "Bull Durham," realized he was thinking more about Annie Savoy than about swinging the bat, he stepped out of the box. It's an extreme example, but true. The more often you can concentrate on pitch at hand, and that pitch only, the more often you can maximize your physical hitting ability.

"You might have to weed out some extra things to concentrate and focus," said Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen. "To concentrate and focus, that means something very specific."

Whatever it is that goes into hitting in big games and big situations, some players have done it again and again. Jeter, a lifetime .314 hitter, may be the best known.

Yet the Yankees shortstop has been virtually the same hitter in October that he's been at all other times. He's hit .317 with a .388 on-base percentage and .463 slugging percentage in 6,790 career big-league at-bats. The numbers are .314/.384/.479 in the playoffs.

Jeter has the sheen, though. He has the perception.

"I've had players who have come here from different teams," said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "And [they've] said, 'I've always known Derek was a good player, but after watching him for two months, I never knew how good he was.' It's just the sense you get when you're around him."

Ortiz has become known for one specific kind of highlight -- the late-inning home run. It's not a myth. He does it again and again. Over the past three years, Ortiz has 27 home runs in 235 "close and late" situations, defined as at-bats in the seventh inning or later with the hitter's team either ahead by one run, tied, or with the potential tying run at least on deck. Then again, Albert Pujols has gone deep 24 times in 231 close-and-late at-bats in that same span.

Those numbers are real, and they're impressive. But they're not necessarily predictive.

Sometimes Derek Jeter falls short in the clutch. Meanwhile, if the Giants had beaten the Angels in the 2002 World Series, Barry Bonds would likely have been the series MVP. Bonds hit an absurd eight home runs in 45 at-bats in the '02 postseason.

Either he suddenly learned to be a clutch hitter, or this stuff isn't as set-in-stone as some people believe.

"Typically, players that hit best in clutch or high-leverage situations are the same hitters that perform better in the lower-leverage at-bats as well," said Chris Antonetti, assistant general manager for the Indians. "There may be a select few hitters that have higher-quality at-bats in clutch situations than non-clutch situations, but they are most likely the exceptions rather than the rule."

Not that that's a universal view. Braves general manager John Schuerholz knows a clutch hitter when he sees one.

"They grow up early and are imprinted early in an environment of success, competition and determination," Schuerholz said. "A lot of that is impacted by their life environment, whether it's at home or by an impactful coach or impactful person. When all of that is formed, I don't know, but it's there. There's no training manual for that."

Rangers shortstop Michael Young is beginning to enter the Jeter-Ortiz pantheon, though a player who toils in Arlington, Texas, likely won't ever be celebrated like those two. Young hit a ludicrous .412 with runners in scoring position in 2006 -- and .356 in close-and-late situations.

"Michael Young is the most clutch hitter in baseball," said Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. "When you hit .412 with runners in scoring position, that's clutch, and nobody does it better. He has a lot of trust in himself and a great mental approach. There's no fear. He just believes he's going to get the job done."

Jaramillo's assertion brings to light another issue in assessing "clutchness." Performance in RBI situations is often cited, but plenty of RBI situations occur in blowout games. Postseason performance is another measure. September numbers count to some people, while others look at the close-and-late metric.

Conventional wisdom states that the same traits help a hitter in all those situations. And a true clutch hitter should excel in all of them. But over large samples, the numbers bear out that you're better off with good hitters than with clutch hitters at critical junctures.

It's possible to acknowledge that notion while still having a nagging feeling in your gut that it's hard to accept. Just ask the man who recently signed Young to a new five-year deal.

"There are certain guys I'd rather have up at the plate in big situations," said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, "but could I prove that with numbers? Probably not."
I didn't see this posted anywhere, but wow, I mean just wow. Now a hitter just has to "care enough", or be somehow nurtured, into performing better in high leverage situations than he does in low level ones. :help:

RedsManRick
03-19-2007, 12:12 AM
Gotta love the instinct for humans to find patterns where random chance is at work.

Johnny Footstool
03-19-2007, 10:58 AM
Gotta love the instinct for humans to find patterns where random chance is at work.

And project some mystical abilities onto those who are fortunate enough to succeed at opportune times.

We loves us some heroes.

TRF
03-19-2007, 12:03 PM
Clutch hitting exists.

Clutch anything exists. pitching, pizza making, coloring in the lines.

Clutch hitters? dunno about that. Because the definition is so varied is one reason to say clutch hitters do not exist. But even if they do, what if that clutch hitter is facing a clutch pitcher? So the skillset is even harder to quantify. I do believe that the skillset exists though. Here is why.

I used to be a television director. Every night, Monday through Friday I directed the 6:00 and 10:00 newscasts. These got to be pretty routine. In the fall, we did a Friday night football show. The pace was frantic. scripts came back during the open, tapes would come in in the intro to that particular tape. During this show, my crew really shined. Election shows were the same way. High pressure, high performance.

What makes baseball different is that your direct opponent, in this case the pitcher, can also be feeling the moment and stepping up his game.

It may be we cannot track clutch hitting because it would also require tracking clutch pitching. Plus you have to take into account that at any given moment, any player can deliver in the clutch.

Whatever clutch actually is.

gonelong
03-19-2007, 12:35 PM
If you have sports media covering the event, there has to be a REASON for everything.

The players practiced too much this week and lost - they were on tired legs. They players practiced too lightly this week and lost - they were a bit rusty/not sharp.

I think the problem with clutch is that the media wants you to think the players are "elevating their game" when what they are truely doing is maintaining their games under pressure better than the rest of the players. Thats a kind of clutch I'll believe in.

GL

BCubb2003
03-19-2007, 12:51 PM
I think the problem with clutch is that the media wants you to think the players are "elevating their game" when what they are truely doing is maintaining their games under pressure better than the rest of the players. Thats a kind of clutch I'll believe in.

GL

I agree. Clutch is just the absence of choke.

RANDY IN INDY
03-19-2007, 01:18 PM
Better off leaving the horse for dead.

Chip R
03-19-2007, 01:27 PM
I think the problem with clutch is that the media wants you to think the players are "elevating their game" when what they are truely doing is maintaining their games under pressure better than the rest of the players. Thats a kind of clutch I'll believe in.

GL


I can buy that. I'm sure there are some players when it's pressure time, get too uptight to function like normal. But I don't think the "clutch" players try harder in those type situations. Not many more players are more clutch than David Ortiz. But if he pops up with a runner on 2nd in the 3rd inning in a game in May, does that mean he wasn't trying as hard as he would have in a similar situation in the 9th inning?

gonelong
03-19-2007, 01:41 PM
Better off leaving the horse for dead.

Probably, but we have new members rolling in all the time who might bring a fresh perspective or idea to the discussion.

I did a quick search for the "abscense of clutch" and found a few threads that I posted in that I don't even remember. :laugh: At least I was consistent. :)

GL

Team Clark
03-19-2007, 01:59 PM
If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it? :laugh:

RANDY IN INDY
03-19-2007, 02:14 PM
If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it? :laugh:

Now that's a loaded question.:laugh:

BCubb2003
03-19-2007, 02:30 PM
If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it? :laugh:

Fantasy baseball.

RANDY IN INDY
03-19-2007, 03:16 PM
Fantasy baseball.

A lot of people live there.

15fan
03-19-2007, 03:21 PM
Reggie Sanders.

Regular season career numbers:

.266 / .342 / .487 over 6,168 ABs in 1,753 regular season games.

Post-season career numbers:

.195 / .283 / .326 in 221 ABs in 62 post-season games.

Reggie Sanders is quite possibly one of the most unclutch players in the history of baseball. He's so bad when the post-season lights are on that he's anti-clutch.

In order to have anti-matter, you must first have matter.

Similarly, if there is anti-clutch as demonstrated by R Laverne Sanders, then by definition there must also be clutch.

westofyou
03-19-2007, 03:27 PM
Baseball is hard, myths live on about just about everything in the game

Like Tony Perez, Clutch hitter

.279 .341 .463 - Career
.284 .364 .469 - Career RISP
.273 .280 .318 - Playoffs RISP
.179 .226 .393 - World Series RISP

Team Clark
03-19-2007, 03:51 PM
A lot of people live there.

I would venture the numbers are in the eeeooonnnss! :laugh:

TRF
03-19-2007, 04:44 PM
Baseball is hard, myths live on about just about everything in the game

Like Tony Perez, Clutch hitter

.279 .341 .463 - Career
.284 .364 .469 - Career RISP
.273 .280 .318 - Playoffs RISP
.179 .226 .393 - World Series RISP

People point to career numbers and say a guy isn't a clutch hitter. I'm not defending Perez here, just saying that perhaps before decrying the existance of a clutch hitter, can someone prove to me clutch PITCHING does not exist?

GullyFoyle
03-19-2007, 04:57 PM
If a clutch pitcher goes against a clutch hitter does anybody notice anything different? :D

Johnny Footstool
03-19-2007, 05:19 PM
People point to career numbers and say a guy isn't a clutch hitter. I'm not defending Perez here, just saying that perhaps before decrying the existance of a clutch hitter, can someone prove to me clutch PITCHING does not exist?

I think it's very likely that some pitchers perform better in close situations than they do in blowouts, simply because pitching requires more effort and is more of a strain on your body. It makes perfect sense for a pitcher to give 85% effort when his team has a comfortable lead and save his maximum effort for those moments when the game it on the line.

I just don't see how a hitter could do that. What, is he going to let a 90 mph fastball sail down the middle of the plate because it's only the third inning?

Falls City Beer
03-19-2007, 05:21 PM
I prefer much hitting to clutch hitting. (TM)

;) :(

RANDY IN INDY
03-19-2007, 05:25 PM
I would venture the numbers are in the eeeooonnnss! :laugh:

Glad you picked up on that.;)

vaticanplum
03-19-2007, 07:18 PM
I believe that clutch hitting exists. Some people wilt under pressure and some people have a knack for standing up to it. That's true in baseball as much as in any walk of life.

I put two major caveats on this:
1. The idea of "clutch" is grossly overplayed in the media, although that's the case with a number of things that are played up to have more worth than they do. For whatever reason, the powers-that-be have decided that this is a good story. I think it is a good story too, for maybe five or six games a year. Talk about it and revisit it one week in October. Fine. Don't talk about it all year long, because then you stretch the definition of clutch to wrap around a player's entire career, which, you know, goes against the whole definition of clutch.

The media also has a tendency to use misleading players as an example of clutch. Jeter and A-Rod's career postseason stats are a lot closer than most people believe. Again, this is for the sake of a story. That's the stupid media's fault. But the fact that the media plays the idea up foolishly and misleadingly doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

2. The other major caveat regarding clutch is that while I believe in it, I don't see how it can really affect how anyone runs a team. Certainly it shouldn't play a role in the players you obtain if you're a gM, because players have to play 162 games for you before they play 3+ more (see above re: clutch definition. Although I guess "clutch" can apply to late-game heroics too, but I don't think that's what most people talk about there except maybe regarding Ortiz). It shouldn't affect the way you treat players as a manager. Maybe, maybe, once in a blue moon, it affects a late-game managerial decision. Fine. That's instinct, managers use it all the time. Good managers, in fact, use it very well.

So I don't think that clutch should play much role in the way the the game is actually played -- and honestly, I doubt it is; I think it's a media tool more than anything else. But I don't think it's a myth. I don't discount the power of adrenalin and focus and -- say it with me -- intangibles. I'd be curious to know who the truly "clutch" players are in terms of lifetime numbers. But I can accept that Reggie Jackson is clutch, that David Ortiz is clutch, even if their high-pressure numbers aren't significantly different than their normal ones, because they performed very well in notably high-pressure situations rather than falling to it. I guess what I mean is that clutch is to me a more case-by-case thing than a comparison to lifetime numbers. Does that make sense?

D-Man
03-19-2007, 08:09 PM
Gotta love the instinct for humans to find patterns where random chance is at work.

The answer of whether or not clutch hitting exists is, "it depends." (Just like so many other questions in life.) It depends on how you study the issue and how you define "clutch."

Andy Dolphin has found that "clutch hitters" do exist here in a study that may put you to sleep before you actually reach the conclusion:

www.dolphinsim.com/ratings/notes/clutch.html

Bill James acknowledges his agnosticism, but gives life to the issue and suggests more study is needed:

http://www.sabr.org/cmsfiles/underestimating.pdf

So before you dismissively wave away the issue, I recommend taking Bill James' words to heart -- the absence of proof is not proof. Instead, I recommend a serious analysis of the issues. Cyril Morong's web page devoted to nothing but clutch hitters:

http://www.geocities.com/cyrilmorong@sbcglobal.net/ClutchLinks2.htm

Outshined_One
03-19-2007, 08:35 PM
Let's dig up an old post of mine on another forum...


Ever notice that clutch players are already really good?

Seriously, every single person advanced in this thread as being "clutch" are already among the best athletes today. David Ortiz is one of the most feared hitters in baseball, whether it's the first or ninth inning. Derek Jeter is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Joe Montana was one of the greatest QBs of all time. The list goes on and on. You never hear about some fragile and weak RB suddenly becoming an explosive and feared runner in close and late games. You never hear about scrappy defensive shortstops who hit .220 on the season having a long and established career average of .400 with RISP.

Everyone who plays professional sports today are already among the top athletes in the world for the very fact that they made it far enough to play professionally. That tends to weed out a ton of the headcases who collapse under pressure. Guys like that don't tend to last in sports; they instead drop out of it before even sniffing the pros.

I think people view clutch in a way that's erroneous in four ways.

1) It is wrong to think that clutch players are people who are able to go above and beyond their performance potential. While athletes are pretty much at the top of the food chain when it comes to speed, strength, and so on, even they have their limits. If these people actually existed, you would see judy hitting shortstops hitting game-winning home runs on a regular basis. Rather, we have to remember that these guys are already talented.

However, there is something that does not go against this line of thinking that I am willing to believe in. While someone might not be able to go above and beyond their performance boundaries, they are able to maintain those levels or even drop well below those levels. If you made Mariano Rivera a 7th/8th inning setup man, he still would be one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He is able to carry his talent and performance into pressure situations into the ninth inning. Adam Vinatieri has a 82.5% success rate as a kicker; he is able to bring that success into close and late situations.

On another level, some players will delve below their performance levels in pressure situations. Who these players are is up for debate (more on this in a second), but I think we can all agree that this is true for certain people.

2) Fans and observers are strangely finicky. We have selective memories. The media is happy to play on these notions, as people will happily gobble them up. We remember David Ortiz hitting big game-winning home runs. We remember Jeter legging out an infield hit to start a big comeback rally. We remember Adam Vinatieri hitting Super Bowl-winning field goals.

However, people tend not to remember the failures of certain people. If David Ortiz strikes out with two men on base in the bottom of the ninth inning during a game, people will forget about it the next day. The same goes for when Jeter strikes out in a similar situation. Nobody remembers Joe Montana's interceptions in close and late games.

Conversely, people will be all over certain players in similar situations. If A-Rod struck out in that situation, he'd be crucified the next day in the NY Post, with Mike Celzic spewing out approximately twenty articles a day talking about how un-clutch A-Rod is. Prior to his winning the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning throwing an interception in the 4th quarter of a close game would see him strung up by the various talking heads.

However, on a similar and really weird note (because of reputation or whatever, I do not know), we treat them differently when they succeed in these situations. If the Yankees are down 5-1 and A-Rod hits a two run double which helps lead the Yankees to a 6-5 comeback, it'll go unnoticed. When Peyton Manning would lead the charge on any game when the Colts rallied back after being down, nobody would bat an eye. People either ignore these facts or they write them off as mere flukes.

In this case, clutch is all about perception.

3) The biggest problem with clutch moments is that we only have small (albeit memorable) sample sizes to go by. There is a lot of difficulty in attempting to quantify clutch simply because these instances are few and far between. Maybe 8-10 games for an NFL player or 30-50 ABs might seem like a lot, these really are inadequate numbers to create an accurate model to put a label on "clutch" which is more than just an arbitrary designation placed on a player. Perhaps it seems like a guy always gets big hits when they are needed. The problem lies in the word "seems". We could be making a completely unfounded judgment on a player based on our own memories and perceptions, which are subject to all sorts of flaws.

We have no set definition for what is clutch or who is clutch. There are no bright lines marking off the boundaries between those who are and those who are not. Is a guy clutch because he gets big hits when it matters? Is he clutch because he always gets hits when his team has runners in scoring position? Is he clutch because he somehow always manages to make a three point shot within the waning moments of a game?

All of the statistical evidence that has been compiled so far is inconsistent at best. I will happily grant that it's stupid to assume something does not exist because we lack hard statistical evidence for or against its existence, but I will equally grant that it is stupid to say something exists despite the fact that we have no statistical evidence to back up that assertion. If you want to prove something actually exists, you need more than opinions.

4) I think this point is the most overlooked point when it comes to the assertions of being clutch. Sports are about much, much more than just single teams and individuals. I think that people focus way too much on a single person in certain situations in this debate, to their detriment.

Sports involve teammates and the other teams! Context is absolutely critical to making these assertions. Maybe Derek Jeter got a game-winning single in a given game, but the guy he got it off of was a pitcher with a 7.23 ERA and the first baseman was sorely out of position to field the ball cleanly. Maybe Tom Brady led the Patriots to a big comeback victory on the road, but it was against the Texans and their anemic defense. Adam Vinatieri could have nailed a game-winning field goal, but the rest of the Colts could have stunk up the joint for most of the game and nearly blew the game on their own. A-Rod may have struck out in the bottom of the ninth of a 4-3 game with two runners on base, but he drove in two of those runs with a double much earlier in the game. Michael Jordan might have hit the game-winning shot, but his coach drew up the perfect play which the rest of the team executed flawlessly.

You absolutely, positively cannot look at these players in a bubble. A guy might get the "clutch" label for hitting five game-winning HRs in a season, but he only did so when he faced terrible pitchers. A guy like Peyton Manning might get a bunch of the blame for his team's playoff woes, but lost amidst the criticism was the fact that his running game was ineffective at best, the defense played piss-poor, and the coaching staff refused to adjust throughout the course of the game.

If you want my honest opinion, I think clutch exists at some level, but I also think people overrate it to an insane degree. I'm happy to admit luck exists, too. The two are not mutually exclusive.

TRF
03-19-2007, 09:23 PM
I think it's very likely that some pitchers perform better in close situations than they do in blowouts, simply because pitching requires more effort and is more of a strain on your body. It makes perfect sense for a pitcher to give 85% effort when his team has a comfortable lead and save his maximum effort for those moments when the game it on the line.

I just don't see how a hitter could do that. What, is he going to let a 90 mph fastball sail down the middle of the plate because it's only the third inning?

no, but don't you think his concentration might increase a tad if it were two outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, his team down by 1 in the bottom of the 9th.

Of course it would. doesn't mean he'll perform though.

15fan
03-19-2007, 09:24 PM
can someone prove to me clutch PITCHING does not exist?

Clutch pitching?

See: Rivera, Mariano

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/riverma01.shtml

As good as he is in the regular season, he's arguably the most clutch pitcher in post-season history.

112 & 2/3 IP in the post-season, with a 0.80 ERA.

As a point of reference, his career ERA entering the 2007 season is 2.29 in 881 & 2/3 innings.

D-Man
03-19-2007, 11:53 PM
Outshined:

If you read Andy Dolphin's article, he states that singles hitters and middle infielders are generally the best "clutch hitters," not necessarily "the best athletes," much to everyone's surprise. I recommend reading it. (or at least skip to the conclusion and read it)

As to your point that "people overrate it to an insane degree," I counter that there is a whole market devoted to dispelling anything having to do with clutch hitters. So there are clearly people who underrate it to an insane degree. How many BP articles include the phrase, "there is no such thing as a clutch hitter"?? There must be thousands by now. How many articles has Neyer written on this subject???? It's boilerplate material at this point. And there is little substance in any of this material. Hence my comment, "the lack of proof is not proof."

And frankly, I hold BP and Neyer to a higher standard because they are supposed to be the guys who carry the torch of using knowledge to improve the game. Rather, I see them writing material that supports their own biases, not engaging in quests for the truth.

Andy Dolphin published his article three years ago, and there has been little more than a murmur in these communities about this issue. The silence is deafening.

Ron Madden
03-20-2007, 02:54 AM
If you have sports media covering the event, there has to be a REASON for everything.

The players practiced too much this week and lost - they were on tired legs. They players practiced too lightly this week and lost - they were a bit rusty/not sharp.

I think the problem with clutch is that the media wants you to think the players are "elevating their game" when what they are truely doing is maintaining their games under pressure better than the rest of the players. Thats a kind of clutch I'll believe in.

GL

:thumbup:

RANDY IN INDY
03-20-2007, 08:09 AM
I believe that clutch hitting exists. Some people wilt under pressure and some people have a knack for standing up to it. That's true in baseball as much as in any walk of life.

I put two major caveats on this:
1. The idea of "clutch" is grossly overplayed in the media, although that's the case with a number of things that are played up to have more worth than they do. For whatever reason, the powers-that-be have decided that this is a good story. I think it is a good story too, for maybe five or six games a year. Talk about it and revisit it one week in October. Fine. Don't talk about it all year long, because then you stretch the definition of clutch to wrap around a player's entire career, which, you know, goes against the whole definition of clutch.

The media also has a tendency to use misleading players as an example of clutch. Jeter and A-Rod's career postseason stats are a lot closer than most people believe. Again, this is for the sake of a story. That's the stupid media's fault. But the fact that the media plays the idea up foolishly and misleadingly doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

2. The other major caveat regarding clutch is that while I believe in it, I don't see how it can really affect how anyone runs a team. Certainly it shouldn't play a role in the players you obtain if you're a gM, because players have to play 162 games for you before they play 3+ more (see above re: clutch definition. Although I guess "clutch" can apply to late-game heroics too, but I don't think that's what most people talk about there except maybe regarding Ortiz). It shouldn't affect the way you treat players as a manager. Maybe, maybe, once in a blue moon, it affects a late-game managerial decision. Fine. That's instinct, managers use it all the time. Good managers, in fact, use it very well.

So I don't think that clutch should play much role in the way the the game is actually played -- and honestly, I doubt it is; I think it's a media tool more than anything else. But I don't think it's a myth. I don't discount the power of adrenalin and focus and -- say it with me -- intangibles. I'd be curious to know who the truly "clutch" players are in terms of lifetime numbers. But I can accept that Reggie Jackson is clutch, that David Ortiz is clutch, even if their high-pressure numbers aren't significantly different than their normal ones, because they performed very well in notably high-pressure situations rather than falling to it. I guess what I mean is that clutch is to me a more case-by-case thing than a comparison to lifetime numbers. Does that make sense?

:beerme:

klw
03-20-2007, 09:11 AM
Living in the land of David Ortiz, I am a firm believer in clutch hitting but see the biggest problem is in how to define it. For instance those who look at career playoff average as an indication may be looking at a incorrect definintion. For instance, if the player gets their average up with hits when the game is lopsided they are not clutch. If a hit comes with two outs in the 2nd and nothing comes of it- not clutch. If it comes with their team up 3-0 in games and by 5 runs in the game, not clutch. Or if someone goes 1 for 5 but that one comes in a close game in the 8th with runners on, you got yourself a full bottle of clutch. ex. hits in 76 series game 4 are a little less clutch than in game 4 of the 75 series.

Roy Tucker
03-20-2007, 09:27 AM
Clutch hits exist. However, players acquire them at career levels.

TRF
03-20-2007, 11:41 AM
Clutch pitching?

See: Rivera, Mariano

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/riverma01.shtml

As good as he is in the regular season, he's arguably the most clutch pitcher in post-season history.

112 & 2/3 IP in the post-season, with a 0.80 ERA.

As a point of reference, his career ERA entering the 2007 season is 2.29 in 881 & 2/3 innings.

I knew someone would mention Rivera. And I completely agree.

But clutch pitching seems to be easier to define. Clutch hitting much broader. Is it just RISP? Close and Late? Post season? All of the above or just some combination? Other? How many AB's in a particular situation is required before we stop saying "Small Sample"?

Is Derek Jeter a clutch hitter? Well Derek Jeter any time is a great hitter. His three year splits are:
.315 BA .386 OBP.468 SLG .854 OPS

However when the bases are loaded (45 AB's) his numbers jump. Considerably.
.356 BA .482 OBP .489 SLG .971 OPS

So is he just getting better pitches or is he somehow a better hitter in the bases loaded situation?

I don't know, but perhaps being a clutch hitter is something possible to be.

klw
03-20-2007, 12:59 PM
So is he just getting better pitches or is he somehow a better hitter in the bases loaded situation?


Or is he facing a pitcher who is struggling enough to load the basis?

Chip R
03-20-2007, 01:46 PM
But clutch pitching seems to be easier to define. Clutch hitting much broader. Is it just RISP? Close and Late? Post season? All of the above or just some combination? Other? How many AB's in a particular situation is required before we stop saying "Small Sample"?



Good point. If you get a base hit in the first inning that scores the game's only run, is that clutch?

I'm not sure they use this stat much anymore but in the 80s they used to use this Game Winning RBI stat. I believe it was defined as the RBI that put that team ahead for good. So if you scored 9 runs in the first inning and ended up winning 9-8, the guy who drove in the 1st run got the GWRBI. Perhaps in a situation like that or my previous example, clutch exists in the macro but not in the micro. At the time, it wasn't a big deal but when you ended up winning by 1 run, it became a bigger deal. Cause in the latter example, the guy who drove in the 9th run to put his team up 9-0 would not be considered clutch at the time of his RBI.

BCubb2003
03-20-2007, 02:10 PM
Good point. If you get a base hit in the first inning that scores the game's only run, is that clutch?

I'm not sure they use this stat much anymore but in the 80s they used to use this Game Winning RBI stat. I believe it was defined as the RBI that put that team ahead for good. So if you scored 9 runs in the first inning and ended up winning 9-8, the guy who drove in the 1st run got the GWRBI. Perhaps in a situation like that or my previous example, clutch exists in the macro but not in the micro. At the time, it wasn't a big deal but when you ended up winning by 1 run, it became a bigger deal. Cause in the latter example, the guy who drove in the 9th run to put his team up 9-0 would not be considered clutch at the time of his RBI.

There ought to be some kind of sliding scale. A homer with no one on in the first inning of a scoreless game isn't as clutch as a single with runners in scoring position in the first inning of a scoreless game. Clutch isn't so much about the actual effect on the score but about "grace under pressure," and that pressure can come early. In a 9-8 game, there are likely to be many clutch situations.

TRF
03-20-2007, 02:51 PM
Or is he facing a pitcher who is struggling enough to load the basis?

And if the pitcher that loaded the bases is no longer in the game, but now Billy Wagner is in to slam the door shut?

klw
03-20-2007, 05:07 PM
And if the pitcher that loaded the bases is no longer in the game, but now Billy Wagner is in to slam the door shut?

Or if the pitcher is Dennis Eckersley in his prime brought in to finish off a weak hitting Dodger team when up steps an ailing Kirk Gibson. He smacks it deep. I don't believe what I just saw. go crazy people go crazy.

http://i.a.cnn.net/si/2006/images/05/31/tx_kgibson.jpg


Or Roy Hobbs goes 0 for 3 until he steps in against Youngberry, a Nebraska farmboy. There's a drive oh no he has broken wonderboy. Pick me out a winner Bobby. Bobby goes for his longest run ever. He waddles back with the Savoy Kid- stays around a while.
http://aja.freehosting.net/images/pdvd_002.jpg
There's another drive- cue music, special lighting effect.
Fade to Cornfield where Hobbs plays catch with his son who lacking his father's influence never learned to throw a ball properly. *movie version only

Outshined_One
03-21-2007, 11:35 AM
Outshined:

If you read Andy Dolphin's article, he states that singles hitters and middle infielders are generally the best "clutch hitters," not necessarily "the best athletes," much to everyone's surprise. I recommend reading it. (or at least skip to the conclusion and read it)

I'd maintain these singles hitters and middle infielders are still among the best athletes today. While we look at guys like David Eckstein, Neifi Perez, and pretty much anyone else in that category with some degree of disdain compared to guys like Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols, they still have done something that few people in the world are capable of doing by being able to play baseball professionally. Their performance levels can be looked upon with disdain, but the fact remains that these guys have been playing baseball all their lives and have enough talent to make it this far.

I could have dedicated myself to baseball with all my heart and soul by hitting the weight room, practicing extra hard, and hell, even taken certain drugs to try and give me an edge. Had I taken that route, there is only an incredibly remote chance that I would have made the majors. In order to make it that far, someone needs to have a certain level of athletic talent, dedication, and health which the vast majority of the population simply does not have.

Getting to the majors involves a maturation and growth process through gradually greater and greater levels of competition. You need to have the physical and mental tools needed to either match or overcome that level of competition. If you are someone who cracks easily under pressure, this process will almost certainly weed you out. You need to be able to consistently perform at a certain high level if you want to keep advancing; even if you are a scrub middle infielder.

So, I don't think that study would contradict what I said above. I'd be curious to see how Dolphin defines clutch, too.


As to your point that "people overrate it to an insane degree," I counter that there is a whole market devoted to dispelling anything having to do with clutch hitters. So there are clearly people who underrate it to an insane degree. How many BP articles include the phrase, "there is no such thing as a clutch hitter"?? There must be thousands by now. How many articles has Neyer written on this subject???? It's boilerplate material at this point. And there is little substance in any of this material. Hence my comment, "the lack of proof is not proof."

And frankly, I hold BP and Neyer to a higher standard because they are supposed to be the guys who carry the torch of using knowledge to improve the game. Rather, I see them writing material that supports their own biases, not engaging in quests for the truth.

Andy Dolphin published his article three years ago, and there has been little more than a murmur in these communities about this issue. The silence is deafening.

I'll happily agree to the fact that there are a number of people out there who question the existence of clutch and make a profit off of it. I'll also agree that there are less people out there who deny the existence of clutch and make a profit off of it. If you are firmly in the camp that says clutch exists, then you would say that these people underrate clutch to varying degrees.

However, my point was not directed towards people individually. My point was directed towards the collective attitude towards clutch. In reading the articles of a vast majority of sports writers, in listening to sports radio, and in watching television, there is an overwhelming amount of acceptance of the existence of clutch without anyone questioning its existence. Given how much sports fans pay attention to these things and participate in them, be it through ratings or calling in or whatever, I would say that suggests a large majority of sports fans agree with this particular notion. Look at how much ink has been dedicated to the fact that A-Rod isn't clutch or how David Ortiz is the very definition of clutch. Cripes, how much radio airtime has been spent on people bashing Adam Dunn for not getting clutch hits? How many of these people have even heard of Baseball Prospectus?

The people who question or deny the existence of clutch constitute a small minority, albeit a slowly growing one. This group does not have anything resembling the size or the voice of the majority.

That is what I meant by saying that people overrate it to an insane degree.