Originally Posted by D-Man
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.
Originally Posted by D-Man
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.