# Thread: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

1. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Plus Plus
However, I don't think baseball is a holistic game where results just "happen" in a vacuum.
And this, to me, is why no single statistic or set of statistics can accurately tell the whole story. Baseball is anything but a vacuum. A player can have four plate appearances in one game with four entirely different situations, most of which the player has no control over (e.g., how many outs, how many are on base, which bases are occupied, who is pitching, what's the score, etc...)

As such, every offensive stat is subject to circumstance.

An example used in this thread is RISP. Obviously, for a given plate appearance to even qualify to be calculated into this analysis, there must be at least one runner in scoring position. (Out of the player's control.) Since we're talking percentages (BA, OPS, etc.) rather than aggregate, that doesn't really taint the analysis. However, the situation, or the circumstances most certainly influence the potential outcome, and the most common stats do not consider circumstance. (only very specialized stats do, and they are not used in formulas that calculate standard analyses like BA or saber ones like WAR.

For example, does RISP recognize the difference between situation A: a runner on second with 2 outs in a 10-0 game vs. situation B: runners on second and third with 0 outs in a tie game in the bottom of the last?

Does anyone disagree that the defensive approach (fielding positioning and pitching) is different in each situation, and that the likelihood of producing a positive offensive outcome is greater in B than in A? If not, how can RISP really be used as a comparable analysis when there are variables at play almost every time?

To be clear, I am a fan of statistics. I think there is value in standard and saber stats, although I'm admittedly a skeptic on the usefulness of certain ones (both standard and saber.)

However, I am firmly in the camp that logic suggests there is so much more to analyzing a player than either set of stats is capable of doing.

Pulling this all together to make it relevant to the topic of Jay Bruce, I think we all know he is the classic streaky hitter. It seems that he is either on fire or cold as ice. We never know how long the hot streaks will last, or when he will catch fire from a cold one. We just know they're going to happen until he proves otherwise.

So yes, as of late, including last night, he looks like a "professional hitter." I don't need to glance at his OPS with RISP to confirm whether he is or not, because unless he begins to deviate from his norm, his OPS will most certainly drop as soon as his next cold front moves through, and then it shall soar again as if he were a human sine curve.

Other players may not be as streaky, but baseball will always be circumstantial. Until those circumstances are built into formulas to create a more accurate analysis of production, stats will always be subject to, "yeah, but..."

2. ## Likes:

dubc47834 (06-20-2013),Trajinous (06-20-2013),TSJ55 (06-20-2013)

4. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

I believe there are situations that can be defined as clutch situations.

I believe there are players that have performed, perhaps above there norms in those situations, and therefore have a reputation as "clutch" players.

I do not believe clutch is a skillset, because I do not believe hitter live in a vacuum.

Extreme Example. Team A is down by three runs in the bottom of ninth. The Opposing team does not have it's closer in. Suddenly, bases are loaded for Team A's "Clutch" hitter. Team B brings in their stud closer, one with the rep of thriving in tight situations.

Both players will now be playing into the myth of clutch. One will succeed, one will fail. If the hitter was facing a pitching machine, then perhaps you could make a clutch claim there. But he's facing an opponent that wants him out just as much as he wants a hit.

If clutch were truly a quantifiable skillset, then you could define what said player's performance would be. Down by three, the pitcher can afford to walk in a run. Was the hitter clutch then? If he gets HBP, is that clutch? If he drives it to the warning track, and ends the inning not clutch, but what if he was robbed of a HR, or a double by a great play in the OF? Is he still clutch despite the result?

Until you truly define it, don't label a player clutch. Just too nebulous a distinction.

5. ## Likes:

Cant Touch This (06-20-2013),RedEye (06-20-2013)

6. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

I think clutch in baseball terms is RBI's. It's the ability to drive in a run through hit, home run, walk, sac-fly, etc. The situation around the AB doesn't matter if we want quantify it.

While watching a game, the game seem more tense as it goes along because the number of opportunties declines every out. Therefore, we believe a game tying hit in the 9th is more "clutch" than an earlier inning like 3rd.

7. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Trajinous
I think clutch in baseball terms is RBI's. It's the ability to drive in a run through hit, home run, walk, sac-fly, etc. The situation around the AB doesn't matter if we want quantify it.

While watching a game, the game seem more tense as it goes along because the number of opportunties declines every out. Therefore, we believe a game tying hit in the 9th is more "clutch" than an earlier inning like 3rd.
Isn't getting on base when your team is down or tied late in a game also clutch? Outs are precious in those scenarios. Wouldn't Choo's hit in the last inning last night be clutch since it put a runner in scoring position? An out there would have been huge.

8. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by New York Red
Tonight was yet another example of why an x OPS hitter who delivers in the clutch will always be better than an x+100 OPS hitter who doesn't. OPS isn't the be all-end all of stats.
Maybe the .850 hitter drove in some runs earlier in the game that prevented the clutch moment? However, .850 OPS creates more runs over a season than .750. Fact.

2B Brandon Phillips .755 OPS RC 36
2B Matt Carpenter .850 OPS RC 51

Originally Posted by New York Red
I was referring to RBI/Runs that determine the outcomes of games. That doesn't usually happen in the 4th Inning. You obviously don't like Jay Bruce. I get it. I'm not interested in furthering this discussion. Start a new thread if you want to continue to trash Jay.
I like Jay Bruce and I like Don't tread on me!! .823 OPS and climbing. Nice glove too.

9. ## Likes:

dubc47834 (06-20-2013)

10. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by New York Red
There are just certain players you don't dare compliment on this site -- BP and Jay Bruce being the top two.
Nonsense. The reason your "compliment" was picked apart was that you positioned the compliment as two interesting arguments/discussion points.

Please correct me if I'm mistaking the points you're making.

1) Jay and DatDude are better in the clutch" than an anonymous guy with a better OPS.
2) It's more important to be better in the clutch than to post "unimportant" OPS

If those are your two points, then isn't it worth discussing what leads you to believe those points are correct?

11. ## Likes:

Brutus (06-20-2013)

12. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by thatcoolguy_22
However, .850 OPS creates more runs over a season than .750. Fact.

2B Brandon Phillips .755 OPS RC 36
2B Matt Carpenter .850 OPS RC 51
RC basically uses OPS in it's formula, so saying RC doesn't prove or disprove anything when it comes to OPS, they are one and the same - just organized differently. It also seems much more reliable at the macro level, than the micro.

I also don't believe that the higher OPS is "always" better - as I value the O more than the S.

13. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Cant Touch This
Until those circumstances are built into formulas to create a more accurate analysis of production, stats will always be subject to, "yeah, but..."
Aren't statisticians getting closer to this with the discussion of Win Shares and leverage? I concede that it will never be a perfect system -- but the field has come a long way since Moneyball, that's for sure.

14. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by UCBrownsfan
RC basically uses OPS in it's formula, so saying RC doesn't prove or disprove anything when it comes to OPS, they are one and the same - just organized differently. It also seems much more reliable at the macro level, than the micro.

I also don't believe that the higher OPS is "always" better - as I value the O more than the S.
Ahhh my mistake, today I learned. Thanks. I will look for another way to illustrate my point.

15. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

I also share the sentiments that there probably is some sort of 'clutch' that exists out there. I've argued many times on this site that I believe there are people that handle pressure better in all walks of life than others. They're not always the same people that are simply better than their jobs than others. So I do think clutch is out there.

The problem here is that a) it's hard to define with any consistency/agreement and b) there's no evidence that it really is applicable to these players because of (a). And as Hoosier pointed out, the issue for me is not even whether Jay Bruce is a good baseball player (he is) or whether clutch is important (it is, although again, I will argue that a run is a run regardless of when it's being scored). But when someone basically frames it as OPS isn't important, and someone is a great clutch hitter because of 10 homers over several years, and that anyone that disagrees with these two points "hates" said player, well there is a lot to take issue with there.

16. ## Likes:

Raisor (06-20-2013)

17. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Brutus
I will argue that a run is a run regardless of when it's being scored.
I also feel there is an element of clutch that exists. Some people rise to the occasion, some people fold. (see: Norman, Greg). Typically at the professional level, these are guys who were likely "clutch" at all prior levels, and were obviously already gifted with boatloads of talent.

However, I do disagree with the quoted statement about a run is a run is a run regardless of when it is scored. I'll refer back to situational hitting and baseball being a game of circumstance.

There may be an inning where the manager decides to play for one run. It could be early in the game, or it could be in extra innings. We've seen it happen anywhere along the inning spectrum. In that circumstance, the offensive approach is different, and especially later in the game, the defensive approach to attempting to prevent a run being scored can be vastly different.

I cannot argue that a run is "worth more" in the 9th inning than it is in the 4th inning. It isn't -- it still counts as one run. But what is required to score that run can be entirely different, and the meaningfulness of each run can also be very different. (A solo shot in a 10-0 game is worth the same amount of runs as a solo shot in a 1-0 game, but the meaningfulness of the HR in the 1-0 game is far greater.) Therefore, the game value of each run scored is not the same in my opinion. Incidentally, the game value of a run may not always be higher in later innings, but typically it is.

18. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Cant Touch This

For example, does RISP recognize the difference between situation A: a runner on second with 2 outs in a 10-0 game vs. situation B: runners on second and third with 0 outs in a tie game in the bottom of the last?
There are stats that differentiate all of that if you want them. The problem is, the more qualifications you put on a certain situation the smaller the sample size and the greater the variation that would be considered within normal variation. So you might look at a certain situation, and a player might appear to be "clutch" yet it's well within expected normal variation (this is why I stay away from them because most people aren't go to understand the statistics enough to realize that fact). RISP is simple, understandable, the sample size is often large enough to minimize that variation, it incorporates mostly "clutch" situations, and over a long enough timeframe the makeup of those situations will be similar for all players. If you prefer something else, that is out there too. Yet you have to realize sample size plays a major role. If a guy OPS's 200 points better in a specific situation that could actually be well within normal variation and not prove he is "clutch" in any way.

19. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by scott91575
There are stats that differentiate all of that if you want them. The problem is, the more qualifications you put on a certain situation the smaller the sample size and the greater the variation that would be considered within normal variation. So you might look at a certain situation, and a player might appear to be "clutch" yet it's well within expected normal variation (this is why I stay away from them because most people aren't go to understand the statistics enough to realize that fact). RISP is simple, understandable, the sample size is often large enough to minimize that variation, it incorporates mostly "clutch" situations, and over a long enough timeframe the makeup of those situations will be similar for all players. If you prefer something else, that is out there too. Yet you have to realize sample size plays a major role. If a guy OPS's 200 points better in a specific situation that could actually be well within normal variation and not prove he is "clutch" in any way.
I'm not trying to argue that RISP does or does not factor into the definition of "clutch." I'm merely making a broad observation that the most common statistics, when used to compare different players or the same player over different periods, are flawed in the sense that they do not account for the variables influenced by circumstance.

Yes, there is a stat for every situation. Even if one doesn't currently exist on paper, I could make it up right now. (e.g. OPS of a hitter with runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and two strikes against a left handed pitcher who has already thrown more than 50 pitches.) I doubt you can look that up instantly, but the data to compute that stat is available.

My point is, stats do not tell the whole story, even when you figure in a large sample size to minimize the variations. I say that because baseball offers far too many variations to actually settle on a norm. There is also an element of luck that impacts a successful plate appearance (or bad luck that negatively influences one). Where does that fit in? Is that also minimized by sample size?

I've seen too many "excuse me" RBI singles along with rocket-shot line drives snagged by a shifted infielder to believe that any single stat (or group of stats) is reliable enough to tell me that one player outperformed the other in a given set of comparisons. Now, extrapolate that over the course of a season and multiply it by 600 hitters and maybe Newton's 3rd Law applies: for every line drive out there is an equal but opposite bloop single. But that is a pretty bold assumption to make, and until someone less lazy than I is able to prove that and establish a "norm," I prefer to use (or develop) other metrics to analyze each plate appearance (and each pitch, and each fielding chance, etc.) based on circumstance to evaluate a player.

I think there are enough tools and data available to actually create a metric that evaluates clutchitude, but it's challenging because there are likely varying opinions on what defines "clutch." (e.g. is a groundball out to 2nd base that drives in a runner from third base in a 2-0 game in the 6th inning considered clutch? If so, is it a lower degree of clutch than a single to center with two outs and a runner on third in the last inning of a 1-1 game?)

Billy Joel be damned...stats are a victim of circumstance!

20. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Back to Bruce.

This season brings a James Brown quote to mind.

When asked why he doesn't play the best of James Brown in his concerts, why he plays mostly new songs, Brown replied, "I can't play the best of James Brown, because the best of James Brown is yet to come."

21. ## Likes:

Tommyjohn25 (06-24-2013)

22. ## Re: Jay Bruce looks like he has become a professional hitter overnight!!!!!!!

Originally Posted by Cant Touch This
I'm not trying to argue that RISP does or does not factor into the definition of "clutch." I'm merely making a broad observation that the most common statistics, when used to compare different players or the same player over different periods, are flawed in the sense that they do not account for the variables influenced by circumstance.

Yes, there is a stat for every situation. Even if one doesn't currently exist on paper, I could make it up right now. (e.g. OPS of a hitter with runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out and two strikes against a left handed pitcher who has already thrown more than 50 pitches.) I doubt you can look that up instantly, but the data to compute that stat is available.

My point is, stats do not tell the whole story, even when you figure in a large sample size to minimize the variations. I say that because baseball offers far too many variations to actually settle on a norm. There is also an element of luck that impacts a successful plate appearance (or bad luck that negatively influences one). Where does that fit in? Is that also minimized by sample size?

I've seen too many "excuse me" RBI singles along with rocket-shot line drives snagged by a shifted infielder to believe that any single stat (or group of stats) is reliable enough to tell me that one player outperformed the other in a given set of comparisons. Now, extrapolate that over the course of a season and multiply it by 600 hitters and maybe Newton's 3rd Law applies: for every line drive out there is an equal but opposite bloop single. But that is a pretty bold assumption to make, and until someone less lazy than I is able to prove that and establish a "norm," I prefer to use (or develop) other metrics to analyze each plate appearance (and each pitch, and each fielding chance, etc.) based on circumstance to evaluate a player.

I think there are enough tools and data available to actually create a metric that evaluates clutchitude, but it's challenging because there are likely varying opinions on what defines "clutch." (e.g. is a groundball out to 2nd base that drives in a runner from third base in a 2-0 game in the 6th inning considered clutch? If so, is it a lower degree of clutch than a single to center with two outs and a runner on third in the last inning of a 1-1 game?)

Billy Joel be damned...stats are a victim of circumstance!
The point is not what we can and cannot measure. The simple fact is if clutch was a legitimate thing, we should see it in the things we can measure.

It's like saying we don't know if the garbage man shows up on Friday mornings. I say the garbage man shows up every Friday morning that is not a holiday week while having data to show that, and you are saying "well, we don't know that because he didn't show up any Friday at 7:14AM while Mars is directly lined up with the sun."

Just because there is not enough data in very specific, rather unusual circumstance does not mean we cannot make a reasonable conclusion based on the data we have. The fact that players continually shift towards their norm over a long enough timeframe is a pretty telling trend.

Even just beyond stats, as I noted before, preparation and instincts, IMO, are way more important in an at bat than some supposed butterflies or lack there of (especially with professional players who are put in high leverage, clutch positions constantly throughout the year). There will be factors that can make some differences (such as more walks to good hitters in clutch situations, defenses play less for an out on the batter, etc). Those can be accounted for, and their effect has nothing to do with someone being "clutch" or not.

On top of all of that, I am not even sure people who believe in clutch hitters really believe in clutch hitting. Who would you rather have at the plate this year in a clutch situation, Brandon Phillips or Joey Votto? The stats this year, if you believe in clutch, say Phillips is the right call. Yet who do you think most people would want at the plate for their team, and on the flip side, who do you think most opposing managers and fans would not want up. I am willing to bet it would be a landslide in favor of Votto.

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