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Thread: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

  1. #16
    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM
    I am a firm believer in clutch in every aspect of every sport, including baseball, with the exception of hitting. It's the only thing I believe clutch might not exist. I'm not quite convinced completely yet as I tend to believe in clutch hiting bein the absence of choke. And my belief isn't really based on stats, it's more based on the nature of hitting. Of all athletic actions, it's the one that's more instinctive than anything else. There's no time to think about what you're doing, it's all reaction and reflex. A batter must make so several decisions and act with a great level of precision within a fraction of a second. Plus, it's an action that even the best of the best fail at more than they're sucessful. I just have a hard time believing people can change all the factors that go into hitting in certain situations. They still don't know what pitch is coming or where it's going to be, and they still have to react in less than a half of a second. You've either got it or you don't. Now I do believe that players come up to the plate in certain situations and fill their heads full of all kinds of nonsense based on that situation. Those players are likely to fail more often when they're thinking too much about the situation. But as chili mentioned, most of those guys are not going to have what it takes to make it to the pros. heck, if you'e trying to make it to the majors, all ABs could be considered clutch.

    I believe in clutch pitchers more than hitters. But it's a completely different action altogether. It's all premeditated.


    Nice post.

    And well said, that "clutch" is too broad a term to use across the board for every motor skill involved in baseball.

    Consider that the pitcher is the only player on the field who actually initiates the action. The play doesn't start until he does. Everyone else is in reactive mode. He's the initiator.

    The mindset behind pitching is very similar to golf. You imagine the action you're about to initiate, and you start the play. If you're prone to mental distractions or negative thinking/visualization, you're in big trouble.

    Hitting and fielding is reactive in nature. Similar to return of serve in tennis. You are waiting for someone else to start the play, and reacting rather than initiating. Good fielders go over their responsibilities before the play starts, then shift to visual thinking as the play starts.

    Hitters do the same. Good hitters, to varying degrees, think about what the pitcher might throw, then shift to visual thinking, totally reactive and non-verbal thinking. If they're engaged in internal dialogue when the pitch starts, they're doomed.

    Choke is too broad a term to encompass all these motor skills and the thought process involved in each.

    The ability to quickly shift between linear thinking and internal dialogue analysis to non-linear awareness is a key skill that's not talked about much. In fact, many great athletes do this and could never engage in a discussion about it... they just do it and don't realize the dichotomy between the two.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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  3. #17
    Member top6's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by cincinnati chili
    One of the big reasons I think "clutch" is overrated, or perhaps doesn't even exist at the major league level, is because most baseball players who lack the ability to perform in "clutch" situations are weeded out long before they get to the major leagues.
    Exactly. These guys are used to performing under pressure. We assume that the biggest "clutch" at bat for these guys is when they're up in a big game in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs. But by that point they're already making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars playing baseball. The at bats where there was real pressure were the 50 or so ABs they had in spring training when they were on the bubble to make the team, the 4-8 ABs in high school the day a big league scout came to town, the ABs in low A ball where all they wanted to do was get called up, etc., etc.

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by top6
    Exactly. These guys are used to performing under pressure. We assume that the biggest "clutch" at bat for these guys is when they're up in a big game in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs. But by that point they're already making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars playing baseball. The at bats where there was real pressure were the 50 or so ABs they had in spring training when they were on the bubble to make the team, the 4-8 ABs in high school the day a big league scout came to town, the ABs in low A ball where all they wanted to do was get called up, etc., etc.
    There's an oft-paraphrased quote from Lee Trevino about that, something about there's nothing hard about putting for $100,000 when you already have that much in the bank. Pressure is playing a $20 Nassau with $5 in your pocket.
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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    I hate this argument so much. Clutch exists in so far as some players have performed well in "clutch" situations. However, clutch does not exist such the certain people predicitably perform better in clutch situations over time.

    Yes, some people, even of the course of an entire career perform better in "clutch" situations than normally. However, this does not happen enough or to any particular subset of people such that it can't be explained by random variation. Given 1000's of players, we would expect numerous players to be "clutch" over their entire careers.

    The real point is -- using the term to describe a PERSON rather than a PERFORMANCE implies some level of predictabilty. Namely "given situation X, player A is more likely to exceed his standard level of performance than player B is". If it is meant to imply that -- it's wrong. If it isn't meant to imply that, then it's a empty, vacuous claim which serves only to make the announcer seem as if he/she has particular insight which they really don't have.

    David Ortiz was clutch in 2004! -- Absolutely
    David Ortiz has been clutch -- Possibly, I haven't seen the numbers
    David Ortiz is clutch -- Prove it.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Some good arguments here, although clutch might be the ability to maintain under stress that skill to shift from thinking to acting, while another player is taking too much time thinking about how the game is on the line when he should be shifting into action mode.

    As far as filtering out the non-clutch player, that may be, although the majors haven't filtered out the .220 hitter, the brain cramps, the check swings and the slumps.

    But there simply aren't any numbers. And it seems pretty clear that nobody gets noticeably better in clutch situations. Do some good hitters get noticeably worse? That's the challenge in proving that clutch exists.

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003

    But there simply aren't any numbers. And it seems pretty clear that nobody gets noticeably better in clutch situations. Do some good hitters get noticeably worse? That's the challenge in proving that clutch exists.

    I'd have to agree that there aren't any numbers to prove that clutch exists.

    From a players point of view, I believe it's a mental thing entirely. How one handles pressure, or the elevated pressure of an important game situation.

    It's the difference between the attitude of "please don't hit it to me" vs. "I want it to be hit to me" on defense. And the players know. It's the psychological side of sports that doesn't show up in numbers. It's "makeup" that's often laughed at because it's not statistically measurable.

    But I can tell you that on every team in every sport I've ever played in or coached, the players knew and the coaches knew who they wanted when the game was on the line. Admittedly, the higher level of play, the more likely the mentally weak player had been sifted out.

    When Rod Carew filmed his landmark hitting session for Sybervision, he talked about the mental side of hitting. One of the interesting things he mentioned was the fact that stress has a measurable effect on eyesight. When you hear players talk about the "zone", I believe it's a mental state where you've eliminated your internal dialogue completely, just like the state of mind a distance runner can achieve, and you're in a state of heightened awareness in which "the ball slows down" and "the ball seemed much bigger", comments you often hear hitters make when they try to describe the experience.

    Trying to think yourself into "the zone" can't be done. It's the exact opposite of giving yourself mental commands. It's the absence of such self talk. Some players have a natural ability to do this, others have a harder time letting go of the internal dialogue.

    Imagine running down a mountain. If you try to pick every step, you stiffen up and you'll fall. But if you abandon yourself and let go, you somehow can run with effortless ease, and your subconscious mind picks the steps far better than your ego mind, your internal dialogue, ever could.

    That's the zone. That's where you want to be when you play. Stress interferes with achieving that state of mind. The heightened stress of a "clutch" situation affects players in different ways, and the players who can maintain their composure under such stress are the players I would call "clutch". The evidence is all anecdotal, probably known only by the participants.

    It's pretty clear after all the discussions we've had that it's not statistically measurable. But don't ever tell a player that it doesn't exist.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by RFS62
    I'd have to agree that there aren't any numbers to prove that clutch exists.

    From a players point of view, I believe it's a mental thing entirely. How one handles pressure, or the elevated pressure of an important game situation.

    It's the difference between the attitude of "please don't hit it to me" vs. "I want it to be hit to me" on defense. And the players know. It's the psychological side of sports that doesn't show up in numbers. It's "makeup" that's often laughed at because it's not statistically measurable.

    But I can tell you that on every team in every sport I've ever played in or coached, the players knew and the coaches knew who they wanted when the game was on the line. Admittedly, the higher level of play, the more likely the mentally weak player had been sifted out.

    When Rod Carew filmed his landmark hitting session for Sybervision, he talked about the mental side of hitting. One of the interesting things he mentioned was the fact that stress has a measurable effect on eyesight. When you hear players talk about the "zone", I believe it's a mental state where you've eliminated your internal dialogue completely, just like the state of mind a distance runner can achieve, and you're in a state of heightened awareness in which "the ball slows down" and "the ball seemed much bigger", comments you often hear hitters make when they try to describe the experience.

    Trying to think yourself into "the zone" can't be done. It's the exact opposite of giving yourself mental commands. It's the absence of such self talk. Some players have a natural ability to do this, others have a harder time letting go of the internal dialogue.

    Imagine running down a mountain. If you try to pick every step, you stiffen up and you'll fall. But if you abandon yourself and let go, you somehow can run with effortless ease, and your subconscious mind picks the steps far better than your ego mind, your internal dialogue, ever could.

    That's the zone. That's where you want to be when you play. Stress interferes with achieving that state of mind. The heightened stress of a "clutch" situation affects players in different ways, and the players who can maintain their composure under such stress are the players I would call "clutch". The evidence is all anecdotal, probably known only by the participants.

    It's pretty clear after all the discussions we've had that it's not statistically measurable. But don't ever tell a player that it doesn't exist.
    Excellent post.
    I was in the ORG once, best 6 months of my life.

  9. #23
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Honestly, if it exists it exists. If it doesn't it doesn't. Just because players do or don't believe it doesn't change that. One thing we've learned over the years is that what players and managers believe and actual reality aren't always one in the same.

    And everything you're describing RFS is the ability not to choke.

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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    What is the difference between clutch performance and not choking? I think its one in the same.
    I was in the ORG once, best 6 months of my life.

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM
    Honestly, if it exists it exists. If it doesn't it doesn't. Just because players do or don't believe it doesn't change that. One thing we've learned over the years is that what players and managers believe and actual reality aren't always one in the same.

    And everything you're describing RFS is the ability not to choke.

    Yeah, I agree. It's the ability not to choke.

    But just because something can't be expressed mathmatically doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    I've always wondered why many of the outstanding mathmeticians studying the game and making such strides in understanding what's going on find it so easy to completely ignore the psychological side of the game.

    It's not enough to know what happened. That's what stats tell me. And they have evolved into pretty good predictors of what will happen.

    I want to know more than that. I want to know WHY it happened. And the myriad of psychological, physical, and HUMAN interactions that go on before and during play are infinitely more interesting to me than counting numbers after the fact.

    I'm not knocking statistical analysis. But trying to use statistics to define "clutch" is like using a hammer to change a tire. It's the wrong tool for the job.

    The problem, it seems to me, it that the statisticians framed the argument when the subject first started being discussed. They defined the parameters within which it would be considered. I heard over and over that there's no measurable evidence of increased OPS or Batting Average with RISP. And that's clearly true, as has been shown over and over.

    But that's not what a player thinks of when he thinks of "clutch". The definition of terms is much more broad to the participants. So, we're really arguing about more things than the statisticians can address, and the statisticians insist on saying the argument is over once the range of what they can comment on is done.

    I don't understand how so many smart people can completely ignore the psychological and behavioral side of sports just because it can't be mathmatically expressed.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    My fundamental question with those who claim to be able to "raise their game" in certain situations is this : If you are always performing at you maximum efficiency then how can you raise your game? To me, the there is only room for "lazy" people to perform up to their actual potential, thus making them appear to be "clutch" performers or people who perform at their highest level and because of external factors fail to perform at this level in key situations, thus appearing to be "chokers".

    Certain players have more success against certain teams for some reason, like Roy Oswalt against the Reds. Is he clutch? I don't think so. He's just pretty good anyways and by coincident has a good run against one team.

  13. #27
    Pre-tty, pre-tty good!! MWM's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    RFS, I'm not sure how this became a stat vs. psychological discussion. My beliefs on the matter have nothing to do with math and everything to do with psychology and the physics of hitting. And yes, I agree, just because it can't be proven with numbers doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But that doesn't mean it does either. And just because players and managers say it exists doesn't make it so either.

    And just because someone doubts the existence of "clutch" hitting, doesn't mean they're ignoring the psychological in the name of math, which seems to be your implication. It seems like every time someone who's seen as a "stat guy" says something questioning conventional wisdom the argument always comes back about how they're ignoring the mental aspect of the game, when it's not even close to the truth. Believe me, I do understand the mental aspect of the game and I do give it its proper due. I think you can make a serious case for the absence of clutch without using a single number, which I did, although at a very basic level, above.

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by MWM
    RFS, I'm not sure how this became a stat vs. psychological discussion.

    I'm not knocking your beliefs. You and I have had this discussion plenty of times, and I know exactly how you feel, and I agree with you.

    What I've observed in all these threads though is statistical evidence only, with little if any regard for what I consider the bigger picture. The psychological side of performance is a big interest of mine, and what I enjoy talking about much more that the statistical side. And I think it goes largly ignored in many of our discussions.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~ Mark Twain

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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    I'd bought "Baseball Between the Numbers" but hadn't read it cover-to-cover. Nate Silver spends about 20 pages on "clutch," so I read that just now. Interesting conclusions. For example, he pointed out the obvious fact that all situations are not the same; macro-view metrics like RC are not exact enough in a discussion about clutch because the value of different outcomes changes with the situation. Also, it's not good enough to draw a line and proclaim at-bats "clutch" and "not clutch." For example, a guy who leads off the game with a home run increases his team's chance of winning by 9% -- a much higher impact than many supposedly clutch situations that occur late in the game. Clutch should be defined along a spectrum, not as an either-or. The best tool for that is Win Expectancy -- based on the situation when you came to plate, how much did the result of your at-bat change the likelihood of your team winning?

    He attacked the problem combining the player's normal hitting ability and leverage (which measures the situational importance of the player's at-bats) to predict a Win Expectancy, and compared that to actual Win Expectancy results. He found -- surprise -- that David Ortiz was mondo clutch in 2005, adding nearly four wins to the Red Sox simply from his ability to produce extra in key situations.

    And then to the equally unsurprising news: Ortiz' 2005, like most big clutch seasons, was an aberration. Take last year out of the equation and his career clutch ratings hover around normal, maybe 1.5 wins to the good. The Red Sox should not be banking on Ortiz continuing to be money... at least, not beyond whatever his normal level of performance is.

    After running the same numbers on players with a minimum of 5000 PA since 1972, Silver concluded that there's enough clutch out there to support the notion of it existing, but the effect is negligible when looking at the overall performance of a hitter. Maybe 2% of a hitter's total ability to produce wins at the plate relates to his ability to exceed (or not) his norms in high-leverage situations.
    Last edited by IslandRed; 04-23-2006 at 11:34 AM.
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  16. #30
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    If it cannot be reliably identified, does it even matter if it exists or not?

    If I was interested in looking for it, WPA would be the first place I'd begin looking

    In my personal opinion, "lack of clutch" or choke does exist at the MLB level. Clutch itself, not so much, IMO. You have to have some level of talent/drive to make a MLB roster, and IMO, pretty much negates "clutch" from one guy to another.

    I can't bring myself to put much stock into what players/GMs/announcers have to say ***FOR PUBLIC COMSUMPTION*** ... so when they talk about clutch, it doesn't hold any sway for me.

    GL


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