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

  1. #31
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by RFS62
    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.
    But if that's the case, that "clutch" exists but it cannot be measured, then what is it actually doing and why should we care about it all. If it's not effecting the outcome of the contest, I'm not sure why we should care if a performance, or a player, is clutch. If it is effecting the outcome, then we should be able to measure it, no?
    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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  3. #32
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    I think one of the critical aspects that has to be addressed in this situation is a player's overall performance compared to that player's clutch performance.

    Let's take David Ortiz, for example. People who believe that clutch hitting exists will point to him as a terrific clutch hitter who has had a number of game-changing (if not walkoff) home runs in his time with the Red Sox. Most managers would want some one like him at the plate in a critical situation.

    However, there is a point worth making regarding this line of thinking. David Ortiz is one of the best hitters in baseball, period. Whether it's the first inning or the ninth inning, any manager would want him at the plate. I would expect his career numbers would reflect his abilities in nearly any hitting situation, especially in clutch situations. Given a large enough sample size for clutch hitting, I would expect the two sets of numbers to look really similar to one another. It's not like Terry Francona would prefer to have JT Snow at the plate over David Ortiz, you know?

    There's also another thing worth bringing up here. How can we define clutch? I think almost everyone would agree that bottom of the ninth with two outs in a tie game would be a clutch situation. However, what about a man on second base with two outs in the seventh inning in a pitcher's duel with the opposing starter momentarily struggling? When is a game really on the line? What about RISP, which counts whether a team is down by 12 or up by 12? Are there enough clutch situations out there to effectively measure clutch hitting in a given player?

    Michael Jordan was probably one of the greatest examples of a clutch performer in professional sports. He had a sense of The Moment. Through effort and sheer force of will, he could squeeze a win out of his team no matter the circumstances more often than not. If the game was on the line, I'd want the ball in his hands. However, he was one of the greatest basketball players ever. There is something to be said for the fact that he was just so incredibly good that it carried over into clutch situations.

  4. #33
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by RFS62
    But just because something can't be expressed mathmatically doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
    And yet, for something to exist it must be able to be identified. If we can't find evidence that it exists, then we can't assume it exists.

    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.
    Hmn. I guess my take on that is 180-degrees opposite. From where I sit, the only folks who've actually been out looking for "Clutch" are the outstanding mathemeticians to whom you refer.

    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.
    The parameters have moved far past simple RISP scenarios to those involving high-leverage situational Win Probability value tracking. The search has evolved to include studies involving situations in which any reasonable player could be expected to feel additional stress and/or see a manifestation of anxiety above and beyond that which we could expect him to feel otherwise.

    The search currently involves a level of sophistication you may not have considered.

    And yet, whenever something is found it's transient and/or very low-level performance above what a hitter would do normally.

    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.
    For "clutch" to exist as an active skill set, it has to translate to performance somewhere and every little crumb of performance is tracked. If it can't translate to performance then it either doesn't exist or it doesn't matter if it does exist. Those are your current selections.

    BTW, I agree with you on the existence of "the zone". Problem is that "the zone" doesn't appear to be anything but a transient mental state. Players find themselves in "the zone" and then they're out of the zone. They try to get back in the zone but can't. If the zone itself were capable of being entered at will, we'd find athletes who could enter it at will and/or stay there all the time. But I've yet to see a single athlete build a house in the zone.

    Well, except for Michael Jordan. He had plans for a housing development there but right now he's just the association board president who's waiting on his first real live tenant to show up. People keep popping up to browse the lots, but they pop back out before Mike can get so much as a list of the association covenants in their hands.

    So MJ sits patiently and re-reads notes left by past prospective zone tenants. The one he just put down reads, "Orel Hershiser was here."

    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.
    If those "smart people" were "completely ignoring the psychological and behavioral side of sports", they wouldn't be the ones looking behind trees and under rocks for a skill set that no one before them has been able to find.

    I've looked for it myself as have thousands of others.

    You don't go out looking for Bigfoot if you ain't interested.
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  5. #34
    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD
    And yet, for something to exist it must be able to be identified. If we can't find evidence that it exists, then we can't assume it exists.


    But what are you trying to identify? Before anything can be looked for there has to be a clearly defined definition of what IT is. From this thread it seems that is the issue as much as anything.
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  6. #35
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric
    But what are you trying to identify? Before anything can be looked for there has to be a clearly defined definition of what IT is. From this thread it seems that is the issue as much as anything.
    The issue is that, regardless of what "definition" is used, either nothing can be found or that which is found isn't all that meaningful. Those are the search results.

    Not speaking to you, Ced, but one of the biggest problems is that every time someone returns from a search, there's a "clutch" proponent there telling them that they're don't know what they're supposed to be looking for, or aren't looking for the right thing, or didn't do the search right, or weren't looking in the right place. Or worse- that "clutch" can't be found but it must exist because they swear they've seen it.

    After a while it just gets kind of tiring to hear about search issues when the real problem is that nothing can be found.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

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  7. #36
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Glad I started the thread--in spite of some initial responses from those who felt it was invalid discussion, it seems like some lively and thoughtful discussion on the subject has emerged...
    "Don't trust any statistics you did not fake yourself."--Winston Churchill

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Wheelhouse
    Glad I started the thread--in spite of some initial responses from those who felt it was invalid discussion, it seems like some lively and thoughtful discussion on the subject has emerged...
    Did you read the whole thread (or most of it) that came out of the original post on sosh? It's almost like an experiment in cross-pollination or something.

  9. #38
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Seems like we have this discussion two or three times a year, and it always unfolds the same way.

    While I agree there are clutch situations, and sometimes players come through when the game is on the line, I think it's more a function of luck than any kind of skill.

    Francisco Cabrera came through in the clutch in 1991. Luis Gonzalez came through in the clutch in 2001. Neither one did so via any special skill outside the realm of their normal abilities.
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  10. #39
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Why so much adulation over Sam Horn with these guys?

  11. #40
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Clutch exists. We are discussing it right now.

    However, The definition of what clutch is... that is the sticky point. Also in baseball clutch is almost entirely attributed to hitting. It is clearly true that it exists in pitching, especially when discussing closers. Rivera was clutch. Graves... not so much. You could see how Rivera thrives under pressure. He is beyond good. In fact he is good beyond his incredible talent.

    I also believe clutch is mental in that ballplayers believe in it. And belief can affect the outcome of a game. Pitchers know who they are facing, and a player that has the rep of being a clutch player (Joe Randa) can get in a pitchers head. And every "clutch" performance adds to that rep, deserved or not.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  12. #41
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF
    Pitchers know who they are facing, and a player that has the rep of being a clutch player (Joe Randa) can get in a pitchers head. And every "clutch" performance adds to that rep, deserved or not.
    That reputation for succeeding in the clutch also causes people to overlook all the times that particular player fails in the clutch.

    Clutch is a situation, not a skill.
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Sure it is, but the definition of what is a clutch player is hard to determine.

    Is it close and late only? Is it getting a hit with 2 outs and nobody on? runners on? bases loaded? Is it determined by BA? OBP? SLG? OPS?

    See that is the biggest problem. determining what a clutch situation is, then applying a metric to it.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  14. #43
    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    My guess is that if clutch exists, it exists in "big game" situations not in specific at-bats.

    Check how a player does in playoffs and late pennant race situations and that might net you something. For instance, if a player can improve or maintain his overall game (like Derek Jeter) against the best of the best, then maybe you've stumbled into a "clutch" player.

    It's also possible that "clutch" isn't something that you can own. Bob Gibson was clutch in the 1967 World Series, or perhaps dominant is a better term. Jack Morris was clutch/dominant in the 1991 World Series. Yet Gibson got beat in Game 7 of the 1968 series and Morris fell flat in the 1992 playoffs.

    You couldn't get Ken Griffey Jr. out in a key situation in the 1995 playoffs, but in 1997 he laid an egg. Anyway, building on what's already been said in this thread, maybe "clutch" is real just being "in the zone." We all know that happens. Players get hot. Yet maybe what the stats have been telling us is that the pixie dust of right time/right place wears off.
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  15. #44
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Again, we get back to the purpose of discussing clutch. I think everybody is in agreement that there are situations which significantly tax a player's abilities -- where the outcome of said situation has a proportionally greater impact on the team's success than nearly any other situation. Furthermore, I think we all agree that performing well in these situations is something to be lauded. However, the disagreement seems to lie in the "purpose" of using the term clutch.

    First, my definition of clutch: A sitution is "clutch" when:
    The value of the outcome of the situation is significantly greater than the value of the same specific event outcome in it's typical occurance. That is, there is a disproportionally large aspect of "control" over the larger outcome. Ex. A pitcher striking out a batter clutch when it not only ends the current at bat, but ends the game or better yet, the season.

    In the personal context, there is an assumption that human nature makes it more difficult for a person to perform a given task when the significance of the outcome is greater. A "clutch" player is able to overcome this natural tendency and thus has greater value. I think there is an assumption that the "normal" effect of clutch situations is a decrease in the expected level of performance.

    When we try to claim that a given individual is clutch, it seems we are making a statement that they are more likely to perform up to their full ability in such situations than a "non-clutch" person. If that's the case, numbers would bear out that ability. Every study I've seen suggests that the ability to do so either doesn't exist, or the effect is so minimal as to be irrelevent.

    Clutch performances should be lauded as historical occurances. However, one should not base current managerial decisions based on past clutch performances. The basic point is that in any "clutch" situation, you want your best player at the plate, taking the shot etc. I don't care how clutch Robert Horry has been, if I'm down a point with 10 seconds to go, our chances of winning are best if the ball is in Kobe's hands. If the bases are loaded with 2 outs and we're down 3, I want Dunn or Junior at the plate over Rich Aurilia or Brandon Phillips. Would the Yankees want Aaron Boone at the plate instead of ARod if they needed 10th inning heroics again?

    Let's celebrate those occasions where fate smiled on somebody and they succeeded when it mattered most. Let's call it a clutch performance and move on. But assigning the clutch label to people is a waste for the reasons we've already discussed.

    All that said, I am curious however regarding the effect of sample size. Perhaps part of the problem with these analyses is that no one player has enough opportunity to bear out a "clutch" skill beyond random variation. Furthermore, if it is a very rare skill, the fact that it is a non-normal distribution with a very pronounced middle peak would cloud the analysis. A few outliers can be written off as outliers.

    Perhaps aggregating player performance by some set of characteristics, be it game-relevent skill sets, personailty traits, etc., it would be easier to see statistically significant variation in "clutch" sitations. The problem of course is find the set of characterstics common to "clutch" individuals. Seeing as how these studies have been done by people smarter than me, I'm going to guess that somebody has already gone down this road...
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 04-24-2006 at 12:42 PM.
    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.

  16. #45
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting post from Sons of Sam Horn...

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF
    Sure it is, but the definition of what is a clutch player is hard to determine.

    Is it close and late only? Is it getting a hit with 2 outs and nobody on? runners on? bases loaded? Is it determined by BA? OBP? SLG? OPS?

    See that is the biggest problem. determining what a clutch situation is, then applying a metric to it.
    And that is very true. If a player hits a home run in the 1st inning of the 7th game of the World Series and his team wins 1-0, was that a clutch HR? If a guy drives in the winning run from 1st base is that not a clutch hit since the winning run wasn't in scoring position? If a guy hits .350 in the clutch, he's failing the other 65% of the time. That's a lot of failure. And it's also dependent on the runners on base. Take the situation in MIL on Friday night. Freel hits a chopper to 3rd and Phillips, who was on 2nd, scores on the play because he was fast and he was running hard from the time Freel hit it. Freel gets a RBI and a hit with a RISP. Put Rich Aurilia on 2nd instead of Phillips and there's no way he scores. Freel gets a hit with a RISP but no RBI. So it can be tricky defining clutch.
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