Turn Off Ads?
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 38

Thread: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    Little Reds BandWagon Reds Nd2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    3,244

    Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...news&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.
    "...You just have a wider lens than one game."
    --Former Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, on why he didn't fly Josh Hamilton to Colorado for one game.

    "...its money well-spent. Don't screw around with your freedom."
    --Roy Tucker, on why you need to lawyer up when you find yourself swimming with sharks.

  2. #2
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Guelph, ON
    Posts
    16,022

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Gotta love the instinct for humans to find patterns where random chance is at work.
    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.

  3. #3
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Olathe, KS
    Posts
    13,792

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    796

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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...utchLinks2.htm

  5. #5
    One Man Army
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    440

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    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.

  6. #6
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Amarillo, TX
    Posts
    13,439

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    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.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  7. #7
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,138

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    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

  8. #8
    Haunted by walks
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Syracuse
    Posts
    6,679

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    34,423

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    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?
    The Rally Onion wants 150 fans before Opening Day.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rally-...24872650873160

  10. #10
    Member Ron Madden's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Posts
    5,815

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    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

  11. #11
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    Posts
    15,268

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Better off leaving the horse for dead.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

  12. #12
    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,138

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDY IN CHAR NC View Post
    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. At least I was consistent.

    GL

  13. #13
    Passion for the game Team Clark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Posts
    8,104

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it?
    It's absolutely pathetic that people can't have an opinion from actually watching games and supplementing that with stats. If you voice an opinion that doesn't fit into a black/white box you will get completely misrepresented and basically called a tobacco chewing traditionalist...
    Cedric 3/24/08

  14. #14
    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Brownsburg, Indiana
    Posts
    15,268

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Clark View Post
    If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it?
    Now that's a loaded question.
    Talent is God Given: be humble.
    Fame is man given: be thankful.
    Conceit is self given: be careful.

    John Wooden

  15. #15
    Haunted by walks
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Syracuse
    Posts
    6,679

    Re: Art of clutch hitting: Or wait, I think that dead horse just moved

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Clark View Post
    If clutch hitting Does Not exist then why are we talking about it?
    Fantasy baseball.


Turn Off Ads?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Board Moderators may, at their discretion and judgment, delete and/or edit any messages that violate any of the following guidelines: 1. Explicit references to alleged illegal or unlawful acts. 2. Graphic sexual descriptions. 3. Racial or ethnic slurs. 4. Use of edgy language (including masked profanity). 5. Direct personal attacks, flames, fights, trolling, baiting, name-calling, general nuisance, excessive player criticism or anything along those lines. 6. Posting spam. 7. Each person may have only one user account. It is fine to be critical here - that's what this board is for. But let's not beat a subject or a player to death, please.

Thank you, and most importantly, enjoy yourselves!


RedsZone.com is a privately owned website and is not affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds or Major League Baseball


Contact us: Boss | GIK | BCubb2003 | dabvu2498 | Gallen5862 | LexRedsFan | Plus Plus | RedlegJake | redsfan1995 | The Operator | Tommyjohn25