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“Clutch” Since 1996

Posted by Steve Lombardi on May 31, 2011

A list for discussion purposes: It's all active players with at least 1,000 games played between 1996 and 2011 (to date). And, it's their "WPA Clutch" ranking in those games played since 1996.

Here is the list -

Rk Player Clutch G From To Age PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos Tm
1 Ichiro Suzuki 5.7 1641 2001 2011 27-37 7580 7000 1074 2305 267 71 90 576 475 159 697 47 28 30 49 396 92 .329 .374 .426 .801 *98/D SEA
2 Juan Pierre 4.4 1648 2000 2011 22-33 7047 6403 923 1900 222 84 14 445 403 8 402 91 133 17 82 536 181 .297 .346 .364 .710 *87/D COL-FLA-CHC-LAD-CHW
3 Scott Podsednik 4.1 1016 2001 2010 25-34 4129 3707 544 1036 171 41 41 300 327 7 595 24 49 22 64 301 102 .279 .340 .381 .721 *78/D9 SEA-MIL-CHW-COL-TOT
4 Bill Hall 3.8 1031 2002 2011 22-31 3619 3287 442 819 208 21 124 438 278 13 956 13 15 26 62 60 39 .249 .308 .438 .746 5648/791 MIL-TOT-BOS-HOU
5 Bobby Abreu 3.0 2160 1996 2011 22-37 9326 7829 1382 2313 537 57 278 1289 1378 109 1690 33 7 79 151 380 123 .295 .400 .485 .885 *9/D78 HOU-PHI-TOT-NYY-LAA
6 Aaron Rowand 2.8 1293 2001 2011 23-33 4626 4191 600 1153 258 17 133 525 258 22 871 121 31 25 109 66 29 .275 .333 .440 .773 *87/9D CHW-PHI-SFG
7 A.J. Pierzynski 2.7 1414 1998 2011 21-34 5395 5028 586 1426 291 16 122 622 215 51 598 93 26 33 162 13 19 .284 .323 .421 .744 *2/D MIN-SFG-CHW
8 Chone Figgins 2.6 1145 2002 2011 24-33 4986 4382 675 1238 177 56 33 388 497 6 752 9 61 37 67 329 116 .283 .354 .371 .725 *548/769D ANA-LAA-SEA
9 Omar Vizquel 2.6 2009 1996 2011 29-44 8447 7398 1072 2066 350 59 67 721 761 23 768 41 179 68 152 320 116 .279 .347 .370 .717 *65/4D39 CLE-SFG-TEX-CHW
10 Mark DeRosa 2.4 1076 1998 2011 23-36 3700 3295 496 893 178 11 93 443 310 16 630 50 14 31 84 21 17 .271 .340 .416 .756 5496/73D ATL-TEX-CHC-TOT-SFG
11 Johnny Damon 2.3 2278 1996 2011 22-37 10050 8955 1553 2572 483 96 219 1054 934 37 1143 43 55 63 88 384 98 .287 .355 .436 .791 *87D9/3 KCR-OAK-BOS-NYY-DET-TBR
12 Carlos Beltran 1.9 1677 1998 2011 21-34 7338 6426 1131 1811 367 68 288 1090 784 73 1158 36 16 76 118 289 39 .282 .359 .495 .854 *8/9D7 KCR-TOT-NYM
13 Brian Roberts 1.9 1233 2001 2011 23-33 5532 4883 775 1374 339 34 84 477 550 24 735 12 45 42 69 274 67 .281 .353 .416 .769 *4/6D BAL
14 Orlando Cabrera 1.8 1904 1997 2011 22-36 7971 7294 969 1995 450 32 120 829 503 26 713 31 57 86 182 210 54 .274 .320 .393 .713 *6/4D MON-TOT-LAA-CHW-CIN-CLE
15 Jason Giambi 1.8 2007 1996 2011 25-40 8195 6666 1156 1878 378 9 415 1354 1273 93 1417 169 1 86 147 18 10 .282 .405 .528 .933 *3D7/59 OAK-NYY-TOT-COL
16 Placido Polanco 1.7 1650 1998 2011 22-35 6851 6273 929 1902 315 32 99 660 364 11 454 87 79 48 172 79 30 .303 .347 .411 .758 *456/7D3 STL-TOT-PHI-DET
17 Edgar Renteria 1.5 2086 1996 2011 19-34 8839 7934 1175 2273 425 29 135 897 707 42 1138 30 94 74 236 293 106 .286 .344 .398 .743 *6/4D3 FLA-STL-BOS-ATL-DET-SFG-CIN
18 Lance Berkman 1.4 1676 1999 2011 23-35 7025 5817 1051 1727 391 26 338 1135 1092 144 1162 62 1 53 132 82 45 .297 .410 .547 .958 3798/D HOU-TOT-STL
19 Carl Crawford 1.3 1287 2002 2011 20-29 5601 5199 790 1528 224 108 108 613 301 20 807 34 32 35 58 416 94 .294 .335 .441 .775 *7/8D TBD-TBR-BOS
20 Miguel Tejada 1.3 2076 1997 2011 23-37 8888 8140 1202 2325 455 23 301 1272 542 69 1037 118 18 70 266 82 36 .286 .337 .458 .795 *65/D OAK-BAL-HOU-TOT-SFG
21 Miguel Cairo 1.2 1355 1996 2011 22-37 4045 3637 472 975 181 30 33 356 226 8 436 58 84 40 75 132 37 .268 .318 .362 .679 *453/76D9 TOR-CHC-TBD-TOT-STL-NYY-NYM-SEA-PHI-CIN
22 Mark Kotsay 1.0 1663 1997 2011 21-35 6640 6032 758 1678 335 47 121 670 523 37 701 12 29 44 147 97 60 .278 .335 .409 .744 *893/D7 FLA-SDP-OAK-TOT-CHW-MIL
23 Jimmy Rollins 1.0 1547 2000 2011 21-32 7152 6510 1023 1772 376 99 157 680 533 39 824 35 33 41 93 355 71 .272 .329 .433 .761 *6/4 PHI
24 Cesar Izturis 0.9 1183 2001 2011 21-31 4360 4051 422 1035 162 32 15 290 214 19 404 22 56 17 76 109 52 .255 .295 .322 .618 *6/54D TOR-LAD-TOT-STL-BAL
25 Craig Counsell 0.8 1551 1997 2011 26-40 5354 4640 634 1192 217 39 41 384 576 33 651 51 54 33 78 102 48 .257 .343 .347 .690 465/37 TOT-FLA-ARI-MIL
26 Victor Martinez 0.8 1043 2002 2011 23-32 4380 3880 528 1162 246 3 136 665 425 54 500 28 0 47 135 3 3 .299 .369 .470 .838 *23/D CLE-TOT-BOS-DET
27 Ramon Hernandez 0.7 1400 1999 2011 23-35 5244 4689 545 1246 243 8 156 704 401 20 668 69 38 47 131 8 4 .266 .330 .421 .750 *2/3D5 OAK-SDP-BAL-CIN
28 Carlos Pena 0.7 1122 2001 2011 23-33 4480 3769 580 904 174 20 237 674 614 38 1180 55 5 37 53 23 16 .240 .352 .485 .837 *3/D7 TEX-TOT-DET-BOS-TBD-TBR-CHC
29 Jack Wilson 0.7 1287 2001 2011 23-33 5140 4706 552 1255 236 33 61 416 263 24 581 36 97 38 87 43 31 .267 .308 .370 .678 *6/4D PIT-TOT-SEA
30 Raul Ibanez 0.6 1724 1996 2011 24-39 6710 6043 891 1707 356 43 240 999 584 75 1057 24 2 57 133 43 27 .282 .345 .475 .820 *7D93/825 SEA-KCR-PHI
31 Michael Young 0.6 1561 2000 2011 23-34 6935 6363 943 1918 365 49 161 846 468 15 1034 19 25 60 181 85 27 .301 .348 .450 .798 *645/D3 TEX
32 Juan Uribe 0.3 1297 2001 2011 21-31 4912 4498 557 1145 238 41 154 619 275 15 875 34 59 46 96 39 37 .255 .300 .428 .728 *645/D8 COL-CHW-SFG-LAD
33 Hideki Matsui -0.0 1107 2003 2011 29-37 4547 3992 604 1145 230 12 164 700 496 33 611 20 0 39 96 12 8 .287 .365 .474 .839 *7D/89 NYY-LAA-OAK
34 Alex Cora -0.1 1219 1998 2011 22-35 3743 3335 353 814 137 38 35 285 242 33 412 88 61 17 66 46 21 .244 .311 .339 .650 64/53D7 LAD-TOT-BOS-NYM-WSN
35 Wes Helms -0.2 1174 1998 2011 22-35 2960 2652 273 684 150 14 75 372 213 14 668 44 12 39 76 3 12 .258 .319 .410 .729 *53/7D9 ATL-MIL-FLA-PHI
36 Aramis Ramirez -0.2 1582 1998 2011 20-33 6533 5911 809 1666 350 18 291 1047 472 46 911 82 3 65 160 15 15 .282 .340 .495 .835 *5/D PIT-TOT-CHC
37 Eric Chavez -0.3 1337 1998 2011 20-33 5444 4816 735 1286 284 21 230 793 571 69 925 13 0 44 111 47 17 .267 .343 .478 .821 *5/D637 OAK-NYY
38 Carlos Lee -0.4 1847 1999 2011 23-35 7729 7047 1030 2017 415 16 335 1219 547 50 894 44 3 88 187 120 44 .286 .338 .492 .830 *7/D3 CHW-MIL-TOT-HOU
39 Mark Teixeira -0.4 1269 2003 2011 23-31 5581 4818 814 1371 310 16 291 944 646 76 968 83 0 34 111 15 5 .285 .376 .537 .913 *3/D957 TEX-TOT-NYY
40 Rafael Furcal -0.5 1412 2000 2011 22-33 6363 5693 953 1621 279 65 101 513 572 23 815 17 47 34 73 295 87 .285 .350 .410 .760 *6/4 ATL-LAD
41 Adam Kennedy -0.5 1532 1999 2011 23-35 5581 5052 639 1391 265 40 75 531 363 40 756 70 48 48 102 175 59 .275 .330 .388 .718 *4/53D9678 STL-ANA-LAA-OAK-WSN-SEA
42 David Ortiz -0.5 1648 1997 2011 21-35 6878 5883 1004 1657 428 16 360 1194 900 104 1274 31 2 62 136 10 6 .282 .376 .543 .920 *D3 MIN-BOS
43 Milton Bradley -0.6 1042 2000 2011 22-33 4178 3605 541 976 202 17 125 481 496 38 817 44 14 19 91 88 40 .271 .364 .440 .804 89D7 MON-TOT-CLE-LAD-OAK-TEX-CHC-SEA
44 David Wright -0.7 1043 2004 2011 21-28 4507 3918 662 1182 266 16 175 682 508 44 843 30 0 51 97 147 42 .302 .382 .512 .893 *5/D NYM
45 Derek Jeter -0.8 2330 1996 2011 22-37 10734 9486 1710 2969 470 61 236 1144 964 37 1588 154 79 51 239 327 87 .313 .384 .450 .834 *6/D NYY
46 Vladimir Guerrero -0.9 2052 1996 2011 21-36 8685 7800 1289 2488 456 45 441 1456 725 248 954 99 0 61 260 179 92 .319 .381 .559 .940 *9D/87 MON-ANA-LAA-TEX-BAL
47 Lyle Overbay -0.9 1188 2001 2011 24-34 4642 4066 545 1108 297 10 127 543 529 51 848 15 3 29 114 14 7 .273 .356 .444 .800 *3/D ARI-MIL-TOR-PIT
48 Marco Scutaro -0.9 1013 2002 2011 26-35 3874 3441 483 917 190 13 62 358 358 6 452 15 31 29 82 40 16 .266 .336 .383 .719 *64/57D93 NYM-OAK-TOR-BOS
49 Miguel Cabrera -1.0 1243 2003 2011 20-28 5316 4654 780 1458 314 13 257 916 572 132 950 38 5 47 146 27 17 .313 .389 .552 .941 3579/D FLA-DET
50 Juan Castro -1.0 1091 1996 2011 24-39 2843 2622 252 599 123 13 36 234 148 8 471 1 51 21 73 5 9 .228 .268 .326 .594 *654/37D LAD-CIN-MIN-TOT
51 Orlando Hudson -1.0 1176 2002 2011 24-33 4815 4282 582 1193 243 56 83 478 434 16 723 28 30 41 128 70 22 .279 .346 .420 .766 *4/D TOR-ARI-LAD-MIN-SDP
52 Melvin Mora -1.3 1546 1999 2011 27-39 6130 5396 793 1500 282 19 171 753 520 18 948 116 50 48 112 93 55 .278 .351 .432 .784 *5678/493D NYM-TOT-BAL-COL-ARI
53 Chase Utley -1.5 1013 2003 2011 24-32 4353 3759 681 1100 238 28 178 652 427 29 671 126 3 38 54 98 13 .293 .380 .513 .893 *4/3D PHI
54 Pat Burrell -1.6 1598 2000 2011 23-34 6450 5448 763 1381 296 15 290 968 918 53 1541 31 0 53 119 7 3 .253 .361 .473 .834 *7D/39 PHI-TBR-TOT-SFG
55 Jhonny Peralta -1.9 1027 2003 2011 21-29 4256 3817 523 1011 216 18 119 523 367 10 885 22 11 39 108 9 15 .265 .330 .424 .754 *65/D3 CLE-TOT-DET
56 Michael Cuddyer -2.0 1047 2001 2011 22-32 4165 3722 554 1003 215 33 126 523 377 28 738 40 4 22 129 43 15 .269 .341 .447 .788 *935/4D78 MIN
57 Scott Rolen -2.0 1914 1996 2011 21-36 8058 6978 1174 1976 490 40 305 1230 867 57 1330 123 1 89 143 116 48 .283 .368 .496 .864 *5 PHI-TOT-STL-TOR-CIN
58 Corey Patterson -2.2 1142 2000 2011 20-31 4290 3983 550 1015 190 34 116 421 198 21 891 30 55 24 41 212 60 .255 .294 .407 .700 *8/7D9 CHC-BAL-CIN-TOT-TOR
59 Alexis Rios -2.2 1050 2004 2011 23-30 4344 3988 580 1107 240 39 109 505 282 12 712 32 2 40 116 155 52 .278 .327 .439 .767 *98/D7 TOR-TOT-CHW
60 Jerry Hairston -2.3 1194 1998 2011 22-35 4252 3749 517 962 199 21 61 354 315 6 498 74 84 30 64 144 66 .257 .324 .370 .694 4678/59D3 BAL-CHC-TOT-TEX-CIN-SDP-WSN
61 Jorge Posada -2.6 1755 1996 2011 24-39 6921 5884 879 1606 370 10 267 1037 918 75 1413 73 1 45 173 20 20 .273 .375 .475 .851 *2D/3 NYY
62 Albert Pujols -2.6 1613 2001 2011 21-31 7022 5947 1218 1956 431 15 417 1260 935 237 668 75 1 64 219 79 34 .329 .422 .617 1.039 *37/59D64 STL
63 Ronnie Belliard -2.6 1484 1998 2010 23-35 5641 5045 685 1377 328 24 114 601 488 16 797 24 47 37 133 43 28 .273 .338 .415 .753 *45/36D MIL-COL-CLE-TOT-WSN-LAD
64 Aubrey Huff -2.7 1531 2000 2011 23-34 6328 5701 768 1599 340 23 233 861 524 76 846 47 0 56 155 35 23 .280 .343 .471 .814 3D59/7 TBD-TOT-BAL-SFG
65 Matt Holliday -2.8 1055 2004 2011 24-31 4492 3987 699 1269 285 27 186 726 414 37 728 67 1 23 104 89 30 .318 .390 .543 .933 *7/D COL-TOT-STL
66 Adam LaRoche -2.8 1032 2004 2011 24-31 4022 3588 492 959 246 9 164 584 379 41 897 15 5 35 82 5 9 .267 .337 .478 .815 *3/D ATL-PIT-TOT-ARI-WSN
67 Eric Hinske -2.9 1168 2002 2011 24-33 3947 3477 524 887 223 17 129 489 411 26 847 29 0 30 83 61 21 .255 .336 .440 .777 5397/D TOR-TOT-BOS-TBR-ATL
68 Jason Varitek -3.0 1504 1997 2011 25-39 5676 4954 638 1274 300 13 183 728 601 59 1174 58 20 43 128 25 18 .257 .342 .434 .776 *2/D BOS
69 Vernon Wells -3.0 1428 1999 2011 20-32 6115 5612 807 1555 342 31 227 826 413 23 792 30 2 58 147 91 30 .277 .327 .470 .797 *8/7D9 TOR-LAA
70 Mark Ellis -3.4 1047 2002 2011 25-34 4263 3797 531 1007 203 22 86 431 343 15 573 50 42 31 73 62 23 .265 .332 .398 .730 *4/6D53 OAK
71 Adam Dunn -3.5 1496 2001 2011 21-31 6268 5141 881 1276 276 10 359 903 1023 107 1701 73 2 29 78 59 22 .248 .379 .515 .894 *739/D CIN-TOT-WSN-CHW
72 Todd Helton -3.6 1975 1997 2011 23-37 8404 7053 1291 2283 538 35 339 1261 1214 179 991 54 3 80 174 36 27 .324 .423 .554 .977 *3/79D COL
73 J.D. Drew -3.8 1528 1998 2011 22-35 6024 5057 933 1413 271 48 241 783 852 51 1109 54 19 42 83 87 36 .279 .386 .495 .881 *98/7D STL-ATL-LAD-BOS
74 Jason Bay -4.1 1049 2003 2011 24-32 4433 3777 643 1045 217 29 193 666 551 35 1018 52 6 47 69 79 15 .277 .372 .503 .875 *7/8D9 TOT-PIT-BOS-NYM
75 Alex Gonzalez -4.3 1440 1998 2011 21-34 5631 5193 610 1292 306 30 142 625 275 48 1038 76 47 40 121 28 21 .249 .294 .401 .696 *6 FLA-BOS-CIN-TOT-ATL
76 Brandon Inge -4.3 1347 2001 2011 24-34 5047 4492 511 1060 208 37 137 576 407 15 1149 65 40 43 88 45 38 .236 .306 .390 .696 *52/879D DET
77 Magglio Ordonez -4.5 1782 1997 2011 23-37 7491 6748 1047 2089 419 21 290 1209 635 36 822 44 3 61 234 92 50 .310 .370 .507 .876 *9/D8 CHW-DET
78 Matt Stairs -5.0 1814 1996 2011 28-43 5849 5047 758 1328 284 12 264 873 704 59 1088 56 4 38 104 30 23 .263 .357 .481 .838 9D37/84 OAK-CHC-MIL-PIT-KCR-TOT-TOR-PHI-SDP-WSN
79 Felipe Lopez -5.2 1163 2001 2011 21-31 4795 4276 596 1134 218 31 90 434 441 15 900 18 32 28 64 124 58 .265 .334 .394 .728 *645/73D91 TOR-CIN-TOT-WSN-TBR
80 Russell Branyan -5.3 1027 1998 2011 22-35 3338 2885 398 672 141 8 190 456 392 30 1104 30 4 27 30 15 4 .233 .328 .485 .813 537/D9 CLE-TOT-CIN-MIL-SEA
81 Ty Wigginton -5.6 1095 2002 2011 24-33 4203 3818 471 1019 219 12 147 516 297 16 735 49 6 33 115 36 21 .267 .325 .446 .771 *534/D769 NYM-TOT-PIT-TBD-HOU-BAL-COL
82 Alfonso Soriano -5.7 1518 1999 2011 23-35 6593 6084 953 1682 383 27 326 868 389 56 1359 69 9 42 85 262 72 .276 .325 .509 .834 *47/D856 NYY-TEX-WSN-CHC
83 Chipper Jones -5.8 2163 1996 2011 24-39 9260 7799 1435 2395 486 35 417 1434 1357 166 1210 17 2 85 222 139 40 .307 .407 .539 .946 *57/6D9 ATL
84 Casey Blake -6.2 1219 1999 2011 25-37 4931 4364 628 1155 256 18 165 598 428 36 1005 72 23 44 100 36 35 .265 .337 .445 .782 *593/D764 TOR-MIN-TOT-CLE-LAD
85 Mike Cameron -6.3 1867 1996 2011 23-38 7636 6620 1040 1656 372 59 271 946 842 19 1840 87 27 60 111 296 83 .250 .340 .447 .787 *89/D7 CHW-CIN-SEA-NYM-SDP-MIL-BOS
86 Derrek Lee -6.5 1869 1997 2011 21-35 7663 6683 1043 1879 421 28 316 1033 859 72 1553 65 2 54 191 103 47 .281 .366 .494 .860 *3/D SDP-FLA-CHC-TOT-BAL
87 Adrian Beltre -7.0 1889 1998 2011 19-32 7743 7079 941 1941 409 28 289 1050 532 65 1188 61 14 57 184 113 40 .274 .328 .462 .790 *5/D64 LAD-SEA-BOS-TEX
88 Torii Hunter -7.1 1707 1997 2011 21-35 6895 6280 931 1720 366 30 266 1000 502 49 1223 66 2 45 194 174 82 .274 .332 .469 .801 *89/D7 MIN-LAA
89 Andruw Jones -7.4 2047 1996 2011 19-34 8232 7231 1156 1853 370 36 411 1232 838 68 1633 89 6 68 188 152 59 .256 .338 .488 .826 *89/D73 ATL-LAD-TEX-CHW-NYY
90 Manny Ramirez -7.7 2052 1996 2011 24-39 8812 7417 1403 2338 498 19 505 1659 1210 206 1621 104 0 81 221 28 25 .315 .414 .592 1.006 *79D CLE-BOS-TOT-LAD-TBR
91 Paul Konerko -8.2 1904 1997 2011 21-35 7761 6848 995 1923 346 8 376 1196 757 58 1128 83 1 72 236 9 4 .281 .356 .498 .854 *3D/57 LAD-TOT-CHW
92 Ivan Rodriguez -8.3 1945 1996 2011 24-39 8032 7516 1119 2264 458 43 262 1073 402 53 1187 42 16 56 273 113 51 .301 .338 .478 .816 *2/D34 TEX-FLA-DET-TOT-WSN
93 Alex Rodriguez -9.1 2286 1996 2011 20-35 10206 8814 1768 2679 477 27 617 1837 1130 87 1815 154 14 94 218 296 71 .304 .389 .574 .963 *65/D SEA-TEX-NYY
94 Jim Thome -12.6 2069 1996 2011 25-40 8538 6912 1348 1915 365 19 538 1467 1508 155 2131 56 0 62 125 7 12 .277 .407 .569 .976 *3D5 CLE-PHI-CHW-TOT-MIN
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2011.

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I figure that the names at #2 and #93 alone should be worth some fun comments.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 5:03 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

90 Responses to ““Clutch” Since 1996”

  1. Wow. Two of our favorite BR whipping boys at the top of a clutch list.

    At look at the bottom two - our current and soon-to-be 600 HR club guys. And, another 500 HR club guy just a few spots up from there.

    Who knew?

  2. I knew JD Drew sucks, but am pleasantly surprised that Jeter is -0.8. That makes me happy. Can we mail this list to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver?

  3. Lots of outmakers at the top of that list. I'll stick with the guys at the bottom and all their "non-clutch" runs created.

    (I mean, how seriously can one take a list that purports to tout Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik as clutch demi-gods?)

  4. birtelcom Says:

    I've been discussing this on the Web elsewhere recently. For some reason, small-ball guys are showing up on the high end of these Clutch lists and high homer/K guys show up at the bottom. I went back further in time with a Clutch search, and guys like Tony Gwynn and Pete Rose show up at the very top and guys like Mike Schmidt show up at the very bottom. It's really pretty consistent. I'm not sure why that is.

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Since some people probably aren't familiar with "Clutch," a few notes:

    1. The stat essentially compares a player to himself. Just because Juan Pierre is at the top and A-Rod is at the bottom doesn't mean you'd rather have Pierre up in a clutch spot.
    2. I think the tendency to pitch around great hitters in big spots (intentionally or unintentionally) is a reason why so many big boppers are at the bottom of the list. A lot of their opportunities to make game-changing plays are strategically reduced by the opposition.
    3. WPA includes stolen bases, which are generally not part of what we think makes one a "clutch" hitter.

  6. Johnny Twisto FTW

  7. A chart like that needs lots of explaining.

    Juan Pierre's SumWPA divided by his average leverage index is -0.7
    While the sum of his (WPA/LI) for each play is -5.1

    A-Rod's SumWPA divided by his average leverage index is 56.8
    While the sum of his (WPA/LI) for each play is 66.5

    The difference of those two for each... +4.4 for Pierre and -9.7 for A-Rod is where the "Clutch" comes from.

    So, this "Clutch" number is normalized to each players norms... not the league norms. A-Rod performs *much* better in the clutch than Pierre does, but as I understand it, the implication is that he doesn't perform as well as he does in lower-leverage situations.

    That's if I even understand it. :-) I know a lot of people like to hate A-Rod (especially Yankee fans) but can someone explain to me why (SumWPA/aLI - Sum(WPA/LI)) measures "clutch". I can't wrap my head around that construct mathematically. Switch to less colorful players if that helps.

  8. The real problem is that you can't REALLY define "clutch" in any meaningful way.

    Who's more "clutch": a .320 hitter who hits .280 in the clutch; or a. 230 hitter who hit .260 in the same situations? And who would you want up?

    Also that 3rd inning homer that made it 8-0 is still the game winner if the final is 8-7.

    Don't get me wrong - I DO think that there are guys who do better (and worse) than they usually do in certain "pressure" situations. But there's no perfect (or imho even GOOD) definition of "clutch" that is usefull for these kinds of studies.

    Its situational and in the eyes of the beholder. That's a problem, sabermetrically.

  9. @#3 Hear, Hear. I still say at the end of the game all they count is the runs.
    I am a die hard Phillies fan and I watched Bobby Abreu for too long coming up small in big spots. He would rather walk then swing the bat with risp. Give me a guy like Vlad Guerrro any day.

  10. @9
    Panrell, doesn't it all depend on who's behind you in the lineup? It's not "cowardice" to take a walk if you trust the next man.

    Vlad is just as likely to leave runners on base by swinging at a bad pitch.

  11. I told you Pierre is Juanderful! This makes my day.

  12. PhilsPhan Says:

    How about Albert Pujols at -2.6, at #63

  13. I don't know how these numbers are tallied, and I'm not gonna try to figure it out. I see Derick Lee is on this list, he tries to pull everything, and even with the Orioles he will not leave his feet for a grounder. I saw 2 positive signs for the Cubs on Sunday, the first being that Darwin Barney wears stirrup socks and I haven't seen that for a long time. Barney is going to be a fine player. Also I dislike many modern baseball shoes in MLB, however Sean Marshall has the best looking shoes in baseball, he doesn't have all the goofy designs and crap all over his shoes. I've not seen anyone else wear that kind of shoe, Sean is a fine pitcher, and with the Cubs recent problems in their rotation, they should have him starting.

  14. fredsbank Says:

    The top and bottom players are HoF. The second to last player is HoF. Therefore, juan pierre is also HoF

  15. I would think that the mystery is all about making contact. A number of those players at the top of the list frequently make contact and put the ball in play. That is not to say that a free swinger cannot be clutch (Giambi). I wonder if there is a stat that would support this? Babip?

  16. An important thing to consider that may be influencing these numbers is that guys near the bottom of this list are, for the most part, either getting pitched around in big situations (making the outcome much more likely to be either a walk or an out), or opposing teams are bringing in a top reliever that has the best chance of getting these guys out. I think top hitters have a more difficult task in high-leverage situations versus normal situations, so I'm not surprised to see so many negative numbers for hall of fame players, many of which are considered "clutch".

  17. Timmy P says, "I see Derick Lee is on this list, he tries to pull everything, and even with the Orioles he will not leave his feet for a grounder."

    Are you recommending that he jump for a ball that is hit on the ground?

  18. BSK - When I dive, I leave my feet. Why don't you go out on your balcony and test it out. Or maybe go to the nearest bridge and give it a shot.

  19. What's the matter BSK, are you big Orioles fan? A Derik Lee fan? No, I've gone back through a bunch of your comments and one of those guys that can turn every conversation into a racial conversation. If there is anyone that has a problem with race, it's you. Stop letting it be your crutch, stop letting it be your excuse, move on.

  20. @9 Taking pitches that aren't strikes is smart.
    Also, Abreu hit very well in the clutch, you just choose to believe he didn't.

  21. @13 Barry Zito wears stirrups, I believe. About the only interesting thing about him at this point, but yeah

  22. Timmy-

    I didn't say a thing about race. I just thought it blatantly stupid that your criticism of a 1B's defense was predicated upon his apparent refusal to jump for ground balls.

    Technically speaking, yes, I suppose one "leaves his feet" if he were to dive for a ball. But given that every utterance of "leaves his feet" in the history of man has had to do with vertical movement, I thought it useful to point out your butchery of the English language. I suppose you probably meant "move his feet". Or you're simply an idiot.

  23. In other news, Hideki Matsui proves himself to be a robot. A perfect 0.

  24. @22 Brilliant! 'But given that every utterance of "leaves his feet" in the history of man has had to do with vertical movement'. Wha..? Sounds like you might have gone to college on one of those racial set-a-side quotas.

  25. There is obviously something fundamentally wrong with the numbers because as other Strat-O-Matic players know Ichiro is consistently 1 of the least clutch players in the league. How many walk-off hits does he have in his career? I believe the number is 1. After seeing his name #1 on this by a significant margin, it negates the meaning of the entire chart.

  26. Timmy-

    1.) What race is it that you presume I am?
    2.) For someone who engages in so much of it, you seem baffled by hyperbole. Unless, of course, you actually believe the bullshit you post here.

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    can someone explain to me why (SumWPA/aLI - Sum(WPA/LI)) measures "clutch". I can't wrap my head around that construct mathematically.

    A very relevant question. I feel that I understood it at some point, but right now I can't summon the words to explain it (to you, or to myself). Nor can I find a clear explanation online. I'll try to come back to this, but hopefully someone else can give a good answer.....

    Also that 3rd inning homer that made it 8-0 is still the game winner if the final is 8-7.

    Fine, but that doesn't make that homer "clutch." If you really believe it's the same to hit that homer as to hit a 9th inning HR which breaks a 7-7 tie, you are ignoring the way players and managers approach and play the game. Sure, once the game is over, every run was of equal importance. When the game is being played, with the outcome unknown, they are not.

  28. Re: Zach at #16

    Let's take Thome, who is a much better hitter than any of the Top 10 guys on the list but ranks at the bottom here. In a so-called "clutch" situation, such as in the late innings, Thome is much more likely to see a left-hander, and he doesn't hit lefties worth a crap. That's not because he's anti-clutch, but just because he doesn't hit lefties worth a crap. He can't hit them in the first inning, either. He can't hit them in the 5th inning of a 22-3 ball game, either. But if he sees lefties 75% of the time in the late innings and 25% of the time earlier in the game, his so-called "clutch" numbers are going to suffer.

    Although I used to believe in the concept of clutch hitting, for the last 5 or so years I have come to the realization that it is basically something that doesn't exist, at least as something that can be universally defined. I'd much rather have a player hit a 3-run homer in the first inning of every game than get a "clutch" single to lead off the 9th of a tie game.

  29. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's a good point on Thome and probably a substantial reason for his result here. But the other guys near the bottom are not lefties, and do not have such pronounced platoon splits (I didn't actually check them, but righties, especially great hitters, tend not to have the splits of lefties).

  30. Djibouti Says:

    This is like that great thread from a few years back comparing Jeter and Arod in terms of "clutch". I believe there were 3 conclusions:

    1. It's impossible to measure clutch
    2. Arod has better numbers in "non-clutch" situation AND "clutch" situations then Jeter
    3. However Arod is considered "less clutch" because his "clutch" numbers aren't better enough than his "non-clutch" numbers

    I don't remember the exact numbers so here's some random example numbers:

    Say Arod hits .300/.400/.600 for the season, but hits .275/.350/.500 in "clutch".
    Now say Jeter hits .300/.350/.500 for the season but hits .260/.325/.450 in "clutch". So if you had a "clutch" situation you would want Arod batting based on those numbers. But if you were to ask who was more clutch based on how well they did in "clutch" situations vs. normal, Jeter would win...but that doesn't mean anything.

  31. Nash Bruce Says:

    Although he is not on the list, I am reminded of Barry Bonds, (and I am setting aside the steroid dynamic, for a minute) who, in his later years, was pitched around, at a level never seen before. His numbers are indisputable. But, I remember, also, that he would, many, many times, not swing at a pitch that was maybe 1/8th inch, out of the strike zone. I still feel, (and, yes, I do understand that this is a sabermetric site, forgive me) that, at times, your best hitter, in order to help the team, needs to put his ego aside, and SWING THE BAT already, rather than to try and draw walks.
    I am reminded, again, of Ryan Howard standing there, looking at a borderline strike three, to end last year's NLCS. What's the point of having such a big hitter, taking pitches?
    Maybe that is one aspect, other than luck, of the punch-and-judy hitters, faring somewhat decently, on this list- they aren't afraid to hit. (As it were, anyway.)

  32. @7

    I hope you come back and read this, and that I'm not wasting my time posting a long explanation to someone who will never see it.

    So SumWPA/aLI is basically a constant against which Sum(WPA/LI) is compared. SumWPA is just how much a player has added to his team's win percentage over his career. If it helps, we can divide both SumWPA/aLI and Sum(WPA/LI) by games played so that SumWPA represents how much a player adds to his team's chance of winning each game on average. Dividing that by aLI is like assuming that each event in the players career occurred with the same LI. (SumWPA/aLI = Sum(WPA/aLI) because aLI is constant)

    What Sum(WPA/LI) does is weight each event in a players career by dividing that event by the leverage of that situation. Why will this be lower than SumWPA/aLI for clutch players? Well, SumWPA/aLI weights every event, positive or negative, with the same leverage, right? Sum(WPA/LI), on the other hand, weights each event according to the actual leverage at the time. So, clutch players perform in high leverage situations, meaning that we'll get more positive events with a LI above the average a player sees and more negative WPA events with a LI below the average a player sees. (Let's denote a lower than average LI with LI- and above average with LI+) So, for a single situation, if WPA is negative, WPA/LI- < WPA/aLI, and if WPA is positive, WPA/LI+ < WPA/aLI, which is what we expect to find more often than not with clutch players. So, adding up both sides of the inequality, we get Sum(WPA/LI) < Sum(WPA/aLI) = SumWPA/aLI.

    I hope that's not too confusing. As an example, consider two events, one with a 0.4 WPA and one with -0.2. If the 0.4 event occurs with a leverage of 2.0, and the -0.2 occurs with a LI of 0.5, that means Sum(WPA/LI) = 0.4/2 + -0.2/0.5 = -0.2. SumWPA/aLI = 0.2/1.25 = 0.16. If we switch the LI so that the player is actually not clutch, (performs badly under high leverage, well under low) we get Sum(WPA/LI) = 0.4/0.5 + -0.2/2.0 = 0.7.

  33. Bastaducci Says:

    The only thing this chart proves is that this stat is useless.

    That being said..I find it hard to believe people don't think some players are truly clutch players. in todays game Andre Ethier stands out to me as a guy who is clutch. and watching my Tigers growing up noone is gonna tell me Kirk Gibson wasn't clutch. the world got to see it in the world series for the Dodgers but us fans in Detroit seen so many examples of it that that homer in the world series was no suprise to us.

  34. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Bip, good explanation, but here's what I'm wondering. It seems like 0.4 WPA is 0.4 WPA. No matter when it occurs, it's increasing the team's chance of winning by 40 percentage points. It's actually harder to get 0.4 WPA when leverage is low than when it's high. I guess the argument would be that it's more important for a team to go from a 40% chance of winning to 80% than to go from 1% to 41%?

  35. Yes, as others have pointed out, this stat's major flaw is that it measures a player against himself when the opposition has a vested interest in making success more difficult for the best players by bringing in specialists and top relievers. Even if a HOF-caliber righty doesn't have massive platoon splits against same-sided pitchers, he usually has one and that alone should do well to guarantee that his ability to be "Clutch", as measured by this stat, should suffer. Even when he doesn't have a massive split, as shown in the next example, poorer overall results in what this stat measures should seem inevitable.

    For instance, A-Rod's splits show his tOPS to be 100 against a RHP, 99 against a LHP, 93 against a LH Starter and 103 against a RH Starter.

    So lefty starters are tough on him, and with good reason--a lefty starter that can't get out right-handed batters isn't going to start very long. But in order for his tOPS to pull up to 99 overall against lefties, he has to kill LH relievers. I mean kill them since he faces a lot less of them than RH relievers. And, consequently, in order to flatten out his overall tOPS against each handed pitcher he has to be being shut down by elite right-handed relievers.

    In essence, the nature of late-game strategy necessitates that 'clutch' not be defined by a batter's performance against his other performances. Of course, simply taking the league-average performance in those 'clutch' situations wouldn't give you a full picture either as again players like the Juanderful Juan Pierre do not raise the hackles on an opposing manager's neck so that manager likely feels no need to bring in his flamethrowing bat-misser for Juan Pierre in the 7th or 8th inning when he knows Konerko, Dunn, and Quentin are coming up a couple batters later.

  36. Actually, I forgot that the tOPS isn't quite split that way I stated, and that the figures for LH and RH Starters only tell you what happened in games pitchers of the particular handedness started. Still, it is unlikely that there is a massive difference in the use of relievers based upon the handedness of the starter, so my point should still be mostly true.

  37. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    RE: Many previous posts - I don't think the above "WPA Clutch" listing is going to change anyone's idea of who is or isn't clutch, except possibly to give ammunition to the anti-A-Rod crowd. Most fan's perception of "clutch" (or, coversely, "chocker") is formed from the imperfect memory of success or failure in a few key situations, usually the post-season. Once an opinion is formed on whether a player is clutch or nor, it's hard to change it.

    For instance, (in popular perception) Kirk Gibson is a Clutch God because of a few huge HR in the World Series, while A-Rod is a stiff because of his post-season slump in the mid-2000's. Never mind that Gibson was .154/ .233 / .385 in the 1988 NLDS. OTOH, words cannot do justice to the drama of his game-winning HR against The Eck in game one of the 1988 World Series.

  38. Not sure what is going on with Manny Ramirez so far down - other than teams much just pitch around him in big spots. Too bad the Yankees never seemed to employ that technique. I would guess that if it were not for Manny's games against the Yanks, he would have ended up last on this list.

  39. This blog is horrible Says:

    How the hell does this writer have a job?

  40. I used to think that clutch likely didn't exist in the way believed, but that there was still a psychological element that varied player to player. I now think that this might be true in minute ways but if a player existed such that he turned into a minor-leaguer in big spots, he'd be weeded out long before making the majors.

    More troublesome is the issue with confirmation bias. Jeter has had a few big hits. There is no denying that. But he has also struck out with the bases loaded and had his share of gaffes in big spots. However, people remember the big hits and the narrative constructed around it and ignore the bad outs saying, "He'll get 'em next time." Once a narrative is constructed around a player, it is hard to move away from it. Get the goat label early and that is all you'll be seen as; be branded a hero and you can get away with murder.

  41. Brendan Burke Says:

    OK, goof-off time's over. Time to start talking about Juan Pierre now, since he's actually relevant to the discussion this time.

    Since this list measures clutch hitting by how much better someone is in 'clutch' situations than 'non-clutch' it must follow that Juan Pierre sucks in 'non-clutch' situations, and the 'clutch' situations are so good because of the small sample size.

  42. @20 I don't "choose" to believe anything. I watched this guy for 8 years and he put up great numbers but that doesn't tell the story. I see it as no coincidence that after he was gone the team started to win. Sometimes when there are risp you need to put the ball in play. Can't depend on the next guy all the time.

  43. John Autin Says:

    @42, Panrell -- " I watched this guy for 8 years...."

    I want to make sure I'm not misreading this. Are you actually saying that your impressions of "clutch" performance are meaningful?

  44. If clutch hitting was more than regular hitting, why wouldn't teams use their best players as PH and send them to the plate only during clutch at bats? Oh yea...

  45. Bastaducci Says:

    to post 37. the series you speak of when Gibson did so bad he played hurt. that is why the following series he only got 1 at bat (of course he hit a 1 handed HR in that 1 at bat). but if you eliminate that whole year he was a 333 hitter in the playoffs( although his almost 600 SLG percentage in the playoffs even including that year is pretty nice). but its not the averages that made Gibson so clutch..it was the home runs to win games. he did it a many times with my Tigers and then showcased it in L.A. Gibson was clutch. if you got a chance to watch him play on a regular basis you will KNOW this.

  46. Bastaducci-

    All of that should be backed up in the statistical record. How many game-winning HRs did he have? How did his rate/frequency of GW HRs compare to the norm? What sample size are we talking about?

  47. John Autin Says:

    Check out the Phillies' year-by-year WPA leaders and assorted others, during Bobby Abreu's 8 full seasons:

    1998
    (1) Scott Rolen 4.2
    (2) Abreu 3.6
    (3) Gregg Jefferies 1.6
    Bogus 100-RBI man Rico Brogna minus-0.9

    1999
    (1) Abreu 3.3
    (2) Gant & Ducey 1.4
    Phony 100-RBI man Rico Brogna minus-2.2

    2000
    (1) Abreu 4.6
    (2) Rolen 3.3
    Small-ball hero Doug Glanville minus-2.5

    2001
    (1) Rolen 3.9
    (2) Abreu 3.4
    (3) Pat Burrell 2.3
    (4) 90-RBI man Travis Lee 1.4

    (I'm sensing a trend, but let's see how it plays out.)

    2002
    (1) Abreu 5.1
    (2) Burrell 2.9
    Ball-in-play hero Glanville minus-2.8

    2003
    (1) Jim Thome 4.8
    (2) Abreu 3.5
    Ball-in-play hero Placido Polanco 0.1

    2004
    (1) Abreu 5.1
    (2) Jimmy Rollins 2.2
    Ball-in-play hero Polanco 0.9

    2005
    (1) Abreu 4.0
    (2) Chase Utley 3.6
    RBI guy Ryan Howard 0.7 (in over 1/2 time play)

    I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but it looks like either Panrell didn't watch that many games, the games he watched weren't representative, or he wasn't as keen an observer of clutch performance as he would have us believe.

    Just in case you think his Phillies career was a fluke....
    Upon joining the Yankees in late summer 2006, Abreu had the 2nd-best WPA per game on that club; had an off year in WPA in 2007 (coming in at 0); led the Yanks in 2008; led the Angels in 2009 (tied with K.Morales); led the Angels in 2010; and is leading them in 2011 by a large margin.

    Ladies and gentlemen ... let's hear it for eyewitness testimony!

  48. JA-

    I know a Phillie fan who was initially a huge supporter of Abreu before souring on him for much the same reasons Panrell put out there. I think Abreu struggled in the "eye test" because of how he supposedly approached the game. People viewed him as lazy, lacksadaisical, nonchalant, etc. He wasn't fiery or a game or gritty or whathaveyou. As such, people really soured on him, especially in a city like Philly that really adores its blue collar heros. The little bit I did see of him did indicate hesitancy near the wall, but that is a small chink in the armor as far as I'm concerned and a moot point now that he plays a lot of DH.

    The fact remains is that Abreu got labeled non-clutch early in his career and was accused of putting up empty stats. Once a player gets that label, it is hard to break. Any evidence to confirm it is held up as absolute truth and any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as abberrational.

    I will point out that my friend did have an interesting observation about Abreu during his 2001. That was the first year that Abreu cracked 30 HRs and 100 RBIs, which started to garner him some national attention. However, many of the things that made him really valuable were down that year: he struck out more often, had a lower OBP, and was caught stealing more often. Now, all of these fluctuations seem to be within the typical range of variance we'd see. Yet, Abreu also posted one of his lower WPA and WAR totals that year. I heard Phillies fans speak specifically about how Abreu was suddenly getting more attention but was actually playing worse overall. Interestingly enough, they seemed to have actually sensed that he was contributing less to the team than usual despite the bump in traditional stats. Now, Abreu was still a fine player that year, but it seemed to leave a bad taste in the mouth of Phillies fans, who took up the mantra of Abreu and his empty stats.

  49. I think the conversation about clutch (in the general public's discussion of the word) has more to do with trying to build up or tear down players one likes or dislikes, respectively, than anything else.

    Let's look at Mr. October. He actually was Mr. Late October, because in Early October he mostly sucked. His World Series numbers were great, of course, but his LCS numbers were usually lousy, with the exception of a big '78 LCS, IIRC.

    So I'll say that it's a good thing his teammates were Mr. Early Octobers, because otherwise Reggie never would have had a chance to show he was Mr. Late October.

    Getting back to the list, it has Miguel Cairo at #21 and Albert Pujols at #62. You'd have to be in some kind of alternate universe to believe that kind of ranking.

    In my observation, statistics tend to normalize as the size of the sample increases, which is why ARod's overall postseason statistics were nearly identical to his overall regular season statistics after his big '09 postseason, and why El Duque went from being the greatest postseason pitcher of all time to something much closer to ordinary as his postseason sample size increased.

    The only baseball player I can think of for whom a clutch argument can be made is Mariano Rivera, because he has two full seasons' worth of postseason statistics at this point in his career and he has still performed much better in the postseason than in the regular season, an amazing feat inasmuch as his regular season performance is the best ever - by far - for any pitcher with at least 1,000 innings.

    But, in Mariano's case, I don't think the explanation is that he's clutch. I think there is another explanation, perhaps having to do with hitters not seeing him enough to get comfortable or some such, that explains his postseason success.

  50. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @45/ Bastaducci Says: " to post 37. the series you speak of when Gibson did so bad he played hurt. that is why the following series he only got 1 at bat (of course he hit a 1 handed HR in that 1 at bat).... ... Gibson was clutch. if you got a chance to watch him play on a regular basis you will KNOW this."

    Yes, Bastaducci, I suppose I would know Gibson was clutch his whole career if I had watched him regularly, in the same way that any fan would know that David Ortiz is clutch if they followed the Red Sox (as I do) and Ortiz' career since 2003. And therein lies the fallacy - I don't think Ortiz is an all-time great clutch hitter - he's just a great hitter who played up to his potential when given the oppurtunity in the post-season. His post-season OBA and SLG are almost the same as his regular-season OBA and SLG.

    I'm not trying to knock you or Kirk Gibson - he was an outstanding hitter who got a number of chances in the postseason to prove that. I'm trying to slay this mythical dragon called "Clutch Ability", this belief that some hitters have this magical innate ability to perform better at critical times than other, clearly better hitters. I think it's mostly a myth, because an outstanding hitter would never even play regularly in the major leagues if they didn't have the ability to perform in important situations.

    There has been study after study which shows that no single player performs better in clutch situations over their entire careers. I think there is some small ability to perform in so-called "clutch" situations, but it's maybe 1% of a player's value.

    I gotta admit though, I picked a bad example with Gibson.

  51. Thomas Court Says:

    @49

    I was wondering when someone was going to mention Mariano. His post season numbers are just so amazing. But Todd makes the mistake too many sabermetricians make: they assume that "there is another explanation" other than Mariano himself. Why not just give Rivera credit instead of chalking it up to hitters "not seeing him enough to get comfortable?"

    Overall I still defer to Bill James on the theory of "clutch." That it is a bull "crap" word used by people who are trying to say that player A is better than player B when player B's statistics are demonstrably better. James even jokingly mentioned how calling someone a "witch" was another bull "crap" form of trying to win an argument when you had no real evidence to back up your point.

    Years ago when Arod and Jeter were shortstops on competing teams, I used talk to Yankee fans about a straight up trade for both players. Yankee fans would simply counter Arod's vastly superior offensive numbers by stating how clutch Jeter was. To illustrate the ridiculousness of this argument, I used to point out that, "If Jeter was putting up numerous 40+ home run seasons, and I tried to mention that a shortstop on Seattle was better because he was more clutch, you would laugh me out of the room." This logic did not work of course (little logic works with Yankee fans - even though I am one myself).

  52. Tom, the reason I don't credit Mariano for being "clutch" is that I don't believe such a thing exists, so I'm trying to find another explanation. Does his cutter really work extra magic when he throws it in a postseason game as opposed to a May game against Baltimore? I doubt it.

  53. The question is, if one doesn't believe in "clutch," does that mean one also doesn't believe in "non-clutch?"

  54. MikeD-

    I pointed out earlier that I think non-clutch probably does exist (to the extent that some players can't handle the pressure), but these guys are likely weeded out well before making the bigs. If a guy panics in 9th inning at bats, he'll like have enough of those in college or the minors to raise the necessary flags to prevent his promotion.

    I do think this potential exists in other sports, particularly basketball, because of the ability to avoid such guys in late game scenarios and still succeed. But you can't really hide guys in baseball, with a turn-based approach that has limited opportunities for substitution.

    For instance, Rajon Rondo on the Celtics definitely plays tentatively down the stretch (in part because he sucks at free throws and knows that drawing a foul is a bad play for the team). However, there seems to be more at play than that. As a result, his coach will sometimes bench him or take the ball out of his hands in crunch time. You can't do that in baseball. If Chokey McChokerson is due up third in an inning, your only option is to pinch hit for him, and teams generally try to avoid guys they have to regularly pinch hit for.

  55. RedSoxUberAlles Says:

    This is a freakin' joke. Big Papi should be top 10, at least. These stats are indicative of why numbers cannot, in the abstract, reflect reality.

    BTW, Juan Pierre, clutch? That is the best joke I've heard in 5 years. Hilarious!

  56. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @55/ RedSoxUberAlles Says: "... Big Papi should be top 10, at least. These stats are indicative of why numbers cannot, in the abstract, reflect reality."

    There's something terribly illogical with that last sentence, but I'll leave it to a better writer than myself to explain it.

  57. @47

    John, you carefully omitted the 2006 season, in which Abreu was essentially salary dumped for garbage; so much for that "stat". So apparently Gillick wasn't watching him either? Or just about every GM after his Yankee tenure.

    Ladies and gentlemen ... let's hear it for eyewitness testimony!

    I'll echo the same sentiment as Panrell @9. Abreu's legacy for me is how to take as many pitches as you possibly can without having to take your bat off your shoulder. ("alright, alright I'll swing the bat if you really want me to"). Ideal strategy for a leadoff or even 2 hitter, but aggravating to watch your 3 hitter doing it without great power who struck out far too often.

    And if you really want to see something funny, see how Abreu and Guerrero has basically the same career WAR. Shows you how maybe, just maybe how that stat can be flawed. Would we really consider Abreu over Guerrero given the choice of who was the better player?

  58. Free swingers like Guerrero always get overrated though....they rack up higher hit, doubles, homers and rbi's totals, but in the process, they make far more outs.

  59. Guerrero had a 142 OPS+ vs Abreu's 131, somewhat neutralized by....

    109 less GDP's.

    231 more stolen bases at MUCH higher percentage. Abreu was always a great basestealer, whereas Vladdy would've helped his team more if he NEVER tried to steal.

  60. @59

    Neutralized? Not when when you factor in the 700 more strikeouts Abreu had over the "free swinger" Guerrero. Sure I realize Guerrero's hitting approach wasn't conventional, but the same approach made is what made him so exciting. How many hitters can pull off multiple .320+ seasons with power and low K totals by swinging at so many "bad" pitches?

    I'll give you the basestealing, but that's not the type of stat you expect out of your 3 hitter.

  61. John Autin Says:

    @57, Scott -- If I understand you correctly, you dismissed the entire string of WPA numbers ("so much for that stat") that I posted about Abreu -- showing that in 11 out of 13 full seasons spent entirely with 1 club, he was #1 on the team in WPA 8 times and #2 3 times -- on the grounds that I failed to mention his 2006 partial-season numbers with Philly.

    I confess to an oversight, of sorts. I posted Abreu's 1998-2005 numbers because a previous post mentioned watching the guy for 8 years.

    But by all means, let's fill in the picture. Here are the Phillies' WPA leaders in 2006:
    Ryan Howard 8.2
    Chase Utley 4.2
    Bobby Abreu 2.7
    Jimmy Rollins 2.3
    Pat Burrell 1.2

    So, in a season in which he played just 98 games for the Phils, Abreu was #3 in WPA -- ahead of Jimmy (158 games) Rollins and Pat (144 games) Burrell. Abreu was also ahead of Utley in WPA/162 games, 4.5 to 4.3.

    And if we take Abreu's 2006 season as a whole, he totaled 4.7 WPA -- good enough for #2 on either the Phils or the Yanks. That makes 12 out of 13 full seasons in which Abreu has been #1 or #2 on his club in WPA ... and he's well on the way to doing it again this year.

    So much for your point about 2006, I guess.

    Just out of curiosity, which Phillies hitters from Abreu's era did you like?

  62. @60

    Yes Guerrero was exciting, very exciting. And yes he was a more exciting player than Abreu.

    But I agree with WAR on this one. Guerrero was just slightly better. Thus they have almost the exact same WAR, but Guerrero did so in 107 less games.

  63. @61

    John, you don't understand me quite correctly. My opinion had nothing to do with his WPA as a Phillie in 2006. I can care less about the WPA stat, as did Gillick in 2006 and other GMs after his Yankee tenure (after 2008 as I also mentioned earlier). The stat doesn't wow me. WPA is a meaningless value to the MLB GMs assessing him was the point I was making. I personally was fed up with watching him sit there hitting third with his bat on shoulder. It's fine I suppose if you hit with enough power, but he didn't do that. (as explained in my #57 post). I liked Thome, Rolen, and Lieberthal (when healthy) during his era. There really wasn't that much that get excited about when he was a Phillie.

  64. And this is the point I'm trying to make. You don't have to show me Abreu's #'s, I know what they look like. They are very impressive.2300 hits, 1200rbi's, almost 400 steals. They are bordering hall of fame. But ask anyone in Philly if they regret getting rid of him. I'm sure some would say yes, but not many. Numbers don't always tell the story, as the guy said about Cairo and Puljos.

  65. John Autin Says:

    @63, Scott -- Thanks for clarifying your position. We disagree about the value of WPA, and that's fine.

    I don't put a lot of stock in assessing ballplayers by visual observation. I don't deny that there are some things that "don't show up in the box score," but I think the value of those things just doesn't compare to the value of dry statistical measurement. And judging a player by observation can lead to all sorts of demonstrably wrong conclusions. Fielders who make a lot of highlight plays are not necessarily those who make the most plays. Hitters who expand the strike zone with runners on base, and end up with more RBI, do not necessarily put more runs on the board for their team in the long haul.

    There is a certain type of ballplayer whose real value can be obscured by the impressions we may form by watching them. Abreu, Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew -- guys who don't wear their effort on their sleeve often rub fans the wrong way, even though at the end of the day they're producing a lot more measurable value than some fan favorites who "bust it" on every play but don't put runs on the board. The positives of the "energy guys" are easier to see, but one of their common negatives is that they don't take walks; and while we all get frustrated sometimes when a guy has a passive AB in an RBI situation, in the long run, the more patient approach usually winds up with more win value.

    But that's just my opinion.

  66. John Autin Says:

    @64, Panrell -- I agree that numbers don't tell every story. I do think they tell much bigger stories than those told by observation.

    I get that Abreu wouldn't crash into the wall, and that he wouldn't expand his strike zone in RBI situations. I saw him play with the Yankees; I know the body language you're talking about. But at the end of the day, the total package of what he did and didn't do produced a lot more win value than the average RF who might be more observably "gung-ho."

    Also, there's a tendency for frustrated fans and dysfunctional organizations to take their disappointments out on their best player who doesn't happen to fit the classic visual mold of Joe Baseball. And I'm not saying this only about the Phils; my Mets and many other franchises are just as guilty. Ask Mets fans what they remember about the 2006 NLCS, and odds are the first thing they mention is Beltran taking strike 3 to end it -- and half of them will never forgive him. Never mind that Beltran was easily their best player that year, or that he had a very productive series (3 HRs, 8 runs, 4 RBI, a 2-run HR that provided the only runs of game 1), or that Adam Wainwright has a killer curve ball. Nobody mentions that Beltran scored the Mets' only run of that game after he doubled with 2 out in the 1st; nobody cares that Beltran drew a walk leading off the 8th in a tie game (the benefit of that "passive" persona); nobody kills Delgado or Wright for striking out swinging with Beltran on 1st. One pitch, one passive mistake, and Beltran became anathema to many Mets fans.

    If you base a lot of your judgment on visual observation, you end up with grudges like those of Mets fans against Beltran and Philly fans against Abreu. And I think that's a shame, because they're good players, better players than a lot of fan favorites. I like a showy hustler as much as the next guy, but not every player has the personality to look like Charlie Hustle on every play, and Charlie Hustle wasn't the greatest player in the world, either.

  67. @66 I WILL agree with you about the Beltran thing. A lot of times you are only as good as your last game. A lot of people around here won't forgive Howard for looking at strike three last October either. That's the thing, it's the big stage that many players are judged on, take Mitch Williams. Without him the Phils don't make the '93 series, but it's that last pitch to Carter that everyone remembers.
    Funny you should say "don't show up in the box score", just today Dominic Brown came up with bases loaded two out. The box score says fly out to left. What really happened is Nix made a running, diving catch that saved two-maybe three runs. Brown just got f-8 with 3 men lob.

  68. Bastaducci Says:

    post 46. don't know...but never seen anyone in my tigers uniform more clutch.

    Post 50. I understand your point. but to be honest..it was not the playoffs that taught me how clutch Gibson was, the playoffs just made everyone not in detroit know. it was his game winning HR's in the regular season that 1st got my attention.

    I am suprised that many here do not believe in clutch. I am not dogging anyone for it..but definately suprised. and whoever brought up Mariano Rivera brought up possibly the best example of clutch ever. I mean we all know how good Rivera has been but his playoff record is simply amazing.

  69. Whew, great traction in this thread.

    @66
    John, love the passion emanating out of the keyboard. What about Ryan Howard's post-season called strike three compared to Beltran's? Mets' fans are more forgiving than Phillies, I think.

    Gotta side with Thomas Court @51 in saying that Bill James slammed the door on "clutch" batters once and for all in numerous published articles from the past.

  70. @67
    Panrell, just read your post after posting myself.

    And in the reverse sense, Joe Carter was euologized for that one 1993 post-season AB when the reality was that he was a below-average career run-producer. Mitch Williams was victimized, Joe Carter was lionized.

  71. @66-John, btw I didn't realize you were a Mets fan. I find it unusual that a Mets fan would ever defend a Phillies player at all. Thats actually pretty cool.

  72. @70 When I was little I thought Don Larson must have been one of the greatest pitchers of all time-after all he threw a perfect game in the world series!!! Now of course I realize that his perfecto would be akin to Joe Blanton throwing one.

  73. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Never mind that Beltran was easily their best player that year

    Not just the Mets' best player. I thought he would have been a worthy MVP choice.

  74. @34

    Yeah, pretty much. The thing I don't get about it is that WPA and LI shouldn't be independent. Hitting a homerun with a man on first in the first inning while already up by three will yield a much lower WPA and have a lower LI for the same reason just like hitting that homerun with two out in the ninth while down one will yield a high WPA and LI. In other words, high LI situations are the situations where there's an opportunity for high WPA.

  75. @74

    This is correct - they are not independent. However, WPA/LI neutralizes this to provide the value of the event itself and the "clutch" stat accounts for the distribution of events on the leverage scale. By way of example, if you have two Albert Pujolses, both equally clutch, but one of them always comes up in high LI situtations and the other rarely does, the first one will have a much higher WPA solely due to opportunity. It doesn't make him any better under pressure it just means he had a lot more opportunities to do the most damage.

  76. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @68/ Bastaducci Says: "...I am suprised that many here do not believe in clutch. I am not dogging anyone for it..but definately suprised...

    Bastaducci, it's not that I don't believe it exists, it's just that it's a far smaller part of a player's value than the average fan would credit a clutch player for.

    In #51, Thomas Court pointed out the classic example of many fans preferring Jeter over A-Rod because of his "clutchitude", even though A-Rod has vastly better numbers. To call one player better than another because they are more clutch, is basically taking value out of this ambigious "grey zone" and crediting it all to the clutch player. It is formed out of selective and hazy memory, and not backed up by stats.

  77. RedSoxUberAlles Says:

    @ 56 / Lawrence Azrin. Yeah, you are right. After re-reading that sentence, I admit it is too convoluted and is not clear.

    Here's my point: Looking at the #s alone is not enough. It's my opinion that in order to identify real "clutchness" you have to look beyond the stats sometimes. Identifying walk off hits, hits that tie a game, hits that break ties, etc....those are the sort of situations I was thinking about when I wrote that you cannot really identify those truly "clutch" players unless you drill down and look at situations. I am talking about game changing moments.

    Big Papi has had more clutch hits for the Red Sox than any other player in the history of the team. Even casual fans of the Sox would agree with that statement. It's been said before, but to me the stats simply don't tell the whole story. Papi has a special ability to deliver the game changing hit. On the other hand, Juan Pierre couldn't hit his way out of a wet paper bag. That's why I am at a loss to understand how this "Clutch" stat makes any sense at all, except maybe on someone's Excel spreadsheet. On the field, under the bright light of day, fans know who is clutch and who is not.

  78. "Big Papi has had more clutch hits for the Red Sox than any other player in the history of the team. Even casual fans of the Sox would agree with that statement."

    It shouldn't be an issue of "agreeing". If Papi has had more clutch hits than anyone before, that should be easily verified with a count of game-tying or game-winning hits or whatever else you determine to be a "clutch hit". It is still a stat and one that need not be agreed upon because the number will tell the story.

    I challenge you to back up your assertion. Count up the "clutch hits" Papi has had and then use that same definition for other Red Sox players and find out if, indeed, he has the most.

  79. @77

    If you are judging Ortiz only on a subset of clutch hits that is 1) easy enough to verify with box score data and 2) incomplete. There are many high leverage situations that are not as salient. For example, Bill Mazeroski's game 7 HR in 1960 is arguably the most famous of all time. However, it doesn't even have the highest WPA of any hit in that game! (That would be Hal Smith's HR in the bottom of the 8th.)

    Also, as JT said in 5, the "clutch" stat measures a player against himself. I'd be willing to bet that the greatest players of all time in clutch situations are Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. (Bonds leads in WPA by a mile, but the leaderboard doesn't include data before 1950.) However, the latter certainly had a reputation as a choker (at least until the 2002 WS) and Ruth got caught stealing to end the 1926 World Series. They may even rank poorly in the "clutch" category, I don't know. It doesn't matter - true talent has a FAR greater impact. So yes, Juan Pierre doesn't suddenly become a Hall of Famer in critical situations. He just performs better than he would otherwise. And as "unclutch" as A-Rod is, he still beats everyone on this list in WPA except Pujols.

  80. Johnny Twisto Says:

    A career list of walk-off hits was posted here once. Ortiz was pretty high on it. That's certainly one type of clutch, a very visible one, and it's not just faulty perception that Ortiz seemed to have a lot of them. But it is a fault of perception to apply that narrow definition to everything which "clutch" may encompass. For instance, in late-and-close situations, Ortiz's career tOPS+ is 97, i.e., he has hit slightly worse there than his overall numbers. Late and close is another perfectly valid definition of "clutch" which one could use, depending on one's agenda. LI is perfectly objective. It takes every PA, from the 1st inning to the 9th, tie game or blow out, everything in between, and weights its importance.

    If Sox fans loved seeing Ortiz up with the game on the line, I certainly wouldn't argue with them. Maybe he had particularly poor ABs in 5th innings with runners on second -- important ABs, but not as big as some others.

  81. Johnny Twisto Says:

    (For the record, Ortiz has been very good in his Boston career in the 5th inning with a runner on 2nd. 20 hits in 58 AB (9 BB), driving in the run 19 times. Average LI of those PA was 1.04. When there was 0 or 1 out, he didn't hit any HR, but also struck out only once in 32 PA, and moved the runner up 11 of the 20 times he got out. Very small sample, but that looks like a guy who was adjusting his approach to the circumstances.)

  82. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I tried to search for every potential walk-off situation in Ortiz's Boston career (regular season only). This required several searches and I make no guarantees to accuracy. Nevertheless, as best I can figure, in those spots he has gone 19 for 44 (.432) with 9 HR and 26 RBI. A rather impressive record.

    In A-Rod's Yankee career, in the same situations, he is 15 for 49 (.306) with 6 HR and 17 RBI. Pales in comparison to Ortiz, but still quite good and probably much better than most Yankee fans (or haters) would think.

  83. Johnny Twisto Says:

    How amazing is that Event Finder by the way? All praise Foreman Forman and B-R.

  84. Johnny Twisto Says:

    For comparison, I looked up all potential walk-off situations in MLB since 2003 (over 20,000). Batters hit .258 with a HR every 34.0 AB, so slightly worse than their overall numbers.

  85. I like people who just think "me and everyone else thinks this guy is the most clutch ever, therefor he is." Nevermind that his team has 100 year history....

  86. RedSoxUberAlles Says:

    @78 / BSK wrote: "I challenge you to back up your assertion. Count up the "clutch hits" Papi has had and then use that same definition for other Red Sox players and find out if, indeed, he has the most."

    Hey BSK, I respectfully decline to do math for you and the rest of your ilk. You go look up to numbers and crunch them on your science calculator. While you're doing that, I will actually watch the games at Fenway, root for the Sox and enjoy my life.

    Look, I get it. This site is largely devoted to folks who want to objectively categorize, define and quantify baseball with statistics. That is cool. I am not one of those people. As I said, I think baseball is much more than just numbers. It is beautiful because the numbers are sometimes meaningless and cannot explain how, for example, the Sox found the will to come back after being down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees to win their first WS in 86 years. That is precisely why baseball is beautiful, not because someone crunches up a bunch of stats and comes up with a category that tries to "objectively" (which is misleading, really, because one must subjectively select which stats to use in formulating the category) capture how "clutch" a player is or is not. That's one way to see the world, I guess. It's just not how I see it.....

  87. I think the problem with making sweeping generalizations such as "Papi is the most clutch player in Red Sox history," etc., etc., is that such a statement is inherently unprovable because no one can agree on the definition of clutch. As Twisto pointed out, in one commonly used measure of clutch hitting, Papi has actually been somewhat anti-clutch.

    I also don't think the "I watch the game" argument is very strong. Managers and coaches watch the game, too, and they seem to keep voting for Derek Jeter as a Gold Glove SS, when in fact Derek couldn't field a ground ball with a shovel. Statistics are just summaries of what happens in the game, anyway. No one would vote for Darren Daulton as a better catcher than Johnny Bench just because Darren had a prettier swing. Johnny's performance on the field, as summarized by his statistics, indicates he was the better player.

    In short, anyone who wants to make this argument can always find some kind of data to support his point, pro or con. I remember arguing with a Yankee fan who claimed ARod was anti-clutch. I pointed out some stats in which ARod did well, and the fan pointed out the others in which he didn't. Of course, to that fan those stats were the true measure of clutch. But when Jeter came up short in the same categories, then suddenly another definition of clutch was applied to him.

    All that really matters is how many runs a player creates for his team. It doesn't matter much when he creates them, since players don't decide when to hit a HR or know in advance whether their hit will be the one that decides a game, except in comparatively rare instances, of course. And, even then, the rest of the game has to play out to allow them to get that chance. It did for Miguel Tejada in 2002 and he won an MVP because of it, which is ridiculous in retrospect.

    As for Papi, I've decided he is bad in the clutch, because in his career he has hit much better when his team has the lead then when it is behind. (That is, when his team really needs him to hit well.) Also, he has hit far worse in the 9th inning than in any other inning. In fact, Papi is far worse in innings 7-9 than he is in innings 1-6.

    And those are the standards I have decided to measure clutch hitting by.

    So there.

  88. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Derek couldn't field a ground ball with a shovel.

    Oh, Jeter has no problem fielding grounders. Sometimes I just wish he'd get to a few more of them....

  89. True enough, Twisto.

    Derek goes back well on pop flys to the outfields and in the stands, and he can still do his famous jump, spin and throw maneuver. But he misses so many ground balls up the middle that it is maddening to watch.

  90. rogerbusby Says:

    If everything, for now, has been said on this subject (doubtful) can we talk about the revolving door this team TOT has running thru the clubhouse?