Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Clutch" hitting

If you have a few minutes, read this excellent column from USA Today (via TheBigLead) which covers the topic of "clutch" hitting. It examines a point of view about clutch hitting that I happen to agree with: over the long term, players do not exhibit an ability to perform consistently well in the clutch. In the short term, sure, players can be clutch (see Craig Counsell, Bucky Dent) or not clutch (see Alex Rodriguez, David Wright). I believe that a .300 hitter will hit .300 in any situation, in the long term. It's a spirited discussion, usually pitting the scouting focused types vs. statistically oriented folk.

I'll leave you with some interesting stats:

Derek Jeter
Career: .316/.387/.458
w/RISP: .311/.405/.434
Playoffs: .309/.377/.469, 123 G, 495 AB
(These numbers suggest Jeter is the same hitter in any of these situations, more or less.)

Alex Rodriguez
Career: .306/.389/.578
w/RISP: .302/.404/.553
Playoffs: .279/.361/.483, 39 G, 147 AB
(A-Rod's numbers dip in the playoffs, but not as sharply as one might expect based on the media portrayal of his struggles; keep in mind that's in just 39 G, as opposed to 123 for Jeter)

David Wright
Career: .309/.389/.533
w/RISP: .300/.394/.501
Playoffs: .216./.310/.378, 10 G, 37 AB
(The playoff numbers are awful, granted, but 10 games is just too small a sample size to label anyone clutch or not clutch. Hopefully David can prove me right with a great October 2009, by adding 10-19 games to that sample size.)

And just for fun, Reggie Jackson aka Mr. October
Career: .262/.356/.490
w/RISP: .263/.375/.481
Playoffs: .278/.358/.527, 77 G, 281 AB
(Basically the same player in all 3 situations, with a little more power in the postseason.)

The next time you hear Mike Francesca or some other windbag screaming about how the Mets should trade Wright or Jose Reyes because they are not "clutch", simply re-read this post and remind yourself how ridiculous they sound.


ReyesMets said...

Right on, man.

I've been waiting forever for a progressive Mets blog (along the lines of ussmariner.com for the Mariners or rany jazyerli's blog for the royals or depodesta's blog for the padres or countless other blogs -- you get the point)...I mean metsblog.com is littered with neanderthals with "let's trade reyes for tejada and carlos lee" garbage that I can't tolerate.

This is the first place I'm going for Mets analysis. Keep it up.

John said...

yes, 10 is a small sample size, but not completely irrelevant.

what were his number?!?

Kira said...


Mets Tailgate said...


Thanks for the kind words. Although those blogs are much better than mine, I was disappointed at the level of statistical discussion on many Mets blogs. That's kind of the reason I started this blog in the first place...


Here's D-Wright in the playoffs:
In 10 Games, 37 AB, .216/.310/.378
I'm adding these numbers to the post in the name of fairness. Omitting the numbers may be perceived as a way for me to further my point in the post. Keep in mind that 10 games is really too small a sample to judge any player.

In the 2001 World Series that went 7 games, Derek Jeter hit .148/.179/.259 in 27 ABs. This was the series he was nicknamed "Mr. November" mind you. It is not fair to judge a player's performance anywhere on such a small sample size.

Andrewdejo said...

Although the sample size is bigger for Jackson, I love looking at the playoff line for both Arod and "the straw that stirs the drink". The fact that someone who is almost universally recognized for being a great post-season performer and someone who is almost universally recognized for being one of the shittiest post-season performers of all time have basically the same numbers is hilarious to me.

sunofabeech said...

I don't think that 10 numbers is irrelevant.

Guess what? The playoffs are short!

It's possible for one team to win the world series in only 11 games.

unlike a 162 game season, a player does not have a chance to average out bad performances. every game matters and every game is a sign of a player's greatness if he gets it done in a postseason game.

Mets Tailgate said...


I implore you to find one player in Major League History who has NEVER had a 10 game stretch similar to Wright's in the postseason. 10 games is such a small sample it's ridiculous. The playoffs are a crapshoot - if a team gets hot at the right time, it can win it all (just as you said!).

By your definitions, Derek Jeter is not great in the postseason then?:
2001 World Series, 7 Games: .148/.179/.259
2004 ALCS, 7 Games: .200/.333/.233

and Alex Rodriguez is great?:
2000 ALCS, 6 games: .409/.480/.773
2004 postseason, 11 games: .320/.393/.600