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January 26, 2007

More on Clutchness
by SG

I still don't know if clutchness is a real word, but anyway...

By request, I ran the 2004-2006 clutch numbers that I ran for Alex Rodriguez a few days ago for the motley crew of Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, and some person named Ortiz David or something. I did see the requests for Mauer, Morneau, and Vlad Guerrero and will try and get to them next week.

I won't clutter up the blog with all the numbers, so you can go to this Google Spreadsheet link for the gory details. I'm just going to post the wOBA in the various situations I'm looking at here.

First up, let's look at the splits for these guys when their team is trailing, tied, or leading, compared to their base wOBA. Remember, wOBA scales to OBP. I split out 2006 for Jeter only due to time constraints.

Albert Pujols is clutch-defined. According to the data I'm looking at, Pujols had 629 plate appearances over the last three seasons where his team was trailing and hit .366/.429/.698 for an OPS of 1.127 and a wOBA of .466.

It's interesting to see that Jeter and Ortiz both do better when their team is trailing, which lends credence to their clutch reputations.

And here's how they do by inning.

Lastly, let's look at the situations that I'm defining as the plate appearances where their team needs them the most, tied or trailing by 1-3 runs in the 7th inning or later(including extra innings).

Hideki's more clutch than Ortiz! Not really, wOBA doesn't include intentional walks or changes in win expectancy. It assumes average run values of all the offensive events. It's pretty obvious that Ortiz's production has helped his team win more games than they would have been expected to. You can also certainly quibble with the criteria that I've defined as clutch.

Anyway, I don't know that any of this is predictive. Research says it's probably not, but the fact is that by the time the players we would be trying to predict accrued enough plate appearances in these situations to show that it can be predicted, it'd be too late to make much use of it.

This all gets back to the clutch hitter, and whether or not he exists. He may, or he may not, but clutch situations definitely exist. You can look at the great work done by Tango Tiger on Leverage to see that.