FanPost

A Case For Clutch Hitting

A few weeks ago, someone posted that Bill James conceded that "clutch hitting" might be a legitimate statistic, but there wasn't enough data to actually measure it. In the past few weeks, I think the A's have provided enough data (albeit negative) to make a true believer out of Bill James.


It's becoming clear to us that OBP is not the king of offensive stats. It is the fuel that makes the motor run, but what provides the spark to ignite that fuel? Blez says SLG. But I'm going to say it's the "immeasurable", invisible clutch hitting.

Let me put it this way: the approach both pitchers and batters use changes depending on the situation, correct? In a blowout, late innings, a pitcher might throw nothing but hard fastballs for strikes, willing to give up a few hits just to get through the game quickly. On the other hand, in a tie game with a man on second, his approach is going to be completely different (and the exact approach depends on the batter).

Is it unreasonable to assume that batters also change their approach in different situations? BB basically concedes this point when he talked about how Epstein hits with RISP. And if so, can we also conclude that some batters are going to be "better" at waiting for the right pitch to hit in a clutch situation?

By better, we could mean "more patient", or "able to stay alive longer", or "reading the pitcher better"; it doesn't really matter because the results would show the same thing.

And if we can believe in clutch hitting as a stat, how would you propose we measure it? Hitting with RISP is surely part of that stat. But how do you account for clutch hitting where you need to get the go-ahead run on base, Ichiro style?

Lastly, who do you think are the best clutch hitters that might be available to the A's if they were shopping for one today?

Of course, all this assumes that you believe in clutch hitting which we have been told for years does not exist. Given the last five weeks as a painful example, are we ready to change our minds?

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