Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Giants “Clutch” Leaders and Laggers

Aaron Rowand Clutch Player?
This is always the story that you hear and especially after a terrible 1-0 loss, "The Giants need to do better in clutch situations." So to stir the pot a little here is the top and bottom 5 clutch hitters for the 2010 Giants.

Top 5 Clutch Players

Bottom 5 Clutch Players
Andres Torres1.09Bengie Molina-0.68
Aaron Rowand1.00Buster Posey-0.65
Nate Schierholtz0.87Pablo Sandoval-0.61
Pat Burrell0.42Eli Whiteside-0.53
John Bowker0.21Aubrey Huff-0.33


First before we break down the list I should go over the definitions of what exactly is "clutch", the definition that will be used here is the one that is published at fangaphs. The basic idea is that to be clutch a player raises their game in high importance situations. So to measure this, it looks at how well players perform in previously defined clutch situations relative to how they would have performed in a context-neutral environment. This is a measure of a player against their regular performance so it is not the same is being a good or great player.
Being clutch or not being clutch is NOT the same as being good or not being good. You do not need to raise your game in crucial situations to be a great player and those who do raise their games are not necessarily the most talented. A player with a .200 BA that hits .300 in crucial situations is, and should be, considered more clutch than someone with a .333 BA in all situations. The .333 is a better BA but it is not clutch because it did not constitute a raising of the game.
For more information read up on the whole article.

Thoughts on the Top and Bottom 5

There are definitely some surprises on each of these lists and some guys that by the gut feeling should be there.

First off Torres has been a great player for the Giants this season and there have certainly been some big hits in big situations that he has been a part of this is not a surprise. The same with Pat Burrell he has delivered with the game on the line numerous times and no one will forget the big game winning bomb he hit off fat Jonathan Broxton. Schierholtz is a little bit of a surprise but then again a lot of his limited playing time has come in big situations and there is that big extra inning triple that he had recently in Arizona.

I have a much harder time thinking of specific times that Rowand or Bowker were "clutch" but if you think back to the beginning of the season there were some big hits for both of these guys. Rowand singly handedly one some games against Florida in the late innings and Bowker had some late inning pinch hits that probably skewed the results. Also this is a measurement against their regular performance so maybe both of these guys did poorly but less poorly in big situations.

The bottom five has a lot of the same, some guys you expect including the rally killer Bengie Molina and double play machine Pablo Sandoval.

However both Buster Posey and Aubrey Huff make the list. This is again the compared to their average performance creeping in. Posey has decent high leverage numbers but they pail in comparison to his regular numbers. In low and medium leverage situations Posey has a wOBA of .410 and .345 and in high leverage he sports only a .320 wOBA.

Aubrey Huff has the same thing going on, in low and medium leverage situations he has a wOBA of .420 and .366 and in high leverage he sports only a .343 wOBA.

I still want these guys hitting in pressure situations over guys like Rowand or Schierholtz.


  1. Last time I checked the Giants roster didn't include John Bowker or Bengie Molina. Why are they on this list?

    Otherwise I have to say why the hell is Aaron Rowand getting any love or attention just DFA that guy and be done with it all.

  2. The guys on the top of the list, except Torres, have very small sample sizes. Rowand hit that Homer against New York earlier in the season so that probably bumps him up the list. But overall I have got to say this list is pretty useless. You might want to see if you can find a list that includes players with say, a minimum of 300 ABs and see how it shakes out.

  3. I dno't think this is the best indicator of clutch - there is so much that happens during the entire game that affects play. Remember several years ago when MLB tried to use the game winning hit stat - it just didn't mean that much.

  4. This is far from a comprehensive stat, this is trying to measure something that isn't even easy to define.

    Tha being said the sample sizes are not horribly small, I set the minimum to qualify here at 80 at bats. Doing it for 300 plus would be better but the underlying situations would still have somehat small sample sizes too.

    The number of high leverage situations is pretty small so to be more fair it would need to look over a few seasons maybe in a future post.