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Some clutch at straws while others are just clutch

[humming Jeopardy theme] Da da daa da … In the category Red Sox for $500, "The greatest clutch hittah in club history."


Of course, any time the words "clutch" and "hittah" are conjoined, a half dozen SABER guys rupshah a nut in frustration yelling "There's no such thing!"


So when the hahd core sabermetricians  are rooting for their fave team and a guy comes up in a game-on-the-line situation, do they go, "Now would be a most opportune time for a random statistical deviation. C'mon randomness, Whoo hoo!"?


Well now, Doug, that's a moot point, you see, because the hahd core stat heads cannot root for one team ovah anothah cuz doing so would pollute their research. It's all about the numbahs, dude.


Heah's some numbahs for ya, Wake says aftah pitching 9 that he's got 5 more in him. He loves the cool nights.


Christ, autumn and the knuckleball go together like lobstah and buttah.


With Schilling, Foulke and possibly Miller on the mend, and Wakefield coming into his Fall form, I dare say I'm feeling pretty frickin good right now.


Meanwhile, our shadowy nemesis, has lost the season series to Tampa Bay and will be sending the awesome twosome of Chacon and Small against the Sox this weekend.


Jeez, a $200 million plus payroll just doesn't buy what it used to does it?


Yeah, poor Georgie, he's getting gouged on gas for his limo and gouged on his stahting rotation. Times are wicked tough.


he 2005 seaAuthor's Notes

I swear I've used the saber "rooting for randomness" idea before, but couldn't find evidence. If I have, sorry for the repeat.


did you mean $200 million? the MFY spend $2 million on babywipes for the players' arses....

typo alert: 2nd-to-last frame, voice balloon says "$2 million doesn't buy..." - if he is referring to the MFYs (which I believe he is), shouldn't that be $210 million?

another typo: 3rd to last frame, Brian should be saying "...loses the season series opener - they haven't lost the whole series yet (but let's hope so) unless you have ESP...??

How about the timing of that plaque presntation to Big Papi? It's like he thought to himself, "they're gonna give me a Clutch Hitter plaque after the game, so I guess I should hit this out." (By the way, is the guy standing outside Martignetti's on his way to Pete's Pub? Or is he more of a Bell In Hand kinda guy?)

Yes, 200+ million. (Just seeing if you were paying attention.:)

As for the Yankees v TB, no, no typo. Even if the Yankees win all the games remaining with the D-Rays, Tampa will have won more games against the Yanks then they've lost for the 2005 season, i.e., the "season series."

I did clear up the language a bit in there, though, to make that more clear. It did seem like a typo.

Definitely not a typo wrt TB vs. NY. The deviled eggs are 10-4 against the spanks as of this morning. That's embarasscing.

I was never too worried about the Sox rotation, at least not as much as CHB and company. Sure, they'll have their off nights, but they all give the bats a chance to win, which is all you can ask for. I'll take Timmy Ballgame giving us 9 solid innings time and again over Derek 'the gasface' Lowe any day.

Nice to see Doug up in my neck of the woods. Tell him to meet me for lunch at Emedio's - kickass alfredo sauce.

Wakefield really is a hero for the Boston Red Sox.

For potential playoff teams, complete games (his 2nd) are huge this time of year.

Wake leads the team in wins. 2nd in K's.

Mind-boggling that, around Spring Training, he may or may not have been in the starting rotation.

Papi absolutely haunts the LAAA. He is the lead character in their 9th Inning Nightmares.

Shields shook off Molina twice before he threw to Ortiz!

Fun NYY factoid:

"Rivera is 1-1 with two blown saves and a 3.52 earned run average in his last 12 appearances, compared with a 5-3 record, two blown saves and a 0.90 E.R.A. in his first 47." -NY Times

4 Games up.

great strip, hb - one thing though . . . it's not so much that us SABR-heads don't believe in the possibility of 'clutch hitting,' it's that there's no proof that it exists in a statistical fashion.

Do NOT get me wrong - when Papi came to the plate, I was rooting for (another) ridiculous walk-off just like everyone else . . . it's looking less and less like 'stat deviation' every time he does it. Sometimes my cardiopulmonary health wishes that the sample size could be smaller, though . . .

Not to diminish Papi's clutch performance at all, but how about a nod to Graffy and Olerud's D in the top of the inning to save a run (twice)? No way does Millar or Petagine make the play that the helmeted one did... and he has had a few clutch knocks this homestand as well. Great pickup by Theo (and a saberfave as well, if memory serves)

"Nice to see Doug up in my neck of the woods. Tell him to meet me for lunch at Emedio's - kickass alfredo sauce."

So true. The same people own Dino's on Salem St.

Yes indeed, Bob. I love their bread, too, I could eat that as a main course. Between those two restaurants I've dropped enough cash to fund that expansion they just put in.

And yes I love the Olerud pickup too. That guy is mini-papi when it comes to clutch hitting, and his defense is still impeccable. How many innings does he need to play to qualify for a gold glove?

I'm a semi-stathead. I don't get full-blown into it, because I see enough of it at work on my research, but I do say that trends are trends and the data bear that out.

That having been said, if you ask for a detailed enough stat then there are websites out there that use sabermetrics to argue FOR clutch hitting.

In the end, for me, it comes down to "is it the bottom of the ninth? is it a tie game? is Papi at the plate? i feel better about this game now already". Whether I feel better because I choose to ignore those times when we lose in that situation and only remember the wins (like the walk-off HR in the post season last year that adorns my desktop to this very day) is immaterial. Psychologically, Papi in the late game "clutch" makes me feel good about our chances at winning. That spells MVP to me.

Maybe the stats can't quite 'show' the existence of clutch hitting, but by all means it is there. If Papi is 'getting it done' at about a .300 pace, then he is clutch if he can continue to get it done 3 out of 10 times. He just happens to do it in Big Papi Fashion. The other side of the coin: (and where the stats may suffer) non-clutch hitters fail to ;get it done; in clutch situations, but don't damage their overall averages in the process given the amount of hits they accumulate in the non-clutch situations.

It's not that clutch hitting doesn't exist- obviously it exists, because clutch hits happen. Guys get hits in tough situations. That's "clutch."

The only argument is that there's really no solid data to show that players ARE clutch going forward with any consistency. Of course, Ortiz is the Official Exception, which doesn't disprove the rule.

I'm with you Jimmy Z. It's like the basketball player who makes all his free throws and then misses in the fourth quarter. Some people have the ability to maintain their focus and concentration under pressure, and some don't. It's not a statistical thing so much as a psychological thing, and you can only tell by observation. That's why some truly great pitchers cannot become closers, at least not overnight. The pressure on a pitcher to get guys out in the ninth in a close game is different than the pressure to get somebody out in the first or the third.

Anyway, last night was Exhibit A (or maybe it was exhibit G or H) for David Ortiz as MVP. Of course if we eliminate the Tankees in the next week or so, A-Rod will subsequently go on a tear and sew up that piece of postseason hardware.

BTW HB, Congratulations on the line of the week: "...poor Georgie, he's getting gouged on gas for his limo and gouged on his stahting rotation. Times are wicked tough."

How tough are things in Yankeeland? The MFY Ministry of Propaganda had a truly pitiful attempt to bring back a "curse" scenario, dredging up some sourpuss guy who used to be a security guard at Fenway and is mad that he didn't get a World Series ring. This article was forwarded to me by NYSoxFan:


It's hard to believe this guy exists. The team flew him out to St. Louis last year to watch the World Series, and he's mad because he didn't get a RING??? He should be glad he didn't work at Wrigley Field, where Steve Bartman has been ostracized and nearly killed for catching a foul ball. In any case, it's pretty pitiful when a team with a $210 million payroll has to rely on some bitter old geezer to try and resurrect their hopes for the season. Talk about "clutching at straws."

I'm done now.

indeed, it would seem that crass Murray Chass's attempts to curse the Sawx have backfired -- again. Poor Murray just doesn't realize that he should stick to writing about what's going on between the lines, not the off-the-field stuff. In the meantime, I just saw Doug Waechter on 43rd Street, signing autographs. Go Sox/D-Rays.

maybe clutch hitting is like uncle carl and his dinosaurs, it's not written in a book so it can't be proved.

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