• The “Clutch” Yankees So Far This Season

    Posted by on July 27th, 2006 · Comments (12)

    Via Dan Smith’s blog Clutchiness:

    ClutchBlog.jpg

    I can’t pretend to tell you, in detail, how the stats work. But, I can tell you that these rankings do fall into the order that I would put together, this season, based on what my eyes and heart tell me.

    It’s very interesting to me when objectivity and subjectivity meet together in a harmonious fashion.

    Comments on The “Clutch” Yankees So Far This Season

    1. baileywalk
      July 27th, 2006 | 12:01 pm

      I hate these lists. I’m sick of these bizarre and convoluted manipulation of stats. I said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll always go with what I see with my own eyes.

      I’ve seen Giambi hit too many important home runs to think of him as the second-worst clutch hitter on the team. A-Rod hasn’t been great, but I’ll take him over Andy Phillips.

      Let me ask you a question: it’s the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees are down by one — would you rather have the scheduled three be Bernie Williams, Andy Phillips and Cairo, or Giambi, A-Rod and Cano? I’ll take the latter three. And if it was down to the last out, I’ll take any of the latter three over the former three.

    2. July 27th, 2006 | 12:05 pm

      I’d rather see the scheduled three be Melky, Damon, and Jeter, to be honest.

    3. July 27th, 2006 | 1:17 pm

      Actually, both the post and the first comment highlight two really interesting things about WPA. Let me cut this into two already overly long comments.

      Steve’s reaction about it reflecting the general feeling that he’s gotten from the season is a near perfect description of how I would describe WPA game charting, as is done at FanGraphs.

      A WPA game graph really does translate into the ups and downs that we as fans know are happening during a game. Say Randy Johnson gives up a home run in the first; you’re not happy about it, but you know there’s eight/nine innings left to get it back. On a WPA graph, you’ll see the win probability shift to the opposing team’s favor, but not by an incredible amount. By contrast, a tie game in the eighth sees Farnsworth give up a solo shot. It may only be one run, but because there are so few chances left, you get a lot more upset about it than during Johnson’s first inning. And indeed, on a WPA graph, you’ll see that same one-run homer cause a much greater shift in win probability.

      Probably the best, and certainly the most entertaining, use of WPA is in graphing games. All of those ups and downs that make the game fantastic and heartbreaking to watch, those feelings that we used to say couldn’t be captured by statheads… there they are. We know intuitively when an at-bat is important; we stand up and start clapping, we move to the edge of our seats, we yell out “Let’s go. Right here.”

      I probably shouldn’t say this, but I will anyway: if you make a note of the three or five or however many at-bats you feel that excitement, and check them against the Leverage Index (the underlying measurement that puts “importance” into numbers) for those at-bats… they’re going to be the at-bats with the highest leverage. I’ve found that it really does correspond that well.

    4. July 27th, 2006 | 1:18 pm

      As for balleywalk’s comment, I have to tell you: I absolutely agree with you that you want Giambi, A-Rod and Cano. And the thing is, the numbers say that too. One of the things you’ll see if you view the numbers at my site is that some names are in green, some are in black, and some are in red. This is because there’s nothing inherent about being better in high leverage situations that means that player is actually any good.

      As an easy example, look at Terrence Long and A-Rod. The chart is ranked by what I’ve called Clutchiness, which is quite simply the difference between how valuable a player has been (in terms of WPA) and how valuable we would expect him to be based on his OBP and SLG. The difference between those numbers is fully the result of the difference in OBP/SLG in higher leverage situations (more important situations) than what the batter normally faces.

      Now, back to Long and A-Rod. Yes, the chart has Long way above A-Rod, and says that he’s been worth about 0.2 extra wins because of being better in more important at-bats than he usually is. The chart also has A-Rod way at the bottom, saying he’s cost the Yankees about 1.2 wins because of being worse in more important at-bats than he usually is.

      But the key, in terms of questions like “who would you rather have” are their other numbers: LevOPS Wins and to a lesser extent WPA Wins. In both of them, A-Rod is positive, and in both, Long is negative. Yes, long has been better than he normally is, but he’s normally below average, and in the clutch, he’s just less below average. If you look at my site, his name would be in black, indicating both of those things.

      A-Rod may be the least “clutchy” Yankee, but in terms of what he’s actually done over the season, he’s still helped more than all but five batters. It’s just that, based on his seasonal averages in OBP and SLG, we’d expect him to have helped out a lot more than he has. At the site, A-Rod’s name is in green, because he has contributed positively (more than average) to the team offensively.

      The point about Giambi is especially indicative of this. Look at those two numbers next to his Clutchiness. It’s not that he’s been bad in important situations; he just hasn’t been as great as he has been in total situations. That’s no knock on him. His WPA is still one of the best in the league; he’s a major contributer. It’s hard enough to be putting up the numbers he’s got; to replicate them in the biggest situations is an even tougher feat.

      That’s what makes guys like Jeter so incredible. He’s already putting up stats that say he’s worth 2 wins. But he’s actually improving on those in the most important situations, and has actually added 3.4. Guys like that, who I named Clutch-Stars at the break (only Ortiz, Jeter and Pujols) are really doing something special.

      Sorry about how long this is. Often times at first glance, it’s hard to give simple answers because there are so many numbers at work here.

    5. baileywalk
      July 27th, 2006 | 1:20 pm

      I’d rather see the scheduled three be Melky, Damon, and Jeter, to be honest.

      ———–

      That’s beside the point. This thing says Cairo, Bernie and Andy are more clutch than Giambi, A-Rod and Cano. Answer that question: who would you rather see up in the bottom of the ninth down by a run? The first group or the second? And if you say the first, you’re full of it.

    6. DFLNJ
      July 27th, 2006 | 1:45 pm

      Answer that question: who would you rather see up in the bottom of the ninth down by a run? The first group or the second? And if you say the first, you’re full of it.
      ===================================================
      I think you’re misinterpreting the statistic. It merely charts who raises their game in cluth situations, not who is the best hitter on an absolute scale.

      If your choice is between A-Rod or Phillips, you want A-Rod, because even when he folds under pressure he’s still a better hitter than Phillips.

      If the choice is between A-Rod, Giambi, or Jeter, you want Jeter. Those guys are all elite hitters, so Jeter’s raising of his game is significant in that it carries him above his peers.

      This stat really only helps you to compare hitters who are in the same caliber.

    7. hopbitters
      July 27th, 2006 | 1:50 pm

      Unfortunately, I can’t view the original article, due to blogspot being blogspotty, so let me know if I’m understanding this correctly; “clutchiness” is not a comparative between players, but a comparision of how well an individual player performs in “clutch” situations versus they’re overall performance?

    8. hopbitters
      July 27th, 2006 | 1:53 pm

      “their”

      And thanks, DFLNJ, for answering my question (I should have refreshed before posting it).

    9. July 27th, 2006 | 2:17 pm

      I think that’s it hop.

      BTW, belated thanks to Dan for sharing more thoughts on this!

    10. baileywalk
      July 27th, 2006 | 3:12 pm

      DFLNJ, I’m presenting a “clutch” situation, am I not? Bottom of the ninth down by one run is a “clutch” scenario, no? So I’m not asking “Is A-Rod better than Phillips?” I’m asking: who would you rather have up in the bottom of the ninth when you NEED a hit? I’d take A-Rod in a clutch situation before I would take Cairo, Phillips and Bernie. And I’d take Giambi and Cano before them, too.

    11. DFLNJ
      July 27th, 2006 | 8:01 pm

      FLNJ, I’m presenting a “clutch” situation, am I not? Bottom of the ninth down by one run is a “clutch” scenario, no? So I’m not asking “Is A-Rod better than Phillips?” I’m asking: who would you rather have up in the bottom of the ninth when you NEED a hit?
      ================================================
      I think we agree here bailey. I would definitely take A-Rod over Phillips in that situation, for the reasons I stated above. If I gave the opposite impression, it was inadvertently.

    12. 98Yanks
      July 27th, 2006 | 10:17 pm

      bases loaded, 2 outs, down by 1, who do i want coming up?

      just going by what i’ve seen (i watch the entirety of 80% of the games), i want jeter, melky & (tough one) giambi. runners up are: damon, posada, cano & bernie.

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