27 June 2006
  What Is Clutchiness, The Site?
So clutchiness exists. It may or may not tell us anything about the future, but it does describe the past. And like all good (or at least, interesting) statistics, it deserves to be tracked. That's where Clutchiness comes in. I was so taken with clutchiness when I first saw it, I wanted to check it for other players. What was Papi doing? Who completely lacked clutchiness? Who was the clutchiest of my beloved Marlins? I had to know. And since I figure I'm not particularly out of the ordinary, it stood to reason that others would want to know. It had to be tracked. I had to track it.

And thus I set out to put together what you see here. There aren't any Excel-able MLB stat pages available to the general public, or that I'm aware of anyway. So the arduous process of simply getting everything in order just to be tracked was begun. This, obviously, leads to a very important caveat: the numbers you see are a combination of MLB's official stats (good), Fangraph's WPA (good), by-hand data entry (not so good) and Excel calculations and storage (also not fantastic). This is not to say you should assume this is all wrong, but that the occasional hiccup in the process may occur. If you spot one, please let me know.

The other main point is that clutchiness depends on WPA, and WPA depends on FanGraphs, and FanGraphs updates many hours after games end. That, combined with the by-hand nature of the project, means that Clutchiness will also update many hours after games end, and probably closer to the next day's games beginning. I intend to update the stats daily, though on occasion I have been known to live an actual life, so there may be days when I am unable to update. Every time the stats are updated, I will make a post noting as such, and the link on the right will state through what date the stats encompass.

Some notes about what the stat pages look like. First of all, I made the completely aribtrary decision to track players with 10 or more plate attempts. As a fan of a team in the NL, I think it's worth knowing which of your pitchers has been clutchy. Not to mention that many, if not most, pinch hitting situations are high leverage; which of your bench guys has gotten it done when called upon? At the same time, this means you'll see numbers fluctuate wildly on nearly a game-to-game basis. Just in the few days I've been putting the database together, I've seen guys go from hero to zero and back again. One swing of the bat can give you a third of a win; it can take it away just as quickly. As with everything, the more data that comes in, the clearer the picture will be.

You will notice some formatting of names in the stats. I did this for some very basic at-a-glance presentation, rather than looking at just numbers. Names in green are players with a positive WPA, regardless of clutchiness. More than anything, this is to make sure people keep in mind that clutchiness is simply a measure of actual vs. perceived value, not a measure of value itself. Players can, and many do, have high clutchiness but negative value; it's simply that they're not as negative as we would expect. And by that same token, many exceptional players have negative clutchiness for simply being good in high leverage situations, rather than their usual great. I hope that by keeping positive WPA easily seen, we won't lose sight of what's really important. Bolded names, whether green or red, are players whose value in one stat is positive and negative in the other. Bolded green means the player has a positive WPA despite an expected negative value. Players bolded red have contributed negatively to their team's win probability, despite rate stats that say they should be helping. Again, this is just a way of showing multiple pieces of information at once. While the players are sorted by clutchiness, the performance of these bolded players is seemingly especially important, regardless of whether their clutchiness itself is especially high or low.

I am already thinking of additional ways of presenting the data, namely a league top and bottom ten. At this point, I can't say whether it would be a daily update or perhaps as part of a weekly round-up. We shall see what the future holds. But with Derek Jeter having an exceptionally clutchy season when I began this project, and David Ortiz contributing back-to-back walk-off hits between Clutchiness' inspiration and this, its initial execution, clutchiness seems to be all over the place. It is my hope that this can become a resource for any and all fans looking to track it.
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Clutch hitting may or may not exist. Clutchiness most certainly does. By comparing a player's value in terms of win probability to his projected value based on OBP and SLG, we see how much he has over- or under-performed expectations due to performance in higher leverage situations. If clutch exists, it might just look like this.

2006 Clutchiness
The Leaderboard
The Stat
The Site
The Inspiration
Fangraphs WPA

The Book
The Hardball Times
Baseball Musings
Baseball Prospectus
Football Outsiders

Author: Dan Smith
Email: clutchinessatmacdotcom
More Me:

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