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Monday, April 28, 2008

Mike Scioscia On "Clutch"

Interesting interview with Mike Scioscia (behind the pay wall at BPro); one of the subjects that came up was hitting or not hitting for Garret Anderson in one of the recent games (and don't ask me which one):
DL: A line of thought exists that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter, that “clutch” can’t be quantified. What are your thoughts on that?

MS: It depends on what you call clutch, but there are certain guys--not that they elevate their game, but they understand the situation and don’t get taken out of it. Some guys go into a key situation and will start to expand their zone because they get too overaggressive. Some guys understand what a pitcher is doing no matter what the situation is; they make a pitcher get a pitch into a zone they’re looking for, so they’re able to put it into play hard. So I think that there are guys who perform better in some situations. If you want to call that clutch, fine. But I think there are guys who are able to maintain their level of performance in, quote unquote, pressure situations.

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It's another way of saying, in essence, that baseball players are human beings, not robots. People react differently to pressure situations; thus, two players whose skills are at the same level (and whose overall stats may be the same) may not all perform the same way in a given situation because they do not all react well to pressure. Then, you consider the fact that in pressure situations with runners on, a hitter is more likely to see a fastball, and so a hitter who thrives on the fastball might do better when he's going to get a steady diet of them.
Agreed. That's a pretty inoffensive and reasonable description of clutch factor, if there is such a thing. In fact, Mike's statement is so inoffensive and reasonable that it's not clear he's even saying that there is such a thing.

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