Baseball Prospectus’ “Baseball Between The Numbers : Everything You Know About The Game Is Wrong” hits the shelves this week, but the Boston Globe’s Eric Wilbur isn’t quite ready to admit defeat.
There is a prevalent theory among sabermetricians that there is no such thing as clutch hitting, more likely it should be defined as situational hitting, moments in the game over the course of a 162-game season when a player exploits œsmall advantages over the long haul. BP reasons that, œthe answer to the question of who the best clutch hitters are is that they’re usually just the best hitters, period. Sure. That must be why Leroy Stanton makes an appearance at No. 21.
The list is embarrassing. Von Hayes? Rusty Staub? Since when did Mike Gimbel start working for Baseball Prospectus? Take a calculator away from some of these guys and they might go into shock, but that™s exactly what they need. Look, some things can™t be judged with numbers and formulas. I don™t need a slide rule to tell me that Jessica Alba is easy on the eyes. Nor do I need one to show me who comes through in those pivotal moments, a difficult to explain trait that certain players most definitely have.
I™m not sure “ maybe the folks at BP can tell me since everything I know is wrong “ how it is that you measure personality and tenacity with a bunch of digits? Don™t get me wrong, I™m as big as the next guy in discovering new ways to look at the game, but if we base it entirely on sabermetrics, it all feels a little hollow, doesn™t it?
Replies David Gooblar, who brought our attention to Wilbur’s comments in the first place,
Dear Eric Wilbur,
Why don’t you take a look at Nate Silver’s description of the “clutch ratings” list:
“The table below shows the best hitters in terms of clutch performance since 1972, as ranked by lifetime clutch rating wins ( wins produced beyond what his regular batting statistics would indicate)”
Oh, I know why, because then you wouldn’t have enough material for your “blog.” Yes, yes, let’s all get outraged because these guys, with their “calculators” and “formulas,” didn’t put Papi at the top of their list. But maybe consider what sort of super-human feats he would need to achieve to outperform his already close super-human production by enough to be ranked top 20 here. That’s probably asking too much though.