The clutchiness of A-Rod


Nothing excites Yankees fans more than a discussion on A-Rod and his ability – or inability, depending upon one’s viewpoint – to hit in the clutch. A-Rod’s detractors claim he is a choke artist and point to this play in the 2004 ALCS. His proponents will now just refer anyone who is anti-A-Rod to Cody Ransom. Meanwhile, John Beamer, a Braves fan and analyst for The Hardball Times, has used Leverage Index, a variant of Win Probability Added, to assess A-Rod’s clutchiness. He determines that the much-maligned slugger isn’t all that bad in the clutch. For the statistically minded among us, Beamer’s piece is a nice bit of research. Check it out.

Categories : Analysis, Asides
  • John

    A-rod is clutch…Jeter is too.

  • radnom
  • Rich

    It shouldn’t be overlooked that A-Rod produces at such a high level that he minimizes the need for clutchness in many games.

  • radnom

    He determines that the much-maligned slugger isn’t all that bad in the clutch.

    Where does he do that?

    Quoted from the article:

    Is this evidence that A-Rod performs well in the clutch or had a good 2008 in clutch situations? Not really. The simple truth is that clutch ability is impossible to predict and even harder to measure.

    Just of the top of my head, the major issue with using something like leverage index to judge “clutchness” is that there are so many factors it just can’t measure that all play a part in how important an at bat feels at that moment in a game.
    Throwing together some quick examples to show what I mean:
    It doesn’t take into account if the at bat is against a weaker pitcher in the 8th while there is a shutdown stud closer waiting to pitch the 9th. When there is a Mariano type in the bullpen the 8th inning suddenly because more important if you need a run.
    Momentum. You might try to argue that there is no such thing but it is real in the players’ heads which makes it real on the field. Current stats cannot measure this.
    I may be wrong, but I’m also pretty sure LI does not take into account the opponent and the time of year. It basically will assign the same amount of wait to identical game situations against the Royals in July and the Sox in September.

    All those examples and more are thing which can’t be measured by current stats but are all important in how important a situation is in a players head and in turn the “clutchness” of the situation. Because, in my opinion, clutchness is entirely mental.

    For the record, I am not an Arod hater. I do think in his time with the Yankees he has shown poor(for him) performance while hes pressing, but he seems to largely have gotten over that. I just agree with the author that this analysis really doesn’t determine anything.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Eh, you’re right. I misread the conclusions. It’s a fairly nonconclusive piece in the end. We’re left knowing only that A-Rod is preferable to Cody Ransom. That’s not saying much though.

      • radnom

        If you told me Arod would go the rest of his career without a hit past the seventh inning I would still throw a party when he replaces Ransom.

        • Jeremy

          If Ransom isn’t the worst everyday player in baseball right now, he must be in the top 3.

      • Tony

        Why would he be compared to Cody Ransom? In the alternate universe where that trade wasn’t made, Cody Ransom sure as hell isn’t the everyday third baseman. Ransom is a AAAA bench warmer.

    • mustang

      Well said radnom and that was a very impressive break-down of the elements that lead to a clutch situation. So this game is about more then pie charts and numbers.
      Totally agree and well done.

      • radnom

        Yes, but at the same time they are useful and have their place.
        It is just important to be aware of their limitations.
        Maybe someday a way to accurately track something like “clutchness” will be developed.

  • Jeremy

    When you give any player as much scrutiny as ARod gets, he will look bad in the clutch.

    It’s exasperating that ARod’s clutchness remains up for debate after the 2004 ALDS, all the great stretch runs he’s had, and his 2007 MVP season, when he bailed us out of all sorts of games we otherwise weren’t going to win.

    It’s also frustrating to know that when he comes back, his detractors won’t compare him to Ransom, but will blame whenever the team struggles.

    • radnom

      It’s also frustrating to know that when he comes back, his detractors won’t compare him to Ransom, but will blame whenever the team struggles.

      Well to be fair, you hold guys like Arod to a little higher standard than replacement level fillins.

      • Jeremy

        That’s true. I just envision the Yankees going on a losing streak and reading something along the lines of:

        “Ransom didn’t have ARod’s bat or glove, but he didn’t have ARod’s me-first attitude either. He was a gamer who picked up his teammates in ways that the stats don’t show. The team won with Ransom. It’s not winning now, with ARod.”

  • kSturnz

    whenever Alex is at the plate, he is in scoring position as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take it early in a scoreless game or late in a “blowout”. As it could always change the complexion of the game.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I don’t care clutchiness or non clutchiness, I just want him to come back.

    • mustang

      I agree.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    I truly think that people need to get off Arod’s case. The guy can’t win no matter what he does. I think that NYY fans need to support him. He’s going to be with us a long time. Stop hating on him. I don’t care about strippers, Madonna, foolishness etc. I care about the man at 3rd and at the plate and he does pretty well there. Let’s start a support Arod drive.

    • dkidd

      while we’re at it, how about a “stop saying the bullpen sucks” drive?

      today’s line:

      4.1 3 0 0 0 5

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

        As I said in the (literally) just published game recap, it’s the Jekyll-and-Hyde bullpen.

        • LiveFromNewYork

          It really is. They’re either really on it or really off it.