16 September 2009

Sixth Gear

OPS by situation for Andre Ethier:

bases empty: 0.920
runners on base: 0.868
scoring position: 0.862
2 out, score pos: 0.787

Are these the splits of someone who would normally be thought of as a clutch hitter? His stats get worse and worse as the situation become more and more clutch. Not a whole lot worse, of course. These splits are more consistent than anything else. I don't make anything of his splits, by the way. Small sample size and all that.

The lesson is that clutch is a story, not a formula. Clutch doesn't objectively mean much. People will sometimes try to prove something about a player by his clutch stats, but these stats are so ephemeral and random that in most cases their use proves more about the person using the stats. I think that usually when clutch stats are used it is to back up a pre-existing idea. Everyone knows Alex Rodriguez fails when it matters, and there exist carefully packaged samples of his work to prove that.

I don't expect that Ethier will ever again have multiple game-ending hits in the same year. That doesn't matter, though. He's made this season his own and nothing will change that. No one is going to care what his splits were twenty years from now, but the fans that watched this season will remember all the times he was mobbed at the plate for delivering a win.

Here is another split for Ethier that probably explains it as much as anything can:

home: 1.008
away: 0.783

All six of his game-ending hits have come at home, of course.

Game 146 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Ethier -- 2
McDonald -- 1

Pity Pierre, who would have had one if Hudson or Loney could have driven him in from third. Cry for Kemp, who did tie the game with his clutch, fifth-gear opposite field single to score Ethier. But Ethier was in sixth gear, and he steals the glory. Not only did he set up the first game saving run with his vicious double down the line, but he delivered the second game saving run and the winning run all in one sweet swing. And he hit what was a pretty good pitch by Dumatrait to do it.

Game 146 Unfair Loss Shares ( Pirates )

Capps -- 1
Dumatrait -- 1
Jones -- 1

It was a good pitch by Dumatrait, by my own judgement, and by Dumatrait's judgement, if his post-game comment is anything to go by. But if you give up a game-winning home run, you get an unfair loss share. That's the rules.

There was also a game Monday that I need to take care of:

Game 145 Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Hudson -- 1
Ethier -- 1
Garland -- 1

Garland got it done, somehow. And Ethier hit just a regular middle-of-the-game home run. How boring.

Game 145 Unfair Loss Shares ( Pirates )

Milledge -- 1
Moss -- 1
D. McCutchen -- 1

Don't confuse D. McCutchen with A. McCutchen. A. McCutchen is a rookie center fielder who is having a pretty good year. D McCutchen is a mediocre pitcher who lost to the Dodgers on Monday. I remember coming across both names when I did the positional rankings a few weeks ago and wondering who the heck these guys were and how they ended up on the same team.

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