Baseball fans love to talk about clutch plays and clutch players, and Dodgers fans are no exception, but like with a pitcher’s best and worst pitches, there tends to be a lack of evidence presented. As such, I decided to find some basis for clutch plays and clutch players, courtesy of the WPA and Clutch statistics.
Most sabermetric statistics are context neutral — they do not consider the situation of a particular event or how some plays are more crucial to a win than others. While wOBA rates all home runs as equal, we know intuitively that a home run in the third inning of a blowout is less important to that win than a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of a close game. Win Probability Added (WPA) captures this difference by measuring how individual players affect their team’s win expectancy on a per-play basis.
In the words of David Appelman, this calculation measures, “…how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment.” It also compares a player against himself, so a player who hits .300 in high leverage situations when he’s an overall .300 hitter is not considered clutch.
So that’s the foundation for this post, and since that’s now been established, let’s get on with it, shall we?
As always, visuals have been provided because, let’s be honest, everything is better with visuals.
I feel like it’s necessary to point out that none of this is predictive of the future or telling of the past. It’s a post about stuff that happened in 2012. That’s all.
In other words, please don’t link back to this while saying, “LOOK! THIS DUDE IS SUCH A CHOKER, BRO!” No.
Top Five David Carradine Choke Jobs Of 2012
1. Andre Ethier – -39.3%
With the bases loaded and one down in the bottom of the eighth, and the Dodgers trailing the rival Giants 2-1, Andre Ethier comes up and … yeah.
2. Jerry Hairston Jr. – -34.1%
Nobody out in the bottom of the ninth and trailing by a run, Jerry Hairston Jr. decides it’s a sweet time to ground into a double play while there’s runners on first and second, thus killing a massive opportunity.
3. Adam Kennedy – -33.6%
Second and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth and trailing by one run, Adam Kennedy did what he did best in 2012: rolling over and chopping a ball to the right side.
Extra scorn for almost killing Matt Kemp.
4. Tony Gwynn Jr. – -29.1%
Down by a run in the bottom of the ninth with runners on second and third, Tony Gwynn Jr. needed to put the ball in play and give himself a chance. Instead, he did his best impersonation of a statue.
5. Mark Ellis – -25.7%
Bottom of the tenth and trailing by a run, the Dodgers put men on first and third with one out, but Mark Ellis … did that.
Bonus anger for doing it against Jonathan Papelbon.
Commentary? So much fail.
Top Five Chokeiest Dodgers Of 2012 – Field Player Division
1. A.J. Ellis – -1.62
2. Adam Kennedy – -1.14
3. Andre Ethier – -1.01
4. Jerry Hairston Jr. – -0.95
5. Shane Victorino – -0.37