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 Pitches Of 2012
1. Kenley Jansen – -65.2%
Still amuses me that the umpire called the first runner out initially.
Anyway, so technically this wasn’t a pitch, but … uh … it was one of the most ridiculous ways to allow two runs I have ever seen.
It was the ninth inning and there were runners on second and third with two down. The Dodgers were clinging to a one-run lead, so it’s not like they weren’t in trouble since a hit would have had a similar result, but this was certainly more creative.
2. Javy Guerra – -64.8%
Two-run walk-off doubles tend to result in being on this list.
3. Kenley Jansen – -45.2%
Giving up a two-run single with a one-run lead in the top of eighth is not good, but it would have been worse had Matt Kemp not gunned a runner down at third.
Oh, and it was Hunter Pence who did the damage, thus making it ten times worse.
4. Javy Guerra – -44.5%
5. Javy Guerra – -43.7%
Remember when people scoffed at the notion that Kenley Jansen was the better reliever? Oops.
To be fair, this was the game where he got his face destroyed, which seems like a legit excuse for giving up a game-tying one-run single.
Kenley Jansen might be an idiot, but boy did the closer role not suit Javy Guerra.
Top Five Chokeiest Dodgers Of 2012 – Ball Thrower Division
1. Javy Guerra – -1.44
2. Joe Blanton – -0.43
3. Chad Billingsley – -0.36
4. Clayton Kershaw – -0.25
5. Kenley Jansen – -0.23