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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

BtBS: St. John: How Clutch Are Rookies?

Okay…now where’d I ditch my Bobby “The Boy Wonder” Murcer scrapbook.

Rookies performed better than average in the clutch in 16 of the 39 years represented, although in four of those years the difference is practically zero.

Two years stick out the most in this comparison: 1976 - the worst year for rookies - and 2011, their best year. In ‘76, no players stand out as having particularly bad clutch years. Jerry Mumphrey had the worst year with a -1.76 clutch score in 427 PAs, but that is only 42nd worst out of 1,703 qualifying rookie seasons. Only two people (Butch Hobson and Jim Essian) had a good year and eight had bad years.

2011 was by far the best clutch season for rookies. Six players had good years, seven players were great in the clutch and another seven were bad. No one was absolutely terrible. Who are some of those headlining super clutch rookies of 2011? Rene Tonosi, Michael Martinez, Desmond Jennings, Daniel Descalso, and Josh Harrison.

In the entire data set, four player seasons are worth mentioning in more detail. For all players, 1996 Troy O’Leary had the highest clutch per PA score and 2005 David Ortiz had the highest total clutch score. On the rookie side, 2010 Brooks Conrad had the best Clutch rate and 1986 Wally Joyner accumulated the most clutch points.

Summary

As is generally the conclusion when studying clutch: There’s not much measurable skill here. In general, rookies tend to perform worse than average, but a lot of times they do better. The biggest takeaway from this analysis doesn’t even have to do with rookies: the league has not had a positive clutch score since the early 1990s and I think that has a lot to do with relief pitcher specialization.

Repoz Posted: April 16, 2013 at 05:21 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Sweatpants Posted: April 16, 2013 at 08:15 AM (#4415432)
On the rookie side, 2010 Brooks Conrad had the best Clutch rate
That's right - for almost all of the season, Conrad was thought of as the guy who'd been the best in the clutch for the 2010 Braves. I don't know how many people still think of his 2010 that way, though.
   2. flournoy Posted: April 16, 2013 at 08:20 AM (#4415435)
He was frequently referred to as "Clutch Conrad."

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