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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Revisiting whether clutch is a skill

Now that we’ve assessed most of the baselines, we can now get to examining perhaps the biggest question. Is being clutch a repeatable skill? To help eliminate actual hitting skills, we’ll be examining the difference in offensive production between low and high leverage situations and how that difference correlates year-to-year….

Some single examples that can illustrate include 2014-2015 Josh Harrison (207 wRC+ year one, 28 wRC+ year two), 2014-2015 David Ortiz (201 wRC+ year one, 60 wRC+ year two), 2017-2018 Cody Bellinger (187 wRC+ year one, 46 wRC+ year two), and 2018-2019 J.D. Martinez (231 wRC+ year one, 19 wRC+ year two). There is zero consistency in high leverage performance. Considering high leverage situations make up such a small sample of total plate appearances (less than 10 percent on league-average), this makes it hard for any player to build up a consistent basis for performance. Combine that with the fact that almost every player can’t put up a consistent performance in the clutch and it shows that this high leverage stats are pretty much useless in evaluation.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:48 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: clutch

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   1. The Duke Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5873513)
Is the same thing applicable to closing games? I hear players talk a lot more about luck in clutch batting situations which would suggest there are no constantly clutch batters. but for pitching the ninth I think a lot of teams/players believe only certain pitchers have that “makeup”. Hall of fame voters believe it to as they keep voting closers into the Hall.

Another question I have on clutch hitting is if there is a demonstrable difference between any regular season hitters and their playoff performance? Ie is Carlos Beltran clutch because he had amazing playoff stats or was he just a good player performing well in the playoffs ?
   2. . Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5873537)
Actually, the right answer is that it's irrelevant if it's a "skill." Or "repeatable."

The idea that performing well in life's biggest moments has to be a "skill" to mean anything is a premise fail through and through. Life isn't the movie "Sliding Doors."
   3. Sunday silence Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5873550)
Greg Norman says "Hello."

(sorry, I sort of agree w/ your main pt)
   4. Sunday silence Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:56 PM (#5873551)
Considering high leverage situations make up such a small sample of total plate appearances...this makes it hard for any player to build up a consistent basis for performance.


Well OK but what about simply hitting w/ men on base? Are there any examples of players who are better at this then others? Im guessing there must be.

havent read the article, but I will.
   5. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:02 PM (#5873555)
Well OK but what about simply hitting w/ men on base? Are there any examples of players who are better at this then others? Im guessing there must be.



Heh - enter The Great Shift Villain!

I.e., this would mean we have to exclude hitters - or at least, deal with another factor - who face heavy shifts. With men on base, you can't shift as aggressively or with the same frequency.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5873560)
I don't think there's any good argument that there would never be any variation in the ability to perform in the clutch. People vary in every conceivable attribute, and nervousness / stage fright is too universal to pretend it doesn't exist, even at the highest levels of sport (or stage performance, or political debate, or whatever).

In other sports there's no shame in admitting to nervousness affecting performance.

On the other hand, I suspect it's impossible to accurately define "in the clutch," given that different people feel pressure differently, and even if we could, the sample sizes might be too small for us to do anything with. If we can't analyze it in any way, better to ignore it.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5873563)
Actually, the right answer is that it's irrelevant if it's a "skill." Or "repeatable."
It's certainly relevant if you're in charge of building a roster.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:23 PM (#5873565)
I don't think there's any good argument that there would never be any variation in the ability to perform in the clutch. People vary in every conceivable attribute, and nervousness / stage fright is too universal to pretend it doesn't exist, even at the highest levels of sport (or stage performance, or political debate, or whatever).

I think the issue is that hitting is such a pure reaction skill, that there's no time to "choke". It's see ball, hit ball.

Clutch pitching definitely exists, but the pitcher has plenty of time to get into his own head. Steve Blass disease is the extreme. We see this sort of thing with fielders throwing, but we never see a hitter just freezing at the plate.
   9. Howie Menckel Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5873570)
Jack Morris had a 3.94 regular-season ERA and a 3.80 postseason ERA.

Andy Pettitte had a 3.74 regular-season ERA and a 3.81 postseason ERA.

and that's why, when anyone wants to talk about "clutch starting pitchers in the postseason," those two names come up almost immediately.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:42 PM (#5873573)

I think the issue is that hitting is such a pure reaction skill, that there's no time to "choke". It's see ball, hit ball.


This is not terribly convincing.

We see this sort of thing with fielders throwing, but we never see a hitter just freezing at the plate.


Maybe we have, but we didn't recognize it. "Freezing" isn't the only way that a clutch failure would manifest, anyway. I guarantee we've all seen hitters tell themselves "I'm swinging on this pitch" before the pitch was even thrown, or the opposite, and they might do this more often when they're nervous.
   11. Hecubot Posted: August 22, 2019 at 04:54 PM (#5873582)
There have been some studies which suggest that rather than elevating their game, players who perform well in the clutch are just able to play at their normal production level.

There are some indications that there are players who consistently perform worse in clutch situations. Usually because they're pressing. So the standard cliche of "staying with yourself" might apply.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:04 PM (#5873588)
Maybe we have, but we didn't recognize it. "Freezing" isn't the only way that a clutch failure would manifest, anyway. I guarantee we've all seen hitters tell themselves "I'm swinging on this pitch" before the pitch was even thrown, or the opposite, and they might do this more often when they're nervous.

Since no one has ever found any evidence for it in the data, I would think the safest thing is just to assume it doesn't exist, rather than making up ways it might manifest.

Jack Morris had a 3.94 regular-season ERA and a 3.80 postseason ERA.

Andy Pettitte had a 3.74 regular-season ERA and a 3.81 postseason ERA.


Given the quality of opposition isn't that quite good?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5873592)
The question is mostly pointless.

Who would you rather have at the plate, a choking Mookie Betts or a clutchy Billy Hamilton?

And why would your answer matter given teams have essentially zero control over who bats in a clutch situation.

It's certainly relevant if you're in charge of building a roster.

Nope. The only way "clutch" would come into consideration is if you face a choice between two otherwise identical players (and you can only have one). How often does that happen? And even then, when choosing between a "clutch" 100 OPS+ hitter and an un-clutch one, you're choosing between a guy who puts up (say) a 110 OPS+ in those 10% of his PAs but a 98-99 in the other 90% while the other guy is putting up a 101-102 in 90% of his PAs and a 90 in 10%. The first guy might, once every 2-3 years, win you a ballgame you were about to lose while the other guy is slightly more helpful in getting a lead to begin with. (And before you point out that there's no way to tell the difference between a 101 OPS+ and a 99 OPS+ hitter, remind yourself that you're trying to differentiate "clutch" in players across 60-70 PAs per year across several seasons.)

And what if your clutch hitter is an anti-clutch fielder ... and nobody has ever asked that question to my knowledge.

For relief pitchers it is at least a useful thing to know because, if it exists, it could indeed influence in-game and roster decisions because teams control who pitches when and to whom (mostly).

The problem there again though is sample size. You've got a guy who's put up a couple of great seasons as a set-up guy. So you move him to closer. He pitches poorly for 10 games (<= 10 innings) ... and you yank him out of the closer role. Almost by definition guys who pitch in clutch situations enough to have a large enough sample to analyse have been successful in those situations. Not to mention that a reliever being really good over 2-3 "seasons" (i.e. about 180 innings) then turning to crap is about the most common thing in the world whether his role changes or not.
   14. . Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5873593)
It's certainly relevant if you're in charge of building a roster.


The only way it's relevant even in that excruciatingly narrow sense is if clutch hitting gives you a signal that hitting generally doesn't, and if you can get the skill being signaled at a discount. And then the clutch situations you're buying at this purported discount would have to arise frequently enough to make the discounted performance worth your time.

IOW, its relevance is so narrow that it effectively bends back into itself.

I think the issue is that hitting is such a pure reaction skill, that there's no time to "choke". It's see ball, hit ball.

This is not terribly convincing.


The fact that there's so little time involved makes the impact of the choke (or "choke") greater, not lesser. The margin for error or change is miniscule.

   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5873596)

Well OK but what about simply hitting w/ men on base? Are there any examples of players who are better at this then others? Im guessing there must be.


Pat Tabler!
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5873602)
The fact that there's so little time involved makes the impact of the choke (or "choke") greater, not lesser. The margin for error or change is miniscule.

That's not the point. The point is, it's a reaction, not a highly conscious decision. It's largely muscle memory, not rational thought.

It's like with fielder. We see them getting the yips on throwing, usually routine throws where they have lots of time to psyche themselves out. No one has ever to my knowledge had the yips on catching hard hit ball.
   17. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:51 PM (#5873606)
Since no one has ever found any evidence for it in the data, I would think the safest thing is just to assume it doesn't exist, rather than making up ways it might manifest.

It seems natural that it would exist. People respond to stress in different ways. Just because this type of response comes with small samples and a tremendous amount of noise that make it seemingly impossible to measure as a skill, it doesn't mean nothing is happening.

The question is mostly pointless. 

It would have its uses in roster construction/strategy (choosing who you want as your bench bats, for instance), but mostly, I just think it's interesting. So much of offense is solved. I like that there are a still a few questions like this one that elicit nothing more than a shrug.
   18. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:56 PM (#5873607)
That's not the point. The point is, it's a reaction, not a highly conscious decision. It's largely muscle memory, not rational thought.
It's both. That's why players step out of the box between pitches and exhale and go through their ritual. It's about preparing to get in the best mental and physical place to effectively react.
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:58 PM (#5873608)
That's why players step out of the box between pitches and exhale and go through their ritual. It's about preparing to get in the best mental and physical place to effectively react.
No, that's just to piss me off.
   20. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: August 22, 2019 at 07:06 PM (#5873612)
Greg Norman says "Hello."
I've seen people say (and I think that at BBTF this was most notably Mike Emeigh's line) that there are definitely players who choke, but not players who are "clutch" in that they perform better in close & tight situations. So IOW, a clutch player is really just one whose game doesn't degrade when the spotlight is shining brightest. This makes intuitive sense, I think.

If there were actually players who were better when it was close than in normal situations the proper term for them would be "lollygaggers". Try hard in the second inning, Mr. Look At Me I'm So Clutch!

In the NBA I'm sure that there are a lot of players who turn it on and play a lot better when it's super-important. But this isn't necessarily clutchness, it's just fatigue management.
   21. villageidiom Posted: August 22, 2019 at 07:44 PM (#5873614)
So, after reading the article, I can only conclude that either high-leverage wRC+ is not an adequate proxy for "clutch", or that high-leverage wRC+ does not have year-to-year correlation in general but doesn't dismiss the notion that some players do, or that the sample size is not large enough to determine, or that clutch isn't a thing. I see the author dismissed the first three and went with the only conclusion that doesn't call the study itself into question. At this point with clutch studies I can only say I'm not surprised.

I mean, really. {no YTY correlation in high-lev wRC+ across the sample, which is what he found} does not mean {nobody in the sample has a YTY skill, which is what he concluded}. Like, if people *cannot* repeat clutch performance, then the [>100,>100] sector of his first chart would be mostly empty. It's not. There are several examples in his sample of repeat positive performance in wRC+. It's right there, he's showing it. What he's concluding is that it doesn't exist, but on the basis that he cannot discern that sector from the others. Well, yeah, Dick Cramer did something similar, and that study was shown to be flawed, and this study isn't doing much more than changing metrics and preserving the flaws. If you can't discern clutch from randomness in this way, then it could be there's no clutch skill, or it could be that the problem was evaluating it "in this way". Like, the high-lev sample for any of the hitters he has in any given year is like 60 PAs, right? (90% is non-high-lev, per TFA.) Have you ever gotten a signal on a sample size of 9N, but no signal on a sample of N? It happens all the time. At a minimum it suggests he needs to add another 9 years of high-lev data to ensure that sample size isn't driving the lack of signal. So maybe high-lev wRC+ will work but the sample is too small. Or still, maybe wRC+ is not how we can identify clutch hitters.

Even if the metric puts us on the right avenue, it could very well be that it's not good enough to identify clutch hitters. We're looking on the avenue, while all clutch hitters might be in a specific room on a specific floor of a specific building among hundreds of buildings on that avenue. I mean, look at the list of players he gives who had the highest wRC+ differential in 2019. Does that look like a list of what you would consider the most likely candidates for clutch hitting? No. That should already be a sign that the metric itself might be inadequate. I'm not sure how one would define "clutch hitter" but if the answer is Shin-Soo Choo we're asking the wrong question.

Since no one has ever found any evidence for it in the data, I would think the safest thing is just to assume it doesn't exist, rather than making up ways it might manifest.
I think that Bill James did a good job of explaining in Underestimating The Fog that people had been reaching conclusions on inconclusive data on this very subject. This study is no different from what he argued against.

That aside, if you like this study, its entire foundation is in making up ways it might manifest. He's proposing that seasonal high-leverage wRC+ is a way clutch will manifest. That's a hypothesis, no different from the "freezing" hypothesis except in our ability to gather the data and test it. Regardless, you can't test a hypothesis without forming a hypothesis, so this notion that we shouldn't form a hypothesis - or question the chosen hypothesis - is silly and anti-science.

As far as I'm concerned, high-leverage wRC+ seems like a good avenue to take. Without even developing other hypotheses to test I'm saying this study's failure to find clutch is a failure of the test, so I can't even evaluate if clutch exists.

I mean, there are all kinds of ways you could study the data and conclude similarly that the ability to hit 700 home runs in a career doesn't exist. Look at HR rate, the 434 hitters having highest HR/PA have almost the same number of 700 HR hitters as the 434 having the lowest HR/PA. There's almost no relationship between HR/PA and hitting 700 HRs, so 700 HR hitters don't exist. Never mind that in my data there are people that actually hit 700 HRs. The R-squared is low, so hitting 700 HRs is not something that people do. That's the caliber of this study.
   22. Sweatpants Posted: August 22, 2019 at 08:01 PM (#5873616)
Jack Morris had a 3.94 regular-season ERA and a 3.80 postseason ERA.

Andy Pettitte had a 3.74 regular-season ERA and a 3.81 postseason ERA.

and that's why, when anyone wants to talk about "clutch starting pitchers in the postseason," those two names come up almost immediately
Is this really true for Pettitte? He's a guy who was in the postseason all the time, but I've never heard him talked about as some kind of clutch legend. I can't even think of a memorable moment from him. The only postseason memory I have of him is that he started game six of the 2003 World Series.
   23. villageidiom Posted: August 22, 2019 at 08:06 PM (#5873617)
The only way it's relevant even in that excruciatingly narrow sense is if clutch hitting gives you a signal that hitting generally doesn't, and if you can get the skill being signaled at a discount. And then the clutch situations you're buying at this purported discount would have to arise frequently enough to make the discounted performance worth your time.
This is true, but I suspect the level of "arise frequently enough" to be worth it is very, very low.

More likely that if you could identify clutch in a player and get him at a discount, the chances that he would displace someone you could otherwise have is unlikely. You're not building a roster of clutch gods because you can probably find better hitters than any of them for the 90% of PAs that aren't clutch. Just like you're not assembling a pitching staff of just closers. Ideally you assemble a roster that does so well you never find yourself in a clutch situation.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: August 22, 2019 at 08:14 PM (#5873618)
and that's why, when anyone wants to talk about "clutch starting pitchers in the postseason," those two names come up almost immediately
I think of Schilling first (by a lot) and then probably Orel Hershiser among starters.
   25. SoSH U at work Posted: August 22, 2019 at 08:53 PM (#5873624)
I think of Schilling first (by a lot) and then probably Orel Hershiser among starters.


Smoltz fashioned himself a very nice postseason career.

   26. ??'s Biggest Fan! Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:12 PM (#5873629)
I can't even think of a memorable moment from him.

If anything, Andy Pettite is the antithesis of clutch. His post season performance varied just in the 1996 WS. See game 1 and game 5. Vastly different performances while on the biggest stage. The clutch-iest thing you can say about Andy Pettite's post-season performances were that he was healthy enough to take the ball. Once the game started, nothing was pre-ordained by his supposed clutch-iness.
   27. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:18 PM (#5873631)
Didn't read all the posts, sorry, but...

Hasn't this been studied before and the results were just good players do good things pretty much all the time regardless of the situation?

Now I believe I recall somewhere that choking is definitely a thing. That some players do not perform well in what seem to be higher pressure situations, hence the Greg Norman reference.

In saying all that, that Ortiz world series line for his 14 games

.455 .576 .795 1.372

Is pretty darn impressive. Then again, in the ALDS and ALCS he was slightly worse then his regular season stats....

OTOH, the Beltran WS stats are rubbish and his NLDS and NLCS stats are great.

   28. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:21 PM (#5873632)
Clutch pitching definitely exists, but the pitcher has plenty of time to get into his own head. Steve Blass disease is the extreme.

The irony is that Blass was a good postseason pitcher, and in 1971 allowed only two runs and seven hits in two complete game World Series wins against the Orioles, including a uber-clutch four hit gem in game seven. It wasn't until two years later that the yips set in.

-----------------------------------------------------

I think of Schilling first (by a lot) and then probably Orel Hershiser among starters

Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson might want to get into that conversation, as would Christy Mathewson.

And though he wasn't a starter, Mariano Rivera logged more postseason innings than any of those five, and with a much lower ERA than all of them but Koufax and Mathewson, whose ERAs were only slightly higher than Mo's.
   29. Howie Menckel Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5873633)
Reggie Jackson had a .227 AVG and .679 OPS in 181 ALCS at-bats - not that small a sample size.
   30. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:28 PM (#5873636)
Is this really true for Pettitte? He's a guy who was in the postseason all the time, but I've never heard him talked about as some kind of clutch legend. I can't even think of a memorable moment from him. The only postseason memory I have of him is that he started game six of the 2003 World Series.

The best thing you can say about Pettitte's postseason record is that he matched his regular season rate stats against much tougher competition, but that 1-0 shutout in game 5 of the 1996 World Series was pretty damn memorable, and in 2003 he stopped the Yanks from falling into a 2-0 hole by winning game 2 in the DS, the LCS and the World Series.
   31. Shaun Payne Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:50 PM (#5873640)
The human psyche is way too complex to assume that players feel the same pressure in every clutch or high-leverage situation or in every non-clutch or low-leverage situation. Players aren't robots. A player may feel no pressure in a high-leverage situation today but not tomorrow and the same player may feel a lot of pressure in a low-leverage situation today but not tomorrow. The human psyche is way too complicated to read meaning in any situational stats.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: August 22, 2019 at 10:09 PM (#5873641)
I agree.
   33. The Duke Posted: August 22, 2019 at 10:39 PM (#5873649)
This quote from Berkman from 2011 World Series is where I think players are

He looked around the room, sizing up the audience. He had already commented on his game-tying single in the 10th inning, describing it as a “no-lose situation” and going on to add: “If you don’t come through right there, it’s only one at-bat and it’s over with, and they might talk about it for couple of days, but it’s not that big a deal. If you come through, it’s the greatest, and plus you’ve built a little bank account of being able to come through, so that if I don’t come through tomorrow it’s like, ‘Well, I came through in Game 6. What do you want from me?’ ”

He’s saying it’s all random but he’s also saying no one wants to choke.
   34. bobm Posted: August 23, 2019 at 08:35 AM (#5873686)
OTOH, the Beltran WS stats are rubbish and his NLDS and NLCS stats are great.

If Beltran being great in the NLCS is your evidence in favor of the existence of clutch hitting, then 2006 Game 7 just about ends this discussion IMO.
   35. SandyRiver Posted: August 23, 2019 at 08:56 AM (#5873691)
In saying all that, that Ortiz world series line for his 14 games

.455 .576 .795 1.372

Is pretty darn impressive. Then again, in the ALDS and ALCS he was slightly worse then his regular season stats....

Ortiz gained his clutch rep during his first 4-5 seasons in Boston, especially the 2004 LCS. His success rate in clutch situations, walk-off opportunities in particular, was spectacular during that period. Also unsustainable. Looking at BR's "clutch" splits, Papi's rates look a whole lot like his overall batting stats.

OTOH, a bad overall series (think 2013 LCS when he went 2-for-22) can include some truly important hits. His slam in G2 was likely the most crucial hit of that series.
   36. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2019 at 09:37 AM (#5873697)
If Beltran being great in the NLCS is your evidence in favor of the existence of clutch hitting, then 2006 Game 7 just about ends this discussion IMO.


Oh stop it. Even Ted Williams struck out sometimes. Nobody here is dumb enough to define "clutch" as "literally unstoppable."
   37. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2019 at 09:39 AM (#5873699)
As for the relevance of the skill, I don't care if it's relevant or not for a front office. I'm a fan, I'm not a general manager. These types of subtleties and details enrich the experience of watching a game.
   38. The Duke Posted: August 23, 2019 at 10:15 AM (#5873709)
Beltran ran into arguably the best curveball ever thrown - it might argue that WW is clutch :)
   39. villageidiom Posted: August 23, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5873740)
I'm not going to argue that David Ortiz was clutch. I think it's a pretty easy argument to make that he is one of the primary players who was perceived by many to be a clutch hitter. So for the purposes of studying whether clutch hitting exists, if you pick a metric to measure it, and you get Shin-Soo Choo but not David Ortiz, you probably need to rethink the metric.

I mean, it might very well be that Ortiz isn't clutch, and that a metric that properly identifies clutch wouldn't pick him. But we're fundamentally trying to assess not "is there a definition of clutch that exists as a repeatable skill?" but rather "does what we define today as clutch exist as a repeatable skill?"

The trouble is that we haven't adequately defined clutch in a way that can be measured. It is 100% about emotional payoff, and emotions vary by person, as does the payoff. Leverage index gets at the potential for statistical payoff, which isn't always the same as emotional payoff, but at least can be defined and measured. But because it's not the same, it's at best a proxy for what we want, and perhaps not a good enough proxy. But if we can identify the players who come closest to fulfilling that emotional payoff - the ones who are most likely to be clutch, if such a thing exists - then we can study it better.

So, then, Primates: who would you identify as clutch, if clutch existed? Who has provided that emotional payoff repeatedly?
   40. . Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:10 PM (#5873757)
There's no need to turn to statistical inference in the first instance to prove something we can rightfully deduce from primary observation. Stress and pressure impact the mental state of human beings and that mental state change has physical effects. Does anyone seriously doubt this?
   41. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5873765)
Stress and pressure impact the mental state of human beings and that mental state change has physical effects. Does anyone seriously doubt this?
And if the physical effects are relevant, i.e. if they affect performance, then they would be discernible in the measures of performance, i.e. statistics. Does anyone seriously doubt this?
   42. . Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5873770)
And if the physical effects are relevant, i.e. if they affect performance, then they would be discernible in the measures of performance, i.e. statistics. Does anyone seriously doubt this?


Not necessarily through the tools of statistical inference, because sample sizes are small and statistical inference decries small sample sizes. The logical fallacy is that if the tools of statistical inference reject the primary factors we can observe and don't doubt, that those factors don't impact performance.

The dispersion of human behavior under stress is significantly wider than under conditions of not-stress. Again, this isn't really subject to serious doubt. We all know this. All that's really necessary for clutch hitting to "exist" is for clutch situations to exist.
   43. Rally Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:54 PM (#5873774)
So, then, Primates: who would you identify as clutch, if clutch existed? Who has provided that emotional payoff repeatedly?


Scott Spiezio.

OK, not repeatedly. But he's the first to come to mind. When we talk about emotional impact, I think you need an investment. So some player could hit a walk off homer 5 years in a row to win game 7 of the WS, but if he does it for a team I don't care about against another team I don't care about, it won't have the emotional impact that Spiezio's homer has for me.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:58 PM (#5873775)
Strongly agree with SBB in #s 40 and 42 here. I don't really understand how other people can disagree, actually. The idea that all MLB players are equally immune to a universal human experience is bizarre.

#31 is also accurate, and why we can probably never hope to assess this with statistics.

For all we know, Eugenio Suarez feels stressed out when he knows that his father is watching the game. And cool as a cucumber in the bottom of the ninth. Maybe he's stressed at home, but not on the road. And maybe Jesse Winkler is the opposite. It would be the exceedingly rare player whose anxiety rises and falls in lockstep with leverage index.
   45. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 24, 2019 at 06:29 AM (#5874033)
Strongly agree with SBB in #s 40 and 42 here. I don't really understand how other people can disagree, actually.
If you find yourself agreeing with SBB, it's time to rethink your life choices. In this case, it's not so much that the specific statements are wrong, but that they are complete red herrings. The statement "So-and-so is a great clutch hitter" is a specific claim about the player's ability to perform in important situations better than he normally does. That's just not equivalent to the vague observation "emotions could affect player performance."

At most, the latter is just the argument, "It's plausible that there is a clutch hitting skill." Which is fine, as far as it goes — but that's not very far.
   46. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2019 at 09:35 AM (#5874041)
It's true, it's not a grand claim. It's modest. But the important thing is that it's true.
   47. pikepredator Posted: August 24, 2019 at 02:15 PM (#5874093)
I keep going to back to the very real possibility that true "chokers" would have been eliminated at the many pre-MLB layers of competition. When I was in the music world I knew plenty of performers who were nervous going up on stage, and sometimes would be shaking coming off stage. But the ones who actually were negatively impacted by those nerves while on stage . . . they were weeded out early on. usually during the audition processes either in high school for various state/local groups, or during auditions for college.

So, as a by-product of the system that produces them, most professional musicians are "clutch" in that they've learned various ways to prevent the natural human reaction of being nervous about screwing up in front of thousands of people from actually impacting their performance in a negative way, and often, to channel that energy and make it useful.

Curious to know if people here who have backgrounds in higher level athletics (particularly baseball, golf, tennis - sports where your head can get in the way) have had similar experiences.
   48. Sunday silence Posted: August 24, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5874117)
despite what you say, pike, we have examples like Arnold Palmer. Palmer arguably the greatest golfer of his generation, and yet later in his career developed "the yips." Some sort of issue with putting that is often attributed to nerves. You're right he probably got to where he was because he didnt choke, but that doesnt mean someone can develop something as they get older.

Same sort of thing or similar w/ the Mets catcher I think it was Mackey Sasser (or OBrien) who developed a terrible double clutch throwing to the pitcher. Or Knobloch, or Steve Blass or Ankiel...

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