Last week I came home and turned the TV on just in time to catch the beginning of a special on ESPN for the 2009 MLB Clutch Performer of the Year Award – “which recognizes the player who performed his best when the game was on the line” – an honor I hadn’t previously known existed. The introduction featured both Brad Lidge and Alex Rodriguez – for a Clutch award, mind you – so I was instantly intrigued. I went through the candidates and who should have won over at MLB Notebook. There’s an excerpt below; click through for the full version.
“Here were the candidates, including some of their Clutch scores from FanGraphs (defined as “A measurement of how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment”, which makes sense) and their stats in high leverage (HL), medium leverage (ML) , and low leverage (LL) situations in ’09.
Albert Pujols: +0.60 Clutch in 2009, -0.42 for his career, 1.089 OPS (HL), 1.268 OPS (ML), .975 OPS (LL)
Joe Mauer: -0.97 Clutch in 2009, -0.25 for his career, .919 OPS (HL), 1.042 OPS (ML), 1.059 OPS (LL)
Tim Lincecum: +0.26 Clutch in 2009, +1.0 for his career, 6.3 K/BB (HL), 3.8 K/BB (ML), 3.2 K/BB (LL)
Andre Ethier: +1.01 Clutch in 2009, +0.38 for his career, .840 OPS (HL), .918 OPS (ML), .843 OPS (LL)
Mariano Rivera: +0.71 Clutch in 2009, -1.83 for his career (+0.21 in his postsean career), 38 K/BB (!) (HL), 3.0 K/BB (ML), 3.2 K/BB (LL)
Prince Fielder: +1.14 Clutch in 2009, +1.65 for his career, 1.045 OPS (HL), 1.087 OPS (ML), .914 OPS (LL)…
The 2009 MLB Clutch Performer of the Year is… Andre Ethier!
From the press release: “Ethier led the Majors with six walk-off hits, including a Major League record four walk-off home runs .” All the other stuff about him in the press release just talked about his good offensive year in general. In the special though, they did talk about Ethier being “magical”. I guess that’s worth something. So congratulations to Andre, who wasn’t quite “the player who performed his best when the game was on the line”, but did do a hand-full of things over the course of the year that people ended up remembering! Keep it up, somehow!”