"The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who adjudicate, is what we mean by the law." — Oliver Wendell Holmes
Steve Lombardi at WasWatching has a piece up about A-Rod’s performance in the clutch. It’s a response to two separate posts at Lohud Yanks and No Maas that present statistics that support the idea that Rodriguez has actually been clutch this season. Peter Abraham at Lohud cites a stat that shows that A-Rod has four hits this season that have put the Yanks ahead after the 7th inning. "In all of baseball, only Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and Michael Young of Texas have more with five each…Not Derek Jeter. Not Big Papi Ortiz. Nobody else." The fellas at No Maas list A-Rod’s impressive numbers with runners on base, with runners in scoring position, and with runners in scoring position and two outs.
Steve looks at other numbers to counter their claims. He provides a set of stats that show how A-Rod has done depending on the run differential (factoring in whether the Yanks have been ahead or behind) of the game, and comes to the conclusion that, while he’s hit quite well when tied, ahead or trailing by three runs or more, he’s been "a no-show" when the Yanks or trailing by 2 runs or less. He also wonders about the validity of the stat mentioned in the Lohud Yankees blog. For instance, how many opportunities has A-Rod had to knock in go-ahead runs after the seventh? If he’s had a bunch of chances, then 4 hits doesn’t seem quite so impressive. Steve also doesn’t put too much stock in hitting with runners in scoring position as a clutch stat: "Batting with runners on? Or, in scoring position? If a guy gets a hit in those spots and the score is already 15-2 (in favor or against) is he being clutch?"
I think Steve’s argument is more compelling because it’s reliant on more detailed statistics. Yet I’m not quite sure why he chooses to disregard A-Rod’s strong stats with the game tied. Why would that be a less important and less pressure-filled time in the game than any other? Anyway, it almost doesn’t matter to me at this point. What I was trying to get at with this post is that the clutch debate surrounding A-Rod (and almost any player for that matter) has entered the Chewbacca Defense stage for me and that means if I read anything more about the subject my head’s going to explode (ok, ok, I’m writing about the subject,so I’m a big hypocrite). Most people don’t like A-Rod. His poor performance on the big stage (the postseason series against the Sox and Angels. Ignore his outstanding division series against the Twin in 2004 and you’ll feel more certain), his perceived weaknesses in close games, his $25 million contract, his poor relationship with those lovable beat reporters, have all added up to make him a very unpopular player and let’s face it, unclutch player in the minds of most. You can argue about whether he’s, in fact, clutch or not until the Royals win the world series, you can cite statistics about how well A-Rod’s done in front of sell-out crowds on the road, or you can bring up his exceptional performance in bed (with the lights on. There’s always more pressure with the lights on.), and it won’t matter (as by the way, it shouldn’t matter. What I’ve learned from reading On The DL is that there’s very little correlation between a player’s performance in bed and on the field. But I digress…) A-Rod has been declared a player who cracks under pressure by most people, and it’s therefore a fated conclusion: A-Rod is not clutch and never will be. And that’s the idea I’m going with from now on. He stinks in the clutch. You can throw all the stats at me you’d like that show that he’s actually quite good in certain clutch situations. I’ll find another one that says otherwise. Better yet, I won’t even bother looking up the stats, I’ll just read the back pages of the New York tabloids. Anything to keep my head on my shoulders.