Orioles Batters in the Clutch

Rob Carr

Which Orioles have hit well in the clutch?

Nelson Cruz was the hero once again in Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.  He seems to have come through in the clutch more than a few times this season. Do the statistics back up his clutch hitting so far this season? Which Orioles that have performed the best in the clutch?

There are a few different interpretations of clutch ability. The first considers only the base-out state, while the second includes score and inning as well. The first interpretation is captured by RE24, which measures the difference in run expectancy between the start of the play and the end of the play. RE24 deems grand slam much more valuable than a solo homerun. RE24 is measured in runs above average, which is on the same scale as batting runs, context-neutral runs above average. The second interpretation is captured by WPA, which measures the difference in win expectancy between the start of the play and the end of the play. A grand slam in a 10-0 games is no way as valuable as one in a 3-6 game. WPA is measured in wins above average, so I rescaled it to runs above average to put it on the same scale as batting runs.

Name

G

PA

Bat

RE24

REW

WPA

RE24-Bat

WPA(runs)-Bat

Nelson Cruz

19

83

6.6

7.93

0.79

0.73

1.33

0.7

Matt Wieters

16

68

5

5.06

0.51

0.51

0.06

0.1

Steve Clevenger

7

19

1.3

0.74

0.07

-0.09

-0.56

-2.2

Delmon Young

9

39

1.1

0.44

0.06

-0.18

-0.66

-2.9

Chris Davis

20

87

1.6

1.93

0.19

-0.13

0.33

-2.9

Adam Jones

20

86

-0.7

-1.99

-0.19

-0.12

-1.29

-0.5

Steve Lombardozzi

17

67

-0.7

-2.65

-0.28

-0.55

-1.95

-4.8

Nick Markakis

20

93

-1

-1.25

-0.13

0.19

-0.25

2.9

Jonathan Schoop

17

66

-1.1

0.04

0.02

-0.26

1.14

-1.5

Ryan Flaherty

17

58

-2.9

-1.75

-0.17

-0.2

1.15

0.9

J.J. Hardy

12

50

-3.7

-4.53

-0.45

-0.63

-0.83

-2.6

David Lough

14

47

-4.9

-4.73

-0.47

-0.25

0.17

2.4

Steve Pearce

3

7

-0.8

-0.63

-0.06

0.03

0.17

1.1

Total

-1.19

-9.3

Nelson Cruz has indeed hit better in the clutch compared to a context-neutral setting, by both measures, but he added only about one run. On the other hand, Steve Lombardozzi was 4.8 runs worse by WPA than his batting line would indicate. As a team, the O's have not performed well in the clutch. By RE24, they have scored 1.2 runs less than they should.  By WPA, they have lost almost one win due to their hitting worse in close games late. Most of the regulars rate negatively by WPA minus batting runs. The only O's who rate more than one run positively are David Lough, Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce, who had a total of 7 PA.

Luckily for the O's, clutch hitting has proven to be largely driven by randomness. The O's should be expected to hit better in the clutch going forward. Nelson Cruz has been the man driving the O's in close game so far, but the other O's have to start hitting in the clutch too for the O's to repeat their winning percentage in close games in 2012.

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