Mains: A revised look at clutch hitting

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on March 15, 2018:

Note: This is based on a presentation at the SABR Analytics Conference on Saturday, March 10. Audio of the presentation is here and presentation slides are here.

Part 1 of this article described the history of attempts to identify clutch hitting, dating back over 40 years. While the general sabermetric consensus is that clutch hitting does not exist as an identifiable and replicable skill, the topic remains controversial.

Using play-by-play data, we identified the difference between situation-dependent (i.e., weighted by win probability) and non-situation-dependent (neutral) run creation for 8,963 batters with 500 or more plate appearances since World War II. We calculated a z-score for each player to identify whether his performance was clutch (positive z-score) or unclutch (negative).

To consider the existence (or not) of clutch hitting as a skill, we looked at the distribution of z-scores for individual hitters. We first identified the players who were, by our methodology, most frequently among the best clutch hitters. Bill James once noted that a good statistic is one that gives us new insight while confirming much of what we already knew. His first mass market Baseball Abstract, published after the strike-shortened 1981 season, introduced his Runs Created formula to a wide audience.

Read the full article here:

  • Related link: For more coverage from the 2018 SABR Analytics Conference, visit

Originally published: March 15, 2018. Last Updated: March 15, 2018.