The definition of “clutch” seems to be somewhat elusive for many people. The slang dictionary describes it as “the ability to deliver when peak performance is needed” and your imagination can take that beyond the realm of sports. The urban dictionary concurs by saying, “the ability to perform well on a certain activity at a particular moment, despite external pressures, influences or distractions.” Of course, the term also has a tendency to fit other circumstances such as, “you are really craving a beer…you go to the fridge and there’s one left…so clutch.”
For long-time baseball fans, clutch has always been linked with RBI’s. After all, don’t the leaders in that statistical category come through in the clutch? The answer, of course, is never that easy. The folks who study baseball statistics have known since the 70’s that raw stats can be misleading. Batting in runs is a very important factor in a player’s success but that outcome is influenced greatly by where he hits in the line-up, whether he has protection in that line-up and, more importantly, how many runners were on the base paths when he came to the plate. To this end, baseballmusings.com gives you the historical data to determine “RBI Percentage”. It is a result of a player’s (RBI – HR) / Runners On, or in simplistic terms, what percentage of base runners did a player drive in during the season. In 2020, the stat told us that Freddie Freeman & Jose Abreu (the two MVP’s) finished 3rd & 4th in all of baseball with marks over 22%.
So, with the 2021 season in the rear-view mirror, let’s look at the best (and worst) clutch hitters in the game. The statistical information is for regular season games and includes players who had at least 175+ runners on base when they came to the plate.
1) Eddie Rosario 21.9% – Cleveland gave him a cheap one-year deal and the Braves picked him up at the trade deadline. Wonder how that worked out?
2) Jesus Aguilar 21.3% – His 93 RBI’s were a big part of the Marlins offense.
3) LaMonte Wade 21.0% – Acquired prior to the season for a Pitcher with an ERA over 8.00…hit 18 HR’s and posted a .808 OPS.
4) Manny Machado 20.8% – You should get something for $300 Million.
5) Austin Meadows 20.5% – 27 HR’s & 106 RBI’s in his age 26 season. And you wonder why the Rays win and the Pirates lose?
6) Adam Duvall 20.4% – Another Braves mid-season acquisition and another World Series ring.
7) Teoscar Hernandez 20.4% – A number of Jays are more well-known but this guy is a solid presence in the line-up.
8) Lourdes Gurriel 19.9% – The Toronto organization has a bright future.
9) Ozzie Albies 19.4% – A 3.4 WAR contributor for a $3 Million salary.
10) Bo Bichette 19.3% – Pitching to this line-up can’t be fun.
11) Jose Abreu 19.3% – Arguably the most consistent bat in the game.
12) Jared Walsh 19.1 – Albert going to the Dodgers was a nice story but this kid needed to play everyday.
Fernando Tatis Jr. shows up in the next level as do Franmil Reyes, Ketel Marte and Yadier Molina. When it comes to everyday players, the bottom of the barrel looks like this…
> Carter Kieboom 7.3% – Has a .197 BA in 355 major league AB’s.
> Jake Bauers 7.4% – Now more of a suspect than a prospect
> Jackie Bradley Jr. 8.0% – Picked up his $12 Million option for 2022…smart move
Hope all your Fantasy players come through in the clutch.