Clutch

Clutch measures how well a player performed in high leverage situations. It’s calculated as such:

Clutch = (WPA / pLI) – WPA/LI

In the words of David Appelman, this calculation measures, “…how much better or worse a player does in high leverage situations than he would have done in a context neutral environment.” It also compares a player against himself, so a player who hits .300 in high leverage situations when he’s an overall .300 hitter is not considered clutch.

Clutch does a good job of describing the past, but it does very little towards predicting the future. Simply because one player was clutch at one point does not mean they will continue to perform well in high-leverage situations (and vice versa). Very few players have the ability to be consistently clutch over the course of their careers, and choking in one season does not beget the same in the future.

Context:

The majority of players in the league end up with Clutch scores between 1 and -1, with zero being neutral, positive scores being “clutch”, and negative scores being “choke”. Only a few players each year are lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to have extreme Clutch scores.

Rating Clutch
Excellent 2.0
Great 1.0
Above Average 0.5
Average 0.0
Below Average -0.5
Poor -1.0
Awful -2.0

Links for Further Reading:

Get to Know: Clutch – FanGraphs

All About Clutch – FanGraphs

Clutchiness Breakdown – FanGraphs

Team Clutch Hitting – FanGraphs

Is David Ortiz Really Mr. Clutch? – ESPN/Nate Silver

Clutch Skill Does Exist – The Book Blog





Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

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Clutch LaportastudesSteve SlowinskiLee Recent comment authors
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Lee
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Lee

If the league avg is -.20, does this mean we can assume pitchers were slightly above averagely clutchy last year? Does this show up year to year? If so does this mean that it’s easier to pitch than hit in high leverage situations?

studes
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studes

Lee, the answer is yes. It is consistently true that defense tends to come out ahead on Clutch, thanks to bullpen usage.

studes
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studes

Steve, love what you’re doing here. In this case, it would be helpful to post the actual formula. For instance, which is divided by which?

Clutch Laporta
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Clutch Laporta

I love this stat, it confirms exactly what I have always expected, which is that Matt LaPorta is consistently one of the most clutch players in the league.