With the introduction of advanced statistics and sabermetrics into the mainstream of baseball analysis in recent years, many debates have been both started and finished. One that may forever be a point of contention is whether the element of clutch exists and whether a player can be more reliable in clutch situations than another.
The basis of the argument by sabermetricians is that there is no stat that can define the notion of clutch and that numbers do not vary significantly for most players depending on high pressure situations. The other side says clutch absolutely does exist, but it can’t be quantified by numbers.
Nationals manager Matt Williams weighed in on the matter Wednesday and feels strongly about clutch being a factor. The question was inspired by Ryan Zimmerman’s 10th career walk-off home run the night before.
“I don’t think we have to look any further than some of the best players in our game. What it means to me is that the situation doesn’t become too big for that particular player. Heart rate doesn’t increase, they have the ability to relax, the ability to take an at-bat and understand what the situation is and look for a pitch and execute what you need to execute. That’s clutch,” he explained.
“I believe we have some guys on our club that can do that sort of thing. Some veteran guys that have been there and done it. When they get in a pressure situation or a situation where they have the opportunity to end the game with one swing or make the good pitch, or whatever it is, they’ve been there. You only gain that through experience, really, and failing in that situation. We’ve got some guys who can do that. I believe a clutch player is somebody that understands their situation that faces them and that doesn’t get too excited when that situation comes about and is able to simply do what they do.”
Williams also happened to comment on the idea of ‘momentum’ in baseball earlier this month. That is also the subject of debate for many of the same reasons.
“I think there’s momentum within a game itself, but once one’s over, you gotta start all over again the next day,” he said.
So, there you have it. Case closed, right? Probably not, but there’s one man’s opinion.