erik lundegaard

Clutch Schmutch

I'm sure this has been done elsewhere but what the hell.

Here are the career stats, regular and postseason, of a current Major League player. We'll call him Player A:

Player A
AVG OBP SLG OPS
Regular season .314 .385 .452 .837
Postseason .312 .381 .475 .856

The postseason numbers are remarkably similar to the regular season numbers. A little more pop. Otherwise, almost identical.

And here are the career stats, regular and postseason, of another current Major League players. We'll call him Player B:

Player B
AVG OBP SLG OPS
Regular season .303 .387 .571 .958
Postseason .300 .404 .552 .956

Again, remarkably similar. A little less pop in the postseason than in the regular season, but still more pop than Player Ain either the regular or postseason. In fact, even with the power dropoff, he's exactly .100 percentage points better in OPS than Player A in the postseason. Nothing to sneeze at.

Who are they?

Player A is Derek Jeter, who is known as one of the greatest postseason clutch performers of his era.

Player B is Alex Rodriguez, who is known as one of the great postseason chokers of his era.

Overall, Alex has played about a third of a season in the postseason (57 games, 210 at-bats), while Jeter has played almost an entire season in the postseason (141 games, 573 at-bats), so he's had that many more chances for memorable clutch performances. And he's certainly delivered. The catch in the stands, the shovel pass to nab Jeremy Giambi, the homerun on Nov. 1st. Was that all in 2001? All in a losing effort, ultimately.

Alex also suffers because his greatest postseason, until last year, was in 2000, when he was off-stage, as it were, with the Seattle Mariners.

The numbers, looked at one way, support those who believe there's no such thing as clutch performance. Given enough time, the players put up the numbers they always do.

Looked at another way, both of these guys seem clutch, since, even facing what one assumes is the superior pitching of postseason teams, they put up the numbers they always do.

Where the numbers leave no doubt? The rep of Derek Jeter as an October hero, and the rep of Alex Rodriguez as an October goat, are both greatly exaggerated.

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Posted at 06:17 AM on Tue. Oct 12, 2010 in category Baseball  
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