I would like to comment a little more on this topic because it is quite interesting. I would like to start off that I am open minded about this. I have no incentive to believe that the "clutch god" does or does not exist. I am sort of taking the luster off Jeter's clutchy shine, and even C-dubb knows how much I like the Yankees. We spoke on the phone after this exchange, and while he definitely understood my position I think he and I still had different views on the subject. And that's OK. Healthy debate and intelligent discussion only enhance the flow of good ideas about the subject, and that is good for both parties involved, no matter the outcome. I just want to know the truth when it comes to clutch. I would just like to say a few more things on the subject and give C-dubb and others a chance to offer their thoughts. This could be considered more of a discussion of psychology than baseball (keep in mind I know NOTHING about psychology). How's this for a theory C-dubb. I suspect from your playing days in high school, or even now, that it sure feels like some players are clutch and some are not. That some kids just got too nervous in big situations and were sure to choke. And I believe that. I think at most lower levels of sports, that the situation maybe can influence player performance. I have ZERO proof to this theory but it sounds logical to me. Maybe at lower levels of athletics some kids do thrive from the the spotlight of the big lights, while others wilt when the pressure is on. However we are talking about the elite of the elite. This is an excerpt from an article by Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus that you really, really, really need to read on the subject of the clutch player.
All major-league players have a demonstrated ability to perform under pressure. They've proven that by rising to the top of an enormous pyramid of players, tens of thousands of them, all trying to be one of the top 0.1% that gets to call themselves "major leaguers." Within this group of elite, who have proven themselves to be the best in the world at their jobs, there is no discernable change in their abilities when runners are on base, or when the game is tied in extra innings, or when candy and costumes and pumpkins decorate the local GigaMart. The guys who are good enough to be in the majors are all capable of succeeding and failing in these situations, and they're as likely to do one or the other in the clutch as they are at any other time. Over the course of a game, a month, a season or a career, there is virtually no evidence that any player or group of players possesses an ability to outperform his established level of ability in clutch situations, however defined.
I totally agree. The players that can't play to the best of their ability, no matter the situation, are weeded out of professional baseball well before you or I are paying $100 dollars a seat to watch them.The article also links to some statistical studies that are worth checking out too. Interesting stuff. I must say I am sold to the idea that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter. To me , when it passes the common sense test and the stats seem to back it up, thats pretty convincing. I really think the idea of clutch is more a product of the mind than a reality. Not trying to sound snobbish about that, but I just don't get the argument for the other side. C-Dubb brought up Josh Beckett as an example of clutchiness. He and his 1.73 ERA in 72.2 innings, including slaying down the mighty Yankees in 2003. Sounds like stuff of legend. Me? I think he is just a statistical outlier. I would be willing to bet his performance in next 72.2 innings in the playoffs even out closer to his career norms. That regress toward the mean kind of stuff. Sounds boring I know. Calling Josh Beckett a human outlier won't sell nearly as many papers as Josh Bechett the brash, gusty, bad ass World Series Hero
C-dubb and others, looking forward to your response.
PS: Please read that article too because Joe is much more elegant about the subject than I am. Its a quick, easy read, unlike my blog.
PPS: despite me proclaiming my position about clutch, I am open to new ideas.