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Is there really "clutch" in baseball?

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I will never forget the 1991 World Series game 6 or 7!! I was 12 years old, I remember watching it at home, I have game 6 and 7 on my DVR, when I watch it I still get goose bumps. Game 6 Kirby Puckett specifically said "I went to the clubhouse, and I gathered [everyone] up. I said, 'Everybody together, we're going to have a short meeting,'" Puckett said, retelling the story years later. "Everybody comes in, and I said, 'Guys, I just have one announcement to make: You guys should jump on my back tonight. I'm going to carry us.'"
He said this, and literally he performed at the highest level in the biggest moments. Kirby Puckett had a lot of great games, but when you do it on the national stage, in the biggest games of your life, the "clutch" word comes out. Good players are "clutch" more often then not, because they are better players and it is mormal for them to perform at higher levels. I was never bought into "clutch". Relying on stats shows that the only 2 players that had the "clutch gene" were Paul Molitor and Tony Fernandez. Paul Molitor RISP .349 overall avg. .316, Tony Fernandez .286 overall RISP .326. I don't think the AB's weren't large enough to overcome the odds, just like if someone wins the Powerball 2 times in a lifetime, obviously in the super long run, it doesn't bode well for this person.
The point being is I get sick of announcers and experts talking about clutch. Every player that plays professional baseball overcame the odds of even making a major league team, .1% or less make the major leagues, in every way they have been clutch. I don't think anybody performs better, but I do think players break down under pressure. When I thought about this one thing that came to my mind that I don't think I will forget either is Santanas 17 Strikeout performance on Aug. 19th 2007. I watched the 8th inning in that game in awe at the way that the hitters couldn't touch his pitches. 36,000 people on their feet cheering for the best pitcher in the game that year feeds your adrenaline. Is adrenaline and clutch part of the same thing? I played baseball, I would consider myself a good pitcher in Babe Ruth. I remember the times when my adrenaline would raise when I would face Garrett Lamppa, the one time in Virginia, MN I faced Garrett for the first time and struck him out 4 times that game, he was considered the best player on their team, and now I could throw pitches other than a changeup and fast ball. That day wasn't clutch, it was adrenaline. Some players thrive off of adrenaline, basketball players continuously make shots when they are in the "zone" "He's heating up", "He's on fire" ( NBA JAM) but the truth is there. I see the best come out in individual performances, such as golf, basketball, and pitchers. It is really more difficult for a batter to get into that type of a rhythm.

(One sidenote on the Johan Performance that hopefully Liriano can figure out, is that 17 strikeout night he threw only 4 sliders out of 112 pitches)

Anyway I heard the word "clutch" again, and I am going to hear it a lot this season in baseball, and I just can't buy into it. Curious to hear thoughts on clutch in baseball or any other sport.


  1. powrwrap's Avatar
    Clutch hitting exists; clutch hitters do not.
  2. Kirsten Brown's Avatar
    While I love timely, game-winning hits for the good guys, I don't really believe in "clutch." Yes, we all experience moments of heightened focus, but it's not something we can turn on when we want it. Those moments come when they want and leave quickly.

    It seemed like Danny Valencia had a lot of "clutch hits" during a stretch last season. It was great to root for, but it was just luck and good timing.
  3. rogrulz30's Avatar
    I can't wait for the first time I hear the clutch hitting term thrown out by announcers, I just wish they would have a different verbage around the situation. I also love great timing and "making of a player" (David Freese) those create stories and something really fun to watch.
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