There remains a sub-sect of baseball fans who rail against players who only put up numbers when the game "is out of reach." Players like Ryan Howard are announced as clutch while Jayson Werth (or Chase Utley) are chumps who strike out when the game is on the line. Their MVP is the guy with the most RBI, or something equally misguided. Last year I looked at an interesting wrinkle in the WAR equation, first suggested by Sky Kalkman (formerly) of Beyond the Box Score.
Rather than calculate Wins Above Replacement using regular or batting runs, we scaled and substituted win probability added. WPA doesn't care about the type of contribution to the cause, only the timing. Walkoff hits count for much more than the solo home runs in the midst of a blowout, much to the chagrin of the angry drunk guy by himself in the bar.
Below are the WPA-tinged numbers for your Toronto Blue Jays. The clutch figure is the difference between their standard batting runs and the new, clutchified numbers. WAR* is the new result, contrast it with the standard WAR numbers right alongside. All numbers courtesy of Fangraphs.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for poor Aaron Hill! Not a lot of leaps among the Jays batters. DeWayne Wise, as Mark Buehrle will proudly attest, is as clutch as it gets. Who knew?
Poor Jose Bautista. While he did perform significantly worse in the clutch in 2010, I have a hard time believing he performed 2 Wins worse. Shocking. Adam Lind and Lyle Overbay post better numbers when the heat is on. Nice to see, I seem to remember at least one walkoff for each lily white lefty.
Yu mad? Nope, Yu performed really badly in the clutch.
All in all, not really surprising considering the Jays, as a team, performed worse in high leverage situations for the year. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be a repeatable skill, per se. The clutch-est team in baseball last year? The piss-poor Houston Astros.
One final note on Jose Bautista and his final most valuable player chances - if we used this same formula on the other MVP frontrunners, Miguel Cabrera would slide in front of Josh Hamilton and take the title. Joey Votto only solidifies his case as MVP shoe-in in the NL, as he is both clutch and dreamy. Not to mention dreamy and clutch.