Saturday, May 15, 2010

Miguel Tejada: Clutch Hitter?

Over at the Orioles Insider blog today, a post from Dan Connolly appears with the headline "No question, Miggi is clutch".  Certainly, Tejada's two run, bases loaded single last night was a clutch hit.  But is Miguel Tejada clutch?  Let's look at some numbers.  Remember, tOPS+ is a statistic that adjusts a particular split stat to compare it to a player's career or season total.

Tejada, Career: .289/.341/.469
Tejada, Career, RISP: .296/.354/.475, 105 tOPS+

So Tejada performs about 5% better than his career norm with runners in scoring position, mostly thanks to a better on-base percentage.  Sounds clutch, right?  Not so fast.  How do ALL batters perform with runners in scoring position?

League Average, 2010: .256/.330/.403
League Average, 2010, RISP: .254/.348/.391, 102 tOPS+

So ALL batters improve by about 2% with runners in scoring position in 2010 (and this what happens nearly every season), mainly because pitchers throw from the stretch (there are probably effects from defensive positioning as well).  Is Tejada's difference significant?  Maybe (I don't have the time this morning to make sure I'm doing the math correctly).

Here is the link to his "Clutch" table at  Looks to me like he performs in the clutch almost identically to the way we'd expect any hitter of his caliber.

Now, Tejada DOES have much better numbers in "High Leverage" situations (119 tOPS+), so I'm not going to dismiss out of hand the claim that Tejada have some sort of ability to raise his game in the clutch.  But I DO think the burden is on those who claim Tejada has superior clutch skills to cite more than his batting average with RISP in 2010 and tell an anecdote about how Tejada wants to be at the plate with the game on the line.

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