Sunday, May 25, 2008

RiSP, Clutch, Luck, and Production

As a case study, last night's game was fascinating. The Cardinals got out hit 7 hits to 4. The Cardinals only had 6 AB's turn into base-runners. This is usually not a recipe for success. 4 hits in one game. How many times do you think that will garner you a win? If you said 19 times outta 20, I'd take the over.

"Only 4 LOB!" the masses proclaim. "OooooOOOooo Only 1 Team LoB," the peons announce. This is how numbers are deceiving. Why so? Because, as we have mentioned before, OBP means men on base to get stranded. What does that leave us?

It leaves us with RiSP/Clutch strength or luck.

Does a good team just try to produce hits (preferably extra base hits) in such quantity that hopefully due to the mass production of said hits some will be close enough in proximity that a runner will eventually reach the fourth base?
Does a good team intentionally rise up and are able to string together hits when the pressure is on? Teams like this are full of players who are "clutch" and statistically do better with RiSP?

Ask a stat junkie if clutchness exists and you'll get a clear and to the point: "No, way."

Ask someone who has played ball before or who is currently playing ball and you're sure to get: "Absolutely."

Does Pujols bat 3rd because he just gets hits more often than others and thus since people with high OBP are ahead of him he will improve the proximity hits? Or does Pujols bat 3rd because when the pressure is on he performs stronger than others?

The answer is in the middle. It always cracks me up to read those Baseball Prospectus-esque articles that compare how a player does normally versus how they do "in the clutch" and they say, "The stats show that he doesn't do any better with RiSP." Of course not! But the question we should be asking is: "Does he do worse?" If someone maintains their Avg or Slugging % with RiSP it means that all the heightened psychology of the situation does not get to them as badly as others. Why would we expect someone to do better?! What a weird suggestion. Yet, to say that the law of averages have nothing to do with it is just as weird.

Last night's game told us 1 of the following: 1) the pressure did not get to the Cards' bats during the one inning and they got lucky to gets the hits in such close proximity or 2) the pressure got to Penny as he gave up another big inning (see his recent previous outings). The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Either way, I'd like to see more hit and runs, speed on the base-paths, and more HR's. A team needs to be less reliant upon luck or pressure performance. Which has made me completely rethink my position on Brian Barton (see TLR's most recent comments). That kid is needed for his speed. If we brought up Mather he'd just park it on the bench and afaik he isn't as fast as Barton. Barton's speed should be used more often to give folks the chance for more RBIs. It also strengthens my opinion that a power 2B or SS should be added. Where we are going to get that other one is another story...

So what am I getting at with all this? The Cardinals are going to get some nights like last night where they had no business winning the game (from an offensive standpoint) but pull it out after all.

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