August 13, 2010

Discussion: Team chemistry and “clutch”

I hate to deviate away from the Yankees when they’re winning like this, but sometimes I like to analyze general baseball issues too. Give this article from The Faster Times a read: Can Team Chemistry and Clutch Hitting Be Analyzed Better?

It discusses two controversial subjects that I always love to discuss. I’ve touched on team chemistry on this blog before, and I still stand by my opinions, but not so much on the idea of “clutch” players.

The Faster Times article links you to an article from the Wall Street Journal yesterday about Francisco Cervelli’s clutch hitting. You can look deep into the numbers, and I mean, really deep, but in some situations I think observational analysis is more valuable than statistical analysis.

“[Cervelli’s] at-bats throughout the season with runners in scoring position have been real good,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long said. “Some people really bear down and they seize the moment, so to speak, a little bit more than others, and he seems to be one of those guys.”

I think Long describes clutch hitting perfectly here. Broadcasters will toss around that term loosely, but isn’t being “clutch” really just seizing the moment?

I believe team chemistry can generate wins, not just vice versa, and I believe some players are better at seizing the moment than others. I’m also willing to bet that, although they may seem like unrelated ideas, these  two concepts go hand in hand.

I’d love to hear your take on both these concepts in the comments.

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