A-Rod is grounding into double plays and striking out and putting together – no hyperbole – the worst clutch-hitting season in all of Major League Baseball, owner Hank Steinbrenner has cased his verbal paintballs in favor of BBs, with the bazooka at arm’s length, and everyone knows A-Rod can’t go anywhere else because the money is too big and Rodriguez’s career-long struggle with important at-bats is again popping up like a zit.
Every player has his demons; Rodriguez’s happen to come with the magnifying glass tilted toward him. That he fries like an ant is nothing new. With a few exceptions, such as last season, Rodriguez’s losing battle in clutch situations has stained what is otherwise a career of marvelous achievement, no-doubt first-ballot Hall-of-Fame induction and likely the all-time home run record. from Yahoo Sports
Never has it been as bad for Rodriguez as this season. Numbers back up the cries of Yankees fans, whose complaints about Rodriguez look, on the surface, like those of a scorned lover, what with his .306 batting average, 29 home runs, 81 RBIs and .968 OPS. They say he never hits when it counts – home run No. 29, a solo shot Sunday when the Yankees were down 4-0, is a prime example – and a deeper look, with a metric that analyzes clutch hitting, shows they are onto something.
Win Probability Added (WPA), as tracked by fangraphs.com, assigns a different value to every situation. For example, a run-scoring single to tie a game in the seventh inning is worth significantly more than a bases-empty single in the first inning. Over the entire season, it adds up the positives, subtracts the negatives and produces a number that shows how many wins a player contributed to his team – and, ostensibly, an indicator of how well a player fared in clutch situations.
This year, Rodriguez’s WPA ranks 93rd of 158 eligible players.
When analyzing how “clutch” a player truly is, sabermetricians turn to a statistic called WPA, or Win Probability Added, that calculates how many wins a player added to his team by giving more credit to important situations. Fangraphs.com comes up with a “clutch” score by comparing WPA with WPA/LI – Win Probability Added with the Leverage Index removed, i.e. making all at-bats equal, regardless of the situation.
Except for a couple of seasons, Alex Rodriguez has been anything but clutch. And this season, his Clutch score is the lowest in baseball and 20th-worst since 1974.
Year WPA Rank WPA/LI Rank Clutch Rank 2008 0.27 93rd 2.91 18th -2.67 158th of 158 2007 6.85 1st 5.82 2nd 1.00 17th of 162 2006 1.09 76th 2.41 39th -1.37 150th of 160 2005 5.52 3rd 6.27 3rd -0.65 109th of 148 2004 3.08 26th 2.96 29th 0.24 57th of 161 2003 4.15 11th 4.82 6th -0.12 82nd of 165 2002 3.75 26th 4.98 11th -1.27 133rd of 151 2001 5.23 12th 5.96 8th -0.69 125th of 156 2000 5.27 8th 5.62 7th 0.09 64th of 162 1999 1.19 69th 3.22 34th -2.02 151st of 157 1998 4.51 13th 4.00 20th 0.63 33rd of 159 1997 1.97 49th 2.32 37th -0.38 96th of 144 1996 3.79 18th 4.20 13th -0.55 106th of 147