And another baseball stat question: clutch RBI

What’s BPS?

Batting Average plus Slugging Percentage

That’s a new one for me. Who came up with that?

Boy, even I’ve never heard of that one. And it has to be old. OPS (OBP+SLG) has almost entirely replaced anything that includes AVG as a standard.

Dunno, but the data I cited comes from this article, which is at, a pretty respectable baseball site.

The researcher did not use OPS (On Base plus Slugging), because he wanted to omit walks. Understandably so, since he was looking into clutch hitting.

This is interesting. Our local team’s play-by-play crew generally uses “clutch RBI” to describe anything knocked in with two outs.

Boy, I’m not sure I’d make that leap. Drawing walks is an integral part of hitting…even clutch hitting. That’s like saying we shouldn’t count strike outs because a batter technically didn’t ‘hit’ the ball during the plate appearance.

Walks, even LIPS walks, do many things. The might advance runners. With the bases loaded they can generate RBI. The force the pitcher to throw more pitches. The increase the possibility of passed balls or wild pitches. A whole host of possibilities is there.

I detect a fallacy. Do we have any further data on this article?

From the article I linked:

Why would you even add batting average to slugging in the first place?

The same reason you would add On Base Percentage and Slugging; It’s a good measure of player’s offensive ability.

OPS is better than BPS, for sure.

But it’s not just that OPS is better. BPS is basically worthless. I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out what it describes that slugging percentage alone wouldn’t describe better. If the point is to combine batting average with a measure of power, there’s already a stat for that – slugging percentage.

BPS would, however, double count the ability to reach base and avoid outs (except for walks and HBP) which is what the author was getting at. In other words, BPS is just OPS minus the walks (more or less.) In this context, it’s sensible, because it IS true that walks are of much less value in the situations being described.

The problem with this is not that the statistic’s wrong for the situation - in this limited context BPS is fine - it’s that they’re looking at the wrong situations. “Clutch” situations include many situations that AREN’T with runners in scoring position, and don’t include some that are.

For instance, according to this measurement, a bottom-of-the-ninth-inning bases empty game-winning home run in a 1-1 tie is NOT a clutch hit. Nope, doesn’t count at all, because nobody was in scoring position. You get no credit for being clutch for that. But a seventh-inning single with a man on third and your team up 15-0 is a clutch hit.

Another example that includes walks would be leading off an inning. As statheads know, getting the leadoff man on base has an enormous impact on how many runs a team will score, on average, in an inning. The different between a man on and nobody out and nobody on with one out is just colossal. But according to that study, nobody leading off an inning can EVER do anything clutch, because they can’t be up with RISP. It seem obvious to me that in a tie game, bottom of the 8th, drawing a walk is really clutch. Belting a homer is even more clutch. But if you measure clutch performance through RISP situations, it’s not clutch or un-clutch. It’s nothing. It never counts.

So hell, BPS is the smallest problem here; the problem is that measuring clutch by performance with RISP is probably missing more than half the clutch situations in baseball.

You could always look for isolated power, I suppose.

Really, he’s grasping at straws there. AVG has way too much variability in it in the first place and he wants to disallow WALKS as being to changable?

In addition, he’s PENALIZING players who control the strike zone. He’ll skewing his results towards the higher-average free swingers. And that’s foolish.

Excellent points RickJay and Jonathon Chance.

There are definitely some “clutch” situation chances that are missing from that study. RISP vs. Non-RISP still covers the majority of chances, however, and is a valid benchmark to determine which players, statistically, are able to “raise their game”, or not, in clutch situations. And really, almost all situations with RISP can be considered “clutch”, broadly speaking. What % of game situations show ± 10 runs? Not that many. RISP, ±1-5, clutch. RISP, ±6, clutch. RISP, ±7, clutch. Why? Because every run counts, and most MLB teams can, and do, come back, with some regularity, in any game where the lead is 7 runs or less (less so the later in the game you get).

Will the stats change that much (the diff between "clutch and “non-clutch” situations) if you throw in solo HRs, walks, and disallow blow out games? I’d bet the farm it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. Spiers, Sweeney, Fernandez, Tejada, Valentin, etc. would still be in the Top 30. The bottom 30 wouldn’t change that much.

Still, I would love to see a more detailed study that factors in these additional criteria. Anyone have a link to one?

Over the long run (and that’s the key thing- the LONG run), there’s no such thing as a clutch performer and there’s no such thing as a choker.

Fans are always convinced that such concepts are real and meaningful, but as a rule, there’s just seizing on a handful of incidents they’ve watched, or a small number of nationally televised games they’ve seen.

Let’s loo kat it this way: Yankee shortstop Jim Mason homered in his one and only plate appearance in World Series play (against the Reds in 1976). Dave Winfield was something like 1 for 21 in his first World Series (against the Dodgers in 1981). Should we conclude, then, that Mason was a “clutch” hitter and Winfield was a “choker”? If your team trailed by 1 run with 2 outs and 1 man on in the bottom of the 9th of the 7th game of the World Series, would you send Mason up to bat instead of Winfield?

A lot of baseball fans would, probably. But they’d be nuts!

Some Pittsburgh fans will swear that Bill Mazeroski was a great clutch hitter (based almost entirely on his game winning HR in the 1960 Series). Some Red Sox fans will tell you Pudge Fisk was a great clutch hitter (based largely on romantic re-hashings of his HR in the 1975 World Series). But you know what? If my team trailed by one run, with a man on second, in the bottom of the 9th of the 7th game of the World Series, I’d say “Screw clutch hitting. I want Tony Gwynn up there.”

Over the long run, the guys who hit .350 in those situations are the same guys who hit .350 the rest of the time.

I think **slugging percentage ** is the best gauge to rank hitters and their ability to help their teams win games. I dont know why it doesnt get more attention…when do you ever hear about who won the slugging percentage crown?

**On base percentage ** is also an excellent stat, and more important Batting Average. After all, your team cant score runs without people getting on base…by what ever means.

Therefore, OPS seems to be a great statistic. However, why did they decide to simply add Slugging and OBP? It seems too simplistic. Maybe the two should be weighted differently. Simple addition seems arbitrary. It’s like two guys were sitting in a Denny’s at 3am after a bender and one of them says “hey, I know…we can add these two important stats together to make a superstat!”

I’d like to see some statistical analysis on the real meaning of OPS.

Neyer did some of that several years ago. If I recall it ended up weighting at 55% OBP and 45% SLG as the measure of comparison but no one ever uses it that way.

I’ll dig and see if I can come up with something.


Even if one were to agree, on the strength of the evidence, with the first proposition (as I do), why would the second proposition necessarily follow? I’m much more inclined to believe that there are people who tend to do worse in pressure situations, and I haven’t seen anything to indicate that this isn’t the case. Do you have a ‘choking’ study you could point me towards?

No way it’s even close to half.

Not all walks can be considered “clutch”; Nobody on, clutch; Runner on 2nd, not clutch; Runner on 1st, clutch; Runner on 3rd, not clutch; Runners on 2nd and 3rd, clutch; Intentional walks and pitch arounds, not clutch. Trying account for these specific situations in a study would be very hard.

So you have half of the walk situations, solo HR’s, and blowout situations that need to be accounted for. I can’t see these making a huge difference in the lists generated from a simpe RISP vs. Non-RISP study.

I guarantee you these four guys still show up in the Top 5:

Name              B    AB     AB   BPS     AB   BPS    DIFF
Bill Spiers       L  3430   2548  .607    882  .722    .115
Mike Sweeney      R  3760   2673  .764   1087  .867    .103
Pat Tabler        R  3948   2815  .626   1133  .725    .099
Jose Valentin     B  4882   3678  .666   1204  .765    .099

These guys have proven that they can “raise their game”, consistently (over ~3500 AB), when men are in scoring position. These guys are clutch hitters.

Finding the clutch hitter is one of baseball’s statitiscal number crunchers (sabermetricians as they like to be called) longest’s quests. Many say such the creature known as the Clutch Hitter does not exist. Others say he does. Others still aren’t sure.

To find out an answer either way, a statistic that likely hasn’t been identified yet will be needed.