stroke of good luck for st louis: they don’t have to face peavy tonight. instead they’ll face a journeyman left-handed pitcher, wil ledezma, with a 5.09 career era. the cardinals always tee off on guys like this . . . .
i’m well aware that clutch hitting comes and goes; it’s not really a "skill" except in rare cases. but from a purely descriptive standpoint, skip schumaker’s achievements in the clutch so far in 2008 deserve mention. his game-winner yesterday was his 3d walk-off hit of the year, to go along with his clinching blows on april 26 (single) and may 2 (homer). he also had a 9th-inning game-winner on the road (ie, not a walkoff) on april 21 against milwaukee (double). in his 10 highest-leverage at-bats so far this year, schumaker has 7 base hits --- 4 singles, 2 doubles, and a homer --- plus a sacrifice and a "productive out" (he grounded to 2d, moving the go-ahead run to 3d base with 1 out; he later scored). that’s 7 for 9, if you’re scoring at home. the full list, courtesy of fangraphs:
|4.65||5/2||chi||11||3-3||1||3rd||c fox||gw homer|
|4.58||4/22||mil||9||7-7||0||1st||e gagne||rbi single|
|4.36||4/21||mil||9||3-3||1||3rd||d turnbow||rbi double|
|4.33||4/25||hou||9||2-3||0||2d||j valverde||gb (runner advanced)|
|4.29||4/26||hou||9||3-3||1||1st / 2d||w wright||gw single|
|4.29||5/18||tb||9||4-4||1||1st / 2d||g glover||gw single|
|4.28||5/18||tb||8||2-4||0||1st / 2d||t miller||sac|
|3.81||5/18||tb||6||0-3||1||loaded||j howell||rbi single|
you’ll note that 3 of the at-bats on this list occurred in yesterday’s game, in the 6th, 8th, and 9th innings. to reiterate, i’m not arguing that schumaker’s clutch performance represents a repeatable skill; in his next 10 high-leverage at-bats, he might very well go 1 for 10. (for the record, skip was 3 for 9 with a walk in his 10 highest-leverage at-bats of 2007.) but his heroics in the early going deserve some recognition.
the anti-skip of 2008 thus far is rick ankiel: in his 10 highest-leverage at-bats, he is 0 for 10 with 6 strikeouts and 4 groundouts; hasn’t even gotten the ball out of the infield. last year he was 3 for 10 with a homer in his 10 highest-leverage at-bats . . . . . chris duncan is 1 for 10 so far in 2008. oh what the hell, here’s the whole list, ordered by win probability added:
|schumaker||7 for 9||homer, 2 doubles||1.293|
|glaus||3 for 7||homer, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts||.781|
|ludwick||4 for 10||homer, 2 doubles||.609|
|miles||4 for 8||2 walks||.248|
|kennedy||2 for 8||walk, sac fly||.055|
|ryan||3 for 8||walk, sac||.044|
|izturis||1 for 6||2 walks, hbp, sac||-.122|
|pujols||1 for 8||2 walks||-.170|
|molina||1 for 8||2 walks||-.302|
|duncan||1 for 10||-.567|
|ankiel||0 for 10||6 strikeouts||-.946|
intentional walks are not included on this list; pujols has been passed 3 times in high-leverage situations, but i’m not counting those. for the final time, this list is not intended to identify who’s a clutch player and who’s a choker; it describes what has happened so far this year, but that bears little if any relation to what may happen going forward.
- welcome to the big leagues, chris perez --- and jason motte may not be far behind. he struck out the side in the 9th yesterday to preserve a 1-0 win and earn his first save as perez’s replacement in memphis. motte pitched to 7 batters over the weekend and struck out 6 of’m; the other guy singled.
- in the same game, mitch boggs threw 7 innings of 2-hit, no-run ball with the following outfield playing behind him: gabe johnson, a catcher, in left field; joe mather, a first baseman, in center; and nick stavinoha, a first baseman who converted to outfield two years ago, in right field. boggs is making a powerful case for promotion --- he’s 4-1 with a 3.33 era; striking guys out, avoiding walks, keeping the ball in the park, and getting groundballs.
- the 1986 sim-strat-o-cardinals are tied 1-1 with the yankees in the world series . the bronx bombers roughed up john tudor yesterday.
- david eckstein sighting: were y’all aware that he’s been on the DL since may 6? i wasn’t . . . . he committed 6 errors in his first 30 games.