mr clutch

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:

lev date foe inn sco out runners pitcher result
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
3.43 5/10 mil 9 3-3 0 1st e gagne single
3.28 4/13 sf 8 4-7 2 loaded t walker groundout

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:

results notes WPA
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.

items:

  • 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.
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