Saturday, September 2, 2017

Joe Mauer and the clutch

One of the frequent criticisms of Joe Mauer is that he "doesn't hit in the clutch."

That this is statistical hooey doesn't matter to the carpers. They "know" that he's soft, and they "know" that he chokes. KFAN and Jim Souhan tell them so.

I thought of this during Friday night's ninth inning, when Mauer came up with two outs, the bases loaded and the Twins down three. He singled home two runs. That put the Twins within a run, but they couldn't get the tying run home.

Blame Mauer because he didn't get the extra-base hit?  Or blame the guys who made the outs that inning (Mitch Garver, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario)?

Baseball Reference offers a stat split based on "leverage" -- how key a given plate appearance is in the context of the game. Mauer's slash line this year by leverage:

  • High Leverage: .367/.500/.500 (76 plate appearances)
  • Medium Leverage: .308/.417/.466 (175 plate appearances)
  • Low Leverage: .269/.312/.343 (231 plate appearances)

Those are not the numbers of a hitter who wilts when the pressure is high.

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