As I was browsing through Baseball Twitter a few days ago (terrible habit, I suggest you avoid it), I came across an interesting question:
Which player would you rather have at the plate in a bottom of the 9th bases loaded 2 outs down by 1 situation?
136 wRC+ 7% BB rate .191 ISO
161 wRC+ 14.7% BB rate .267 ISO
174 wRC+ 18.7% BB rate .343 ISO
— Max Greenfield (@GreenfieldMax18) January 21, 2020
My brain loves puzzles and answering questions, so I decided to vote. The obvious choice is Player C. He’s the best hitter, and I want my best hitter in the most important situations. The point of the exercise has to be to dunk on fans who think Player A is clutch, right?
Well, essentially yes. The players in this question are 2019 DJ LeMahieu, 2014 Giancarlo Stanton, and 2017 Aaron Judge. Yankees fans were really into LeMahieu in 2019, to the point of advocating for him as MVP, and while he was certainly a good hitter, he’s not Aaron Judge.
But don’t stop the analysis there, because something important is missing. Picking the best hitter is easy — as long as you define best correctly. For example, ISO shouldn’t enter into your decision at all. With the bases loaded and two outs, there’s not much difference between a single and a home run, and there’s definitely no difference between a double and a home run. Power stats aren’t relevant here. Read the rest of this entry »