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Bill James says Clutch Hitting May Exist (link provided)

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Postby reiser » Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:07 pm

there's a follow up today in salon:
http://www.salon.com/news/sports/col/ka ... ndex1.html

also an interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell on choking:
http://www.gladwell.com/2000/2000_08_21_a_choking.htm

Money quote:
"Bill Anderson: I'm in roughly the same position you're in with regard to clutch hitting -- my sympathies are with the sabremetricians, but I devoutly believe that there are clutch hitters out there. In part, my belief comes from forty years of watching baseball, but the Holy Dogma of the Clutch Hitter also fits well with what we all know about people in general.

As a software developer, I have had many talented colleagues who did a great job on a day-to-day basis, but who gradually ceased to function as deadline pressure built. On the other hand, I've also known programmers who seemed to phone it in most of the time, surfing the Web all day and doing just what it took to get by until the week before the project was due, and then kicking into overdrive and writing code to make the gods weep. In fact, I've been that kind of programmer myself.

I'm betting that most people, whatever their profession or avocation, have known clutch hitters. It would be odd if there were no such thing in baseball, where pressure is a fundamental element of the game. "
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Postby Gang Green » Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:37 pm

Hey Hootie-

Want to kick around an old subject? :-o Just for the record, Tino Martinez has hit about 30 points higher in "close and late" situations than what is his career average. He sure hit alot of "big" hits for the Yanks. With that being said, there are very few guys who had unusual high variances in these situations other than Tino. :-[
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Postby Cooner » Fri Mar 11, 2005 5:23 pm

Tavish wrote:It is impossible to prove universal or absolute non-existence. It is a logical fallacy. The burden of proof always falls on those who make the claims of existence.


This isn't true at all (well, the first part isn't. The last sentence is true, but that's only because people think that way in practice, not because it's "right" or "logically valid."). The existence of something is either able to be proven true, able to be proven false, or able to be proven that it can't be proven whether it's true or false (such as Schroedinger's cat, or some really cool math theorems that I won't get into now). Sometimes we define things in such a loose way that they can't be proven to exist or not (eg., clutch). But, when definitions are properly and rigorously made, they can always be proven to exist, not exist, or neither.

Just because the proper definition hasn't been made does not mean it exists or doesn't exist, and the burden of proof and rigorous definition SHOULD fall on anyone who cares to make a statement about it, not just someone who wants to prove existence (or at least does in a logician's world).
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Postby Tavish » Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:02 pm

Cooner wrote:
Tavish wrote:It is impossible to prove universal or absolute non-existence. It is a logical fallacy. The burden of proof always falls on those who make the claims of existence.


This isn't true at all (well, the first part isn't. The last sentence is true, but that's only because people think that way in practice, not because it's "right" or "logically valid."). The existence of something is either able to be proven true, able to be proven false, or able to be proven that it can't be proven whether it's true or false (such as Schroedinger's cat, or some really cool math theorems that I won't get into now). Sometimes we define things in such a loose way that they can't be proven to exist or not (eg., clutch). But, when definitions are properly and rigorously made, they can always be proven to exist, not exist, or neither.

Just because the proper definition hasn't been made does not mean it exists or doesn't exist, and the burden of proof and rigorous definition SHOULD fall on anyone who cares to make a statement about it, not just someone who wants to prove existence (or at least does in a logician's world).


You are absolutely right that the existence of things can be proven true or impossible to prove. The non-existence of things universally is impossible to prove. You can narrow the scope of the question to enough precision so that its non-existence can be proven (there were no clutch hitters in the 1990 World Series) but then it no longer answers the universal question.
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Postby CubsFan7724 » Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:09 pm

Yeah, and ghosts may or may not exist either. This article proves nothing, nor has any point really. Hes just covering his bases by going both ways, instead of committing to one, just in case hes wrong. :-b
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Postby LBJackal » Fri Mar 11, 2005 6:25 pm

The purpose of this article seems to be to appease the traditionalists. I'm not saying clutch doesn't exist (I've always figured that there are clutch players, we just don't know who they are, and in what "clutch" situations they come through, ie: contract year). I'm just saying James wrote an article saying it MIGHT exist as an appeasal. I've also always thought that a HR in the 9th counts the same as a HR in the 2nd, and doens't mean the guy who hit ones in the 9th is "clutch", or any more valuable to his team than the guy who hit one in the 2nd. The is the "Kobe Bryant Theory" that people think he's the best basketball player because he comes through in the last 5 minutes of the game with some great dunks and acrobatic lay-ins, and lights it up, despite being 7 of 22 with 9 turnovers up to that point.
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Postby JTWood » Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:08 pm

"The absence of evidence is not proof."

That's the longest article I've ever read to essentially say just that.

It's good of him to admit that there is a chance. Some guys have too much ego to make a comment of that nature.

Good read. Good post. Thanks

;-D
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Postby Cooner » Fri Mar 11, 2005 8:00 pm

Tavish wrote:
Cooner wrote:
Tavish wrote:It is impossible to prove universal or absolute non-existence. It is a logical fallacy. The burden of proof always falls on those who make the claims of existence.


This isn't true at all (well, the first part isn't. The last sentence is true, but that's only because people think that way in practice, not because it's "right" or "logically valid."). The existence of something is either able to be proven true, able to be proven false, or able to be proven that it can't be proven whether it's true or false (such as Schroedinger's cat, or some really cool math theorems that I won't get into now). Sometimes we define things in such a loose way that they can't be proven to exist or not (eg., clutch). But, when definitions are properly and rigorously made, they can always be proven to exist, not exist, or neither.

Just because the proper definition hasn't been made does not mean it exists or doesn't exist, and the burden of proof and rigorous definition SHOULD fall on anyone who cares to make a statement about it, not just someone who wants to prove existence (or at least does in a logician's world).


You are absolutely right that the existence of things can be proven true or impossible to prove. The non-existence of things universally is impossible to prove. You can narrow the scope of the question to enough precision so that its non-existence can be proven (there were no clutch hitters in the 1990 World Series) but then it no longer answers the universal question.


I think we're debating semantics, but non-existence of universal things is provable, given a rigorous definition. That doesn't have to be narrow, just well defined. For instance, if we could agree that clutch meant "having a better batting average with men on base in games in the last two months of the season or against division rivals in games in the last four months of the season than overall average," then this definition of clutch could be proven to exist or not exist. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's possible. What James points out here, and is worth pointing out, is that it's impossible to prove either existence or non-existence of something that isn't well-defined. But proving non-existence is no more or less possible than proving existence given a rigorous definition. It might be harder, but it's certainly not less possible.
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Postby SHOCKandAWE » Fri Mar 11, 2005 8:19 pm

This is the funniest thread I have read in awhile. You went from clutch hitting to God and back to clutching hitting in only 5 posts.!
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Postby Cooner » Fri Mar 11, 2005 9:21 pm

SHOCKandAWE wrote:This is the funniest thread I have read in awhile. You went from clutch hitting to God and back to clutching hitting in only 5 posts.!


God and baseball... two of the three worst AND best things to debate (politics being the third of course...) :-° :-D
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