In the post-SABRE age, the word “clutch” has become a battleground.
If you believe in “clutch,” you’re with the purists, the guys who talk about grit like it’s the sixth tool and reject anything or anyone associated with numbers.
If you’re among those associated with numbers, you see “clutch” as an impediment to objective reason. Its use extends to the realm of snarky missives, but nothing further.
In an attempt to rise above all that noise, let’s rephrase the question as follows:
With three outs to get in the most important game of the year, which closer would you take?
Taking into account past success, peripheral data and experience, who’s the best?
Maybe you trust the game to the guy with the best numbers. Maybe the thought of Craig Kimbrel on the mound in Game 7 of the World Series gives you ulcers.
Because if clutch means anything, it means everything—i.e. the ability to perform under pressure encompasses the gamut of criteria, from numbers to your track record under fire to the most subjective gut inclinations.
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