Boston Red Sox: 16 Most Clutch Pitchers in Franchise History

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Boston Red Sox: 16 Most Clutch Pitchers in Franchise History
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Which clutch pitching performance will lead to the next celebration like this?

The biggest problem in writing this story was to try to come up with a definition of "clutch," and decide whether or not it was important to try to use it consistently.

When most people think of "clutch" in relation to a pitcher, they are probably asking themselves "Who would I want to have start Game 7 of the World Series?" For relievers, they would probably ask, "Bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth, the other team's best hitter coming up…who do I most want to see coming in from the bullpen?"

The problem with that definition is that the answers will usually be the best pitchers overall. In other words, it discounts the factor of an otherwise lesser pitcher who has historically elevated his game in stressful situations.

Put another way, are we looking at how well a particular pitcher performs in high-leverage situations, or are we comparing his high-leverage performance to his own performance in less stressful situations?

It's the difference between a self-comparison and a MLB-wide comparison.

Roger Clemens is a good example. Throughout his career he held opposing batters to a .228/.297/.336 hitting stat line in high-leverage situations. In medium leverage, the stat line was .227/.293/.335. In low leverage, .232/.295/.353.

That means Clemens was just a great pitcher, period. There was very little difference in his performance, no matter whether he was dealing with a high-stress or low-stress situation. On the other hand, since he was so good, was there any room for him to raise his game a notch?

And what about "clutch" for a season or two, but not a whole career? Or even an incredible clutch performance in a single game, way above and beyond expectations?

You see the problem.

So, to keep everybody happy, I've included some pitchers from each category in this slideshow—which is presented in no particular order. This is not a ranking.

And at the end, I explain why two all-time greats did not make the cut.

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