Many in the baseball statistics community deride the notion that some players are particularly adept at hitting in "clutch" situations (i.e., critical points in the game). However, there is little doubt that some players have hit at better than their normal levels during these clutch at-bats, whether due to added focus, some natural unflappability or other skill, or just pure dumb luck.
As it turns out, there is a statistic that can measure this. Known conveniently as "Clutch" and available on the marvelous baseball-reference.com, Clutch uses two advanced statistics known as "Win Probability Added," or WPA, and "Leverage Index," or LI, to determine just how many wins a player has added by performing better in clutch scenarios.
Don't worry too much about how it's calculated, though; just know that it measures how much better a player hits at important junctures relative to his normal levels, not how well a player hits in clutch at-bats. In other words, a poor hitter who raises his game will rate better than a good hitter who merely performs at his average levels. You'll see why this is important when you see the numbers.
I reveal the most (and least) clutch batters in Atlanta Braves history, after the jump.
OK, so without further ado, there are three players in Atlanta Braves history who added at least 4 wins in the clutch: Marcus Giles (4.4 wins added), Mark Lemke (4.1 wins added) and Sonny Jackson (4.0 wins added). Measured in absolute terms, that would make Giles the "most clutch" hitter in Atlanta Braves history. However, Jackson had many fewer plate appearances than the other two, so you could argue that he raised his game more than anyone.
If you are interested, here is a link to the 17 Braves who had at least 1200 plate appearances for the Braves and added at least one win of clutch value. Notice who comes in at #15: Tom Glavine. Apparently even pitchers can be clutch hitters!
Oh, and the least clutch hitters in Atlanta Braves history? Chipper Jones (-5.4 wins) and Andruw Jones (-4.6 wins). That is probably just a function of them being so good for so long in normal situations rather than any lack of skill in clutch situations--either that or pitchers deliberately pitched around them when the game was on the line. Regardless, they are in some good company. Hank Aaron ranks 9th-worst on this list, and other Braves stars like Dale Murphy, Brian McCann, Javy Lopez, and Fred McGriff have negative Clutch ratings.
So all of this is probably meaningless, but it is fun to think about. I mean, any hitting stat in which Mark Lemke rates highly and Chipper Jones rates poorly is a pretty interesting stat to me.