Alex Rodriguez may be one of the greatest hitters of all time, but fans have always derided him for not being “clutch” enough, for not winning it all, for not being a “real Yankee” like DiMaggio or Berra or Mantle or Jackson. But stat geeks have long argued that “clutch hitting” is all a matter of luck, and the postseason too small a sample size to judge, writes Allen Barra of the Wall Street Journal.
Some of the best hitters in history have ugly postseason numbers; Ted Williams hit just .200 in his lone World Series. Rodriguez’s numbers, gruesome as they are, match up favorably to the aforementioned DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and Jackson at similar points in their careers. So why weren’t they called chokers? “Those guys had a total of 21 World Series rings,” says Rob Neyer. “Their teams had better pitching, and they won.”