Clutch Hitters: Players That Deliver When It Counts

Everywhere you turn this week, we've been inundated with opinions about LeBron James, what it means to be "clutch," and guys that take over games when it counts. That got us thinking about hitters that perform in the clutch, when their team needs it most. Statistics are not readily available prior to the 1970s concerning average with runners in scoring position (RISP), 2 out RBI, game winning RBI, etc. Therefore, this list is post 1970. I'm far from a stats guru, but I looked at RISP, runners on 3rd with less than (LT) 2 outs, and runners on 3rd with 2 outs. I also heavily weighted post season numbers including average and runs created (either by scoring or driving them in). This is not necessarily a list of most intimidating, but more guys who consistently got it done when it mattered most. Also, I backed off my staunch no PED players on a list. I don't think PEDs have much to do with getting clutch hits.

10. Wade Boggs - Boggs hit almost .400 with runners at 3rd and less than 2 outs. His average with RISP and 2 outs was .305. He also consistently led the league in chicken consumption as well.

9. Alex Rodriguez - Most people will disagree with this choice because of some poor playoff performances. He actually has hit a respectable .290 in 63 playoff games accounting for 1.25 runs per game (that's either scored or driven in).

8. David Ortiz - He would be on the list of intimidating and clutch. The 2004 ALCS was probably his biggest stage after the Yankees put the Red Sox down 3 games to 0. No team had ever come back from that until that Red Sox team. Ortiz led the way homering in 3 of their 4 wins to take the series. His .321 World Series average proves he delivered on the biggest stage.

7. Manny Ramirez - Career .297 with RISP, .401 man on 3rd LT 2 out. Post season average is .285, but he leads many power offensive categories. He also accounted for 1.48 runs per game. His .247 WS average is the only thing keeping him from climbing higher.

6. Steve Garvey - Garvey's numbers are underrated for certain. .295 with RISP and .292 RISP with 2 out. His post season batting averages in every type of series is consistently in the .330s or higher.

5. George Brett - He's another guy you never wanted to see when anything was on the line. .297 career RISP, .375 w/man 3rd LT 2 out. He would burn you if the opportunity arose. World Series average was .373 so he was clutch on the big stage as well.

4. Albert Pujols - The Machine has an amazing .325 average with RISP, and when it's man on 3rd LT 2 out it balloons up to .408. He also boasts 1.33 runs created in the post season. By the way, has the shot he hit off Brad Lidge come down yet, I doubt it.

3. Paul Molitor - Another you might not think of, but some of Molitor's numbers are off the charts. He has a respectable .299 RISP, but it's the playoffs where he showed his clutchness. Post season runs created was 1.72 per game (up to an even 2.0 in WS). He hit .368 in the playoffs including .418 in the WS.

2. Derek Jeter - Of the current players, he is the guy you think of as being the ultimate clutch performer on offense and defense (google the fielding play he made on Jeremy Giambi sometime). His career average with RISP is .315 and WS average is .321. He also holds most of the non-power offensive records. Yes, he's been there more than most, but he has shown consistency throughout. They call him Mr. November, in deference to our #1 guy.

1. Reggie Jackson - There wouldn't be a Mr. November without the original, Mr. October. His batting average numbers with RISP are not impressive, but his World Series performances with both the A's and Yankees speaks volumes. Whenever a big hit, or homer, was needed, Reggie usually provided it. He defined clutch under the bright lights and biggest stage.

So, who did we miss? We encourage comments, disagreements, debates, etc. Who's the guy you would want to see up with 2 outs, runner in scoring position, bottom of the 9th?


  1. I like your list. I would throw some other names out there although I don't know their stats with runners on. Guys I used to hate see come up to bat with the game on the line. Pete Rose, Keith Hernandez, Lenny Dystra, Kirby Puckett, and Chipper Jones.

  2. There were a lot of names that we could have went with... We debated a lot on this one. There have been some really good clutch hitters... We tried to find the guys that consistently came up big in the biggest spots- guys whose numbers got better when the situation was most pressure-packed. Molitor, for instance, wasn't necessarily intimidating or feared but he was very clutch. I like Matsui... I think he could have made the list. I also think Bagwell was a pretty clutch hitter. An argument could be made for Bernie Williams- the all-time postseason RBI leader but he was conistently 'good' over a lot of postseason appearances (rarely great).

  3. Love this list, by the way.

    Forgot to mention- A-Rod has more GS than anyone in baseball history... Yeah, that's clutch.

  4. Worst overall hitter that needs to be on this list is Chooch. Between 08 WS and the plethora of game winning hits over the last 2 years.

  5. You wanna talk oddly clutch despite being an average hitter... How about Chris Coste. That guy always seemed to deliver the clutch hit.

  6. Great list. My site,, has a similar list, specifically for post season performances in the 1970s.

  7. Just checked your site- very cool. We had 3 of the guys you had listed on our top ten and Hersh also mentioned Rose as a fourth in the comments so I'm glad we have some concensus. Bench was a great name... Like Jeter, a very cluth performer (hitting, fielding and affecting a game any way he could). Thanks for visiting.


Copyright © 2012 FOR BASEBALL JUNKIES.