Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Update On Sammy Sosa's Clutch Hitting, 1998-2001

The first post on this is right before this one. It was generated by an announcer saying something like "Sosa hit alot of HRs in when the scored was one sided."

I thought of another way to look at this. In his career, Sosa had the following HR%'s in various situations. Data from Baseball Reference

Tie Game 0.0642
Within 1 R 0.0669
Within 2 R 0.0676
Within 3 R 0.0669
Within 4 R 0.0668
Margin > 4 R 0.0842
Ahead 0.0710
Behind 0.0710

So, yes, his % his much higher in games when his team was ahead by more than 4 runs or behind by more than 4 runs. He had 1139 ABs in those situations. What if he had had his "Within 4 R" HR% in the "Margin > 4 R" ABs? He would have had 76 HRs in those cases instead of the 96 he actually had. So he would lose 20 career HRs. That would still give him 589. Notice that his HR%'s in other cases are all pretty close together.

What about from 1998-2001? Using Baseball Reference again, here are his HR totals for each season followed by how many he hit in "Margin > 4 R" cases preceded by the totals for the 4 years


So 18.1% of his HRs were hit in "Margin > 4 R" cases. What about the entire NL for these years? Here is the same thing for the whole league


The league hit 15.75% of it's HRs in "Margin > 4 R" cases. What if Sosa had the same %? Well, 15.75% of 243 is about 38. He actually hit 44 in "Margin > 4 R" cases. So we should take 6 HRs away from him. That would leave him 237 for the whole 1998-2001 period, still an amazing total.

Now 38/237 = .16 or 16% of HRs in "Margin > 4 R" cases. If I dropped him down to 37/236, it would be .1568. So a loss of about 6 HRs is fairly accurate.

So, bottom line, if Sosa matched the league average in when he hit HRs according to run margin, he would not lose very many HRs. How could anyone fault him for this?


mb21 said...

I don't blame the announcers for this. Cubs fans have been saying Sosa only hit home runs when it didn't matter for years. Actually, they've been saying it since the final day of the 2004 season when he left the ballpark early. Since then it's become common knowledge to those who don't want to take time to look things up as you did.

The way the media has portrayed Sosa is one of the things that sickens me about sports. Sosa wasn't without his problems, but he was the reason the 2001 Cubs found themselves in contention late in the season. I'm not sure if I remember it correctly or not, but didn't Sosa have nearly 100 more RBI than the 2nd highest RBI total on the team? RBI obviously isn't a great stat to use, but it does show how important he was to that team.

People forget the walk-off home runs or the game changing home runs (Game 1 of the 2003 NLCS for example). The Cubs would lose that game, but it was one of the longest home runs I'd ever seen hit at Wrigley Field.

Also, Sosa hit over 600 home runs so a lot of them are going to be in situations that didn't much matter. Many of Pete Rose's hits were in situations that didn't matter. Many of Ruth's home runs, Bonds' home runs and Pujols' home runs have come in situations that their team didn't need the offense.

There was a Cubs blogger who wrote about Sosa's home runs awhile back. I'll look for the link. It's not as in depth as your article, but it puts it into perspective that the average fan cannot deny.

Great articles on Sosa.

Cyril Morong said...


Thanks for dropping by and commenting and mentioning it over on your blog. Alot of what you mention I didn't know. Glad you liked it. I sure wish I had written down exactly what they said on that Rangers broadcast because it shocked me. As a Sox fan I can only guess how something like that would get to a Cubs fan.


mb21 said...

I've heard it so much the last 6 or 7 years that it barely registers anymore. It's clearly not true and those who say these things are either repeating what others have said or they simply aren't interested in the fact. Or logic for that matter. There's just no way that the story these people tell is true. 600+ home runs. Many of them are going to be in key spots. There's no way around that, but fans are weird people I've come to learn.

Cubs fans feel let down by Sosa because he went home before a meaningless game. The Cubs front office made matters worse by showing coverage of him leaving the ballpark on that final day and they acted like it was the single worst thing ever done by a baseball player. The Cubs collapsed the final 2 weeks of 2004. Sosa was mad and left. He shouldn't have done it, but things happen.

For what Sosa did for the Cubs organization for a decade, I've been very disappointed by both the fans and especially how the organization has treated him. It's like he doesn't exist. They give his number to any player willing to wear it. The number of fans that showed up to Wrigley during many of those years the Cubs were terrible is something the Cubs should be thankful for.

I've recently said that this current Cubs team lacks that one or two players that makes you tune in every time you can. For years the team had Sandberg, Dawson (overrated as he was with the Cubs), Maddux, Sammy and Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs put Z in the bullpen after 4 starts and this season has been the least amount of Cubs baseball I've watched in my life. I'd obviously love to see the Cubs become a perennial contender, but I miss the stars like I named above. They gave me a reason to tune in.

Now I'd rather watch a Yankees or Braves game than a Cubs game.

Adam said...

This really is a great couple of posts. It's funny how the exact same behavior can elicit completely different responses depending on the observer's bias. Pete Rose or Marlon Byrd dive after a ball or hustle for an extra base when the game is out of hand: they never take a play off. Sammy Sosa still tries to get hits in a blowout: selfish stat-padding jerk. Pitcher facing Sammy in a blowout game grooves a fastball instead of pitching around him: nonentity.

It's really great to have some numbers that say definitively, Sosa was a bad-ass no matter what the situation.

Cyril Morong said...


Thanks for the added info and elaboration.


Thank for dropping by and commenting. I like your point about Byrd and Rose. That really puts it into perspective. Glad you liked these posts