Keith Law's Narrative vs. Reality
Law’s own bio on ESPN.com says that he went to Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, was a writer for Baseball Prospectus, worked in the Blue Jays front office, then joined ESPN.
That’s the narrative.
It’s become an important part of what Law does and was on prominent display again last night on Twitter as he sought to hit back at those who touted David Ortiz as a “clutch” player because of his game-tying grand slam in game two of the ALCS.
Law’s take – based on statistics – is that clutch hitting is a myth stemming from opportunity and Ortiz is not any more likely to get a “big” hit than he is to get any other hit. The foundation for the assertion is that Ortiz’s OPS is worse in late and close situations (the exact time when he’s built his legend) than it’s been in other situations.
Is it numerically accurate? I suppose so.
Is it true? Is it fair?
For someone to even suggest that they’d rather have the prototypical “any” good hitter at the plate in that type of circumstance is utter idiocy. If you asked Law whom he’d rather have at the plate with the bases loaded, four runs down in the eighth inning of a playoff game and gave him the choice of Nick Swisher or Ortiz, he’d undoubtedly reply with a straight (smug and pompous) face, “It doesn’t matter.”
This is not to get into the accuracy of the statement that “clutch hitting doesn’t exist.” To denigrate Ortiz’s accomplishments in key moments just like last night’s because there’s no evidence that it’s real is the height of the arrogance that is a hallmark of Law’s career. You have to admire the audacity of having no shame whatsoever to think that his analysis is superior to all others and because it hasn’t been proven to him that it’s not there.