The Red Sox have had plenty of late-inning dramatics this season with 11 walk-off wins, the most in the majors. They are also 19-9 in games decided in the last at-bat. Clearly, winning this way requires clutch hits late in games, but are the Red Sox really a clutch-hitting team?
Taking a look at the stats, maybe the Red Sox aren’t as clutch as one would think. They are hitting just .232 with an on-base percentage of .326 in late and close situations, which is defined by Baseball Reference as plate appearances in the seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.
As a whole the American League is batting .242 with an on-base percentage of .317 in late and close situations, while all of baseball is hitting .239 with an OBP of .322. Looking at those numbers the Red Sox are below both the AL and MLB averages. The numbers translate to individual players as well.
No one Red Sox player with more than eight at-bats is hitting over .300 in late and close situations, with the majority of their everyday players hitting in the .250 range, while on-base percentages range just above the MLB average of .322. So, how are the Red Sox winning all these games in walk-off fashion? It comes down to the number of clutch extra-base hits and clutch home runs.
A perfect example is Jonny Gomes, who is hitting .286 in late and close situations with an impressive .456 on-base percentage and an exceptional .592 slugging percentage. Gomes is 14-for-49 in these situations, but has six doubles and three home runs – nine of his 14 hits have gone for extra-bases.
The Red Sox as a team have 166 total hits in late and close situations and 62 of them have been for extra-bases, including 16 home runs. This equates to 37 percent of their hits having been for extra-bases. In the American League 30 percent of hits in late and close situations go for extra-bases. Doubles have done the most damage for the Red Sox as they lead the AL with 45. The Sox are also second in the AL in home runs in the ninth inning with 12, including four walk-offs.
While the overall numbers say the Red Sox are not a very clutch team, when looking deeper into the them, it’s the types of hits the team gets in clutch situations that have led to the memorable finishes in a number of games this season.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84