Wednesday Morning Rockpile:

Who's the clutchiest Rockie of them all? Tom Tango seems out to disprove that there is such a beast with his new clutch project that seeks to compare the fans choice for their clutch guy with the top hitter on the team.

For the Rockies the top hitter pick seems obvious, but best in the clutch could come down to any of three players, I think:

Matt Holliday
Todd Helton
Troy Tulowitzki

Let me make a case for each-

Matt Holliday The best hitter on the team, why wouldn't we want him up when the chips were down? I don't have any really good answer to that.

Todd Helton This one's a little more nuanced, but I'm leaning to picking him just because I think the odds of success in the bet are greatest. Helton's two run September 18 blast against Takashi Saito aside, he doesn't usually come up with the most dramatic results in high leverage situations, yet he always seems to play a key supporting role. For instance, in 2007, in his plate appearances with a leverage index of 2.00 or over, Helton walked 26.9% of the time, compared to a BB rate 15.9% in the rest of his plate appearances. Those extra walks provide a nifty cushion for anything else he might be able to do.

Troy Tulowitzki Tulo started the season on fire in high leverage situations, but by the end of the year he was racking up quite a few backward K's. To me this says that the beginning of the year was more or less an apparition. My call is to wait and see if he can repeat his success before labeling him a clutch god.

Were Kaz Matsui around still, he might have been interesting to look into, and Brad Hawpe has shown signs of trying to emulate Helton in these situations. One guy who 2007 suggests would be a poor choice is Garrett Atkins. It might be interesting to monitor his season in 2008, as if he suddenly becomes a force in high leverage spots then it would certainly add fuel to those who see the idea of clutch hitting being little more than random noise.

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