On Tuesday, April 18 the Fairfield University Sports Analytics Club hosted Villanova University in a competition to determine the most “clutch” hitter in Major League Baseball from the 2021 regular season. Four groups, two from each school, presented their findings to a panel of judges who would later decide which project was the most valid. Junior Paul Logrippo, the president of Fairfield’s Sports Analytics Club, and his partner Aidan Hughes ‘24 were eventually declared the winners. The pair gave an in-depth presentation on the strategies they used to determine the most clutch hitters in baseball.
Logrippo began by defining the term clutch, which may seem obvious at first but is actually quite different in the context of analytics. Logrippo further explained that baseball is often a game of luck. A player could hit a ball with great power yet the ball could still be caught for an out. On the other hand, a player could hit a ground ball directly to a fielder who simply made an error and allowed the runner to get on base. These two scenarios demonstrated that clutch hitting is not always about the outcome. In fact, Logrippo explained that he and Hughes’ project did not focus on the outcome of a hit at all. Instead, the two determined that the best way to define a clutch hit was to find which players hit the ball with the highest exit velocity and optimal launch angle during important moments of a game.
With this information in mind, Logrippo and Hughes created their own statistic which would determine the most clutch hitter of the season once and for all. The stat combined three factors: inning, runners on base and exit velocity. Their findings revealed that Shohei Ohtani was the most clutch hitter in the MLB from the 2021 season. With Ohtani firmly in place as the winner, the students cleverly named their new statistic “Shoh Time”. Players like Fernando Tatis Jr, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Giancarlo Stanton were other players with an impressive Shoh Time ranking. Despite the judges naming Logrippo and Hughes the winning group, all four groups presented extremely well-thought-out projects with a variety of outcomes.
Each group attacked the question from a different angle than those before them, yet every case was equally compelling. It was easy to tell how much this event meant to each person involved, especially considering the time commitment the students put forth.
After the event, Logrippo commented on the meaning to him. “It was cool to get some real experience in Sports Analytics, definitely something that people in the group can put on their resume and talk about in job interviews,” Logrippo explains. “It was really great to get experience for our club, get our name out there and also help our club members in the future.”
He also mentioned that events like the one celebrated with Villanova are essential in terms of growing the clubs at Fairfield. In terms of the experience for the club members, Logrippo described that the impact of this type of event could do wonders for the future of the club.