Leo Durocher said in his book that Ron Santo was too excited and couldn’t get a clutch hit. Which is hard to do when I guy gets 100 RBI four times in his career. So, I decided to look at Santo’s clutch numbers. That is one of the things we have in modern times that I have that Durocher didn’t.
First, I looked at career. While not the best hitting statistics, he was not bad. I say he did about as well in the clutch statistics as he did overall. His OPS was 13 percent better with men in scoring position and two outs than what he hit in career. He was also 7 percent better in games that were late and close anotheThat to me is excellent and it is the most clutch statistic in Baseball Reference’s clutch statistics. His weak point was he was 8 percent worse than normal when the game was tied. Not all that is clutch as a lot of those at bats are early in the game. However, he didn’t hit well in tie games and that probably happened both early and late. However, when the game was within 1 to 4 runs, he hit only 2 percent worse than normal. That means he was just about the same hitter either way. Baseball Reference divides at bats into high medium and low leverage situations. Ron hit better in high and low leverage situations then he did in medium situations. That tells me he wasn’t really positive and negative as a clutch hitter.
I then decided to look at 1969. That was the year everyone thought the Cubs should have won the division and blew it against the Mets.
So, I looked in 1969 and found more of the same, except he didn’t as well as he normally did late in well. However, he did hit better in late in close games over his regular hitting in 1969 than he did in the rest of his career. However, in the individual season there was another stat, how, he hit against the league in each situation. Since Santo hit way above the league normally, he easily out distances the league in each of the clutch categories. His worse is he is only 28 percent above the league in tie games. I can safely say Durocher was wrong in this case.
Before his last season Santo was traded from the Cubs to their cross-town rivals the Chicago White Sox. It was a strange year for Santo. The White Sox were already set at third base with Bill Melton who was 6 years younger than the 34-year-old Santo. The White Sox planned to play Santo at second base. Which is strange to move a good fielding third baseman and move him to a different more difficult position after 14 big league seasons. Two years before Santo did play 3 games at second. He didn’t return there the next season. Needless to say, that move didn’t work. The White Sox wanted to then make Santo the DH (which might have been there play all along), but Santo didn’t like that move. This was only the second year of the DH rule and a lot of the players still thought about it as being only half a player. He got in arguments with teammate Dick Allen for some reason. This didn’t endure him to the team, which might have hastened his retirement. However, he was already starting to fade.
When Ron Santo came up as a 20-year-old he did fairly well and came in fourth for Rookie of the Year. He made an improvement the next year. However, in his third year in 1962 everything went wrong. His fielding did slightly improve, as he was below average his first three years. He made a big improvement the next year. However, his batting really sunk that year. He played in every game and that might of hurt him. His OPS went from .842 (above average) to .659 (well below average). For the season he was said to be below replacement level by Baseball Reference. I wonder is he was hurt.
From 1967 to 1969 Ron Santo had 96 walks each year. This is a hard category to finish with the same amount in consecutive years. He led the league in 1967 and 1968. He also had 95 walks in 1966, which led the league. There must be a missing walk hidden somewhere in that season.