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More than a dozen of these systems have turned up in the offices of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in the past season. The most entertaining of the lot is one devised by a 29-year-old Milwaukeean named Charles F. Mullen. Mr. Mullen is district manager of a water-softener company. He bats over .300 as second baseman in a suburban softball league, and he yields to no man in loyalty to the Braves. His rating system is not concerned with pitching or fielding or the relative cleverness of managers; it is made solely to evaluate a player at bat in the clutch.
"A single, hit late in a tight game, is worth a lot more than a grand-slam homer when the game is already won," says Mullen. By his criterion some players with high batting averages and RBIs contribute very little to victory because they hit when hits are not needed, and don't hit when they are.
Wrestling with National League statistics covering three full seasons, Mullen reduced them to a series of logarithmic graphs and then to a cardboard dial and pointer which sells for a dollar. With these, the fan can set up every situation in which a player can come up to bat: the score, the inning, the number of men on base and the bases they're on, and the number of outs—and do it with just two twirls of the cardboard disks. Then he takes a reading which indicates the seriousness of the situation the batter faces. (In the "10th inning of the sixth Series game, with two out and men on first and second, Jackie Robinson faced a maximum, or 100% serious, situation.)
One step remains: on a second dial the situation-gravity reading is matched against what the player did to meet the situation. The indicator then shows the player's rating as a clutch hitter for that particular trip to the plate. (Robinson singled, driving Gilliam in for the winning run, and so received a handsome 450. If he had struck out, he would have scored minus 220; if there had been only one out and he had hit into a double play, he would have scored minus 500.)
Mullen, as you might expect, rated the performances of the regular players in the World Series, and then worked out their over-all averages. Take Mickey Mantle in the first game. His two-run homer in the first inning earned him 317 points. Next time up he struck out (-118). After that he walked (86), walked again (80) and, finally, with Slaughter on first in the ninth and the Dodgers ahead 6-3, hit into a double play that ended the game (-264).
Added together, these plusses and minuses come out to 101; and this figure divided by five (for Mantle's five appearances at plate) gives 20 1/5 Mullen points as Mickey's average for each trip to the plate in the first game. Carried on and averaged out for all seven games the figures give Mantle a clutch-hit rating of 3.
Hodges was the golden boy in the clutches of that first game. His second-inning single netted him 114, his three-run homer in the third (which gave the Dodgers a 5-2 lead) 613. His day's average was 171. Hodges finished the Series with a 32 rating. The only Dodger who did better was Snider, with 33. The two top Dodgers were topped in turn, however, by Berra and Slaughter with 54 each—which means (see below) that the big hitters were also the clutch hitters in the 1956 World Series:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
And what did the Mullen system show for the Dodgers in Don Larsen's perfect game? That score sheet is a classic of consistency—nothing but minuses from first to last. It begins with a -36 for Gilliam when, as first man up for the day, he struck out. As the innings go by and the situation worsens, the minus quantities grow larger and larger until Dale Mitchell, pinch-hitting for Maglie, strikes out, ends the game and racks up a minus 119—the top Dodger debit of the day.
FOOTNOTES TO HISTORY