Baseball-Reference has a function on it's batting splits page where you can see how players performed in high, medium and low-leverage situations. (Leverage is simply a measure of the relative importance of a game situation--two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game is a much higher leverage situation than leading off the game, for instance.) Just click on the Nationals team batting splits page, scroll down to leverage, and then click on the orange highlighted "High leverage" link and each player's performance in those situations pop up. Or just click here if you just want to skip to the full results.
Here are the Nationals ranked by OPS in high leverage situations in 2008:
|PA||High Lev. OPS|
Wow, not what I expected. Go AHern! The AG rocking it. And Ron Belliard (who I would have expected to see) tops the list among players with anything you could possibly consider a meaningful sample size (although really none of these samples are meaningful, but I digress--back to the barstool). Certainly the names on the bottom of this list can't surprise anyone. Pena, Lopez, Bonifacio all near the bottom, and poor ol' Luke Montz is the caboose.
OK, but really if you were going to say, "who was the most clutch," it's not really fair to look at it this way, just based on raw performance in clutch situations. That's because you're mixing in basic hitting ability with the ability to elevate performance in the clutch. To find out who's the most clutch, we should look at the difference between a player's overall performance and their performance in clutch situations. That way we can see who's best able to elevate his play with the game on the line.
By subtracting season-long OPS from OPS in clutch situations, we get this list:
|PA||High Lev. OPS||08 OPS||Clutch Diff.|
So there you have it. The Washington Nationals' Mr. Clutch 2008: Johnny Estrada. And if it wasn't for the brief appearances by Montz and Bonifacio, Mr. Choker would have been none other than Ryan Zimmerman.
Wow. Who would have guessed that? Not me. Does it matter, and should we expect these performances to continue? No and no. But danged if it doesn't make you go hmmmm... Another round, bartender!